Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Quality of Life Coalition: Council forum pt. 2

The Quality of Life Coalition presents part two of the Hoboken council forum for three at-large council seats up for election on November 7th.

Candidates appearing are Councilman at-large Dave Mello, Jim Aibel, Jason Ellis, Sal Starace, Councilman Jim Doyle, John Allen and Emily Jabbour.

Of all things campaign money, conflicts, and push poll lies

The following is MSV news and analysis on the released Hoboken campaign reports and other related campaign issues and represents the informed opinion of this farm animal gained in over a decade of observation and reporting on Hoboken politics.

Yesterday, the eagerly awaited campaign reports from the candidates became available and it was a whopper of revelations.

If anyone thinks the City of Hoboken ain't an innocent little cherub being pimped on the market to the highest bidder, let these numbers open your eyes from any willful naivete.

According to Hudson County View's late breaking news yesterday, Councilman Mike DeFusco's campaign haul to date is $338,057! His take for the quarter is $132,631.

Most of DeFusco's loot is coming from outside Hoboken. Are there that many people outside the Mile Square City enamored with "new ideas and new energy?" Who knew?

Councilman Mike DeFusco, Hoboken's new ideas and new energy moneybags?
Almost all of his campaign loot comes from outside Hoboken.
He's been lit up with a complaint he's violating Hoboken's anti-wheeling ordinance for over $70,000.

Not to be outgunned, Councilman Ravi Bhalla blew the doors off with an astounding campaign report showing campaign funds this cycle of $284,696. His campaign has been spending money at a fast clip and currently sits with a small available amount of $21,517. Time to get more fundraisers around NJ ramped up?

While a big chunk of Councilman Bhalla's haul comes from his national Sikh network, a significant amount comes from legal connections around the state of NJ. His report does show a number of Hoboken residents contributing too. For those of you reading this on the contribution list, expect another phone call to arrive any second now.

Councilman Ravi Bhalla seen here at his February fundraiser for Dawn Zimmer.
Or was that a warm up act for him stepping in for her in late June? 

City Council President Jen Giattino sports a very Reform-like campaign report totaling $136,201. This very Reform-like Goldilocks report is already being praised as "not too hot, not too cold; it's just right." Almost all of the Giattino's funding comes from the grass roots backing she's received from Hoboken residents.  

Giattino who got off the ground last of the four major campaigns with the sudden exit of Mayor Zimmer has almost 60K on hand. This is one efficient and economical campaign and dare we say it yes "Reform."  Vive Le Reform Resistance! Well done.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino's campaign report came in
showing almost all of her financial support is from
residents and supporters of the Hoboken Reform Movement.
Let's call it the Goldilocks report, not too hot, not too cold.
It's just right. 

Last on the campaign front, Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano submitted an underwhelming campaign report of approximately 7K. He must be investing bigly contributing to his war chest as he's waged a very serious campaign with a steady diet of mailers and even TV commercials. Who's going to break this ELEC violation news to his running mates?

Conflicts, push polls lies and racism

Tonight is the last City Council meeting before the November 7th election. Suez is off the table and so is eminent domain until after the election. Politics is very much on the table.

What is on the table with three candidates for mayor on the dais? Expect Councilman Mike DeFusco to lob some bombs, City Council President Jen Giattino to wield the gavel and manage the meeting with aplomb and Councilman Ravi Bhalla to appear nervous and quiet about as much as possible.

While the issue of Bhalla conflicts may arise, it won't be on Suez as he's recused himself from any such conversation. The big matter of NJ Transit is however a looming matter and it hasn't been broached to date. It's a big open sore for the next Hoboken mayor but even the slightest criticism of Ravi Bhalla sees lots of tears and crying. Facts are proclaimed as "going negative" even as the facts are not in dispute.

Whipping out the Big Lie

Some of the latest from those close and on the Bhalla campaign involved an alleged agreement between him and Jen Giattino. It's repeatedly said by Zimmer and Bhalla insiders that a "poll" would determine who was the strongest reform oriented candidate and the other candidate would agree to drop out.

It's a Big Lie and a very big tell one campaign is sweating profusely.

This canard is being wielded in recent days as the Bhalla Push Poll last weekend didn't fare too well for their candidate. There was no such agreement between Giattino and Bhalla. She agreed early in the campaign to the idea and offered to do so as long as Ravi Bhalla was subject to the same terms. Bhalla who held an indeterminable head start and the mayor's endorsement balked he should subject himself to same. End of the discussion of said phony "agreement."

Every single person who lodges this complaint, then and now is well aware Ravi Bhalla would not agree. Even though the Bhalla campaign has outspent Team Giattino by huge amounts, had a good head start and the establishment power behind him, the surging Team Giattino campaign makes it clear who the best candidate for Hoboken is.

Ravi Bhalla Push Poll escapes into the wild, damage control full throttle

The publication of the Grist column here yesterday has created something of an angry panic. MSV within days of the weekend poll published insider information on the results. Late yesterday, Sybil's Cave followed orders and put out misinformation as instructed pointing to Stick Romano being in the lead. This is simply damage control spinning in the hopes people don't continue flocking to Jen Giattino seeing her as not only the most viable but the best overall candidate to back. Is it too late after yesterday's exposure?

That depends on how far the information gets out. Are Hoboken residents sharing it and spreading the word to their friends, family and neighbors? The Bhalla campaign is hoping it doesn't. They will be working feverishly to keep a lid on it.

Dealing the Race Card

Unfortunately the ugly appearance of the race card is reverberating in low moans and divisive electioneering. While almost to a person, reform supporters voted for Councilman Bhalla twice including your host here, the taunts of "racist" are starting to move from murmur to shouting level. Funny, MSV recalls volunteering for the Bhalla for Assembly race in 2011 and doesn't remember seeing any of these voices out helping him.

Suffice to say, if you vote for who you feel the best candidate is for Hoboken mayor and it isn't the two term councilman, no, that doesn't make you a racist.

Unrelated: There's rumors circulating about the FBI being in Hoboken. While this is true, MSV policy has and will continue its longstanding policy not to interfere in an ACTIVE investigation. Someone blabbed to a cave dweller ruining everything.

Back in 2013, MSV exclusively reported the US Department of Justice was in Hoboken on Election Day.

As reported earlier this week, a flyer circulating in the Hoboken Housing Authority urges residents not to hand over their Vote-by-Mail to "unknown persons." It lists a number of people aligned with the Mike Defusco campaign including the toxic Carmelo Garcia. One may presume those listed may be "safe" to give VBM ballots.

Does no one in Hoboken know how to put a postage stamp on a ballot and mail it themselves? The funny truths and how they reveal themselves. OK, time to VBM outta here. T-minus three weeks.

Related: Just at publication time, a vote by Councilman Ravi Bhalla connected to NJ Transit in 2014 is alleged as another conflict as that entity is a client of Florio Perucci where Bhalla is a law partner.

The story appears on Hudson County View:

Correction: There is one more council meeting slated before the election on All Saints Day: November 1st.

Today's news analysis is dedicated to my friend catrina. 


Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, the co-chair of the Jen Giattino campaign files complaint with Hoboken Corporation Counsel against Councilman Mike DeFusco alleging massive pay-to-play wheeling violations.

The Shiny Penny Mike DeFusco is shiny no more. The glimmer off the vestiges of Mike DeFusco running in 2015 on Mayor Zimmer's ticket as part of reform is officially DOA.

(There's no need to await a verdict on the upcoming Vote-by-Mail totals coming out of the Hoboken Housing Authority and senior buildings. That poop will be stinking up the place shortly.)

Is obliterating the Hoboken anti-wheeling ordinance, passed in 2011 as part of updating the City's pay-to-play ordinance the new energy and new ideas DeFusco touts?

Nothing says the end of your waning reform cred like breaking Hoboken's 2011 anti-wheeling. The ordinance was passed back in July 2011 after it had failed twice earlier when the council was controlled by Michael Russo and Beth Mason.

The anti-wheeling ordinance's passage came on July 1st, 2011 after the swearing-in earlier that day of a new councilwoman. Her name is Jen Giattino, the fifth and critical vote that day and for many days thereafter.

DeFusco yesterday on Hudson County View issued a weak and very tepid denial, along the lines of "nu-uh."

The DeFusco alleged violations total in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The release from Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher late yesterday uncorked on her former running mate in 2015.

Councilman and Mayoral Candidate Mike DeFusco Violates Hoboken’s Law on Political Contribution Limits – Receives $71,400 from PAC’s Since June

Hoboken Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher filed a complaint today with the Hoboken City Clerk and Corporation Counsel’s office citing that Councilman Michael DeFusco, who is currently running for mayor of Hoboken, has violated Hoboken’s local laws that limit Political Contributions from PAC’s and Committees to $500.  In her complaint, she points to the last three ELEC reports filed for his Mike DeFusco for Hoboken Mayor and Team DeFusco for Hoboken accounts, showing 15 separate contributions, several having donated more than once, aggregating $71,400.  The majority of the PAC’s listed are affiliated with labor unions.

“In Hoboken, we suffer from a long history of corruption and malfeasance in our elections and as such, I have been actively fighting for honest elections.  In 2011, this law was passed specifically to help minimize the role and influence of special interests in our elections and our local government.   The fact that a mayoral candidate has willingly violated these laws for his own advantage in this important election for Hoboken residents is shameful.  I have requested that the law be enforced, and that Councilman DeFusco’s campaigns be fined the maximum amount provided under the law which is $285,600.”  

For reference, the specific code is Chapter 20D:Political Contribution Limits -