At Ward F community meeting, Fulop explains support of marijuana legalization

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At last night’s Ward F community meeting in Jersey City, Mayor Steven Fulop detailed his support of marijuana legalization and how the city plans to approach the situation. 

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Fulop kicked off the event by saying that the city wanted to change last year’s Town Hall style format after his State of the City speech by giving residents the floor to ask any question they wanted.

One of the first questions was directed to Jersey City Police Chief Michal Kelly regarding the city’s plan for community policing in the ward as spring approaches and the weather becomes warmer.

“We’re going to run the community policing [program] from May 15 right through October 31. The training component is what makes this key. It’s up to us to give the officers a set of expectations and a training methodology that gives us the best bang for our buck. That’s what we’re aiming for; I think you’ll be excited about it,” Kelly responded.

Then another resident expressed anger over the impending property reval, saying that he pays three times more in taxes to the city than the bank for his mortgage.

Fulop explained that trying to manage the city’s budget is similar to managing a family budget.

“The way, collectively, our budget works is no different than the budget to run your household. We have union contracts and raises that happen yearly that automatically escalate your costs by millions of dollars, insurance premiums that go up yearly that escalate costs for city government, etc. etc,” Fulop began.

“So you balance that by trying to find responsible development, and that’s what the City Council and I have tried to do over the past four years. We’ve tried to be very judicious in making sure that we’re responsible with your dollars.”

Yet another resident asked if the city’s police force can be more proactive when people are congregating on corners for too long.

Public Safety Director James Shea explained that the city has a two-pronged strategy.

“There are people who are hanging out on corners that aren’t doing the right thing. That’s why we’ve invested heavily in street cameras; we always announce where they are being installed so that people do not have to worry about some kind of secret surveillance,” stated Shea.

“They provide us with a record of what people are doing. So if someone says that somebody was just standing there and not doing anything, now we can see if that is true or not or if there was criminal activity going on with that loitering.”

The second part of the strategy includes the launch of an app that residents will be able to download on their mobile phones and anonymously send a photo and/or message of people loitering to JCPD who in turn will respond by dispatching officers to the location.

The last question was directed Fulop to learn his stand on marijuana legalization, who said he is for it but with a caveat.

“I am a supporter of legalization, and there are a lot of reasons why I think that is important. Within the next month there’ll be an ordinance in front of the City Council that’ll restrict marijuana sales or dispensaries anywhere in Jersey City,” the mayor explained.

“The goal of that is, regardless of how Trenton rules on the [form of] legalization, we want to be able to control where it goes and where it doesn’t go.”

The entire meeting, which was streamed live on our Facebook page, can be viewed below: