LETTER: Hoboken mayor should’ve acted sooner, swifter to help seniors combat COVID-19

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In a letter to the editor, Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher says Mayor Ravi Bhalla should’ve acted sooner and swifter to help the senior populations that are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.

Dear Editor,

13 deaths. 12 seniors. Confirmed that the first five were all in the HHA, all Hispanic and four of the five lived in our Senior Buildings. Still await confirmation on the rest. It isn’t right.

Nor is the mayor’s back to back emails the last two nights overstating his efforts to help seniors.

For the past month several of my council colleagues and I have begged his administration to take better steps to protect our most vulnerable.

The cleaning the mayor mentioned in last night’s email? This was Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr.’s initiative, having demanded that the HHA do more for its residents (and his 4th ward constituents) to fight the risk of COVID.

He arranged with HHA Director Recko for a local cleaning company to sanitize the entire HHA campus and then reached out to the city to ask for approval to use the recent HUD CDBG increased funding allocation for this purpose.

The city’s role is to facilitate the allocation of the HUD funding.

The meal plan announced by the mayor Wednesday? Finally and amazing!

This happened because several of my council colleagues and members of the public finally got sick of the administration’s lack of response which led to my calling the County directly for help in getting food for our seniors to incentivize them to stay inside.

We also reached out to Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro who acted immediately, not as a “volunteer” as the mayor so disrespectfully states, to deliver safety information, PPE and food to our seniors.

It was these two actions and some calls from angry community members that FINALLY lit a fire under this administration to do something other than just close common rooms and end senior activities.

That something was supposed to be two weeks of meal plans to seniors in ALL SIX of our High Risk senior buildings, which the City Council called for, not just to the three HHA senior buildings as the City announced.

From day one of this crisis, like many of you who continue to express concerns for our most vulnerable, my City Council colleagues and I made helping our most vulnerable our number one priority.

Yes, many of the executive orders put forth by the mayor and his team that are to help keep us all safe, also help our most vulnerable as well.

But can you find any actions or orders that are specific to our seniors other than the senior hotline (council led initiative as well…). Should we really be treating our highest risk residents the same as everyone else?

The issue I have isn’t that the administration didn’t have a plan B for our seniors out of the gate – this is uncharted territory. We all get it. The issue is their delay and continued resistance in doing more to protect our highest risk residents.

And that when they finally do something in the face of community pressure, they try to pass it off as their own doing. Like I said before, it just isn’t right.

The thing that has kept me up at night the most during this crisis is our most vulnerable. People who have food insecurities that they may or may not have ever had before. Seniors with and without underlying health issues being exposed to many who could infect them with the deadly virus. To name just a few.

As you all know my mother recently was hospitalized for lung and heart issues. Thankfully she is comfortable at home in a suburb of Rochester with no need or opportunity to interact with others who may be contagious. But that is not what we have in Hoboken.

In Hoboken, we have ~900 seniors >65 living in 6 senior buildings. Many have lived in Hoboken their whole life. Many only speak Spanish. Many have underlying health issues. These buildings have no restrictions on visitors as of right now. Many don’t get the mayor’s emails.

And according to Assemblywoman Chaparo who spoke with many when she delivered over 100 meals to 221 Jackson this week, many are not fully aware of their heightened risks – 20x to 30x greater chance of dying if infected – and what they need to do to protect themselves and their neighbors.

Governor Murphy said yesterday that we have an issue with nursing homes in New Jersey. Did you know that just three towns away in North Bergen they have had 39 deaths, 30 of which are in nursing homes? How are our senior buildings that different in terms of concentrations of High Risk people?

221 Jackson. 220 Adams. Fox Hill. Marian Towers. Columbus Tower. 76 Bloomfield. Six buildings – 900 seniors. We have another 1,200 seniors concentrated in other affordable buildings as well like Church Towers, Clock Towers and Marine View. And then another 2,000 beyond these across the city.

The night of the very first death in Hoboken we learned through informal channels that the victim was a man in one of our senior buildings whose wife was then in ICU for COVID as well (she soon passed).

Immediately late that night Council President Giattino and Councilman Ramos and I called the administration and the HHA to express concerns and ask about planning to avoid a possible outbreak in our senior / High Risk buildings.

With no meaningful response, the next day, and every day after including at our Council Meeting on Wednesday, as we watched more HHA seniors pass, we continued to offer ideas to keep our seniors inside, to test all of them, and even raised the idea of outside resources like the national guard coming to help.

But according to this article, this pandemic isn’t as bad as a hurricane so we were told there was no need to do any more. Their words.

I am glad that this administration is finally doing something. But we need to do more before it gets even worse.

Tiffanie Fisher
Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman

38 COMMENTS

  1. This is one of the saddest attempts at political relevancy I have ever seen. Tiffanie Fisher is a hack, she is a wannabe. She has been on the wrong end of nearly ever decision that has been made.
    She didn’t want to close the bar
    She didn’t want to close the restaurants
    She didn’t want to close parks
    She wanted to open the roads to attract people to congregate.

    Hoboken deserves to have real leaders working for them. And if you look at the numbers, the decisions that were made by Mayor Bhalla reflect a leader that was making choices that benefit Hoboken and Flatten the Curve in our Mile Square. She either is too stupid or too blinded by jealousy to understand how a leader is supposed act during times of crisis.

    Everyday I wish more people would have voted for Nora because that is the leader the 2nd Ward deserves. Not someone who whines and feigns concern for a population she has done absolutely nothing to help in her previous 4 years on the City Council. One day she will get what she deserves but until then, I hope she keeps her mouth shut and doesn’t get in the way of the adults that are helping save lives.

  2. This is the worst kind of exploitation of a disaster I’ve ever seen….a councilwoman blaming coronavirus deaths on the Mayor! Disgusting. Thanks to this Mayor’s early action closing bars, non-essential businesses, quarantining and face mask wearing, park closing, surely lives have been saved. The Mayor, his staff, OEM, HPD, HFD have been working 24/7 to mitigate the spread of covid in Hoboken. Fisher probably blames Bhalla for the 38 seniors died of Covid in that Washington nursing home. Hey Tiffanie, if you see a problem, get off your a$$ and do something to HELP. Why not organize a senior task force, instead of stamping your feet in the middle of this deadly pandemic and playing politics. Pathetic! Hoboken residents are volunteering their time, donating money, finding PPE, making masks and Tiffanie Fisher is writing self-serving letters to HCV. In the middle of a pandemic! No one has the appetite for this now. No one. Pandemic pandering. Gross.

  3. The majority of Hoboken residents testing positive for covid-19 are below 40. The majority of Hoboken residents with coronavirus don’t live in senior buildings. The smallest number of Hoboken covid-19 cases are seniors, but they are the sickest with the highest mortality rate. This is not unique to Hoboken.

    Fisher is spreading misinformation: there is no outbreak in any senior building, and there will not be if seniors stay inside their apartments. Councilpersons like Fisher and Ramos should be on top of keeping their constituent seniors informed, like Councilman Cohen does for the seniors of Fox Hills. You don’t hear Cohen complaining that seniors aren’t being helped because he’s too busy helping them. Cohen works to make sure his senior constituents know how to stay safe. Maybe Ramos and Fisher need to work a little harder and make sure their most vulnerable constituents are getting the information that City Hall and the HHA provide? Fisher and Ramos are supposed to be on the team. As for second guessing Director Pellegrini, he would know that evacuating seniors in the middle of a pandemic is incredibly foolish and dangerous.

    • How do you know there is no outbreak in senior facilities? Are you a City Hall insider and Bhalla supporter writing this? Probably pathetic Cohen himself.

        • Ravi had to take care of his second job. He doesn’t want to lose those contract dollars. So he is busy. He needs money. Can’t do everything.

          • and you spend your time on the same ad hominem attacks you make 365 days a year. then you’ll post an easter card on your website tomorrow like you’re all religious. you’re an empty shell.

          • WOWWWWWW…

            Roman please stop commenting back to back under 2 fake names 2 minutes apart lmaooooo. You posted under Margarita at 6:40 then this one at 6:42 saying the same lame garbage to defend Mrs. Fisher. Sad!

    • Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Ramos will be running for mayor in November and Fisher is doing what she can to advance his chances and trying to be valuable to him. Ramos who’s only real constituency is and has always been in the Senior and HHA buildings that he and his family have been cultivating for decades.
      It is highly doubtful that Giattino or Fisher will have the will or funding to make another sacrificial spoiler run for mayor. Her apparent falling out with the noisy DeFusco and her long standing passive-aggressive hatred of Bhalla leaves her little choice of who to support in the next election.

  4. So, it finally got political and it’s because of Tiffanie. For a few moments, I thought we’d rise above. Thanks to Tiffanie, we’re back in the mud.

  5. This is the saddest display I’ve ever seen from a local politician, and I’ve witnessed Tiffanie Fisher’s entire term on the City Council here in Hoboken, so I know a thing or two about watching a politician stoop to incredibly low levels and humiliate themselves. This latest in the long line of long, miserable, drawn out, (presumably) alcohol-induced long-form letters is the worst one she’s ever written. I can’t believe it.

    This is disgusting. This is beyond disgusting. This is the incoherent rambling of an aging, out-of-touch, delusional politician who has no clue what is going on in her own city or what people think. If I didn’t know any better and know this is par for her course, I would think the self-isolation has started getting to her and she’s losing her marbles. Mayor Bhalla has been nothing but EXCELLENT during this confusing, horrible time for so many people and their families. I’d like to remind Ms. Fisher that the Mayor was the first too enact a curfew, to start shutting things down, to close bars, close restaurants, close gatherings, close parks, to require make be work in supermarkets, and the list goes on and on. The neighboring cities, the entire state, and parts of the country have followed his lead! This is not debatable!

    This blatant attention grab is horrible. I can’t wait until the City Council meetings are back in session and we can show up to voice our displeasure and tell her to her face what she is: a drain on the city, someone who only cares about herself and her close friends she can make money with, and nothing else. Shame on you, Ms. Fisher!

  6. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and instead of just… helping.. Tiffanie is sitting up in The Hudson Tea Building writing letters… about WHO GETS CREDIT???

    …I can’t even tell you how disgusted I am right now.

    This is the very last thing we need right now from elected officials. She should issue an apology or resign IMMEDIATELY.

  7. These comments all seem to be written by the same hand. Many tells in them. Probably a bhalla supporter trying to do damage control. I also live in the second ward. I don’t have anyway of knowing if what the councilwoman says is true or not but I don’t think she makes up things and I also don’t think she is someone who would exploit a crisis for her own political gain. Unlike our mayor. I read his emails nightly And although informative his self bravado is often overpowering. I respect Councilwoman Fisher a lot even though I don’t always agree with her. She is truly an independent voice and not the mayoral sycophant like others on the council. I disagreed with her in opening up Sinatra drive for residents and with upcoming nice weather we’ll test that theory. Otherwise i believe her words and actions have only supported the need to stay home and be safe. So that point above about not supporting the mayor’s actions is fake news as they say.

    Maybe others knew but I am alarmed to learn that we had so many lower income and senior buildings. My mother lives in a 55+ community and early on in this crisis they actively communicated with residents about their risks and provided meal options so they were less apt to leave their apartments. also they limited movement in and around the building. If we do have this many elderly living in such close quarters I also wonder why the mayor took this long to do anything to protect them. Just because we see the elderly dying at a greater rate doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do more to try to stop that from happening in Hoboken.

    I am glad that the councilwoman exposed this. They say we are judged by how we care for our most vulnerable.

    • Tiffanie, you don’t need to defend your letter. The letter speaks for itself and it is despicable.

      I assume this has to be Tiffanie herself because how else can you explain this? Nobody could say with a straight face that Tiffanie doesn’t exploit things for her own gain. That she doesn’t make things up. That she cares about people.

      Tiffanie only cares about Tiffanie and this was a pathetic letter to write. End of story.

    • It should be remembered that Ruben R and Tiffany F both are clients of the same prominent NJ political media spin company and when the identical main talking points and even some of the same sentences are used by both clients at the exact same time, it is difficult not believe that it is not all part of one coordinated campaign to attack their mutual opponent

      Hoboken it’s public officials and private citizens has been widely recognized at being at the forefront of the containing and mitigating the fallout of the CORONA-19 pandemic

    • LMAO this is Tiffanie writing this. Know how I know? It’s a very long, very boring, very stupid long-form post that defends a person and point that is indefensible.

      Sorry, Tiff, you blew it here.

  8. What was the purpose of this letter?

    It is embarrassing for Hoboken that this is who represents them.

    She needs to stop playing politics and start doing her job.

    • The media team behind Councilman Ramos understood that he could not publish such a self-congratuatory letter while at the same time attacking Mayor Bhalla, which is both easily refutable and upon doing so could be easily used against him in the upcoming campaign when he runs for mayor in November. So who would be willing to do it ? Councilwoman Fisher their other client who is not running for office in November fit the bill.

  9. This is why I voted for Nora, and will continue to continue to vote against Tiffanie until she is out of Hoboken politics.

    Takes everything personally… She’s all ego. Has no heart. Only in it for herself.

    She almost lost her seat last election cycle, but I will make sure she loses it next time around.

  10. Is anyone else blown away by the stupidity of this woman? She had the audacity to claim the director said this “isn’t as bad as a hurricane” when he actually said that this isn’t the same as a hurricane where an evacuation would be necessary.

    Pray tell us councilwoman, how would evacuating seniors out of their indoor homes… during an airborne virus pandemic, into some other indoor facility be a help? How do you not see the difference here between this and a hurricane threatening to DESTROY homes where you are literally forced to leave. LOL of all the stupid ideas I’ve ever heard this might take the cake.

    Tiffanie, darling, you need to get some serious help. You seem like a nice person, but WOW!

  11. The stupidest comment I read was by Pellegrini in the Reporter article saying there is no other plan to protect our elderly because this isn’t a hurricane. He’s right. Sandy happened once for several destructive hours and trapped people in their homes for a few days. This pandemic is more like a series of continuing tornados specifically targeting the elderly. So yeah, we probably shouldn’t do anything to help them because continuing, targeted, deathly tornadoes aren’t that bad. I don’t fault Bhalla for not acting sooner. He relied on knucklehead Pellegrini. I bet bhalla wasn’t too happy with his comment. I’m just glad something is finally being done.

  12. I have to give Tiffanie credit, she has come a long way and I’m glad she specifically mentioned the minority seniors who passed away. Its wasn’t that long ago that she was being called out on her blatant racism and lack of caring about those less fortunate than her, so I applaud her for turning a corner and realizing that’s no way to live. Keep up the good work, Mrs. Fisher!

  13. I’ve been following Hoboken and Jersey City politics for 40 years and this letter is right up there with the worst, most distasteful, most counterproductive provocations ever written by an elected official. I had not until now fully understood that the city’s Second Ward voters put a troll on the City Council to represent them. To nitpick and second guess her colleagues, the people she was elected to work with, while the pandemic has everyone living in fear (unless they’re fools), is a major disgrace. She should be be reaching deep within herself and shutting off whatever makes her spew venom like this. She should be working for unity, not division, not undermining others for the sake of politics. She should be representing her constituents. I’m sure that very few of them hate at her level. Does she think this letter shows leadership? More like a mad dog demanding attention!

  14. Coronavirus is NOT a “series of continuing tornadoes specifically targeting the elderly.” Leo’s statement is correct: COVID-19 is not a hurricane, it is a virus that targets the lungs of any host of any age- most cases in Hoboken/NYC are in the below 40 age group. The highest mortality occurs in immuno-suppressed and elderly. The best way for these populations to stay safe is to stay indoors inside of their homes, NOT to move them around like deck chairs. Moreover, why is Leo being attacked in the middle of a pandemic? Who cares what he said? How petty. Leo is working is butt off 24/7 unlike some letter-writing councilwoman.

  15. It’s obvious that the councilman wanted to create a public relations disaster for someone.

    Mission accomplished. Dope.

    This will not be forgotten. While Hoboken was on its knees you looked for a political advantage. It takes a lot to p*** people off more than Defusco and even Beth. But you’ve done it.

  16. Why ?

    If Ramos is successful in becoming Mayor, replacing Hoboken Directors could possibly generate many political patronage jobs for his low income, low education voter base.
    Hoboken has come a long way from those bad old days but Ramos is a product of that system.

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