Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Council President Ramos salvo: Mayor Bhalla employment contract 'a Cammarano type bribe'

City Council President Ruben Ramos unleashes on Mayor Ravi Bhalla as suspect law firm employment contract details emerge 

It only seems like ages ago when the majority of the City Council reached out last month and publicly got behind Mayor Ravi Bhalla to fight the Union Dry Dock sale. Last month is so old hat. 

Those council efforts at outreach were apparently put out of their misery late yesterday with a shot across the bow by Hoboken City Council President Ruben Ramos.

The Council President took square aim at new Hoboken mayor Ravi Bhalla as details of his law firm employment contract with Lavery Selvaggi Abromitis & Cohen emerged.  He's less than pleased with it, to put it mildly.

Ramos all but called the contract dirty and an outright bribe stating "it's basically a 60K no show job... the only thing that's missing is Solomon Dwek and the FedEx envelope," in a story appearing late yesterday on Hudson County View.

City Council President Ruben Ramos is more than a little
skeptical after details emerged about Mayor Ravi Bhalla's
employment contract with a NJ Republican leaning law firm.
He all but called it a bribe, Cammarano style.

Solomon Dwek is the 2009 FBI informant arrested in a $20 million check kiting scheme, flipped and turned loose on Hudson County and the Soprano State writ large. Snared in the sting, Hoboken's last mayor and attorney, one convicted felon Peter Cammarano.

Camarano would be caught on FBI surveillance tape with his bag man accepting $25,000 in bribes stashed in FedEx envelopes outside the Malibu Diner.

The Council President's statement is nothing short of utter frustration after the Friday night discovery of a shadowy Soprano State law firm deal where Mayor Bhalla stands to supplement or supplant his almost 117K salary as mayor.

Collections on that deal have already started as the Ravi Bhalla law firm deal became effective unbeknownst to anyone in Hoboken back on February 1st.

Everyone in Hoboken is asking what exactly is this politically connected Republican leaning law firm paying for with an annual salary of $60,000 plus unlimited commissions for of counsel "deals."


Talking Ed Note: Mayor Ravi Bhalla who has issued less than veiled threats against a city council who has been more than amenable passing the vast majority of his legislation will get what he wants. This Means War.

As for more coming on his suspect law firm deal, that's what he doesn't want.

The City Council however will continue to work passing most of what the Bhalla Administration asks and operating in compromise fashion among its nine members as it has since 2016.

The City Council members are working efficiently  among three groupings: Jen Giattino, Peter Cunningham, Tiffanie Fisher is one. Ruben Ramos the titular head of another featuring Mike DeFusco and Vanessa Falco is a second. The third group with Jim Doyle, Emily Jabbour and a more reticent Michael Russo has been less effective to obtain everything the Bhalla administration wants.

In the crazy cave, the desire for war was continuous after the November election when bowed knee and immediate capitulation to Ravi Bhalla was not forthcoming. A meeting on the Hoboken agenda ahead went well with the new mayor but the demands to yield to every wish from boards where he holds no vote to requested public pronouncements of fealty failed. The council maintains a good governance posture and efficiency unlike the bad old days.

The remnants left in the land of Shadowstan have failed to mobilize Ravi Robots to publicly endorse the Ravi Bhalla law firm employment contract. Both they and Hoboken have been taken aback by the Ravi Bhalla law firm employment deal and his broken promise a single month into office. Those voters who pulled the lever for Ravi Bhalla are now looking square in the mirror and asking themselves how is this nightmare happening?

This story isn't going away. It's only getting started.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Mayor Ravi Bhalla goes with the big lie, denies existence of his big $$$ law employment contract

On Monday, Mayor Ravi Bhalla attempted to undo the booming controversy with the emerging details about his new big bucks law firm employment contract.

The ink isn't even dry on the deal with with the law firm of Lavery, Selvage, Abromitis & Cohen and Ravi Bhalla is denying their and the contract's financial value and existence.

The question on Hoboken people's lips, is Ravi Bhalla leveraging the City of Hoboken to obtain this far more lucrative PHAT money deal than with his previous politically connected NJ law firm?

Mayor Ravi Bhalla's desperate attempt to subdue the emerging story on his big bucks
law firm employment contract deploying the Big Lie is failing. 





On Tuesday, Councilwoman Jen Giattino focused on that second job and pointed to his written campaign pledge if he became mayor he would "be working full-time for the people of Hoboken, severing (his) employment with the firm."

She states "he has failed to keep that commitment."

Ravi Bhalla did sever his law firm  relationship with that law firm at the end of 2017. Then a mere month into office, he's officially begun another, potentially far more lucrative law firm position as a rain maker in an Of Counsel law job.

Here's yesterday's desperate denial of reality direct from Ravi Bhalla:


In the statement, Ravi Bhalla doesn't even mention his employment contract with a law firm, any law firm. The ink is barely dry on the new law firm contract and he's in full cover-up mode denying its impact and that it's a second job paying likely far more than his 117K salary as mayor of Hoboken.

He says this won't interfere with his duties as mayor even while it'll certainly more than supplement his earnings if not supplant those being mayor.

As seen in the law firm contract with Lavery Selvaggi yesterday, Ravi Bhalla stands to make hundreds of thousands or a million plus based on the uncapped commission structure.

The law firm employment contract itself has likely been rewritten for public consumption prior to release. There's likely an earlier version the public hasn't seen. The evidence? There's conflicting dates on the letter, February 16th and February 22nd. In addition, Ravi Bhalla's signature on the letter shows no date of execution nearby, a standard legal practice. This has the earmarks of a hasty second effort.

In the Monday release, Ravi Bhalla claims that his law firm employment contract where he'll be paid megabucks to make it rain at the law firm, work toward "mentoring" associates and providing strategy means "I no longer practice law."

Ask any lawyer about any aspect of Ravi Bhalla's employment responsibilities listed in the law firm's employment contract letter and see if they agree he's not in the business of practicing law.

Talking Ed Note: The only reason these PHAT law firm contracts are handed out in the Soprano State has everything to do with influence held over public office, not for mentoring a couple of associate lawyers or offering "strategy" over lunch or dinner.

The Big Lie deployed yesterday is not going to work.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino: 'Mayor Ravi Bhalla's second job is a failure to keep commitment made to Hoboken'

Official release:


Dear friends and neighbors - 


Mayor’s Second Job


On February 16th, we learned that Mayor Bhalla took a job at a politically connected law firm.  After initially being told his compensation was south of $100,000 we recently learned that he will be paid a base salary of $60,000 and 20% of all gross revenue he brings in up to $750,000 and 15% for all additional revenue he brings in with no limit.

The potential for conflicts of interest in outside law work were obvious during the campaign and I raised it. Mayor Bhalla answered both my concerns and residents with a strong pledge. Promising to leave his law firm if elected and promising "But the most important information going forward is that if I am elected Mayor, I will be working full-time for the people of Hoboken, severing my employment with the firm.”


He has failed to keep that commitment.


He also promised to stand up to President Trump in particular, and hatred in general. Yet when choosing which law firm to lend his name to, he chose Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen. A Republican firm, previously known as Courter, Kobert and Cohen. Yet the Courter is the same Jim Courter who stated, "An avowed homosexual should be screened so that they do not affect negatively impressionable youth.'’ Jim Courter continues to work for the firm as 'Of Counsel’ the same title as Mayor Bhalla.


Council Response

Last week the City Council asked Mayor Bhalla to respond to a list of questions to clarify how he will manage allocating his time and potential conflicts of interest between his two jobs. Mayor Bhalla has yet to respond to these questions.

Flood Ordinance

We need to find ways to protect the character and scale of Hoboken’s residential neighborhoods. Under current law we are treating non-flood zone areas like they are flood zones for no good reason and with devastating impact on our housing stock. On March 7th, I will offer an amendment to Hoboken’s flood ordinance removing the X and shaded-X zones from the enforcement area. We are seeing far too many facades change and losing the connection between our sidewalks and our homes. Removing these 2 zones from enforcement is just a start.




As always reach out with thoughts and concerns,

-Jen


Monday, February 26, 2018

MSV Premium digs in for Hoboken accountability and good government

So the question is will you join the fight and support at a minimum government accountability?

The stakes are nothing less. With the latest Hoboken City Hall "sham" revealed, Hoboken stands on the precipice of seeing City Hall reduced to a Hudco bad government principality in practice at best or at worst, an outright banana republic.

Many are calling the law firm arrangement seen in the broken promise of Mayor Bhalla's law firm contract unprecedented in the Mile Square City's history.



It's that bad based on the early reactions to the uncorked details of Mayor Ravi Bhalla's moonlighting law firm employment contract. It's placed Hoboken government in a crisis of confidence setting it up for failures, massive conflicts of interest and worse.

We're not talking about the typical political sleazy broken promises by cynical and craven politicians either. This fat cat law firm deal in the mayor's office stands to see Hoboken abused through the back door using the powers of the mayor and legal contracts near and far, both inside and outside of the Mile Square City.

Stand up for Hoboken as MSV has done for more than eight years, reporting on the good, the bad and the very ugly. To those subscribers who offered renewals in 2018, thank you.

You can sign up for MSV Premium and receive special issues by email, no Paypal account required at the link below using a credit or debit card.

$75 or more if you want to stand for decency, accountability and good government in Hoboken.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla stands to reap a cool million or more with outside law firm contract

Ravi Bhalla makes the Hoboken mayor job the "side hustle" 

City Council faces dilemma Wednesday with special meeting how to address "for sale" sign over Hoboken City Hall and the Mayor's office


Hoboken's new mayor Ravi Bhalla makes Hoboken the "side hustle" as his law firm employment contract details emerged late Friday.

The new Bhalla law firm employment deal reveals he has unlimited sales potential to make it rain mega dollars, far more than the salary in serving as Hoboken's full time mayor.

Unprecedented "side hustle" deal in the Hoboken mayor's office

City Council President Ruben Ramos among other political observers have called the new arrangement unprecedented in Hoboken history. Criticism is spiking across the Mile Square City as the public learns of the moonlighting details.

A rain man type legal sales agreement with Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen, PC shows Ravi Bhalla has the potential of annual earnings into the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, far more than the almost $117,000 annual he'll be paid to serve as Hoboken's full time mayor.

In the mayoral campaign race last year, Ravi Bhalla was questioned about conflicts with his law firm clients who held business interests in Hoboken while a partner at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Cappelli. He'd later issue a promise to end his legal work with the firm and work full time as Hoboken mayor.

Not a month into office and Mayor Ravi Bhalla is seen replacing that legal employment with another firm which will likely prove far more lucrative and viewed by many inside and outside the legal community for its massive conflict potentials spiked on steroids.

As seen below, the two page employment agreement contains two different creation dates, February 16th and February 22nd bringing into question when it was executed. An earlier version not written for public consumption may yet require disclosure.

Although the initial Ravi Bhalla annual salary has been reported as $60,000, the unlimited upside in sales commissions being a "rainmaker" for the new law firm is uncapped.

There is no baseline for payment indicated anywhere in the contract for "mentoring" associate lawyers or providing what Bhalla calls strategic "advice" to his new legal employer.

In addition, the law firm contract is already in effect, backdated and began - on February 1st!


The Hoboken public is only beginning to get wind of the enormous and unprecedented "side hustle" of having a full time mayor paid to do legal work inherently at risk of conflicts of interest or worse.

One long time political observer who saw Bhalla's political climb over two terms before former Mayor Dawn Zimmer made a secret deal to endorse him said of his council career, "He voted on city business on matters with clear conflicts until someone would raise the problem with his law firm after the fact. What makes anyone think that's not going to happen with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table?"

The Hoboken law department is slated to have its Corporation Counsel act as a clearing house of sorts. The same political observer ridiculed and slammed such an arrangement as ludicrous.

Several lawyers have commented to MSV about the unprecedented Bhalla legal rainmaking deal describing it as "brazen," "shocking," "worse than thought" and a "sham."

One attorney who elected not to speak on the record due to retaliation concerns described the Hoboken Corporation Counsel review of any Bhalla law firm deal as a "sham conflicts check. The discerning of conflicts in referrals is almost impossible after the fact. It sets up an untenable environment."

With emphasis, they added, "The arrangement is unenforceable and a ruse."

Last year's Bhalla campaign reports also reveal the current Corporation Counsel, Brian Aloia contributed at least $600 to Ravi Bhalla's mayoral campaign. The amount is within NJ limits but immediately places into question another conflict for proposed self-enforcement on the Bhalla law firm rainmaking deal. By extension, this places the entire Hoboken Law Department in an equally compromised position.

Other members of the public are more critical. At the last City Council meeting, uptown resident Brian Murray slammed the revelation of an outside law firm job for the new mayor. "You have to assume Peter Cammarano is somewhere scratching his head saying, 'Why didn't I think of this? How about I don't take the money behind closed doors, I take it right in front of everyone,' to howls of laughter from the council audience. Later he spoke after a developer of the proposed downtown boutique hotel mockingly saying he should contact Ravi Bhalla's law firm if he wants to see the proposal move forward.

On a Hudson County Facebook page, Murray would succinctly add in the comments, "Hoboken for sale."

Cammarano, the last lawyer to hold the position of Hoboken mayor was sent to federal prison for accepting bribes totaling $25,000 for zoning considerations and arrested three weeks after he took office.

City Council Dilemma

The Hoboken City Council finds itself in a dilemma. A majority of the council already expressed sharp concerns posing 26 questions to Mayor Bhalla in a resolution upon learning of the law firm employment deal.

With the contract rich details emerging and the money tree shaking in front of Bhalla every waking moment, the City Council is forced to sound the alarm and seek more answers on the legality and ethics of Bhalla's behavior.

How they will do so is a challenging question the public may learn more about on Wednesday.

The legal contract Ravi Bhalla constructed puts Hoboken in an immediate crisis of confidence reflected with this tweet by Councilman Mike DeFusco who was a top challenger in last year's mayoral race.

Bhalla campaign spokesman Rob Horowitz declined by email to comment on which is the side hustle of Mayor Ravi Bhalla's two jobs.

Talking Ed Note: This contract is clearly misstated and likely not the original one executed as it's dated February 16th on the first page and February 22nd on the second. Clearly, this contract was "redone" for public relations purposes. Its terms don't make any sense outside of the big bucks rainmaking inducements.

Of note, there's little public applause for Mayor Ravi Bhalla pulling a "bait and switch" breaking his promise to the Hoboken public and creating a crisis of confidence or worse one month into his term.

Bhalla is telling people he didn't break any promise even as he stands to profit many times over his full time salary to serve as Hoboken mayor with his new law firm employer.

Hoboken, we have a problem.

Related: Mayor Ravi Bhalla issued a lengthy statement Monday where he denied he had a second job. He claims he is only working in Hoboken and disavowed the existence his employment contract with the new law firm agreement executed only days ago effective February 1st.

More to come.

Union Dry Dock action on tap before City Council

Official release:

SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING TO BE HELD WEDNESDAY TO CONSIDER ACQUISITION OF UNION DRY DOCK


Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla has called for a special meeting of the Hoboken City Council on Wednesday, February 28th to consider authorizing the acquisition of the former Union Dry Dock property for the purpose of completing the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway within Hoboken and for public open space and recreation. The meeting will begin with a closed session at 6:30pm in City Council chambers.

The City hired an appraiser which determined that the property has a value of $11,630,000. The Council will consider an ordinance on first reading to authorize the acquisition of the property through a negotiated purchase in the amount not to exceed $11,630,000 or by condemnation if a negotiated purchase can not be effectuated.

"Our community's decades-long vision for a continuous, public waterfront park is finally within reach," said Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. "I thank all of the elected officials and advocates who have put so much time and energy into protecting our waterfront and look forward to completing the transformation of our formerly industrial waterfront into a world-class park system."

Talking Ed Note: The mayor's office and Mayor Ravi Bhalla have repeatedly called Union Dry Dock "a victory" but the truth is the situation remains more in limbo with NY Waterway holding the upper hand. Giving the public false expectations is apparently the new law of the land. 

It will take some time to see what is tenable with the Union Dry Dock property but the City of Hoboken isn't in the best position, public optimistic  pronouncements aside.

Additionally, the acquisition costs of the property if possible would be dwarfed by the additional compensation costs such as moving the business. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Lucrative Mayor Ravi Bhalla "side hustle" law firm contract REVEALED!

BUSTED: Oddly dated Ravi Bhalla law firm contract appears; valuation potentially worth far more than originally stated!

The full Ravi Bhalla contract will be published on Monday.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla appears in the role of Rain Man in a game of PAC man as details of his law firm contract
were leaked in a late Friday news dump.
In a breaking revelation to the Mayor Ravi Bhalla "side hustle" law firm gig discovered over the holiday weekend, newly released details show the potential actual value is far greater than originally stated by Bhalla campaign spokesman Rob Horowitz.

Only days earlier, the contract for work beyond Hoboken mayor was stated as far below $100,000.

Excerpts of the contract between Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen were reported late Friday in a breaking news story on the Hudson County View.

An obviously hasty redone agreement dated yesterday, (February 22nd) from the law firm lays out some fat potential paydays to Mayor Ravi Bhalla for delivering clients to the firm.

For starters, Mayor Ravi Bhalla is paid $60,000 plus a generous commission structure as stated in the law firm contract PLUS:

  • The law firm contract will pay out "additional compensation" at 20% of all gross revenues for (new) clients in excess of $60,000 up to $750,000."
  • The law firm contract additionally pays Ravi Bhalla "15% of all gross revenues in excess of $750,000" in revenues paid by the new client(s).
  • Payments from the law firm to Ravi Bhalla are specified as calculated and paid out quarterly.

Last Saturday, Ravi Bhalla's campaign spokesman stated Ravi Bhalla's salary would be well south of $100,000 and failed to disclose any aspect of the rich commission structure in directing clients to the Republican leaning law firm.

The law firm contract with Mayor Bhalla is dated February 22nd although it's apparently back dated, oddly to February 1st of this year. (The dates are conflicted on page one and the rest of the letter.)

Another oddity, the law firm contract emphasizes Ravi Bhalla will not be "available to engage in the day to day practice of law" before continuing with its rich details highlighted in a commission structure to make it rain clients for the firm.

Yet another odd phrasing, the law firm contract attempts to focus Mayor Bhalla's availability outside of Hoboken to "advisory services" and "mentoring" although the payment structure with commissions has absolutely nothing to do with either.

A clause about the law firm coordinating with the Hoboken Corporation Counsel on potential conflicts.
How such a scheme is enforceable let alone qualified before a deal is cut is not clear. 


The Republican leaning law firm and their lucrative client commission structured
contract with Mayor Ravi Bhalla surfaced.
It'a a rain man deal not "advisory" or "mentoring" as MSV originally theorized.


Talking Ed Note: Mayor Ravi Bhalla is caught red-handed in another big PHAT LIE!
This law firm contract has nothing to do with being "advisory" or "mentoring;" -

it's a client-sales agreement.

Related: The original story where Mayor Ravi Bhalla broke his promise to focus working on Hoboken as a full time mayor!

Lepercons at risk: 'How dry I am' as 11 liquor licenses in suspension impact

Official release:


HOBOKEN ABC BOARD ISSUES SUSPENSIONS FOR LIQUOR LICENSE VIOLATIONS

The City of Hoboken Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board held their regular bi-weekly meeting on Thursday, February 22nd to consider various charges against 11 Hoboken liquor licensees.  All of the ABC charges scheduled were adjudicated and include the complete shutdown of five establishments on the privately-organized LepreCon event.  They are as follows:

·         1 Republik: Closed on March 3, 2018 and shall close on May 21, 2018 for a 30-day suspension. After the 30-day suspension, the establishment shall permanently close pending transfer/sale of the license to new ownership.
·         Hoboken Bar and Grill: 30-day suspension to begin immediately (February 23, 2018).
·         Green Rock Tap and Grill: 20-day suspension, one day of which is March 3, 2018.
·         Mill’s Tavern: 24-day suspension which includes being closed March 3, 2018.
·         The Shannon: two-day suspension to be served March 3 and March 4, 2018.

Six other establishments agreed to settlements as well, but received lesser penalties.

“This represents a major accomplishment in fulfilling my commitment on Inauguration Day to address this public safety nuisance,” said Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “The vast majority of bar owners are responsible license holders, but a very small number of establishments have failed to adequately control their patrons and the activities within their premises, leading to severe public safety issues. The discipline agreed to by the owners is appropriate and I hope will lead to an understanding that public safety is a top priority and that the ABC board will not hesitate to enforce the liquor license regulations.”

Additionally, the State of New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Alcohol Beverage Control has agreed to send 12 to 14 State ABC detectives to Hoboken on March 3, 2018. Along with Hoboken Police ABC detectives, they will be monitoring establishments to ensure compliance with all ABC regulations, including not admitting underage guests, not overserving patrons, not exceeding capacity, and other health and security regulations.

“I am extremely thankful to New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and its ABC Division Director David P. Rible for his partnership in protecting the public safety and quality of life of our community,” added Mayor Bhalla.

Related: H-mag published its story on the action relaying both sides of the story. Meanwhile, the staff of these establishments, many of whom live tip jar to tip jar, are at a complete loss. "Employees have no direct way to challenge the loss of income caused by the shutdowns."

Councilman Peter Cunningham: 'Will do right by Hoboken even as Mayor Ravi Bhalla doesn't'

Official release:

Hi folks, 

I am circulating the below press release to you - a small subset of my constituent list - which I sent to the media on Tuesday after having learned that Mayor Bhalla announced on his personal facebook page that he's accepted a position with a law firm in Morristown.

He's accepted a position with a law firm in Morristown?  He's the Mayor of Hoboken.

I'm sorry, but I'm not OK with this and the manner in which it was introduced was not transparent as our Mayor.  It was released late Friday of a long weekend, and I'm finding that to this day, many folks are still unaware.

Without wanting to come across as a whiner, the last couple of weeks have been challenging with our new Mayor, Mayor Bhalla.  I've also attached a couple of copies of text messages that were sent and accidently received by me that are unnecessarily politically charged against me and my colleagues.  They are arrogant and unnecessary and do not lend themselves to a collaborative relationship with the council.  

While I consider these circumstances to be problematic, please don't be concerned with my actions on city council.  I will always do what's right, and what's practical for you and the City of Hoboken.  Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions or concerns. 

Thanks, Peter

Thursday, February 22, 2018

City Council overwhelmingly passes resolution of 26 questions for Mayor Bhalla to answer on 'side hustle' law gig

City Council in 7-1-1 vote easily passes resolution of 26 questions for Mayor Bhalla on law firm gig

Not two months into his mayoral term, Mayor Ravi Bhalla finds himself under scrutiny facing 26 questions on the holiday weekend revelations of his new "side hustle" law firm employment contract.

Mayor Bhalla announced an unspecified "of counsel" law firm contract for himself with Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen Friday night on his Facebook.

The lone dissenter voting to the resolution questions was Councilman Jim Doyle who ran on the Bhalla campaign ticket last November.

The City Council President Ruben Ramos suspended the agenda to allow the resolution's introduction under the emergency powers of the legislative body.

Councilman Jim Doyle attempted to push back saying why not talk to Mayor Bhalla about it before "grandstanding" in preparing a resolution with the Hoboken City Council's questions?

Council members Mike DeFusco and Tiffanie Fisher individually responded revealing Mayor Bhalla doesn't respond to their efforts in communications on unrelated matters over weeks.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher pointed out that numerous nixle alerts had gone out at week's end from the Bhalla Administration but nothing was noticed to the City Council or the public about a law firm employment contract Mayor Bhalla is undertaking.

She concluded her remarks to Councilman Jim Doyle with an exasperated, "Are you kidding me?"

City Council President Ruben Ramos noted during his lifetime no Hoboken mayor had ever taken a "side hustle" job of employments outside of the Hoboken mayor's full time role. He highlighted how the previous mayor Dawn Zimmer argued the job is 24-7.

The public was invited to weigh in before the council vote and the commentary was universally against, overwhelmingly negative and sharply critical of Mayor Ravi Bhalla. One member of the public brought the house down saying convicted felon and former mayor Peter Camarano must be kicking himself why he didn't run a similar game versus taking bribes in envelopes outside the Malibu Diner.

Councilwoman Emily Doyle followed the council and public's remarks with the sole abstention.

The 26 City Council questions submitted to Mayor Bhalla in the letter passed by resolution:





Talking Ed Note: Last night was a light agenda but there was some heavy impact. Mayor Ravi Bhalla has the next move on his "side hustle" law firm employment contract but the response from both the City Council and the public to date has been anything but positive.

A big turnout from the public also spoke out on the appointments to the Rent Leveling Board. Again, an overwhelming negative response to Mayor Ravi Bhalla with support for Cheryl Fallick and Michael Lenz. Many public speakers recounted the aid in trying to get answers to critical questions on the subject and how Cheryl Fallick had helped them over many years.

Rent Leveling Board members nominated for another term by Mayor Bhalla also spoke with some quite critical about his actions. One board member, Rosemary Orozco concluded her remarks saying, "What the mayor is doing is totally shameful."

Her remarks were met with booming applause from the audience.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino proposed an ordinance to split the appointment process for the nine member board. She offered four would be appointed by the mayor and three by the City Council, with the clear intent of retaining the experience of both Fallick and Lenz.

The Rent Leveling Board consists of 7 full time members and two alternates.

Hudson County View filed its story:


For the complete Hudson County View story, please see:
https://hudsoncountyview.com/hoboken-council-passes-measure-urging-bhalla-to-disclose-details-of-new-job/

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sign of the Times: Ravi's entitlement comes up against accountability as majority of council slams potential conflicts of interest



Hoboken's new mayor is in the spotlight but it's not in his favorite position as media celebrity victim.

The Jersey Journal joined the Hudson County View and MSV in highlighting the criticism across Hoboken and the majority of the City Council who yesterday voiced detailed concerns and problems with the new Mayor Ravi Bhalla "side hustle."

From the Jersey Journal:

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has taken a job with a politically connected law firm, leading to attacks from council critics who say the side gig raises potential conflict-of-interest issues.

Tonight, the City Council may attempt to find out the particulars of the Mayor Bhalla broken promise in leaving one law firm and signing up with another after the election.

The public interest in this story exploded during the holiday weekend as traffic rose with the spreading news Mayor Ravi Bhalla had developed a revenue stream apparently using the office of mayor as the hook.

Defenders of the new mayor have been few and far between. It's been four days of anger, concern and questions as political observers in Hoboken seethed over the holiday weekend with Mayor Bhalla claiming he's entitled to cash in with a new law firm gig of unknown total value.

Bhalla's campaign spokesman emerged over the weekend pointing to some undeterminable salary under $100,000 but there's no telling how rich the revenue stream may turn out to be with the new law firm, Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen.

What is the total potential value of this contract for Ravi Bhalla? How many similar side-hustle law firms may seek out the new Hoboken mayor for "strategic advice?"

These questions are in the starter kit for the public and City Council. The next City Council meeting begins tonight at 7:00, sharp.

Talking Ed Note: The whispers in the campaigns last year about ethics or concerns for same have reared their head and early. Reap the whirlwind.

Notice, a few Ravi Robots finally emerged after days of silence to dismiss the public outrage even without any public accounting on the total potential value of the Ravi Bhalla "side-hustle" with another law firm.

Putting aside the obvious scam on the public, trading in one law firm's payday with another; the lack of interest in the obvious potential for conflicts there belies the fanaticism and betrayal to the detonated Reform Movement. Waving off basic public accountability in a law firm rich deal of unknown value unmasks them as both traitors to Reform and good governance.

Thankfully, some public officials and the public have begun raising their voices. Ring the bell. Ring it loud and proud - for Hoboken.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Councilman Peter Cunningham: "Mayor Bhalla takes on Second Job"

Official release:

Hoboken is a small yet very complicated City with urgent infrastructure and development needs requiring a full time Mayor.  At over $116K per year plus benefits, he or she is appropriately compensated to be a full time Mayor.  “The people of Hoboken expect it, and the job requires it,” said Councilman Cunningham.   

With not more than 50 days into Mayor Bhalla taking office, “I was shocked and disappointed to learn late on Friday that Mayor Bhalla has accepted paid job responsibilities at a politically connected law firm in Morristown, NJ,” said Councilman Cunningham.  “This not only breaks a campaign promise, but calls into serious question his judgement and commitment to Hoboken.” 

“Mayor Bhalla should be focused on many of the ongoing and developing issues of Hoboken like Washington Street, Rebuild by Design, redevelopment projects, Union Dry Dock and voter fraud,” said Councilman Cunningham. "Instead Mayor Bhalla has found it more important to “mentor” young lawyers?  The press release announcing his new position, however, stated that his requirements would instead involve 'strategic advice’.  The citizens of Hoboken expected that his strategic advice would be focused on Hoboken —not a law firm in Morristown.  This unfortunately leads to more questions and concerns about his time commitment and conflicts of interests to say the least." 

Peter H. Cunningham 
City of Hoboken
5th Ward Councilman

Bhalla campaign spokesman hits back on shellacking for new mayor taking employment at another law firm

Blasted by much of the Hoboken City Council this morning after the holiday weekend for breaking a campaign pledge to work full time as Hoboken mayor, Bhalla campaign spokesman Rob Horowitz hits back with jabs too.

It echoes faintly to an old Seinfeld episode morphed to "It's not me, it's you."

As reported on Hudson County View, an attempt to shift away from the Ravi Bhalla campaign promise leaving his old law firm and work full time is being reinterpreted with an attack on the City Council tossed in for good measure.

The original statement on Hudson County View appears below.


City Council President Ruben Ramos 'extremely concerned about potential conflicts of interest' with Mayor Bhalla's law firm employment

Official release:

As many Hoboken residents were, I was stunned to learn that Mayor Bhalla has taken an Of Counsel at a law firm. Mayor of Hoboken is a 24/7 responsibility and residents need to know how his new job factors into those responsibilities.

In my lifetime, every Hoboken mayor severed employment with their previous employer to avoid conflicts whether it be teacher, police office or firefighter so once again we have a Hoboken first with a Mayor having an employer outside the City of Hoboken while serving as Mayor.

I am extremely concerned about potential conflicts of interest and the public has a right to know what compensation arrangement the Mayor has with this prominent Republican leaning New Jersey law firm. We have major issues facing our city and this becomes another distraction that leaves us with more questions then answers as we work to move our city forward.

Councilman Mike DeFusco: Mayor Bhalla Broke Campaign Promise to be Full Time Mayor

Official release:


Councilman calls for full disclosure on Mayor’s new job, will introduce stricter new ethics rules for chief executive

Hoboken, NJ – Councilman Mike DeFusco is calling on Mayor Ravi Bhalla to disclose his full job description and employment agreement related to the new position he recently accepted as an “Of Counsel” attorney with the law firm Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen. DeFusco also plans to introduce an ordinance that will expand the city’s ethics code to hold the mayor’s office to a higher ethical standard and reduce the possibility of conflicts of interest. Hoboken’s mayor is paid the most of any mayor in Hudson County, with an annual salary of $116,100 as well as a generous benefits package.

“Ravi Bhalla promised that he would serve the City of Hoboken as a full time mayor when he was running for the position, but unfortunately that appears to have been nothing but a bait and switch tactic,” said Councilman DeFusco. “Mayor Bhalla claims this position is about mentoring young attorneys, but given his past ethical lapses including one violation recently affirmed by the Local Finance Board, that’s a tough pill to swallow. In reality, this is a financial boon for the mayor that creates the potential for significant conflicts of interest where he will be in a position to use his public office to create business development opportunities for his new employer. That’s why it’s so important that we fully understand Mayor Bhalla’s relationship with this firm and for the City Council to continue acting as a watchdog to prevent any abuses of the public trust.”

Mayor Bhalla was previously employed as a Partner at the firm Florio, Perucci, Steinhardt & Fader, a firm that had client relationships with entities involved in business with the city including Suez Water and NJ Transit. Responding to criticism that his employment represented the potential for a conflict of interest, Bhalla declared: “ … if I am elected Mayor, I will be working full-time for the people of Hoboken, severing my employment with the firm.” (Source: hMag Candidate Questionnaire)

“Obviously, Mayor Bhalla has broken his promise to be a full-time mayor for the people of Hoboken, but what’s even more troubling are the many ties between his old firm and his new one,” said Councilman DeFusco. “At a time when our city faces a litany of different issues and challenges, like finishing Washington Street, connecting our waterfront and reducing traffic, residents deserve a full-time mayor, not someone whose attention will be divided.”

Both Florio, Perucci, Steinhardt & Fader and Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen are major contributors to a Political Action Committee called “Leadership PAC for Better Government,” an organization that has made thousands of dollars in political donations. The PAC donated $2,000 to Donald Trump and $3,500 to Kim Guadagno. In fact, one of the principles of Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen recently served as the Chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party -- and he was replaced recently as Chairman by a partner at Florio, Perucci, Steinhardt & Fader. This revolving door of politically-connected attorneys, contracts and PACs makes full disclosure of Mayor Bhalla’s new position even more crucial for transparency.

“It’s appalling to see a mayor who based much of his campaign on standing up to Donald Trump now working for a law firm that supported Trump,” said DeFusco. “This is the kind of hypocrisy that people hate about politics.”

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'How can we not feel bad about Mayor Bhalla's broken promise?'

Official release:

How can we all not feel bad about this?“ Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher responds to Mayor Bhalla’s new position as Of Counsel with politically connected firm Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen 


“How can we all not feel bad about this?  Both the message itself and how it was disclosed only on his personal Facebook page on a Friday evening before a long holiday weekend.   

His commitment to being a full-time mayor, his commitment to ending any conflicts or perceived conflicts with his politically connected law firm, and his commitment to putting Hoboken first and not using the platform of the mayor as a stepping-stone to higher office were all questioned during the election.  We relied upon his own words when he said to HMAG on November 2, 2017, just five days before Election Day, ‘if I am elected Mayor, I will be working full-time for the people of Hoboken.’   But now, we have to question all of these again.  

Am I surprised that he broke his promise to Hoboken residents?  I want to be.  We clearly need to know more about the overall structure, time commitment, financial incentives and potential conflicts that he has in this new arrangement and how it will be managed going forward to fully understand the implications to Hoboken.  But I can say that I have worked with many lawyers with this title in my professional career over the years and in all cases their primary role was client facing and revenue generating, not ‘mentoring and guiding young attorneys’.  This would be the first.”

City Council Vice-President Jen Giattino Calls on Mayor Bhalla to Fulfill His Promise to Hoboken Residents of ‘Working Full-Time for the People of Hoboken’.

Official release:

City Council Vice-President Jen Giattino Calls on Mayor Bhalla to Fulfill His Promise to Hoboken Residents of ‘Working Full-Time for the People of Hoboken’.

  
“During the election when asked how he would do a full-time job as mayor while working as a lawyer, and when asked how he would avoid conflicts of interest with his politically-connected law firm, he repeated the promise that he would quit his law job to work “full-time for the people of Hoboken.” Voters in Hoboken took him at his word and elected him Mayor.  Now we find that when he said he’d quit his job, he apparently thought he had a loophole to take a job with another firm that is as politically connected as the one he left.

The mayor of Hoboken gets a salary of $116,000 annually, the highest in Hudson County.  Only two towns in Hudson County - Hoboken and Jersey City - have full-time salaries at these levels for full-time mayors.  All other towns have part-time salaries for part-time mayors who have additional jobs.  

He knew what people believed when he promised to quit his job and work full time for Hoboken.  Hoboken pays for and needs a full-time mayor.   He should follow through with his promise.”

Ravi Bhalla on the brink

The stunning news of another back room deal, this one involving a new law firm announcing Hoboken mayor Ravi Bhalla as one of their own is creating shockwaves across the Mile Square City.

The new mayor will not be working full-time for Hoboken as promised after all.



Many Hoboken residents are concerned about the actual contract with the law firm Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen, P.C. and expect there will be an effort to obtain its actual terms. Will Mayor Ravi Bhalla cooperate and provide one for public transparency or declare it off limits?

Hudson County View broke the bombshell story over the holiday weekend. The Bhalla deal with the law firm comes merely a month after his term begins and after his promise to leave his former law firm, the politically statewide connected Florio Perrucci.

If the former law firm is feeling jilted, they aren't complaining publicly. During the League of Municipalities meetings in Atlantic City last November, representatives of the firm were rumored overheard bragging at events how no business goes through Hoboken without their approval.

The revelation of another Mayor Bhalla back room deal puts everyone on edge with the City Council meeting set for tomorrow.

An announcement of some kind today is expected from City Hall as the mayor's office desperately seeks to distract from Mayor Bhalla's broken promise.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

BREAKING: Ravi Bhalla breaks promise to work full time as Hoboken mayor

In a stunning revelation first reported Saturday over the holiday weekend by the Hudson County View, new mayor Ravi Bhalla broke his campaign pledge committing to make the City of Hoboken his full time job as mayor.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla seen last summer at the annual Spaghetti Dinner. The laughs come at Hoboken's expense with the revelation he's broken his word and taken a position with another law firm. He pledged during his campaign he'd leave as a law partner of Florio Perrucci and commit to working as Hoboken mayor full-time.
That was fast.

In a statement released to Hudson County View by last year's Bhalla campaign spokesman, Rob Horowitz admitted Ravi Bhalla will be paid of counsel for the law firm Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen, P.C.

The law firm published an announcement welcoming Bhalla to the firm.

Last year, Ravi Bhalla's law partner affiliation with politically connected Florio Perrucci became fodder on the campaign trail before he finally declared in a campaign announcement his commitment to "working full-time for the people of Hoboken, severing my employment with the firm."

Now, barely a month in office Ravi Bhalla has done a 180 on his pledge to the people of Hoboken. According to the Hudson County View exclusive, Mayor Bhalla will make less than $100,000 in his new of counsel position.

Hoboken lifestyle magazine H-Mag which typically avoids the hornet's nest of Hoboken politics issued a late Friday story calling the new Ravi Bhalla gig a "side hustle," putting a link to its story right on Bhalla's Facebook page. It's capped by an apparent snarky "Congrats!"



Mayor Ravi Bhalla's salary is listed as just short of $117,000, the highest salary among the 12 mayors in Hudson County.

Talking Ed Note: How many Hoboken voters who bought the bag of goods on the politically planted Ravi "terror flyer" putting him into the mayor's office will learn of this news and realize they are part of the snookered 32%?

Some residents are quietly communicating their displeasure saying Hoboken should expect more of a "side hustle" from its new mayor Ravi Bhalla. They elected not to go on the record concerned about political retaliation already evident from the Mile Square City's mayor of one plus month.

Friday, February 16, 2018

DAS BOOT: Ravi Bhalla boots Cheryl Fallick and Mike Lenz from Rent Leveling Board

In a letter issued yesterday to the City Clerk's Office, new mayor Ravi Bhalla offered a full list of seven candidates to fill the totality of expired positions on the Hoboken Rent Leveling Board.

Notably eliminated from the board are two well known Hoboken government officials: Cheryl Fallick and former councilman Michael Lenz who served as the board's chair.

The two board members given the boot share one facet in common: both publicly backed Councilwoman Jen Giattino for mayor in last year's mayoral race.

The board removals with announced replacements will see a vote by the full City Council at next week's meeting on Wednesday.

The Hudson County View filed its story on the Friday breaking news at the link:
https://hudsoncountyview.com/hoboken-council-to-vote-on-whether-to-replace-two-rent-control-board-members/

Mayor Ravi Bhalla finally made appointments to the hollowed-out Rent Leveling Board.
Its 2018 meeting was cancelled lacking any members for a quorum.
Now it lacks board members Cheryl Fallick and Michael Lenz.
They've been booted.


Talking Ed Note: MSV noted Wednesday, the Hoboken Rent Leveling Board awaited action by the mayor's office. Mayor Ravi Bhalla had been traveling on political junkets to Washington DC and Austin, Texas with the entire board unable to hold any meeting in 2018 pending action by the mayor and City Council confirmation.

As a result of six weeks into 2018 with no action by Mayor Ravi Bhalla, the previous 2018 Rent Level Board meeting was cancelled.

Yesterday the letter seen above shows all seven board positions submitted by the mayor's office for approval. The seven appointments will be confirmed in a vote on Wednesday by the City Council sans Cheryl Fallick and Mike Lenz.

Can you say retaliation?

Last month, the City Council made its appointment to the North Hudson Sewerage and named its representative to the Hoboken Planning Board. Former councilman Anthony Soares won the overwhelming vote 7-2 and Councilman Mike DeFusco similarly got the nod to the Planning Board.

Although both are council appointments, Mayor Ravi Bhalla voiced indignant displeasure to council members about the potential for Soares winning the NHSA vote. Reliable sources said he's incensed about the appointment where a close friend of former mayor Dawn Zimmer and Bhalla's was replaced. The mayor's badmouthing campaign along with his paid political operative at the Cave had no impact on the council's vote for the appointment.

The mayor's office was invited to comment on this story. The office and the exiting Zebra in residence remain silent to all inquiries.

Transparency.

HOBOKEN POLICE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATES SECURITY BREACH IN CITY HALL

Office of the mayor announces:

The Hoboken Police Department is investigating an incident that occurred at the Mayor's Office on Thursday night.

A male individual entered City Hall through the Newark Street entrance just before 8:00pm on Thursday, February 15th, 2018. The person went through metal detectors and told security officers that he was going to use the restroom.

At the time, the only person in the Mayor's Office was Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Freeman. Mayor Bhalla was on his way to the office following a community meeting. From his office, Mr. Freeman observed that a bag with an object had been thrown in the direction of the administrative assistant's desk and made eye contact with the individual. The individual then ran out of the Mayor's Office. Mr. Freeman called the police, which are currently investigating the incident.

"This incident, along with death threats to me and my family, is an unfortunate reminder that we need to take security seriously," said Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. "The Joint Terrorism Task Force has evaluated City Hall, and we have been working to implement their recommendations for physical and procedural changes to improve security for all employees in the building."

"We take incidents like these incredibly seriously and will continue working to ensure the security of the mayor and everyone who visits City Hall," said Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante.

Talking Ed Note: No one can say what this bag contained that was tossed in City Hall. So there won't be any speculation what it contained. But if it dangerous, it should have been included in the official release. 

The City Council previously approved requests for expenditures for added security in City Hall this year.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Grist for the Mill: Ravi loves everywhere but Hoboken

Not a month in office and the declaration of war against most of the City Council by the new mayor comes with some extraordinary ventures outside the Mile Square City.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla is the man about town, scratch that, man about country. He's managed to fit in not one but two major trips with a month in office and the question is being raised, does he intend to stiff Hoboken taxpayers with those bills?

The first trip was to Washington D.C. Did Mayor Bhalla appear before an important urban congressional committee on transportation or flooding to urge support for initiatives on behalf of Hoboken. Nope. It was a Democratic House "retreat," re: pure unadulterated politics. He did however note in one tweet he is "sharing knowledge of Hoboken election lesson to help Dems win the midterms." Outlaw "sanctuary/welcoming" cities being all the rage these days. How much lawbreaking will be helpful in November? Latest polling shows the trend for illegality coupled with massive illegal domestic spying for election purposes and higher taxes is not enhancing any resumes with American voters.

This followed with another trip with a South Asian moms get together in Austin, Texas. The jaunt there as one tweet described also saw Mayor Bhalla meet with a local mayor to discuss "housing affordability... new technology in bike sharing programs" and taking "lots of notes."

Questions are flying around town asking will the Hoboken taxpayer be hit with the cost of these obvious political and personal junkets?

While some council members are rumored not seeing the costs of these political junkets as problematic, the entire City Council may discover Hoboken taxpayers view the obvious political ventures outside of town with a mere month in office as wasteful, disrespectful and if a bill is attached, outrageous. (MSV would ask for clarification but a zebra has gone mute in recent days.)

Ironically, on housing affordability, the Hoboken Rent Leveling Board is in a state of flux awaiting direction, leadership and appointments by Mayor Bhalla. Meanwhile, a Texas mayor needs to share with Mayor Bhalla on the subject elsewhere? What, you guys can't Skype with each other after attending to Hoboken city business?

On the plus side, Mayor Bhalla did manage to make an appearance with the NJ Senators for a media event at the Hoboken train terminal. Lots of grandstanding and the usual blame game pointing to President Trump for the accident that occurred before he was even on the scene. Well, there's some attention on sleep apnea or something. How much government money do you need to add that into an annual physical and/or with drug testing?

The Hoboken Housing Authority held a regular dinner and there was a nice appearance by the new mayor. He didn't make many of these events or HHA meetings previous so perhaps this is an effort at outreach. It fares better then a rare HHA meeting appearance where a Florio Perrucci contract was up for a vote as then councilman Ravi Bhalla did before becoming a member of that law firm.

One local official wasn't as thrilled to see the mayor. Something about a blunder attacking a majority of the City Council with wild accusations about voter fraud. Let's just say that much of the council members weren't even around when the backtracking pointed to a 2010 council race. Worse, the people skewered were more than a little vocal at the last meeting speaking out against Hoboken voter fraud.

One council member, Michael Russo managed to escape the wrath of Mayor Bhalla on voter fraud. This with the mayor's statement speaking out against the practice of paid election day workers. Somehow, the 2015 race which Russo faced unopposed spent boatloads in the thousands for election day workers. Nice that Ravi-Russo alliance.

You don't say.

Then there's this from Mayor Bhalla twitter page. A meeting he described as "exciting." 

Mayor Ravi Bhalla posed for this photo with controversial anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour.
Sarsour was in the news recently for denying a woman's allegation of sexual abuse in the workplace.
The alleged victim said a man "rubbed his erect penis against her" Sarsour allegedly told the woman
to be quiet about the incident body shaming her saying it "doesn't happen to someone who looks like you."

Left wing anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour saw a photo celebrated with Mayor Bhalla on his twitter page. She's been an icon of the Left "leading" the woman's march protesting the election results of President Trump after his come from behind victory in November 2016.

Sarsour's "women's rights" credentials took a beating based on the reports of sexual abuse in the workplace in a New York Office. From one of many reports:

One of the most prominent feminists in the US, Linda Sarsour, has been accused of enabling sexual harassment in the workplace and body-shaming a woman who reported the abuse to her. Sarsour, a Palestinian-American, was an organizer of the Women’s March on Washington and is an outspoken anti-Israel activist. Asmi Fathelbab, a former employee of the nonprofit Arab American Association, claims she was sexually harassed at work in 2009. She reported the incident, in which a volunteer at the organization snuck up behind her and rubbed his erect penis against her, to Sarsour, who was her superior. Sarsour allegedly dismissed Fathelbab’s complaints with body-shaming remarks, telling Fathelbab “Something like that doesn’t happen to someone who looks like you.”

If Mayor Bhalla wanted to get off to a shaky start with the City Council and Hoboken public, he's certainly off to an interesting stage left beginning - to put it kindly.

Talking Ed Note: Happy Valentine's Day to all except for the rancid pathologically lying few in the Cave, Hoboken Antifa and their related chapters.

Grist for the Mill is MSV's rumor column. Got a tasty carrot for Da Horsey? Send it to smartyjones@me.com. All email is kept confidential and is protected by Da Horsey's proven Reporter Privilege upheld under the NJ Shield Law in Hudson County Superior Court. In farm animals we trust.