Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ravi Bhalla to council: 'Don't undercut my political retaliation'

Official release:

Mayor Bhalla Urges City Council to Reconsider Decision on Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board

Based on a legal analysis provided by Corporation Counsel which notes that the City Council’s proposed actions related to the Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board violate New Jersey State Statutes, Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla is asking that the Council reconsider their intention to transfer appointment authority  of three full rent board members and two alternates from the Mayor to the City Council. Mayor Bhalla is also renewing his prior request for the Council’s advice and consent of Warren Hall and Heath Urban as full members of the Rent Control Board.

“State law is very clear about how appointments should be made to boards.  Any decisions made by board members who are improperly appointed calls into question the validity of determinations made by the Rent Board,” said Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “I hope that the Council will reconsider their actions and provide their advice and consent regarding the nominations of Mr. Hall and Mr. Urban, two highly qualified appointees who I know would serve our community well.” 

Per Mayor Bhalla’s memo (see attached) to the City Council, “On March 5, 2018, the Law Department submitted a legal memorandum advising you that the City Council does not have the legal authority to unilaterally appoint members to the Rent Control Board…This appointment authority rests with the Mayor, upon the advice and consent of the City Council, as explained in the Law Department’s memorandum. Despite the March 5th legal memorandum, this Ordinance is still on the March 15, 2018 City Council Agenda, along with a series of resolutions wherein the City Council appears to be illegally attempting to appoint Rent Control Board members. These items should be removed from the City Council agenda, as you have been advised that you do not have the legal authority to take such actions.”


Talking Ed Note: Mayor Ravi Bhalla has a problem. In attempting to inflict political retaliation jettisoning members of the Rent Leveling Board; he created an instant backlash of people who actually care about the work of the body not politics nor motives with political retaliation.

Intended to inflict punishment for an earlier council appointment bringing back former councilman Anthony Soares to the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, the new mayor finds himself in a quagmire of his own making.

Don't be confused; it's a quagmire. The City Council is taking only partial reins with three of seven regular seats to the Rent Leveling Board but for Ravi Bhalla it's another transgression where his focus lies: power.

Unfortunately for Ravi Bhalla and the obviously compromised Law Department, pigheaded and condescending "legal analysis" is not likely to change the tide where the ship of Hoboken is going with this board.

In 2009, the Hoboken City Council debated then opted to remove all appointing powers of the mayor on the Hoboken Zoning Board of Adjustment. Then a councilman, Ravi Bhalla publicly endorsed the council actions and sanctioned it with his own vote joining the majority in the move.

This Horse is not a NJ municipal law expert but here we are with some of the same members in government who certainly did not forget that 2009 council action on the Hoboken Zoning Board. Councilman Peter Cunningham was working on the council with Ravi Bhalla when the Zoning Board seats became a council only appointment.

Fast forward to today and we have a condescending legal analysis attempting to pull a fast one on the City Council telling them an action to appoint Rent Leveling Board members is improper. What the subservient and compromised legal beagles in City Hall are trying to suggest is that this is impermissible without the legislative changes put into effect. Ravi Bhalla himself claims this applies to "all boards." Wrong.

On Wednesday, any appointment changes on the Rent Leveling Board won't be in effect until the final passage of the ordinance and a 20-day waiting period. Both should be honored as Mayor Ravi Bhalla weighs how he arrived at this sour destination of his own making.

While he's likely fearful this type of council action may continue, he should buck up and admit it was a foolhardy idea to do when the council majority is equipped to easily beat back such poor political maneuvers. 

Is Ravi Bhalla capapble of learning and moving on? Let's find out.