Monday, June 25, 2018

Ravi on the brink?

The revelation of how Ravi Bhalla subjected a former employee to years-long abuse as the NJ Supreme Court wrote he failed to take "any substantial steps" to see the employee paid over $6,200 shocked many.

Among those shocked are the hardest core supporters, Ravibots!

Is this failure to keep a promise and return the money until 2016 and 2017 the following year after an August 2015 grievance was filed to see the monies returned a mere symptom due to lacking a bookkeeper or something closer to a harsher reality?

The latest Ravi Bhalla scandal comes on the back of the City Council seeking transparency on the mayor's second job.

The Jersey Journal further covered this aspect of the story:

Political clash continues over Hoboken mayor's second job

Members of Hoboken's council want Mayor Ravi Bhalla to report regularly on his earnings and clients at his second job. 

On Friday, the mayor released a memo stating "in the spirit of transparency and collegiality," he announced delivering one new client to the Republican law firm, Lavery Selvaggi, Abramovitz & Cohen this year.

According to Mayor Bhalla, he hasn't been paid any commissions to date for the one client landed. He, however, failed to point to the employment contract of the second job where he has not covered in new business delivered to date the $60,000 base salary before commissions are paid as stipulated in the agreement.

The mayor's memo listed a dozen items - what he called his "track record." The first item listed is "paving and rehabilitating Washington Street to 9th street "by mid-July," a date in the future. The memo then stated Bhalla has "not required the participation of the City Council," a shot likely to only further alienate most on the nine-member body that has approved the vast majority of Administration requests to date.

The City Council does not appear likely to end its efforts seeking a formalized process of quarterly updates on Bhalla's commissions, earnings and client contracts in the face of his sudden announcement after months of obstinacy to their previous requests.

Bhalla voter regrets

While many in Hoboken are only learning of Bhalla's NJ Supreme Court censure and don't know the complete unseemly details, insiders have and several voiced strong displeasure.

Their answers range, depending on confirmation bias to completely overlook the implications of Bhalla's former employee not paid monies requested and owed for almost seven years to outright "disgust," and worse.

One close observer who thought Bhalla the best among the mayoral choices last fall noted, "if people knew about this during the election, no one would have voted for him."

Other insider comments were harsher and are not published due to foul language. No one wanted to be quoted on the record either way.

At Sybil's Cave, Ravi Bhalla's fanatical paid political operative host avoided addressing any substance of the NJ Supreme Court's censure of Ravi Bhalla. When a reader asked if anyone would comment about "the lasted Ravi scandal" they were urged to stay on topic and stick to an attack on council members.

Former Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer, who last year declared Ravi Bhalla the "only" mayoral candidate she trusted has not been heard from since the news broke last week of the NJ Supreme Court's censure of Ravi Bhalla.

During the mayoral race, Zimmer actively campaigned for Bhalla and offered him her unqualified endorsement. Her husband, Stan Grossbard worked on the Bhalla for Mayor campaign. Neither responded on the record to the substance of the Bhalla censure by the NJ Supreme Court or when they learned about the case.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: LOTS Up & Coming Including 7/4th Festivities!

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:
Happy first official Monday of summer!  Hoping the rest of the summer weather follows today’s – sunny, high of 82 and zero chance of rain!  So much is happening that I am going to break this update into a couple of parts – Up and Coming & What You Should Know.  Let’s begin with Up & Coming because there is a lot starting with TONIGHT!
6/25 – MASTER PLAN RE-EXAM 2nd and Potentially Final Public Hearing.  124 Grand / Multi Service Center 7-9pm
This is singly the MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENT for Hoboken and sets the stage for potential zoning changes including building heights, density, uses.  Included in this plan are some of the more controversial changes: recommendations for up-zoning and 4 structures over 200 feet on the top of the hill for Stevens and changing the designation of the residential areas south of 4th street from R1 to R2 to increase density (ability to build more units & taller structures) and add more ground floor commercial.   My main criticism of the plan are threefold:
  • The City Council was specifically excluded from the process which is astounding.  And again, if you ask anyone, anywhere involved with city planning and governance about what and who should be involved in such an important process, the governing body is at the top of the list.  
  • The re-exam is incomplete on important elements.  Instead of incorporating a review of important elements (official sections) in the plan like Education, Community Facilities, Housing, and Transportation/Circulation needs, the plan recommends that the city undertake these reviews separately, in the future (at additional cost and time that is currently not budgeted).  
  • The plan all but ignores the conclusions and the impacts on everything in our community of the 2018 build out study that suggests that currently, under existing zoning and approved plans, our housing units and population will increase 20+%.  This increase is BEFORE up-zoning contemplated in the plan and any additional residential development approved as part of the North End redevelopment process.  
  • Those who responded to the survey do not reflect the demographic make- up of our community and those more disadvantaged are under-represented.
Click HERE to find links to the Re-Exam and the Land Use element documents.  I plan to attend this important meeting again tonight and I hope you do as well.   If the plan is approved tonight, the council then determines what, if any, actions it will take to codify recommendations and make official zoning changes.  The council did not codify recommendations under prior undertakings (2004 Masterplan and 2010 re-exam).