Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Kurt Gardiner: "What I saw at the Ravi-Russo HDC takeover'

Official release:

Last night in a coordinated effort Mayor Ravi Bhalla executed a political coup of sorts with his consigliere Phil Cohen being elected the new chair of the Hoboken Democratic Committee ousting now former chair Tiffanie Fisher. I was present in my official capacity as Sargeant at Arms on the Executive Committee and witnessed the craven political machinations of Phil Cohen and other disgruntled winners of an election that yielded their leader only a 32% plurality. Last night was political payback pure and simple because Tiffanie Fischer in her capacity as an independent and policy oriented City Council person failed to take a loyalty oath expressing 100% fealty to their Dear Leader, Ravi Bhalla.

A quorum of 39 was required to initiate the meeting on the whole and thanks to the alleged work of John Allen, Ravi’s Chief of Staff (whose salary is paid for by the taxpayer) and Ravi Bhalla himself working the phones despite both denying it; they were able to barely secure a quorum. They obtained the magic number of 39 just a minute or two before the start of the meeting. It was close folks and without Phil Cohen and Ravi Bhalla making a deal with Mike Russo’s contingent of 10 or so committee members the quorum would never been met and the coup would have failed.

For those who still believe in good government take pause and contemplate the notion that Ravi and his henchman Phil Cohen cut a deal with Mike Russo just for the sake of taking over a committee that most people don’t know about and most of those who know really don’t care. Political ambition rarely gets more naked or petty than this. We shall see what Mike Russo hopes to get from this in the coming months. Can you say sweetheart Church Towers PILOT at the taxpayers expense? Watch this space.

What was also disturbing to witness was Nora Debenedetto’s prepared statement that lobbed numerous false accusations and was an outright smear job on Tiffanie Fisher before the vote was called. Nora accused Tiffanie of obstructionism during the executive committee meetings that I attended and nothing could be further from the truth. In executive committee meetings, Tiffanie as chair tried to work with everyone and did not try to block any initiatives, nor did any one on the executive committee bring up any of these issues until the coordinated email attack right before Mayor Bhalla’s partial meeting with Brian Stack. 

This was a political take-out from the get go. Phil Cohen in that meeting called for a signup for a meeting on the whole never specifying the reason knowing full well that the only agenda item was to replace Tiffanie. Phil has a track record of not being the most forthright actor in the room. This is just another example coming from a Beth Mason apologist. Nora’s divisive display coupled with Phil’s track record of being a divider do not bode well for the near future of the Hoboken Democratic Committee. They both would have come out looking better on this by simply admitting this was all about politics.

The other issue Phil Cohen flouted as a practicing lawyer was he blatantly violated the committee bylaws by electing himself in the same meeting. HMDC Bylaws Article II, Section 5 requires that vacancies in any HMDC office “shall be filled by the Municipal Committee at its next succeeding meeting following the date of the vacancy….” Because there are no regular meetings currently scheduled, any vacancy created today in the office of Chair (or any other officer position) cannot be filled until a new meeting has been called.  A Special Meeting can only be called when at least 14 days notice has been given to all members. Per HMDC Bylaws’ provisions at Article V, Section 2. Phil couldn’t even wait until the next meeting because that press release declaring pyrrhic victory had to go out pronto.

So where we stand now is the Hoboken Democratic Committee has now become the Committee to support Ravi Bhalla and his side deal with Mike Russo and enable his side deal law contract where he personally profits from color of official right by being Hoboken Mayor. Tiffanie Fisher worked hard to get 60 plus votes majority on the Democratic Committee and the only lesson she learned was no good deed goes unpunished. My takeaway is ethics get in the way of power seekers and idolatry of Ravi Bhalla is perhaps the Achilles heel of this administration or the path to upward mobility. Time will tell.

Tiffanie Fisher may have been voted off the island but the island is Easter Island. Idolatry on Easter led to to deforestation and ultimately agriculture failures and unsustainability. Now we got great statues and a nice tourist trap. When the Hoboken Democratic Committee serves only one politician it is certainly smaller and its sustainability only goes as far as that politician. I have participated in the Hoboken Democratic in the hopes that the local hyperpartisanship would stay out of it. That is clearly not the case now.

Celebrating the HDC takeover by the Ravi-Russo Team

Official release:

Committee Votes to Move in a New Direction

 On Monday night, at the first official meeting of the Hoboken Democratic Committee since its June 2017 Reorganization Meeting, the Committee voted resoundingly (47 yea vs 4 nay with 1 abstention) to rescind the vote electing Tiffanie Fisher as Chair.  With the chairmanship vacant, the Committee overwhelmingly elected long-time Democratic Committeeman and 1st Vice-Chair, Phil Cohen as the party’s new Chair.
“I thank the members of the Democratic Committee for their support and look forward to accomplishing our goals of electing Democratic leaders, growing the party, and promoting Democratic values in Hudson County and across the State,” said Phil Cohen. “As we saw during the tremendous turnouts during the March for Our Lives last month in Hoboken and throughout the nation, people are energized to tackle the big issues facing our community.  I look forward to leading the city-wide committee of 80 Hoboken Democratic Committee people get to work, build the party and get things done.” 
Other leadership changes this evening included the election of Nora DeBenedetto to fill the vacancy of 1st Vice-Chair.  (Ms. DeBenedetto previously served as 2nd Vice-Chair), and the election of Eileen Carvahlo as 2nd Vice-Chair.
“We are approaching some of the most important Mid-Term elections in recent memory and it is important that we have a local Party that is cohesive and working seamlessly with Mayor Bhalla, a prominent leader of the State’s Democratic Party,” said Cohen. “I am honored to help lead our local Democratic Party and be a part of the change our State and Country need.”
In the coming months, the Hoboken Democratic Committee will be hosting a number of events in preparation for the upcoming November 2018 Midterm Elections.  Some of the events include hosting in Hoboken Andy Kim, the Democratic candidate for Congress in NJ-3 against incumbent Republican Tom McArthur, as well as other Congressional candidates in hotly contested swing districts in New Jersey, which are key battlegrounds in stopping President Trump’s agenda and turning Congress from “red to blue”.