Ravi Bhalla and Councilman Michael Russo teaming up on Church Towers PILOT
A revision to the flood ordinance update is on the City Council agenda tonight but the relief is too late for many. The question of why Mayor Zimmer refused to act will be left to history and those who suffered significantly in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the years since.
But on to potential boondoggles of the present under the banner of the Ravi-Russo team.
The Ravi Bhalla Administration is working feverishly to roll out another Church Towers PILOT with their ally Councilman Michael Russo, who is obviously conflicted from any vote or participation on the matter as he's a resident there.
Another resident of Church Towers is a lawyer for the politically connected law firm Decotiis, Fitzpatrick and Cole. The politically connected NJ law firm is working for the Bhalla administration currently reviewing PILOT options.
According to well-placed sources, the lawyer's name appears on Bhalla Administration documents circulated among various officials raising eyebrows and questions to the Corporation Counsel. It's the same City counsel who contributed to Ravi Bhalla's mayoral campaign and is the so-called conflict watchdog of the notorious Ravi Bhalla second job.
All of this is accelerating concern with the overlapping conflicts by Hoboken's new conflict blind mayor. The City Council will be expected to vote on some new Church Towers PILOT submitted by the Bhalla Administration.
While no one wants to see fixed or moderate-income residents hurt, Church Towers is long known as lacking any scrutiny on who gets in, how and what income. The Russo Clan controls who comes and goes hosting its political base in the third ward.
Although the waiting list at the Church Towers buildings has been closed for years; Festivus miracles on new arrivals are a staple. Michael Russo's in-laws magically count themselves among the blessed arrivals in recent years.
The lack of oversight in the subsidized buildings has been a lightning rod for Reform for more than a decade. The Administration is not precluding Michael Russo as being conflicted and officially remains mute and neutral saying it's up to him to decide.
As the law firm Decotiis continues to explore the methods and tax basis on a PILOT for Church Towers, moderate-income residents there are awaiting some confirmation of good news and others wait to see their cushy taxpayer-paid subsidy remains protected with no scrutiny.
The City Council meeting tonight may see the issue come up as it has in the past.
Talking Ed Note: Here's a trip down memory lane when the last PILOT was coming up for renewal and questions about Councilman Michael Russo and Church Towers were raised.
Wait, the person who stumbled into the scandal and then tried to stop further investigation into the crimes is now the savior?
There's a typical woeful attempt to blame Councilwoman Jen Giattino for what's going on with the Bhalla Administration and the Church Towers PILOT. As if.
It's too soon for any of this lame-brained historical revisionism. The good governance council members of Peter Cunningham, Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher will be the bulwark against the likes of another severely flawed 2009 Church Towers PILOT being passed.
Hoboken has waited decades for this moment.