Saturday, September 21, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: Mayor Ravi Bhalla calls for partisan special meeting for non-binding resolution


Seeks campaign material for "enforcement" in non-binding pay-to-play resolution

Ravi Bhalla asks City Council: "Tell me how to do my job!" 

Weeks leading into council ward elections, Mayor Ravi Bhalla called for a special meeting this Thursday for a partisan campaign-driven resolution claiming to "enforce" the 2011 Pay-to-Play ordinance.

Last week's non-binding resolution calls for enforcement of the 2011 pay-to-play ordinance Bhalla's Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia previously declared unenforceable.

Neither the mayor's office nor Aloia has offered any new analysis of how the 2011 ordinance can be enforced in the balance of 2019.

Ravi Bhalla makes a campaign play calling for a special meeting
solely for a non-binding resolution leading into November council elections.

Wednesday night, Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher noted the disparity and called for an outside conflict counsel to review the matter. Her council colleagues agreed to move to table the resolution in a 6-3 vote.

The Bhalla Administration months prior, trotted out a small Hoboken municipal union as cover and obtained an outside legal analysis as a pretext to cripple if not do away with the 2011 ordinance in future legislative action. The ordinance currently limits political committees and unions from making political contributions in Hoboken above $500.

At the Wednesday council meeting, the non-binding resolution calling for enforcement of the 2011 pay-to-play ordinance saw objection to further legal analysis by councilmembers Jim Doyle, Emily Jabbour and Michael Russo of the Ravi-Russo Alliance.

The mayor's office notification for a special meeting Thursday came during business hours Friday using the citywide Nixle system.

The City Council has repeatedly chastised the Bhalla Administration for illegally using the city alert-emergency system for political purposes. It recently passed legislation calling for city employees to refrain from politicking during work hours.

The City Council last month passed a measure with a veto-proof majority Ravi Bhalla declined to sign but became effective without his signature.

Talking Ed Note: Some find too much irony in all this campaigning out of the mayor's office wondering if Ravi Bhalla is really asking the City Council to do his job?

But why is this partisan campaign gamesmanship being done during business hours on the taxpayer dime?

Vijay Chaudhuri, communications manager in the mayor's office is invited but will not be available for comment. The former 2017 campaign manager for the Bhalla for mayor campaign is likely very busy with campaign chores from now until November.

Close political observers of Hoboken City Hall note the focus with the non-binding resolution is not enforcement but a campaign play as Councilman Michael DeFusco has exceeded the contribution limits in 2017 and 2019; contributions Bhalla himself seeks for his campaign war chest in a future election of his choice.

The rest of this exclusive report goes out to premium members this weekend.