2009 Apr 21st

Don’t Forget To Vote Today! 2pm to 9pm. Board of Ed & Budget.

Some more interesting info about your choice for School Board to consider:


Censored Letter to the Editor?

Here is the letter to the editor of the Hoboken Reporter which they refused to print this week.  They claim they don’t print ‘negative’ letters the week prior to the election.  Can you say censorship?  Yet they printed Frank (Pupie) Raia’s letter on the same subject.  So in fairness, (thank you Hoboken411.com) you can read the other side here:

“To The Editor-

I was educated in New Jersey public schools and am the son of a parent who served three-terms as a trustee of the Board of Education. I believe in the importance of public schools and in the 23 years that I have lived in Hoboken I have always voted for the school budget. However, on April 21st, for the first time in my life, I will vote NO on the school budget and wanted to explain why.

We in Hoboken are suffering through an unprecedented fiscal crisis. The shocks to the financial industry have cost large number of our residents their jobs and those residents who are fortunate to still have their jobs worry about their job security and are trying to cut back in many ways to protect against things getting worse in their lives. At the same time, property taxes, which support the public schools, have increased 47%. People are hurting and need help.

Unfortunately, the leadership of Hoboken’s Teachers’ Union, just doesn’t get it. Thomas L. Friedman, in his March 17, 2009 column in the New York Times wrote about how teachers in other public school districts “get it” and have responded in the public interest. He wrote:

“The schoolteachers here [in Montgomery County, Maryland], who make on average $67,000 a year, recently voted to voluntarily give up their 5 percent pay raise that was contractually agreed to for next year, saving our school system $89 million — so programs and teachers would not have to be terminated.”

Here, in Hoboken, Gary Enrico, President of the Hoboken Education Association, screams at Board of Education meetings, threatening Trustees who do not support retroactive raises and orchestrates massive demonstrations of municipal employees at Board Meetings and leads walkouts at Board of Education meetings when the meetings do not go as he likes. He also has threatened retaliation at the polls for any trustee who dares to vote against the union’s demands. Not satisfied with delivering an extraordinary contract for himself and his members, now that it is election time, Mr. Enrico is following through on his threats for revenge.

On April 7, 2009, Mr. Enrico wrote every single teacher in the Hoboken school district in response to one slate of Board of Education candidates’ suggestion that Hoboken teachers should pay a health care deductible and part of their insurance premiums to reduce costs. Mr. Enrico responded that “This will never happen as long as I am president.” His April 7, 2009 letter threatens teachers with the consequences of losing their benefits and their jobs if they do not mobilize on behalf of the other team of candidates for the Board of Education and orders his members to fight for the school budget. He commanded all teachers to attend a General Membership meeting on Monday April 20th @3:00 pm in the Hoboken High School Cafeteria where “I will lay out our plans for Election Day. No excuses.”

It is clear that our fine and hard-working teachers are not being well-served by their union leadership. Mr. Enrico just doesn’t get it, and the Board of Education’s current leadership does not have the will to stand up to the union. We need to send a clear message at the polls that it’s time for our teachers to find a new leader, one who does not divide our teachers from our community and who is sensitive to the real pain that we taxpayers of Hoboken are feeling.

On April 21, please join me and vote NO on the school budget. A NO vote on the budget is a vote for fiscal sanity to return to our public schools.

Phil Cohen

If you own property in Hoboken, you are paying for the schools. If you are selling, this affects your property value. If you are thinking of buying, this matters! Even if you rent, your landlord’s property tax increases can legally be passed on to you, the tenant! PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO VOTE TODAY!

  1. Tiger

    I can’t believe this budget! $59 MILLION DOLLAR!!! Whoa! With the school year almost 180 days, that’s almost 300K A DAY! This is insane.

    I love how they justify the budget by saying ‘we should take into consideration FUTURE enrollment’. Unless you’ll have been having triplets behind my back, I don’t see how future enrollment justifies a 50% increase over three years.

    Our schools have constantly disappointed and our BoE has kept business as usual far too long, but unlike anything else in Hoboken, there’s a victim here, and it’s not only us taxpayers; it’s the students. We are really selling them short and disappointing them.

    GO KIDS FIRST! And vote NO for the budget. Please vote, and urge your friends to vote too!

  2. leafgreen99

    At least the BOE did not raise its budget 14.4% like some place in town. Do you really want the city council to take care of the BOE budget? That’s where the budget goes next if it’s voted down.

  3. Lori Turoff

    “like some place in town”??? What does that mean? It makes no sense.

  4. Tiger

    leafgreen the only reason why the BoE didn’t raise its budget 14.4% is because its budget is ALREADY bloated and overloaded. Compare our numbers to NJ state average. This is what they want you to believe ‘oh, it’s just x% this year and it’s not bad’, but the overall effect is enormous.

    And no, it won’t be City Council alone, remember Hoboken is now under fiscal monitoring by judge Judi Tripoli, who was assigned by the state of New Jersey. I’d like HER to take a look at it. The more eyes that can take a look at this budget the better.

    Where is that other place in town btw that had 14.4% increase?

  5. Ari

    Blindly comparing Hoboken BOE #s to the state average isn’t quite fair. The cost of everything in Hoboken is way higher than in 95% of NJ. So of course, everything in Hoboken is going to far exceed the state average.

    That being said, I’ll vote “no” on the budget b/c of the insane contract the teachers have (whose salaries & benefits make up most of the budget). In this day and age when we’re all taking pay cuts, losing jobs and seeing our 401K’s dwindle to nothing, the teachers are getting a pay increase and their pensions remain unaffected. On top of that, their health insurance is 100% paid for by the BOE and they don’t even pay a co-pay! In good conscience, I can’t support such a contract.

  6. Lori Turoff

    State per student costs across the country range from a high of $13,338 in NJ to a low of $4,991 in Utah.

    Hoboken’s per student cost is approximately $30,000 per student.

    What do we get for that huge amount of money? Hoboken’s school system ranks 500th out of 539 cities in New Jersey.

  7. Tiger

    Ari – Ok, so who do you wanna compare Hoboken to, NYC? Here’s a quote from NYT:

    “In many states, local school districts showed sharp variations in spending per pupil. New York City, the nation’s largest school district, reported spending $13,755 per pupil, compared with $15,529 in New Rochelle.”


    We spend twice as much.

    And btw, most of that cost is in administrative positions, not teacher salaries.

  8. Lori Turoff

    Teachers and administrators in Hobokens get FULL health benefits with NO co-pay – for life! The same is true for many Hoboken city employees. I pay over $8,000 per year for my (lousy) insurance coverage with a hugh deductible and a $50 copay for my primary MD, more for specialists. Who gets free health insurance and that kind of coverage these days? Not even members of Congress. Why should they? And why should we pay for it?

  9. stan

    the fact that public employees are not contributing with any givebacks in this environment is absolutely absurd. Public employees once received better pension/nbenefits bc they had lower wages, that is not the case anymore.

    A no vote in addition to a shake up at city hall is in order.

  10. Ari

    Tiger – didn’t mean to suggest you were wrong. Just noting that most of NJ is considerably less affluent.

    There is no doubt taxpayers are not getting what they pay for in Boken. For a fair comparison of Hoboken, I’d look at other districts in the county and nearby counties where the cost of living is similar.

    The health insurance stuff is just insane. All NJ teacher unions fight tooth and nail on this, but many have given in and pay co-pays. Regardless, the BOE members on the negotiation committee should be run out of town.

  11. potential_buyer

    Why do I want to move here again???

  12. Tiger

    Agree Ari – I’m sure the details are different but I guess we are all in agreement that the budget is overblown, and something has to be done about it. And it’s one thing if we had good schools, but we don’t.

    Re: Health Insurance, completely agree. Stan, not only in this environment, but in general; One of my clients is an insurance company, I did some reports work for them. ‘No Copay’ plan here in Hoboken costs around $17K+ in insurance every year. As Lori mentioned, a group policy with a $50 or even $20 copay would cost something like $8K, approx 50% savings.

    Why so expensive? Simple; They are worried about policy abuse. Insurance companies keep loads of historic data; they are pioneers in the concepts of Analytical reporting and trend analysis, and it seems that ‘no-copay’ policies are more likely to be ‘overused’ as opposed to low-copay plans, hence they make it so expensive to offset their cost.

  13. Tiger

    potential_buyer – I’ll tell you why – because regardless of its problems, Hoboken rocks! The streets, the people (for the most part), and the overall lifestyle.

    We have our issues, but it’s not too late — they can all be fixed. One positive effect of the recent tax increase is that people are becoming more and more involved. And I put myself on that list; before I never cared about BoE – saying that I’m a single guy and years from having kids (if I end up having them) let alone to worry about their education. But as I’m educating myself more about this I’m realizing how important it is to get involved. We are all in it together.

    Looking forward to having you as a neighbor 🙂


  14. Lori Turoff

    Potential Buyer,

    -stupidly easy commute to NYC
    -young vibrant community
    -walk/train everywhere
    -good pizza, mozz & bread
    -elysian park
    -great places to drink
    -free music in the summertime
    -half the price of Manhattan
    -nice shops (for the girlfriend)
    -small town feel, big city attitude
    I could go on but you get the picture. We all could use a reminder every now and then. The thing to keep in mind is that despite its problems, Hoboken is a great place to live for many different reasons. The challenge now is to make it even better!

  15. Mark

    Ok… My wife and I just voted ‘Go kids first’ and Not to the budget. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

  16. Tiger

    AND KIDS FIRST WON! Thank you Hoboken!

    Amazing results! The only hick-up is that the budget was passed, but of all the things that can go wrong, this is the smallest.

    RECORD TURNOUT ! We can do it! 40% increase! What happened today in Hoboken is nothing short of amazing! I’m proud to be among you guys!

    Now I can go to sleep!

  17. patk14

    My 1st time voting for BofE and very pleased with the outcome. Hopefully they will be able to reduce costs while improving the education. Long battle ahead against a tough union unwilling to yield. This is your wake-up call union leadership and membership.

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