Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Who stands to win the special interest loot heading into the NJ Transit Redevelopment vote?

There's public consternation heading into tonight's City Council meeting. Once again, a first reading with a vote is anticipated for the highly controversial Ravi Bhalla - NJ Transit Redevelopment Plan.

Vying for the big special interest money are three not ready for prime time mayoral candidates: Mayor Ravi Bhalla and council members Michael Russo and Mike DeFusco.

The for sale sign is up in front of City Hall but only a select few know it's there. Let the buyer beware who they invest in?


While no official declaration is in the offing, all three are willing and able. They've begun wooing the big statewide construction special interest money banging on the door for another crack at Hoboken.

Councilman Michael Russo has been the loudest and most publicly vocal. Using the council dais as his bully pulpit, Russo pushed hard for a vote on the massive redevelopment downtown only to see his efforts vanquished.

That came courtesy of the good government trio of City Council President Jen Giattino joined by Peter Cunningham and Tiffanie Fisher who moved to jettison it off the council agenda without a vote prior to last month's election. They weren't pleased with the lack of evaluation and study.

Russo is not easily dissuaded and can be expected to look longingly at his colleagues urging a vote of yes in advance of tonight's proceedings. DeFusco may be intercepted by the special interests in the council chamber and given a pat on the back while Ravi Bhalla looks to stand above it all and claim the mantle of attention toward loving campaign contributions. He'll continue to operate in the backroom environs where he's most comfortable. Is that a monkey wrench he's holding?

Before any of them trip over each other in the mad scramble, there's been some modifications to sweeten the pot for the NJ Transit redevelopment and induce support or alternatively, less public opposition.  More than a dash of subsidized housing upped from 10% to fully 20% to sweeten the economic "necessity" of one if not two shiny spiraling residential towers higher into the Hoboken sky.

Is it enough to get this through the first down marker at the 50 yard line? Based on a late night random encounter yesterday; there's a little surprise on its way.


The rest of this story is premium content and will go out to members later today.

Related: Last night, the Hoboken Planning Board rejected the NJ Transit Redevelopment up for a vote in tonight's council meeting declaring it "not in agreement with the master plan." Hudson County View covered the story.

Of note: both Tiffanie Fisher and Jim Doyle hold seats on the Planning Board and will vote on the council tonight.

Update: The vote never occurred as the NJ Transit Redevelopment was pulled off the agenda. It's back to square one although some in the public didn't know going in and wanted to voice displeasure leading into an anticipated vote.