Thursday, May 3, 2018

BUSTED: Environmental contract proposed by Ravi Bhalla Administration rejected by City Council amid pay-to-play allegations

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE


City Council rejects $50,000 environmental services contract connected to Union Dry Dock work for alleged Pay-to-Play violations by the Ravi Bhalla mayoral and committee campaigns

An engineering firm allegedly contributing to Ravi Bhalla's mayoral campaign and Team Bhalla in 2018 in excess of Hoboken's pay-to-play ordinance saw its proposed contract tabled in the City Council meeting last night.

The contract was part of a two vendor consulting agreement totaling $50,000 for work at Union Dry Dock.

Prestige Environmental reportedly donated $600 to Ravi Bhalla's campaign and an additional $1200 to Team Bhalla in the first quarter of 2018. The discovery was made the day of the meeting as a replacement firm as part of a larger $50,000 contract with another engineering firm, T&M Associates.

Hoboken's pay-to-play ordinance limits the firm and other vendors to a maximum campaign contribution of $500.

Second Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher raised the red flag asking how the "pre-qualified" vendor came before the City Council in a contract as their contribution were in excess of Hoboken's Pay-to-Play ordinance.

Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia responded that an investigation would begin immediately. "We'll look into all the facts," he said.

The Ravi Bhalla Administration saw this $50,000 contract halted with no action taken by the City Council as Pay-to-Play concerns arose about excessive contributions to Ravi Bhalla's mayoral and campaign committee. 

Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo responded to the discovery stating "That puts us in a bad spot."  and said he would be voting no on the contract resolution.

City Council President Ruben Ramos asked "Who's in charge of compliance" to look at these matters before the Bhalla Administration brings a contract to the council for approval?

Jim Doyle said "to my knowledge, Team Bhalla does not exist." Informed the campaign committee apparently does based on recently filed NJ ELEC campaign reports, Doyle said he may be recused from voting on any potential contract with Prestige Environmental.

Council President Ruben Ramos said after the pay-to-play issues are properly addressed, a special meeting could be called to address the required work at Union Dry Dock next week.