Hoboken residents, council members call for City Hall to reopen to pre-pandemic levels

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Several Hoboken residents, along with a few city council members, called for City Hall to re-open to pre-pandemic levels at last night’s meeting.

Twitter photo.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

“In-person meetings, is that ever going to happen again?,” Cheryl Fallick, who unsuccessfully ran for a council-at-large seat earlier this month as part of the “Independently Together” slate, asked during public portion.

3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo nodded enthusiastically at the idea.

“See, someone agrees with me,” she noted.

Sheila Brennan, one of Fallick’s recent running mates, said that City Hall should not be treated like a fortress and that it’s time for all in-person functions to resume.

“Is it something that the council would consider doing to request or recommend that City Hall be opened again? I would love to go back to in-person meetings. I would love to see full access to the various departments in city hall made available to the public,” she began.

“I’m hearing so many people frustrated and really feel like it’s a fortress, and they’re never going to be able to access it again. What can you all do to help facilitate that? I would love to see City Hall opened for as much as it can be and safely as it can be. Let’s open our house back open to our people.”

Another resident, Michael Summers, said the city website had the wrong Zoom link for last  night’s meeting, yet another reason why City Hall needs to reopen completely since this caused some residents to be unable to participate in the meeting.

“We should protest every day until you’re open: You’re asking for a raise, and you’re not even at work. Shame on you,” Pat Waiters, another recent council-at-large candidate, said regarding the salary range ordinance that was approved on first reading last night.

Council Vice President Jen Giattino, the 6th Ward representative, raised the issue as well, noting that a constituent was shocked to recently find out they couldn’t walk into the building to pay their taxes.

“I did have a constituent call me who went to City Hall this past week to pay their taxes, and they couldn’t walk into City Hall and pay their taxes, which is kind of like the ultimate slap in the face that you’re going to pay your taxes to the city of Hoboken,” she said.

“You get there and four security guards, I’m exaggerating when I say tackle you, but literally come to you at the door and they’re like ‘what are you doing here,’ and he said ‘I’m just here to pay my taxes’ and was told you can’t.”

She acknowledged that there is a drop box for residents to leave their tax payments, but said the time where this is necessary has passed.

“What is the plan to open City Hall? We’ve been closed for 18 months. It feels like we are much more closed than open,” 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said.

“We all … get complaints from constituents daily saying they can’t reach anyone by phone. They can’t make an appointment, they can’t get in.

Business Administrator Jason Freeman stressed that City Hall is open by appointment only, which would not be permanent but would also not change immediately because of what other municipalities are doing.

“City Hall is open. It is open by appointment only. At the end of the day, City Hall is an office building. There’s 150 employees there every single day. Some are vaccinated. Some are not. And we’re trying our best to keep them safe and keep the residents safe,” he explained.

He noted that meeting space is available in the building for those with appointments to see city officials, with Fisher responding that a sign on Newark Avenue said it is still closed to the public.

“What are you doing to make public access to the city a bigger priority?” Fisher asked.

“I don’t know what other municipalities are doing, and frankly not that I don’t care … we’re operating in the best possible way for our building, for staff and our residents and I know that’s not going to make everybody happy all the time,” Freeman said.

“We’ve tried and spent a lot of money to put as many things online to avoid coming into the building, to avoid having to wait in any sort of line.”

Bayonne and Jersey City City Halls are also only open by appointment only, though Bayonne’s council meetings have resumed in-person (with a stream still available) while Jersey City’s have not.

Conversely, Union City City Hall is fully open and their board of commissioners meetings were held in person throughout the public health emergency.

Just before the conclusion of the meeting, Council President Ruben Ramos said he expected the December 1st council session to be held in person.

Paul Presinzano, the third member of the Independently Together team, has kept a running tally on Twitter since the election ended about how City Hall continues to remain open by appointment only.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Please open City Hall and my mayor’s office for all my peops. Thank you and see you soon!
    Your soon-to-be acting mayor, Mikie. (Ravi and I cut a beautiful deal.)

  2. Fallick didn’t hold a Rent Control meeting for more than 1/2 a year not even zoom… She should shut her fat mouth, better yet, they should remove her for Dereliction of duty. She wants city hall open now… Oh how nice?

      • it’s not for no reason. he gave a very specific reason – the wide gap between fallick’s words and fallick’s own actions. try reading instead of just regurgitating your anti-bhalla script.

        • I guess Fallick didn’t like the FREE laptop they got her to access meetings, maybe she could use that same FREE laptop to access all of city hall’s online information. Honestly, people from the HHA that serve on boards – people who actually pass a means test for affordable housing – don’t even demand free computers.

          And speaking of online …. it’s interesting that this same “activist” for her clique of maybe 30 people still protected by extremely low rent control rates never complains that landlords cant file for legal calculations or access their records digitally. They actually want it that way so landlords make errors and they get their pals new rent calculations, sue the landlord, cause huge settlements and then they go buy themselves a property out of town

        • Gimme a break. Watched the meeting, she asked about city council meetings and didn’t say anything about city hall. Don’t know what you’re talking about with the rent board. It’s not her job to make sure that the board has proper equipment or that the board has an attorney. Nice try though, blaming city hall disfunction on a volunteer. That’ll go far.

  3. It’s Fallick’s responsibility to ensure meetings are held? Seems more like it’s the mayor’s and the business administrator’s. If they see there haven’t been meetings and residents needs aren’t being met and they let that happen then it’s a dereliction of their duty. Not a volunteer resident’s.

  4. So a handful of nuts think the public health threat is over and want to assemble at City Hall? A few DINO council members want to appease them at the risk of their colleagues and themselves and attendees?

    Newsflash: the public health threat is not over. Virtual meetings are just as productive as in-person meetings, in fact better; all council persons are on camera, their faces are clear and viewers are not at the mercy of camera angles.

    Admin: please disregard a handful of babies- inc council members- and continue policies which minimize the spread of the deadly virus and emerging variants.

    • Too bad the rent controller board didn’t see a need to meet without Fallick, their leader.
      Imagine if the city council stopped meeting because just the council president didn’t know how to fix his computer camera?
      Guess there’s no need for that echo chamber board afterall?

      • Agree, rent board meetings should have continued while Fallick arranged of her taxpayer- subsidized laptop. Even if rent board meetings are The Cheryl Show, didn’t she have an understudy?

        • Can Absentee Rent Control Chair Fallick now return her city owned computer, paid for by those awful land owning tax payers? Oh wait, she wasn’t absent, she just didn’t hold meetings…Pathetic, a 5 year old can figure out using a zoom camera or get one fixed. Sad a person of her experience rather just get a new free stuff laptop by the people she rant against on her face book page.
          We are so lucky this “Cancel The Rent” appointee and her shadow probably won’t see reappointment next time around.

        • Would love to be the fly on that laptop during her campaign… Nice free laptop… I guess she never used it for anti city hall campaign this year.

    • Haven’t you people heard about the new variants? DUHHHHHHHHHH!
      With the new variant, now is not the time to reopen, if the losing council candidates want to stand outside of city hall in protest that’s their choice, funny, the free laptop recipient was able to call in from the outside of city hall into last night’s meeting, but couldn’t do that to do her role for the rent chair because she had no laptop.

      The City should have full access to that free laptop and make sure it’s not being used for private or political purposes

  5. So the notion that only Republican nutjobs want to return to some sort of normalcy is just patently false.

    Hudson County, Union City, and Weehawken have been conducting all meetings in person for months with no stream and no one’s had a problem with it. It can be done if people just stopped being lazy and insisting on getting paid from their couches.

    • Your “facts” and logic need repair.

      Weehawken Township 11/22/2021 Council meeting) was conducted “VIA VIDEO & TELEPHONE CONFERENCE (VIRTUALLY), allowing Members of the Public to monitor the meeting at that time and have an opportunity to join in and provide public comment via telephone / video by calling the following number 1 (571) 317- 3112 and, when prompted, by entering the following Access Code: 277-318-653 or by following the link https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/277318653. Those participating virtually will be required to have your phone/video on “mute” during the meeting except when you are recognized for public”

      FYI: Union City has never streamed government meetings, before and during covid; they don’t have meeting video archives- not online. So, Union City may be your model for government business during a public health crisis, but it should not be Hoboken’s.

      New York City is a better model for Hoboken, their public meetings are being held virtually. https://council.nyc.gov/

      Why are Fallick, Fisher and Giattino in denial that public assembly is a threat to public safety now? Answer: DINOs.

      • Ok, so I was mistaken in that Weehawken had returned to full normalcy, but their hybrid version of meetings where people can attend while a stream is still provided, just like Bayonne, is much better than virtual only.

        The bottom line is the only municipalities still doing only virtual are Jersey City, Hoboken, and West New York. Also note that even the Hoboken BOE meets in person again. Is that another GOP-leaning group in your book?

        No one said there’s zero risk, but it’s time to rip off the band aid. Anyone whose not comfortable can continue staying home.

  6. Let’s see how long those in-person public meetings last. Another scheme to infect residents with covid so your council cohort can blame the mayor.

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