In Hoboken, DeFusco wants hotel givebacks to pay for security cameras on the waterfront

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Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco is suggesting a proposal where the givebacks generated from the Hilton Hotel pay for a security camera system to oversee the city’s waterfront.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“While I have the utmost confidence in the Hoboken Police Department and our County law enforcement partners, I do share some of the concerns raised by residents regarding safety on the waterfront,” said DeFusco said in a statement.

“The loss of any life is devastating and the effects can be felt in our community. Any resource that positively assists police, makes residents feel safe or can save a life is invaluable to our community. I have spoken to Mayor Bhalla about making funding for these projects a priority and I am confident that by working together with the city council we will bring these much needed safety investments to the Waterfront.”

DeFusco, who said he plans on introducing a resolution on this topic at next week’s council meeting, is proposing the idea about two weeks after authorities found a Baltimore man’s body in the Hudson River off of Pier A in Hoboken.

In the past eight years, about 15 to 20 people have been discovered dead in the Hudson River, prompting a serial killer conspiracy theory as an explanation, though that has previously been debunked by Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante.

In an email, Ferrante said he would welcome any additional funding for the police department, though noted this is a complex issue that could cost upwards of $200,000.

“Law enforcement agencies always welcome more funding for cameras because sometimes they are able to answer questions and at times help with identifying suspects in various situations. Cameras used for law enforcement are very expensive,” he began.

“The seven waterfront cameras purchased with a grant in 2013 cost $177,000 and annually we incur some $10-20,000 in data storage costs and maintenance and service agreement costs. That is just for seven cameras. However, that is for the City Administration and City Council to determine when it comes to priorities in a municipal budget.”

The police chief continued that all of the individuals found dead in the Hudson River in the past eight years entered the water voluntarily for a number of reasons that include intoxication, drugs, rescues, and suicide attempts, among other things.

Furthermore, Ferrante said that based on police data, there are four other locations in the city that could use security cameras more than the waterfront.

City spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri said the administration welcomes any new public safety initiatives, but the current budget being considered by the council does not necessarily reflect such.

“Mayor Bhalla is glad that Councilman DeFusco is concerned about security, and agrees for the need for the appropriate surveillance along our waterfront,” he stated.

“However, the councilman is being disingenuous as he and his Council colleagues are at the same time making six figure cuts to the Hoboken Police Department budget, with $10,000 in cuts to service agreements which includes the monitoring of this very type of surveillance technology.”

2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, the chair of the council’s finance committee, said that the potential cuts to the HPD mostly revolved around purchasing motorcycles as police vehicles.

“I think Councilman DeFusco’s idea is a great and fiscally responsible one as we have to consider new benefits that have a nexus with the hotel project,” she exclaimed.

“It’s unfortunate that Vijay once again is being dishonest and using petty politics – 75 percent of the budget cuts to HPD related to delaying the purchase of new motorcycles for a year and all were accepted by Chief Ferrante.”

In response, Chaudhuri doubled down that DeFusco and Fisher are either “ignorant of the budget cuts they proposed or lying,” calling either scenario “troubling.”

In October, the council approved a Hilton Hotel plan that would include $4.85 million in community givebacks, though a judge has since shot down that idea and city officials are reconsidering how to proceed forward.

Additionally, the governing body approved the first reading of a $117 million budget that came with $836,000 in cuts from the initial one earlier this month, dropping the tax rate increase down to 1.3 percent as opposed to 2.8 percent.

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs is currently reviewing the city’s budget and an attempt to amend it again was voted down.

After this and other media outlets published a story on this subject, Ferrante sent out a series of tweets disputing that he ever approved budget cuts for the police departments and provided some details as to what those cuts would look like.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with new information.

15 COMMENTS

  1. This guy VJ is such a nasty, unprofessional lyin’ jacka$$.

    What was the reason that he left his job in city hall under the last mayor? Maybe it’s time for him to meet that same fate again.

    • Everything comes back to how the City Council tried to make a budget better and more in line with a Dawn Zimmer budget. The City Council has good government people working hard. The lack of professionalism and carpet bombing fabrications out of the mayor’s office has become de rigueur. They can’t and will not stop. Vijay thinks he’s still a paid political operative working for Ravi Bhalla. Maybe he still is. He was on Ravi’s payroll before he came back to City Hall. It’s in the Bhalla NJ ELEC report last fall. Doing it on the taxpayer dime, however, is illegal. All of this requires law enforcement investigation.

      • you’re really good at identifying conspiracies. maybe you can tell us what conspiracy explains the failure of roman to hold mike defusco accountable for pay to play violations and shilling for outsized developments on hoboken’s southern boarder while taking tons of money from developers and unions.

        • People should cover your fabrications and conspiracies, gutter race-baiting cave crap and your homophobic bigoted “milk money shot” of Mike DeFusco? You’re so disgusting.

          Ravi takes tons of money from unions and developers. Shoot, Ravi set the RECORD into SEVEN FIGURES! He tried to get millions of dollars to buy votes out of the hotel deal and the court stopped him cold in his sleaze!

          Now it’s a problem? What a buffoon short a couple of marbles.

          Shoot, ram it through Ravi just rammed through a 20 story hotel in Hoboken for the northwest and no one even knows about it.

          Hey HCV, Ravi gave himself a weird loan from his campaign. That’s fresh news not the old news HCV and MSV already covered.

          Who’s going to break that story first: HCV or Hobokenhorse? Thank goodness there’s some actual journalism telling the truth, not tonguing forge ahead Vijay’s no. 2 hole.

  2. Security cameras on Hoboken’s waterfront will not prevent bodies that enter the river upriver from floating down river past Hoboken, like the guy from Baltimore. In fact they won’t prevent anybody from jumping or falling into the river in Hoboken, as happened several times over the past few years. All cameras can do is help us understand what happened after the fact. They are investigative tools, not public safety tools. They are also impingements on our privacy so we should only be using them in locations where there is actually a real and compelling public safety reason.

    As for paying for the cameras as a “give-back” from the Hotel deal, DeFusco and Fisher should ask one of the City’s lawyers to explain the Court’s decision in the hotel case to them. The Court’s reasoning had nothing to do with “nexus” to the project. If the decision survives appeal, forcing the developer to pay the full cost of off tract waterfront security cameras would be just as illegal as the off tract givebacks in the existing Agreement.

    • DeFusco is just being DeFusco and looking to get some press. He doesn’t have to a legally sound argument or even a rational one he just needs to be argumentative to get press. Will that be enough to get votes from First Ward residents in November?

    • Wrong again SHAM. Cameras pointed towards the railing and water would help a lot. You should know better that camera could solve ALL sorts of Crimes.

      • Is Councilman DeFusco actually proposing pointing cameras toward the railing and water? That’s so stupid that it never even occurred to me that he could conceivably have meant that.

        Fortunately you’re out here to clarify just how dumb DeFusco’s grandstanding proposal really is.

        As for solving crimes – of course cameras can help solve them. Though if the cameras are pointing at the river the perps would have to be ducks.

        • MORONStan pointing towards the railing to see how people are entering the water. Move already. But don’t ask a stupid price for your outdated white elephant

          • You sound angry, stupid and petty – not a good look. But it’s a look you’ve worn for many years. It’s become your trademark.

            You also sound defensive, almost as if this dumb idea was yours. I know good help is hard to find, but Councilman DeFusco certainly can do better.

  3. Unless the CC cameras are monitored 24 hours a day they will not prevent anything.
    They will not be.
    No one has even suggested that they would be or willing to pay the enormous cost to do so.
    A recent court decision regarding give backs from the developers of the proposed P.O. hotel is it is not legal to request off site projects.

    • If that’s the case, why is Sybils cave stating the money could still go to the Hoboken Public Education Foundation and the Y- It can not. The courts called it a shakedown…

      Ravibots and Zimmerites can’t accept that DeFusco has ideas and Ravi doesn’t. Ravi is only here to use us as a stepping stone. Two Jobs. One he doesn’t do well and hates, the other he promised never to take.

      Ravi sullied the office of Mayor on Day 1 when her gave Convicted Felon Anthony Russo and State Takeover Davey Roberts into his office.

  4. When is that civil rights trial on Willow Terrace taking place?
    Someone never learns….

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