Saturday, October 20, 2018

Councilman Peter Cunningham blasts Mayor Ravi Bhalla for flip-flopping & lack of collaboration

Official release:

Dear Friends and Family, 

As many of you may have heard, the City Council voted 8-1 on Wednesday night to build a hotel at the site of the Post Office on the waterfront.  The press release below discusses the terms of the vote.  

I have been a huge proponent of the Hotel for many years, and have served with patience on this committee longer than any other council person. With the addition, over time, of supportive council members, Giattino, Fisher, and DeFusco the project finally gained momentum.  Although Councilman Bhalla was a member, he was not supportive and rarely attended committee meetings.    At times, it seemed he was there to stop the project most likely because Mayor Zimmer was not supportive.  Last year, Councilman Bhalla voted no on the hotel because it was too high.

Times have certainly changed!!  Over the last couple of months, the Mayor negotiated exclusively with the developer on a bigger hotel and $3 Million in cash for two nonprofits.  Actually, it was learned at our Council meeting that most, if not all, of the negotiating with the developer was not with the Mayor, but with his Chief and Deputy Chief of Staff.  Really?  Fortunately, as you all know from my last communication, the council committee then insisted on additional funding for affordable housing, our Charter Schools, infrastructure and an upfront payment for the Hoboken Community Center (the YMCA).

It is a shame that the Mayor refused to communicate and collaborate throughout the process.  I believe strongly that further negotiations could have increased the overall benefits of the hotel.  If the Mayor wasn't so reclusive and focused on self-aggrandizement, and worked productively with the council from the outset, fantastic things could have happened. 

In the end, I am very excited and pleased that the Mayor realized the importance of this project, but sadly, I think we understand its significance for different reasons.  The City has additional projects to complete, and I hope this is a lesson of how important it is that we work together for the benefit of Hoboken.  

Please read the following statement drafted by the Administration and City Council Subcommittee formed to collaborate with the Administration on this important project.