Article: The beginning of the end of the Fulop Administration.
By Elvin Dominici
The empowerment of Jersey City residents to take action and exercise their right to fight for issues which are affecting their communities is finally making sure the Fulop administration, and his peers on the city council, is held accountable for not listening to their constituents. There is no greater force in our democracy than the public uniting and advocating for transparency and true change in their communities.
First, the mayor had to cancel a pre-scheduled press conference to announce Jersey City was the largest city in the state of New Jersey when the numbers of the Census 2020 came out on August 12, 2021. His dream of becoming the state’s most populated municipality has fallen short, according to the 2020 Census with Newark retaining the title of largest city in New Jersey — for at least the next 10 years. This was another opportunity where the administration was pushing for a publicity stunt without putting in the actual work needed to make change. The administration barely worked with Census representatives and other entities throughout Hudson County to pull out all of the stops and ensure EVERY resident was counted. A true municipal leader would’ve worked with these partners, and gone himself or herself door to door, to check in on residents during the pandemic and ensure they were counted for the census.
Second, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Joseph Turula struck down Jersey City’s inclusionary zoning ordinance. This was a lawsuit filed by Fair Share Housing Center due to the amendment by council members to allow developers to decrease the amount invested on affordable housing from 20% to 5%, or nothing at all. The Jersey City Council approved the IZO at their October 21, 2020, meeting after four hours of public comment against it, with the final tally being 7-2, with 7 rubberstamping council members who pushed it through and councilmembers James Solomon and Rolando Lavarro voting no.
We are tired of this city government backdoors deals, developer paybacks, and neglect for the needs of truly affordable housing in our city. The residents are aware of the issues affecting our communities and they are ready to fight to ensure people can get access to affordable housing in Jersey City. This is a great victory for the life-long residents who have lived here for their entire lives.
Third, the victory on the lawsuit filed by the Morris Canal Community Development Corporation (MCCDC), and its president and Candidate for Council Person at Large June Jones against the administration and the Jersey City Planning Board for approving the construction of the 17-story, 416-luxury units and mixed-use project. This construction was shut down by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Anthony D’Elia because there is no evidence on the record as to why a “massive building” needs to be constructed in a neighborhood that only has one- or two-family homes. The voices of local residents, mostly minority renters and homeowners, must be heard by our city officials. Unfortunately, this administration has proven in the last eight years that they are deaf to the needs of local residents and they have an agenda about making profits with back door deals and kickbacks for their developers.
Lastly, the Fulop administration was forced, due to strong pushback from local residents, to reverse and refund the Water Tax implemented by the autonomous agency of the Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA). The lack of transparency around this backdoor tax did not provide an opportunity for a transparent community discussion or justification and was supported by the mayor’s handpicked city council members. The administration was trying to sneak in a tax while being able to claim they were not raising taxes during an election year. This is another issue embraced by community activists, businesses, and homeowners who are still struggling to survive with the global health and economic crisis with the coronavirus pandemic.
Because of their advocacy, the administration was forced to do the right thing. It is unfortunate that we must force the mayor and his handpicked council members into doing what is right for the residents of Jersey City!
Judgement day is coming soon for the Fulop administration and his handpicked councilmembers. The days of ignoring local residents and providing kickbacks to the rich and powerful are coming to an end. The Jersey City residents understand the power to work united to defend their rights and let their voices be heard. I am sure the biggest loss of this administration will be on November 2nd when for the first time in Hudson County a mayor will lose most of the councilmembers due to eight years of a nonstop rubberstamping agenda and not taking actions to serve the residents of Jersey City.