Thursday, May 3, 2018

Councilman Michael DeFusco: "This administration is ethically challenged"

From last night's City Council meeting, Councilman Mike DeFusco raises the issue of political contributions to the Ravi Bhalla campaign in the first quarter of 2018 as a contract from one contributor is put forward in a $50,000 contract for the City Council to approve.

The council tabled the matter and is seeking to resolve the alleged conflicts based on Hoboken's existing Pay-to-Play ordinance.

The video comes courtesy of the Hudson County View:

Talking Ed Note: The deflection with name-calling against council members from the usual frothy, foaming fanatic and paid political operative lamely attempts to shift blame.

If the vendor was in fact switched day of the meeting and inserted into the contract, who in the Bhalla Administration failed to perform their due diligence to avoid a potential pay-to-play conflict?

The earlier exclusive breaking story here at MSV:

In a later issued statement Thursday, Mayor Ravi Bhalla admitted the City Council acted properly.

“It was the responsible thing to do while we actively investigate the concern. I’m glad this was brought to our attention, and I hope councilmembers will feel comfortable bringing any future concerns to me directly and as soon as they are discovered so that we can address these potential conflicts as quickly as possible,” He added the City of Hoboken has no intentions of using any firms that are in violation of pay-to-play laws.

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


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.