Mayor Bhalla Bars Council Member from Entering Community Meeting
Hoboken, NJ – Mayor Ravi Bhalla held a “Community Meeting” last night at the Marineview Plaza building that was coordinated using city resources and attended by the Mayor’s taxpayer-funded staff, including Chief of Staff John Allen, Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Freeman and Constituent Services Chief Caroline Caulfield, as well as the Mayor’s security detail. But when Councilman Mike DeFusco attempted to enter the meeting, which was held in the ward he represents, the Mayor’s staff and security detail refused to allow the Councilman to enter the room it was being held in.
“This is a clear case of the Bhalla Administration putting petty politics ahead of not just transparency, but the basic principles of community and open government,” said Councilman DeFusco. “I am trying to work with the Mayor to help my ward and move things forward but he’s unable to put politics behind us, and it’s frustrating and hurtful to see this level of obstructionism when we could be working together to tackle important issues like reducing flooding, supporting local businesses and improving municipal services.”
Mayor Bhalla’s event was advertised with a flier that included the city logo and city government email address for a member of his staff. Had the event been political in nature, and thus private, city resources could not be used without triggering a violation of campaign finance law. However, the Mayor’s use of city resources to plan and execute the event clearly shows that it was not a private political function, but rather a city event that should have been open to all.
“This was clearly a city event given the resources expended and it’s outrageous that Mayor Bhalla would bar a fellow elected official from attending. This action is yet another example of this administration's inability to work through the political divide to benefit residents, and this kind of pettiness does nothing to move Hoboken forward.”