The genesis of CivicParent.org….
I live in Jersey City and on November 14, 2013 I learned that Mayor Fulop’s first abatement – the 3 towers planned for Journal Square – would not include dedicated funding for Jersey City public schools. I also learned that five City Council members, all of whom were Fulop-endorsed candidates, approved the abatement, despite the 2013 Team Fulop campaign pledge (bold added for emphasis):
Tax Abatement Funding for Schools
The City’s tax abatement policy has longed robbed the school system of necessary resources. New real estate development tax revenue should be allocated in equal proportions to the County, City, and Board of Education. Instead, the City allocates 100% of revenue collected through tax abatements for municipal expenditures. Under Mayor Fulop, the policy will immediately change. A portion of the tax abatement revenue will be allocated to a dedicated, non-discretionary account for school funding. In this way, real estate development will help fund Jersey City public schools.
When I learned that this abatement was approved with zero funding dedicated to the public schools, I started to ask questions. To Mayor Fulop’s and Councilwoman Osborne’s credit, they were both exceedingly responsive to my inquiries. I was put in touch with Deputy Mayor John Thieroff and city attorney Diana Jeffrey, who answered some of my questions, but sparked new questions that I am still trying to understand. I attended my first city council meeting to familiarize myself with how these major issues are voted upon. I read my first city ordinance (or part of it at least…it is nearly 1,000 pages long). I started to engage local Jersey Journal reporter Terrence McDonald, who by the way is a critical resource for anyone who cares about civic life in Jersey City. And finally, I started this blog.
CivicParent.org is my standalone platform to share an informed, referenced, and objective analysis (blog post) about civic life in 1,000 words or less. I want to get as many people as possible tuned IN to civic life, because we can sink as individuals or we can swim as a community.
So stay tuned, and let’s get civic together.