Mayor Ravi Bhalla revival of the Russo Clan in 2019 ward council races?
Who will point out website RussoCorruption.com to Nancy Pincus?
MSV offers its exclusive analysis/opinion on the latest rumblings out of Hoboken government
At the Battle of Yorktown, the British Redcoats called it quits as King George's troops led by General Charles Cornwallis were surrounded by George Washington's troops and taking a shellacking from a French armada off the coast. They paraded in defeat surrendering their arms as a band reportedly played, "The World Turned Upside Down."
In Hoboken, a different type of alliance, this one revealed exclusively by MSV since last November is coming to the fore. Like the Battle of Yorktown, the Hoboken world is turned upside down. Reform killed in cold partisan blood by outgoing former mayor Dawn Zimmer when she backed out of the mayoral race last summer has led to the unthinkable, courtesy of Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his deepening alliance with the Russo Clan.
"We've always been at war with Oceania," goes the Orwellian refrain in "1984" and so we're warned to anticipate the worst from the "always controversial" Nancy Pincus as the weekend Al Sullivan column writes of the latest toxic stew brewing within the Ravi-Russo Alliance.
According to the Saturday column, a wake held for the departing west side business Hot House was the scene of plotting to take out First Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco next year in his anticipated re-election bid. As part of the Ravi-Russo Alliance, Sullivan writes, "the always controversial Pincus - seemed to lean towards backing a run by former 1st Ward Councilwoman Terry Castellano" who attended admitting interest in running again next year.
If Hoboken's Sybil cave-dweller gets orders from the boss at City Hall to back the Russo Clan, of course, it's all in for the Ravi Russo alliance in the 2019 council ward elections. Does anyone think Pincus would do anything less than excuse or rationalize it all away? After all, Ravi Bhalla's now infamous NJ Supreme Court censure for refusing to pay a former employee over $6,200 in monies owed for almost seven years didn't generate squadoosh out of Sybil's Cave. When one person dared pose the question if anyone was going to say anything about "Ravi's latest scandal," they received disapproval from Sybil. Not the Rx desired at Ravibot central.
Room on a broomstick for two?
The Sullivan column is first to publicly state the Ravi-Russo Alliance is looking toward the City Council ward races in 2019 and bringing back the Russo Clan gang is under consideration. Days earlier, MSV heard the exact same chatter.
City Council in 2018; a tale of three groupings
Sullivan correctly highlights the nine-member City Council consists of three distinct groups of three. The first is Jim Doyle with Emily Jabbour who both ran with Ravi Bhalla but add Michael Russo who is a wild-card vote when a council vote is close. Most often they aren't and Russo limits himself for the moment to publicly praising Bhalla in council meetings. He's done so in exceedingly entertaining and finely calibrated fashion.
Another three-person group is led by Council President Ruben Ramos with Councilmembers Mike DeFusco and Vanessa Falco. Those were the recent core votes for HHA commissioner seats for Eduardo Gonazalez and then Patty Waiters.
The third, a Reform remnant now good government trio, is led by its long-heralded statesman and stalwart Peter Cunningham with Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher. Although Ravi Bhalla declared war on them at his March fundraiser as they would not yield a knee to him after the mayoral election; they continue to focus on policy voting consistently with most all of the Administration offerings.
Although the council has worked efficiently since 2016 with successful efforts at compromise on most matters; it's the good government trio holding fast to Reform related good governance principles standing firm both on the council dais and as needed to the mayor's office.
For the love of nothing but absolute power, a suspect Shadowy narrative has attempted to portray the good governance trio as subservient or taking orders from council members Ruben Ramos and/or Mike Defuso. As illustrated in recent council votes, that narrative was nuked as it came face to face with the reality of council votes on the HHA board appointments.
The recent clamor on Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner seats highlighted the three groupings and not in the phony narrative being sold by Sybil Cave Ravibots and their lurking Shadowy controller or the political aides out of the mayor's office.
For months and almost immediately after the November election, the home of the Hoboken Antifa cave dweller announced in typical shrieking tones the good governance trio led by its statesman Peter Cunningham with Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher must be ejected from the body. Their crime? They did not bow and kiss Ravi Bhalla's ethically-challenged ring. They had good reason as the Hoboken public is learning.
The attempt to consistently deceive the public with this lazy inept narrative saw Nancy Pincus acting stupidly as she accused Cunningham, Giattino and Fisher of planning to vote to bring back Eduardo Gonazalez to the Hoboken Housing Authority. Gonzalez was a rock-solid vote for the former HHA ED, Carmelo Garica who left in his wake a fiscal nightmare.
Terry Castellano's horrendous council record
Further public recognition and a deepening alliance by Ravi Bhalla with the Russo Clan will set off alarm bells and rightly so with longtime observers of local government, those associated with the defunct Reform Movement and those supporting the success under former mayor Dawn Zimmer.
Terry Castellano being sidelined after two decades on the council eliminated a bulwark with her cousin Michael Russo against everything Reform and good government advocates fought. She not only stood head to head with the notorious Beth Mason and the efforts at destroying the hospital sale to the only possible buyer in 2011; years earlier she had put Hoboken on the hook to the former St. Mary's voting to guarantee $55 million with the City's backing.
Of course, there are her legendary efforts at covering up the theft of four million quarters from the Hoboken Parking Utility. "It's all cleared up," Castellano said when citizen inquiries become more than a little uncomfortable. Do we need to itemize the hostility to "newcomers" and Reform actions that Castellano made a staple of her daily political life?
The idea Ravi Bhalla is contemplating further escalation of the Ravi-Russo alliance for his political gain is appalling. Bhalla sat on the council dais for more than eight years. He had been warned about the infamous Russo Clan and thought it an overstatement. When the council majority went 5-4 to the Russo-Mason hydra in 2010, he saw from a first row seat how wrong he was. Today he finds it personally useful for his own political advantage to bring them into the Ravibot herd. Shameful.
MSV remains steadfast for good governance since Reform's destruction last year
In the face of these developments, MSV has rung the warning bell, loudly. It was like only yesterday, MSV blasted the entire City Council for its Nanny State insistence on doing a real world version of Portlandia come to life banning the use of plastic bags by local business. This is a mile square municipality not the People's Republic of Hoboken. MSV has repeatedly ridiculed the action as inappropriate for a mile square municipality.
As in the past, MSV has taken strong positions contrary to those of local government officials past and present including former mayor Dawn Zimmer. On major issues such as the Washington Street redesign, a firm stand in opposition is on the record against (protected) bike lanes there. To her credit, Mayor Zimmer never voiced complaint on those published differences and to their credit neither have members of this City Council. Maturity thy name is Hoboken government and agreement to differ on issues has seen cooperation in numerous other areas.
As Hoboken is rapidly learning, Ravi Bhalla is just about the last local official you'd want to give a dictatorial rubber stamp over local government. He's blatantly abusing and obviously using Hoboken as a stepping stone to punch a political ticket out of town asap and doing so in the most craven, obnoxious hyper-partisan manner.
The threat to Hoboken good governance
This explains why many good government advocates last year would not sign on board with Ravi Bhalla's mayoral campaign. It's also why almost all his council colleagues including those who had been allies for close to a decade would not endorse him. They all knew Bhalla's ethical lapses were problematic and to give him executive authority pure folly. No one knew of the recent ugly NJ Supreme Court action censuring Bhalla for spending years trying to avoid paying a former employee thousands of dollars. For years! Bhalla kept this secret from almost everyone throughout his entire City Council career and the mayoral election!
In the end, everyone was warned and all the good government advocates who refused to get behind Ravi Bhalla for mayor are obviously vindicated. This Horse's name was not the only one appearing on that list giving fair warning. Kurt Gardiner, a long time Reform supporter and Hoboken Democratic Committee member sounded similar.
Hoboken has seen a dramatic improvement in its governance mostly thanks to Dawn Zimmer's shutting down the piggy bank and making it a Mile Square City standard. The City Council was systematically improved over her two terms even as the nine-member council currently consists of three different groups with different views on occasion. Their collective efforts, however, working together has seen the Administration agenda passed easily more than 90% of the time. Hoboken is not at the ramparts but the watchword is caution with a big Horsey hoof pointed at the office of mayor.
Showing respect for our institutions is paramount. As in the recent example of the HHA board appointments, MSV relayed the truth on the actual council differences on the three groups leading into and after the vote. It's apparent to any reader where MSV stood. Similarly, Nancy Pincus' lying throughout and since the mayoral campaign last year is self-evident. You will not see photoshopping of individuals adding 30 pounds as she did in lying screeds against this editor.
But far worse than that hypocrisy, Pincus has never apologized for all her lies about others in the good government council trio: Peter Cunningham, Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher. Her litany of personal attacks saw her banned from this website last year but her noxious screeds betraying good government continues. Hoboken is rapidly learning who has markedly demonstrated a cesspool of ethical and other problems.
Take heed and act accordingly.
Talking Ed Note: There's a guy who is rumored to be under consideration by Ravi Bhalla for the first ward. Until the negotiations with the Russo Clan on next year's council races are over, that cannon fodder candidacy should be discounted for the moment. One does not need to support Councilman Mike DeFusco's ambitions to know he is a strong campaigner.
As for the recent Hoboken Democratic Committee rebellion in the ballpark of 20 against Brian Stack, MSV again points to Council President Ruben Ramos and Councilman Mike DeFusco who hit the pavement across town the weekend before the decisive vote seeing Amy DeGise break the glass ceiling becoming the chair of the HudCo Democratic Committee. The Al Sullivan column didn't give them their due.
Related: The primer on the Russo Clan: Russocorruption.com.