Hoboken council votes to remove planning board member at rare, lengthy hearing

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The Hoboken City Council voted to remove a commissioner of the city’s planning board at a rare, lengthy hearing that last nearly two hours during last night’s meeting. 

Holtzman was before the council after coming under fire for sending an email in July that recommended 16 land use attorneys to developers in light of the retirement of Bob Matule, a retiring lawyer who handled a significant number of development projects in the city.

While he expressed regret over the situation, Gary Holtzman said the hearing was called for political reasons, adding that his resume speaks for itself and hoped the council would allow him to continue to serve on the volunteer board.

“My good faith effort to help people is being politicized and taken out of context by members of this council. I guess the saying is true that no good deed goes unpunished,” Holtzman began.

“I don’t know what the road to the votes are, or what they hope to accomplish, by removing me from the planning board. But I believe my resume speaks for itself and it’s my intention to remain on the planning board and continue to serve the City of Hoboken by ensuring that the development in Hoboken is carried out in a modern, fair and efficient manner.”

During questioning from 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, Holtzman said the list of attorneys was selected at random with no ulterior motives.

Later, Fisher asked Holtzman if he was aware that steering business to an attorney is engaging in official misconduct, prompting Holtzman’s attorney, Kerry Flowers, to step in.

“It’s a legal conclusion and there’s a presumption behind the question and Mr. Holtzman has testified that he did not, so I don’t understand the basis of the question,” he stated.

1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, the council’s appointee to the planning board, was another official who stressed this was not political and that his concern was that Holtzman may have “overstepped his boundaries” as a commissioner.

“This is not political: we were advised, by the mayor, his chief of staff, who called me directly and mentioned that they found this to be a problem, one that the council could address,” DeFusco recalled.

” … You’re well respected commissioner: a lot of people like you and a lot of people trust you and that’s exactly why, in my opinion, overstepping his boundaries could have impacted an applicant’s desire to hire a certain professional.”

Throughout the hearing, Holtzman also faced numerous questions about his employment as a project tracker manager for KATERRA, a construction company. 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo took exception to the fact that this position was created specifically for him.

“A position that was created specifically for him, at a company that does business in the City of Hoboken. That potentially may be still, at this moment, doing business in the City of Hoboken. Those are all facts that were created on this record in the gentleman’s own words,” Russo exclaimed.

“He also testified that he influenced applications by speaking to those applicants outside of an official meeting.”

Meanwhile, Hoboken Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour said it felt like “a predetermined outcome,” which made her uncomfortable, and defended Holtzman.

“It makes me feel uncomfortable that it did feel like a predetermined outcome before we even got to today. This is a volunteer role. We are all human. We make mistakes. None of us come into these volunteer public service positions knowing how this works,” she rationalized.

Prior to the vote, Flowers said that in both questioning and deliberation from the council, “considerations were made beyond the scope of the official notice,” which should in turn make the hearing “defective.”

The decision to remove Holtzman passed 6-2(1), with Jabbour and Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle voting no and DeFusco abstaining.

The full hearing, which lasted for just under two hours, streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below:

55 COMMENTS

  1. Planning board appointee Mike Defusco easily avoids these problems by rarely attending planning board meetings. His other saving grace is that he’s aligned himself with council members who don’t care what you do as long as you do t do it for Ravi. Take a lesson, Gary.

    • Like literally who are you, two-job Ravi Bhalla trying to deflect? This former commissioner upzoned a lot to a developer and then he got a job working for that developer….in a job that was created for him. He sent an email “recommending” lawyers to hire to applicants, how do we know friends of Ravis lawfirm weren’t benefiting?

      • Not true.
        Saddest part was the tribunal knew what they were saying was not the truth but said it anyway.
        Funniest part of last nights stage play was Michael Russo trying to pretend he could hold any kind of moral high ground when everyone knows his and his family’s morally and legally corrupt history in Hoboken.

        • “knew what they were saying was not the truth…”

          Yeah, let’s just forget that whole thing about the Planning Board guy asking for mercy in the hearing.

          Not exactly a fact to ignore when deflecting and pointing fingers.

      • I’d be more worried if instead of having two jobs I didn’t have any. If after years of unemployment no one wants to hire a person sooner or later they must face the realities that the value they ascribe to themselves, be it in puns or rhymes, isn’t reflected in reality.

      • Deflection is all they got. They’re angry because Ravi wouldn’t defend a Ravibot. Ravi defends Ravi and the loot that comes with his little two-timing Hoboken.

  2. Bobmc, you really should ask a land use professional to explain to you the difference between the roles played by the ZBA and the PB. The planning board can’t “up zone” anything even as a body so how exactly did Mr. Holtzman “upzone” a lot?

    Ask Councilman DeFusco to explain it to you though given his attendance record there’s a pretty good chance he’s as confused as you are about what the PB does.

    • According to Ms.Redevelopment, the planning board DOES upzone, you idiot, they CHANGE the zoning. The zoning board only grants variances.
      Funny Gary didn’t know that Caulfields/Fields attempted and filed applications for high-rises on their land there on Marin Blvd about 13 years ago?He’s lived here as a “activist ” for 28 so where was he when those towers were rejected by the residents and they withdrew their plans.

      Hard to believe one landowner in that area gets 16 stories and the rest of the area gets re-zoned as ligh industrial mixed use up to FOUR stories….

      Gary also doesn’t mentioned his part of the SW6 group was as one of Beth Mason’s goons who along with the Bajardi’s kicked Stan, Dawn and John Gregorio out of the group.

      Seems Gary had good ideas and was smart, so find it hard to believe that if he’s married to the Zoning officer he couldn’t have asked her if giving out his “Angie’s List” of lawyers was a smart move.
      He would have been much better off if he just stepped down, bringing others into that hearing was plain dumb.

      • Repeating ignorant statements does not make them any less ignorant. The planning board has no authority to change zoning, only the City Council can do that. That includes zoning changes made through redevelopment. All the PB does is issue a non binding opinion as to whether zoning changes proposed by and being considered by the City Council are consistent with the Master Plan. Then the City Council does whatever it chooses to do.

        I’m sure Councilman DeFusco can explain that to you since the City Council chose him as their PB representative and I’m sure he briefs the council fully about the hand full of meetings he attends. As I already suggested, you should check with him before posting again.

        Even smart people can be wrong. The difference is that smart people listen, learn and correct their mistakes. Stupid people dig in and repeat themselves, demonstrating that they are both ignorant and stupid, which are not actually the same thing.

  3. The shrinking mayoral support base had a LOT to say about this and, I would have agreed with them -to some extent- had the full picture of this board member’s behavior not been laid out for all to see. The only question I had at the end of it all was, why didn’t we get this guy off this board sooner?

    So, what did we learn at the hearing?

    That Holtzman sent the list to 17 active professionals (developers, architects, property owners) some of whom own property in a redevelopment development zone that will be going before the planning board in the future.

    He thought it was appropriate to berate attorneys that were before the board on behalf of their clients.

    We learned that a local developer created a position for him. He said the company that he works for is completely separate from that developer, but that developer was the one that interviewed him for the job at the “unrelated” company.

    He was friends with the developer who had been before the planning board. He was friendly enough that they would have breakfast or lunch together the spa diner, yet it doesn’t sound like he recused himself when that developer was before the planning board.

    He has had ex parte conversations with applicants in order to move the application along.

    He was trying to “help” applicants when it is not the role of a board member to help an applicant. Their role is to hear the application and apply the law to it, period.

    This guy should just go away quietly. Wouldn’t make any sense for him to take the council to court for not staying within any narrow parameters. So much was brought to light that the city council would just need another broader go-round and no one could vote to keep the guy on the board.

    Most disappointing to see the yowling of the Bhalla people that we should just look “here” and not “there”.

    Wanted to keep it narrowly focused

    • So if this wasn’t political, why was your lead a reference to the supposedly “shrinking” mayoral support base?

      I’ve spoken to many legal experts about this proceeding over the past day on a no name basis and every one of them agreed that the Council’s behavior, and particularly Ms. Fisher’s constituted aggregious official misconduct as well as actionable defamation.

      For the record – that last paragraph was hyperbole not intended to be construed as factually accurate even by a doofus.

      • You’re all wet. You can huff and puff but the sad truth is there’s way too much exposure and admitted inappropriate actions. Watching that hearing exposed Gary badly and that comes from lawyers I spoke to who felt bad he was up there contradicting himself. In the end, he asked for mercy but the council has to protect the city not anyone’s political supporters.

    • Got any polling to support that the mayor’s base is “shrinking” or did you pull that one out of your butt?

      Actually your numbers are hilarious– your goose is cooked in 2019. Don’t worry about the mayor, he’s doing just fine. Cant even see you in the rear view mirror.

      • It came out of the same butt I think where Ravi got pounded in the referendum. You help him work on the new resume? He’s toast. Yeah, all is well. Save that BS for the cavedwellers.

  4. Don’t you miss the days when Kurt limited his bigotry to homo/transphobic cartoons of men in miniskirts as opposed to the more explicit racism in references to “Asian wind” and the like?

      • You’re using #GoogleNP as a hashtag. You got that from Barracato and Bajardi. You’re recycling Barracato and Bajardi’s fake anti-semitic outrage at GA which you know perfectly well had nothing to do with anti-semitism. And you talk about channeling Lane and Klaussen. You’ve literally become everything you used to criticize. You can’t possibly know what the word “projection” means.

          • Stop whining with a lame attempt at deflection Nancy and look at what they did and what YOU DO!

            You’re worse. Easily. You do hatchet jobs and character assassination. That’s YOU!

          • Yup, she’s worse than Hoboken411. Far worse and her defense is that pointing out the truth of her ugliness and putrid character assassination against good people means she’s a victim.

            Completely deranged!

  5. Lindalou, we know you are long standing friends with the Holtzman’s and that both were big supporters of your wife’s. So we understand you do not want to see your friend treated badly. The hearing did seem to get out of control, and yes, felt like more of an attack than anything. But do you think that Gary’s behavior and actions that cornelius described above are ok for a planning board member? I know you said your paragraph was a lark, but aren’t you a lawyer? As a lawyer, what do you think about this?

    • Gary asked for “mercy” and grace” from the council after they beat on him for 2 hours. The punishment did not fit the crime. 2 hours. anyone who defends this is out of their mind. The council is out of control especially Fisher.

    • We think Tiffanie can’t distinguish between vengeance and good government.

      We think other people can.

      We think she’ll be gone after the next election because after 8 years of Beth Mason, her neighbors have no trouble distinguishing between vengeance and good government.

      • Gee, these Ravibots are unhinged. Gary is the person who was orchestrating these insane actions on the Planning Board.

        It’s good government to stop the City of Hoboken from facing legal exposure for the outrageous and stupid actions of any commissioner. Simple.

        • “Orchestrated these insane actions”? He sent an email.

          You don’t have to carry water for every craven act of the revenge-driven councilwoman. At least wait til she starts her doomed re-election campaign. Hopefully her fleeting kinship is worth what this is costing you with Holzman’s attorney.

          • Yawn. Look a Kooky Sybil keyboard threat. Many laws are broken by email. CLOWN!

            Yeah, everyone is doomed like that referendum that ended Dear Leaders’s Hoboken political career. Everyone is terrified. HAHAHAHAHAHA! CMAR. WHAAAAAAAAAAA!

            You failed the Cult of Ravi. HAHAHAHAHHAHA!

          • You don’t have any attorney, he’s not your attorney and you’re in position to make any threats. Besides, standing up for good government is its own reward. Now go back to the cave and cry some more supporting your criminal heroes. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

          • No threat. You know Holzman’s attorney. He knows what you say here. You wouldn’t say it to his face, with good reason. But you might as well have. Live with it.

          • All your lying really worked out well with the LANDSLIDE against you and Ravi in the referendum. Threaten away, we’re so scared of you. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! We can’t stop laughing at the karmic boomerang. Whine away loony Sybil. WAHHHHHHHH!

          • is well aware that Roman is nuts. Youd think since the Bajardi appeal is pending he’d behave himself. Not attack co-Defendants using Bajardi rhetoric. But Roman’s off his rocker and doesn’t care if he takes everyone down with him. He’s helped Bajardi imnensely at oral argument. Roman cant keep his mouth shut, doesnt care about anyone but himself. That’s one reason why Holtzman’s attorney is distancing himself from that destructive fool.

          • Does anyone believe Nancy was hired to do PR or make threats here? Didn’t think so. She should stick to her political operative job for Ravi. Really worked out in the referendum. HAHAHAHAHHAHA

          • No one questions her sanity; that’s done and so is Ravi. But someone sure is jealous of Horse. He’s hammering away on Hoboken voter fraud since like forever. Wish he’d shut up about it already. Someone kick him in his big-toothed face.

  6. I googled this guy and came up with a link to a blog that had an article in October asking who’s the dud on the planning board. I went to a current article on that blog and there is a recent article and some of the people commenting are going absolutely bonkers over this. They are taking issue with one council person, Defusco, apparently cozying up to developers, but they don’t seem to think Holtzmen parleying a job out of developers as really really cozying up to developers. I have to wonder what has he been doing for them while he is supposed to be hearing applications.

    One of the people writing comments on the blog was insulting a woman who got the proclamation, Mary was her name. Why would anyone attack a regular citizen who had nothing to do with the hearing?

    I agree with councilwoman Jabbour that people make mistakes, but I don’t understand why this guy did this. I don’t know what the email said and it isn’t mentioned in the article, but if it said something like: here are some recommended land use attorneys, that is a real problem for Hoboken.

    Most of all, I don’t even know why there was a hearing in the first place. Once this came to light, shouldn’t the board member simply have just stepped down. A board member just shouldn’t be doing that.

      • Wow, again the Bhalla bots attack Soares’ dwarfism… equal to a hate/protected class offense. Some people forget their homes are made of glass or maybe they don’t have mirrors. Imagine if someone mocked Ravi or Dawn this way? They’d be calling the press, Homeland Security and the Feds…

          • I’ve definitely been mocking the three Real Doofuses of Hoboken and likely will continue to. Mocking doofuses is fun and in the immortal words of the Cat in the Hat, it’s fun to have fun.

            But the only mention of Soares and dwarfism came from Mr. or Mrs. BigotryisBack. Perhaps Mr. Soares should reach out to whoever that is and ask him to please stop.

          • Good for you Lindastan but are you really helping wifey’s legacy attacking people who dare to differ and/or support good government over your choice to save your ass from the ethic cleanser lawsuit? It’s fun to send emails to Hoboken Housing Authority commissioners but you have to know how.

            Not fun for the taxpayers Lindastan. Especially not fun for the HHA residents penalized the most as a result. At least you got off the hook but how did you screw up that badly?

            And in the end, Hoboken was sold out with a $750,000 secret payoff to one of Hoboken’s worst. Sad!

  7. Is Councilwoman Tiffany Fisher still publicly soliciting funds for that political web site that constantly attacks her political enemies.

  8. No Stan, / LINDA LOU

    This wasa reference to Soares: “Dr. Evil November 10, 2018 at 12:06 pm
    My sidekick loves to throw legal lingo around, but this is a small-time case. And his credentials always come up short.

    Reply”

    Be a man and dont run away next time to see me you coward. God forbid someone mocks Dawn’s eyes your bots go crazy, but the Forger in Chief and others can Mock REAL disabilities. I hear Nancu was already put on notice. Hate Crimes are federal

      • He can feel free to prattle on about me if he’d like. You can’t fault doofuses for being doofuses. It’s their nature. My dog will never be a cat and the three doofuses will never not be doofuses.

      • Hater…
        It’s okay to mock others, but don’t laugh at a dead cat…
        Body shaming a dwarf and his dead VETERAN father is okay though. Right NANCY…

        As for your baseless last sentence, Stopping free speech is for your paid operative smear blog…

        • Not only have I never mocked your father’s funeral (I was there, remember?) I have asked my commenters to stop writing about “Soares, Gardiner and Brice”- and they have. No one on this thread has mocked your dwarfism. You are certifiably nuts. You want to be left alone, yet continue to rant on crazily, lie like a rug, threaten and attack others. Well, maybe if you shut up, others will leave you alone. Wouldn’t that be nice? Very immature behavior. You dont deserve to sit on the NHSA.

          • You have the wrong person-you keep guessing, we will keep laughing at you. One can stand up fora friend. The post still exists on your site, you are so unhinged, you can’t even answer in GA personality. No wonder they call you Sybil.
            Very telling that you admit that if people” shut up” they will be “left alone”.
            Otherwise the mean girls on Team RaviBot will bully everyone.
            You’re a bully and a sociopath, you’re not normal.

          • This by a post titled “Dr Evil”
            That’s not mocking?

            “My sidekick loves to throw legal lingo around, but this is a small-time case. And his credentials always come up short.”

            I don’t have to be the person you and Perry Klaussen treat like a punching bag, I can defend him still. Done more for the town than your those nasty mean bully blogs like Grafix Avenger and Hoboken 411.

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