Guarini, former Jersey City Housing Dept., sentenced to six months
A former Jersey City Housing Department employee was sentenced last week to six months in prison for evading taxes on cash payments he accepted to obtain expedited development approvals for a purported real estate developer operating in Jersey City, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced in a release issued May 1.
Former Jersey City Housing Department employee John Guarini of Bayonne previously pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly submitting a false personal income tax return. Guarini entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares, who also imposed Gaurini’s sentence in Newark federal court.
At the time Guarini entered his plea, he admitted that he accepted $20,000 in cash from Solomon Dwek – a cooperating witness for the FBI – in exchange for expedited development approvals from other Jersey City public officials, including the chairman of the Jersey City Planning Board. The approvals were for a property on Garfield Avenue in Jersey City, purportedly owned by Dwek, who at the time was posing as a corrupt real estate developer. Dwek’s cover as a corrupt real estate developer was part of his undercover work for the FBI.
Guarini also admitted that he accepted $10,000 in cash from Dwek that was intended for Maher Khalil, another Jersey City public official. Guarini further admitted that instead of passing the $10,000 to Khalil he kept the money for himself. Guarini stated in court that these cash payments were never disclosed on his federal income tax returns.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Guarini to two years of supervised release. Judge Linares also ordered Guarini to pay $31,000 in restitution.
Khalil has pleaded guilty to related charges and awaits sentencing.
Petition calls on city, county to address polling site problems for senior housing residents
A local activist is circulating a petition calling on the City Council and Hudson County Board of Elections to allow recently redistricted senior citizens to vote in their old polling station.
As a result of recent redistricting in Jersey City following the results of the 2010 U.S. Census, several elderly residents at the Lafayette Senior Living Center were shifted from one district and placed in another one. This redistricting, completed in February, also meant these seniors were assigned new polling sites at which to cast their ballots.
Last month, during the April 17 Board of Education election, several Lafayette residents were unpleasantly surprised to discover that their new polling site is nearly a mile away from the senior center. The reassignment was particularly ironic given the fact that the Lafayette Senior Living Center is itself a designated polling site – and had previously been the polling station for the residents who were now being told to vote elsewhere.
Angela McKnight, president of AngelaCARES Inc., a Jersey City-based elder care organization, is now circulating a petition throughout the city asking that changes be made so these residents can go back to voting at the senior center.
“Allowing current voting rules to stand will result in considerable suppression of the senior voting populations’ vote,” the petition reads in part.
Problems with the Lafayette residents were among several redistricting-related issues that were reported by voters last month during the Board of Education election. The Hudson County Board of Elections has promised to address the problems in time for the upcoming statewide Democratic and Republican primaries, scheduled for June 5.
Liberty Humane Society holds “Back in Black” adoption drive for black cats, dogs
This month, through May 31, the Liberty Humane Society is featuring adoptable black dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens and will take 50 percent off of adoption fees for all black cats and dogs. Incredible as it may sound, black cats and dogs are adopted at lower rates than their other-colored peers. Last year, the national Back in Black adoption drive was introduced to showcase black dogs and cats to give them the best chance of being adopted. More than 900 pets found homes nationwide.
“Even though they do make wonderful pets with great personalities, black dogs and cats are often overlooked for adoption, but why is that? After all, the color of a pet’s fur has no relationship to their ability to provide unconditional love, companionship and devotion,” said Irene Borngraeber of Liberty Humane. “True it can be a bit of a challenge getting a good photo of a black cat or dog—all the more reason to come meet them at Liberty Humane Society and find out what makes our pets in black special.”
Jersey City Ward Tour bike ride is June 3, 11 a.m., Exchange Place.
On Sunday, June 3 Bike JC will host the third annual Ward Tour a sixteen-mile group bike ride through all six wards of Jersey City. The tour gets underway at 11 a.m. at Exchange Place, the same spot where the tour ends later that day at around 5 p.m.
Riders and non-riders alike are invited to also participate in the celebratory festival taking place in honor of the tour from 1 to 5 p.m. The festival will feature great goods from Not Yo Mama’s Craft Fair, live music, a nonprofit showcase – and beer! (And, hey, what goes better with cycling than brew, right?)
Bike JC is a citizen-based advocacy organization that aims to make Jersey City streets welcoming for bicyclists, by promoting bike-friendly policies, including bike lanes, bicycle safety education; and traffic law enforcement.
The tour starts downtown and travels up Montgomery to Grand Street, heading south on Garfield Ave. in Greenville, where it hooks back north via Danforth and Mallory to Lincoln Park. Exiting the park, it heads north along Kennedy Blvd. to North Street and Palisade Avenue in the Heights, eventually coming down Newark Avenue and Seventh Street to end up back downtown and finish at Exchange Place. Avid and novice cyclists alike are welcome.
There is a $5 registration fee. Riders must be at least 10 to participate and all participants must wear helmets. To register online, visit www.bikejc.org.
Riverview Farmers Market Opens on Sunday
On Sunday, May 6 the Riverview Farmers Market returns to the Jersey City Heights for the opening of its second season. The market will be held in Riverview-Fisk Park, located at Palisade Avenue between Bowers and Griffith streets, every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., through October.
The Riverview Farmers Market is organized by Farms in the Heights, a local non-profit organization, with additional sponsorship from the Riverview Neighborhood Association and the City of Jersey City. It is the first and only farmers market in Jersey City Heights, making locally grown food available to residents while also offering free educational events, entertainment, and activities for children. This year’s line-up of vendors includes two New Jersey farmers selling fresh produce and grass-fed meat. Both farmers will offer subscriptions to their own Community-Supported Agriculture programs. The market also features local vendors offering fresh baked goods, salsas, olives, nuts, snacks, and sweets, plus local artisans selling handmade jewelry, hand-knit items, and more. An on-site knife- and scissor-sharpener has also joined this year’s line-up.
The programming for opening day includes an arts-and-crafts project for children at 11 a.m. and DJ music from 12-2 p.m. Upcoming free events for the season include food demonstrations, exercise classes, composting instruction, live music, and children’s story-time.
Seminar for businesses on lobbying and issue advocacy to be held on May 8
The Hudson County Chamber of Commerce and the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership will host a seminar for business owners and leaders interested in learning more about lobbying and issue advocacy on Tuesday, May 8 from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. in Dinneen Hall on the campus of Saint Peter’s College.
The goal of the event is to provide the business community with a primer on how to best engage with policy makers on issues that affect business in New Jersey. The session will be moderated by the Honorable Joseph Doria, a former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and State Assembly Speaker. Doria will moderate a panel discussion featuring professionals who understand how to navigate policy making at the state level: Frank Robinson, vice president, New Jersey Business & Industry Association; John B. Wilson, president, Association of Independent Colleges & Universities in New Jersey; and Kay LiCausi, president, Hoboken Strategy Group.
“Businesses of every size need to be engaged in policy making discussions and our goal at the Chamber is to help our members, and the larger business community, learn how to begin having such conversations,” said Maria Nieves, the Chamber’s President and CEO. “We hope to demystify the advocacy process and provide some concrete tips on how to effectively lobby. We’re pleased to work with the Guarini Institute on this event.”
The breakfast will begin with networking, followed by a panel discussion, and a question and answer session. It is sponsored in part by the Guarini Institute. Founded in 1888, the Chamber currently represents more than 300 members, facilitates forums with local, state and federal officials, and provides a platform for business networking and partnerships.
To register for this event, contact the Chamber: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hudson County teens to compete in music competition
On Thursday, May 24, Kishawn Jack of Jersey City and Luis Rolo of Union City will be two of 38 state performers to compete at the Eighth Annual Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s Shout Down Drugs Prevention Concert, presented by Comcast.
Jack and Rolo will perform their original songs “Drug Free” and “Drown in Drugs” at the statewide concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The New Jersey Shout Down Drugs music competition challenges high school students to create original music with lyrics that contain powerful peer-to-peer drug prevention messages. Students will compete for $10,000 in music contracts with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey to perform their winning song at statewide events.
The program’s website, www.shoutdowndrugs.com, features profiles of this year’s finalists and allows the public to cast votes for their favorite songs. These results will be factored into the finalists’ scores on the night of the concert. Online voting is open until May 23. Tickets to the concert are free of charge, but must be reserved at www.shoutdowndrugs.com.