Calling it a ‘huge miss,’ Hoboken Councilman Ramos says he’ll vote against $241M school referendum


Stating that the upcoming $241 million Hoboken school referendum “is a huge miss at an opportunity” for the city and board of education to collaborate, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos reveals that he’ll vote no next week.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“My view is that the plan as proposed is a huge miss at an opportunity for the City of Hoboken and the Hoboken Board of Education to work collaboratively to meet both our educational and community needs,” Ramos said in an email blast.

“In 2018, I made such an attempt to try and have a school incorporated within the Southwest Redevelopment Plan. The cost of the school construction would have been in the $35 to $40 million dollar range and would have been built adjacent to the Southwest Park Expansion.”

Ramos indicated that himself, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Johnson held met with representatives from Academy Bus in 2018 before Bhalla came out against the plan in early 2019.

“I have always advocated for school construction as a community giveback in all of our redevelopment plans because having these types of public projects funded by developers can ease the burden on taxpayers. Did the plan have flaws? Absolutely, but this was a starting point and at the time it was a plan well worth exploring,” he continued.

The 4th Ward councilman also said the BOE’s planning process showed a “complete lack of transparency” and that their “take it or leave it” approach to this plan is “completely unacceptable,” noting that Rebuild By Design and park projects in recent memory have all had robust public input.

“Emotions have been extremely high on both sides and that is predominantly due to the lack of transparency and input the public deserves. The 4th ward is home to a large number of students in our educational system and home to the largest share of the high school students,” Ramos noted.

“As their Councilperson and your Councilperson, I want what is best for them and you. And that is why I will be voting NO on January 25th with the hope that we can all work together to find better solutions to build quality schools and facilities that our students and residents deserve.”

Ramos joins 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher in publicly opposing the project, who was the first elected official to come out against it.

Bhalla has come out in favor, with 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle, and Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour also doing so last month in a joint statement.

The mayor and Jabbour have since doubled down on their support in the new year.

The referendum is on January 25th and today is the last day to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot by mail.

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  1. A big deal considering that the votes Councilman Ramos has always been able to garner votes to stay in office from the residents of the HHA who would not have to pay a dime more for the this latest Christine Johnson scheme.

    Also Councilman Ramos has disclosed that Superintendent Johnson tried making secretive back room deals with Mayor Bhalla again without any transparency or input from the public.

    • Bhalla did not support the Ramos’ Academy Bus redevelopment scheme in Southwest Hoboken. It was a massive, high density proposal- 439 residential units- plus commercial, that was soundly rejected by 4th ward residents. The middle school was thrown in for public buy-in. While Ruben canoodled with Academy developers and shilled for this project, he also took large political donations from Academy principals.

      • Bhalla did not support the Academy plan, however Ramos’s statement confirms Johnson’s previous back room deals. This time she was able to hide it from the public until it was on the ballot leaving the voters only a binary choice, yes or no. No would reset the scope of any future plan.


    Ruben thinks his constituents are stupid! The (middle) school he talks about supporting in 2018 was a small piece of a giant redevelopment scheme proposed by Academy Bus on their 4th Ward property!

    Yes, Ruben Ramos was quietly playing footsie with Academy developers behind the scenes to push through a massively overscaled development in his own 4th Ward- the mayor correctly did not buy in! Thank you, Mayor for protecting the 4th ward from its scheming Councilman!

    What about Ruben’s school? In 2019 Ruben Ramos voted against it, when he voted “YES” for emininent domain to force sale of Academy’s property to the City of Hoboken! Ruben forgot to tell you THAT part! What a BS-er!


  3. The fact is that while City Council voted unanimously (9-0) to give the City negotiators the tool of eminent domain if needed, the City came to a mutual agreement to buy the property. It was a the right thing to do.


    Look at that.

    Look at the gargantuan, high density residential/mixed use development that Ruben backdoor schemed with Academy developers to stuff in SW Hoboken. Coincidentally, he was taking large political donations from Academy principals.

    The school was thrown in there for community buy-in, but no one fell for it. It was a middle school on a small lot that was to be shared with the public. The population of 439 housing units Ruben was shilling for would have filled that school.

  5. It sounds like Ramos is against this project not because of the process or the cost to taxpayers but because he’s mad his backroom development deal with Academy didn’t play out. He doesn’t say a thing about the proposed High School project on the merits. His complaints about transparency, while valid, reek of hypocrisy.

    It’s good to see him finally admit the “free” middle school Academy was offering in exchange for it’s massive upzone (turning the SW park expansion into a school yard), was really going to cost $45 million of taxpayer money to build. It’s also good to see him finally admit he worked with Academy on the plan when he denied that before.

    The Mayor was right to listen to the SW residents Ramos is supposed to represent and pull the plug on Ramos’s developer giveaway.

    Transparency is not exactly Ramos’s forte (no – developers do not give stuff away for free). The public process that the City has followed since the tax revolt reform revolution in 2009 was instituted as a response to the back room dealing with developers of Ramos and his crowd.

    That said he is right that the public process has made the City’s projects better. It’s important to guard against any backsliding to the ways of the bad old days.

    The voters will decide in a few days whether they think this project would benefit from more public input. We should be grateful that the voters will decide rather than developer shills who care only about steering development to their political patrons

    • Not allowing the residents of Hoboken to actually have any say in a project this large is shameful.

      Withholding any information to the voters about a $241 million dollar new building before a school board election is shameful.

      Not insisting on opening a project of this size to a three bid process is shameful.

      While some may find fault with Councilman Ramos being involved with working on the Academy proposal we should not forget that Superintendent Johnson was also a large part those closed door meetings.

      Hoping for a better solution we will be voting down this referendum.

      Voting no will at very least open any future plans the transparency and light of day that it always should have had.

    • The Yes Votes are lead by a Mr Chris Clark, a Trump elitist who attacked a woman’s ability to have a child!
      The Yes mob didn’t denounce it, which means they condone it…
      . One man ( CHRIS CLARK ) at a recent forum complained that a woman advocating for a “no” vote doesn’t have children, and added, “We have an advocate who doesn’t have any children, not married, didn’t do IVF, didn’t adopt, doesn’t foster, doesn’t coach a team, and we’re going to listen to her on this nonsense? She can come to my house; I have four kids.” Then he got weirder and finished with : “Ill pick up the body at end of the week”

      Vote Yes owns this comment.

  6. Ramos’ haters are posting an article where Mayor Zimmer compliments him for working cooperatively with her administration. It seems that the councilman was looking for a community giveback as part of a development project, so he was speaking to developers too. Sounds to me like Hoboken could use more politicians like him, who are willing to engage every stakeholder in an issue while looking to benefit the community overall.

    Compare that with what’s going on at the Board of Ed over a $241 million-dollar project funded entirely by local taxpayers.

    You can complain about political contributions, but if they are legal and fully disclosed, you are just a hater. Can someone disclose who hired a politically-connected public relations firm to promote the yes vote for the giant school/sports complex and who is paying for that work?

  7. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    My friend heard from a BOE commissioner that the Mayor and all nine Council members (obviously including Ramos) were fully briefed on this weeks (and in some cases months) before it was publicly announced. Not one raised any objections to either the plan itself or the timing of the referendum so the BOE justifiably thought they had everyone’s support.

    Ramos waited with his finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing until a few days before the vote. If transparency is so important to him he should come clean with what he knew and when.

  8. What does Ramos’s ethnicity have to do with anything? Ramos’s statement makes clear he lied about what he knew and when he knew it with the Academy plan. If he says he didn’t know about this plan before it was publicly announced then he’s almost certainly lying again.

    Liars come in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. A troll playing the race card so clumsily on his behalf isn’t going to change the facts.

  9. Oh look, the Zimmer Alumni and Ravi/Russo Franken Followers are attacking a long time tail blazing Hispanic… They are shocked to see a guy who doesn’t follow the contract and PAC bosses.

    Wait to see 4 th ward next week…