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October 15, 2008

The Hoboken City Council has reached an offer of settlement for a 2005 lawsuit filed against Team Roberts and the City of Hoboken for allegedly not enforcing the city's pay-to-play reform ordinance. Text of settlement offer follows:

WHEREAS, on or about June 2, 2005, Plaintiffs filed a Verified Complaint against the City of Hoboken (“Hoboken” or “City”), David Roberts, in his capacity as Mayor of Hoboken (“Mayor Roberts”), and Ruben Ramos, in his capacity as a member of the Hoboken City Council (“Councilman Ramos”) alleging, inter alia, that the Hoboken Public Contracting Reform Ordinance (the “Ordinance”) had been violated and sought to compel Mayor Roberts, Councilman Ramos and the City to enforce the Ordinance; and

WHEREAS, on or about June 10, 2005, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Verified Complaint adding additional allegations of violations of the Ordinance; and

WHEREAS, on or about August 22, 2005, Defendants Mayor Roberts, Councilman Ramos and the City filed an Answer and Affirmative Defenses; and

WHEREAS, on or about October 28, 2005, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Verified Complaint adding as defendants Terry LaBruno in her capacity as a member of the Hoboken City Council (“Councilwoman LaBruno”) and Peter Cammarano, in his capacity as a member of the Hoboken City Council (“Councilman Cammarano”) and also adding additional allegations of violations of the Ordinance; and

WHEREAS, on or about January 3, 2006, Defendants Mayor Roberts, Councilman Ramos, Councilwoman LaBruno, Councilman Cammarano and the City moved for summary judgment dismissing the Second Amended Verified Complaint; and

WHEREAS, on or about February 20, 2006, Plaintiffs cross-moved for leave to file a Third Amended Verified Complaint seeking to add an additional plaintiff; and

WHEREAS, the motions were fully briefed and the Honorable Maurice J. Gallipoli, A.J.S.C. heard argument on both motions on April 12, 2006; and

WHEREAS, Judge Gallipoli denied Plaintiffs’ request to file a Third Amended Complaint and granted summary judgment dismissing the Second Amended Complaint for lack of standing; and

WHEREAS, Plaintiffs appealed Judge Gallipoli’s grant of summary judgment;

and

WHEREAS, the appeal was fully briefed by the parties and the Appellate Division heard argument on December 3, 2007; and

WHEREAS, the Appellate Division subsequently reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the matter to the Law Division for further proceedings; and

 

WHEREAS, the parties, wishing to resolve the within matter amicably without the need for further litigation, while achieving the goals of both parties, hereby stipulate to settle same, subject to the terms and conditions set forth herein, upon approval by the Court; and

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants and promises contained herein, the legal sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged by the parties, they agree as follows:

1. This Stipulation of Settlement is intended to resolve, settle and dispose of any and all issues that were raised or that could have been raised in the above-captioned matter.

2.  Defendants agree that the Hoboken City Council will introduce for first reading at its September 3, 2008 meeting an Ordinance creating the position of Pay-to­Play Reform Compliance Officer, who will responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the City’s Public Contracting Reform Ordinance and Redevelopment Pay-to-Play Reform Ordinance. The Ordinance shall include the following provisions:

a. The Compliance Officer shall create and update monthly a list of business entities engaged in professional services contracts or extraordinary service contracts as defined in Section 1(a) of the Public Contracting Reform Ordinance. Included on the list will be the names of any partners, officers, and/or any person who owns 10% or more of the equity or ownership or income interests of each business entity. The Compliance Officer shall provide an updated list to the City Council each month and shall make the list available to the public at the City Clerk's office and on the City's official website.

b.                  The Compliance Officer shall create and update monthly a list of redevelopers with redevelopment agreements with the City as defined in Section 1(c) of the Redevelopment Pay-to-Play Reform Ordinance. Included on the list will be the names of any partners, officers, and/or any person who owns 10% or more of the equity or ownership or income interests of each business entity. The Compliance Officer shall provide an updated list to the City Council each month and shall make the list available to the public at the City Clerk's office and on the City's official website.

c.       The City shall request that all candidates for local municipal office in Hoboken submit to the Compliance Officer copies of all campaign financial activity reports they file with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) concurrently with the filing of those reports with ELEC. If a candidate does not submit the reports to the Compliance Officer, the Compliance Officer shall obtain copies of the reports from ELEC at such time as they become available.

d.      The Compliance Officer shall inspect all copies of campaign financial activity reports submitted by candidates or obtained from ELEC for compliance with the Public Contracting Reform Ordinance and Redevelopment Pay-to-Play Reform Ordinance.

e.       The Compliance Officer shall be the designated official for receiving complaints alleging violations of the Public Contracting Reform Ordinance or Redevelopment Pay-to-Play Reform Ordinance.

f.       The Compliance Officer shall submit quarterly reports to the City Council and the Mayor regarding all complaints of violations of the Public Contracting Reform Ordinance or Redevelopment Pay-to-Play Reform Ordinance. The reports shall include the following for each such complaint: the status of the investigation of the complaint; the outcome of the investigation if it has been completed; and, the actions, if any, taken as a result of the investigation. The report shall also include the same information for any investigation taken by the Compliance Officer based upon his own review of campaign financial activity reports. The Compliance Officer shall create and make available to the public at the City Clerk's office and on the City's official website a list of all pending investigation. The Compliance Officer shall also make available to the public at the City Clerk's office and on the City's official website all final determinations made with respect to any complaints.

3. The Ordinance referenced in Paragraph 2, supra, will also delete Ordinance No. DR-154, codified at sections 20A-5 through 20A-10 of the City Code, which has been superseded by Ordinance No. DR-297, codified at sections 20A-11 through 20A-21 of the City Code.

4. In exchange for the above consideration, Plaintiffs and their heirs, successors and assigns waive, release and forever discharge any claims or rights which they asserted or could have asserted against the Defendants and their officers, administrators, agents, employees, attorneys, and their successors, heirs and assigns in the above-captioned matter, including, but not limited to, any and all claims for attorney’s fees and costs.

5. This Stipulation shall not be construed as an admission by Defendants of the truth of any of Plaintiffs’ allegations in the Verified Complaint or the First, Second or Third Amended Verified Complaints, or of any liability to Plaintiffs, or any act of wrongdoing. The Defendants specifically deny and disclaim any liability or wrongdoing whatsoever and maintain that they have not engaged in any wrongful or improper activity in connection with this matter and have at all times complied with the City’s Public Contracting Reform Ordinance.

6.  Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint is hereby dismissed with prejudice and without costs.

7.  In the event the Ordinance described in paragraphs 2 and 3, supra, is not approved and adopted by the City Council by October 1, 2008, Plaintiffs shall be entitled to re-file the claims that had been asserted in this matter and shall have thirty (30) days to do so, and Defendants waive any defenses based upon the statute of limitations that they might then have which are based upon the date the claims are re-filed. Defendants specifically do not waive any defenses based upon the statute of limitations which they had prior to the entry into this Stipulation of Settlement.

January 9, 2008

 

 

APPELLATE COURT RULES THAT HOBOKEN RESIDENTS HAVE STANDING TO COMPEL ENFORCEMENT OF HOBOKEN'S PAY-TO-PLAY ORDINANCE



In another triumph for the right of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard, the Appellate Division this morning issued a published opinion in which ruled that the members of People for Open Government ("POG") have standing to enforce Hoboken's pay-to-play reform ordinance.

In 2004, members of POG worked to pass an initiative in Hoboken that banned the practice of rewarding companies and individuals who have made large campaign contributions with lucrative government contracts, otherwise known as "pay-to-play." Despite the voters approving the measure by an overwhelming margin, the city of Hoboken refused to enforce the ordinance. Attorney Roy J. Konray represented POG in their bid to compel Hoboken to enforce the ordinance. But the lower court dismissed POG's suit, claiming neither POG nor its members had standing.

NJ Appleseed appealed this outrageous decision. The Appellate Division agreed with us, and the lower court's holding that in order to have standing, POG would have to first demonstrate it had suffered a financial harm by Hoboken's failure to enforce the pay-to-play ordinance. The court wrote in stark contrast, "we conclude that plaintiffs' standing is readily apparent...If Hoboken, through its elected officials, chooses to forego enforcement of this law, then who will force them to do so? The question answers itself. We see the present action as a legitimate effort to effectuate the will of the people as reflected in the initiative which led to this Ordinance." We couldn't have said it better ourselves!

This decision has importance throughout the state, because municipalities that have pay-to-play ordinances now understand that their citizens can enforce the ordinance. Congratulations to POG, its dedicated members, and the people of Hoboken.


January 9, 2008


ASSEMBLY & SENATE PASS ELECTION AUDIT BILL!

Just after 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, voting on its last bill of the 2006-2007 session, the Assembly passed A2730, the bill that will require random, mandatory audits of election results designed to detect outcome-reversing miscounts. (The Senate passed its companion, S507 on December 17, 2007 despite vigorous opposition from the Attorney General.) It now awaits Governor Corzine's signature. Once signed by the governor, the provisions will take effect immediately, which will require all absentee ballots in the February primary to be subject to auditing. It made a big difference, especially in light of the Attorney General's efforts to derail the bill. Thanks go out to Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, the sponsor in the Assembly, but especially to Senator Nia Gill, the Senate sponsor. She climbed the mountain for this critical election reform effort; without her dedicated determination wewould not be celebrating today. Lastly, thanks to the members of the New Jersey Citizens' Coalition on Help America Vote Act ("HAVA") Implementation for their work to get this bill passed. For more details about the bill, go to www.njappleseed.net and click on "News."

 

 

 

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