Perry Belfiore, a known administration critic and long time nemesis of Councilman Ravi Bhalla unloaded on the mayoral candidate after word of his $51,000 First Amendment settlement with the City of Hoboken became public last week.
Late Friday, Grafix Avenger published Belfiore had cashed in with a $51,000 settlement after filing a First Amendment civil lawsuit for being thrown out of a City Council meeting during his remarks prior to the 2015 council ward elections.
Video of the incident from the October 22nd, 2015 was not in dispute when then Council President Ravi Bhalla first ejected Belfiore. Later at the same meeting, David Liebler would be ejected for similar remarks about the mayor's husband. His civil lawsuit is pending.
The settlement details making their way into the public may be seen by some as not incidental. Now in the public domain, it can be used as public fodder and when MSV reached out Belfiore, he was not hesitant in criticism, writing by text, "I don't know how a person running for mayor can have such a low regard, for the First Amendment."
A spokesman for the Ravi Bhalla for mayor campaign declined comment noting Bhalla is bound by confidentiality requirements concerning the settlement and it is difficult to comment in response to Belfiore.
Animus between the parties goes back years. In 2010, an ethics complaint against Bhalla by Belfiore would eventually be tossed but then see revival in a weakened condition years later over what constituted a conflict in sharing an office in Hoboken. The complaint has see-sawed going from a $100 citation to being dismissed and not worthy of even a nominal charge.
In 2014, a NJ judge was highly critical of Belfiore who had on another heated occasion told the City Council to control "your animal," a comment many viewed as an act of bias against Councilman Bhalla. The ethics complaint in recent years was revived with the judge who tossed it out overruled by a state board. Some viewed its weakened revival as political following the falling out between Mayor Zimmer and the Christie Administration.
Belfiore who is a big supporter of Councilman Mike DeFusco and his efforts to become mayor would to no one's surprise be entertained by the leaking of the $51,000 settlement. In his responses to MSV, he noted he was out of town until the end of the week but neither confirmed nor denied the settlement amount.
In response to the settlement amount appearing on Grafix Avenger, Belfiore offered with perhaps barbed humor, "I guess she wanted to hurt Ravi."
Talking Ed Note: The September 17th, 2013 video before the mayoral election where Perry Belfiore went after Councilman Ravi Bhalla who was running for re-election. Welcome to election season 2017 Hoboken.