Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Horse Sense: Mayor Ravi Bhalla goes all-in to protect his top heavy mayor's office

There's one principle prize Mayor Ravi Bhalla upholds on local government, "It's all about me."


If you want to see where his investment in time and energy is from the second floor of the mayor's office, this when he's in the office at all versus his second job chasing HudCo contracts for a Republican law firm fronting him much dough, tomorrow is the show.

Several positions are up for a second reading for budge deficit reduction. Two of the positions are for the "luxury" office of Constituent Services, another is an engineering role. The savings would be into the six figures as Hoboken shows no sign of a budget heading into June.

Ravi Bhalla is holding that key information from both the public and the City Council. He has good reasons to keep the budget top secret. The City Council was aghast when preliminary numbers last winter came in showing millions of dollars in red ink. The council saw the figure as north of $12 million with some analysis estimating it at $14 million.

Fast forward to the pandemic and the mayor's office will not admit to their spendthrift ways. The only official response is a vague and tepid admission it's now in the $10 million dollar ballpark.

Weak sauce.

The unofficial word on the street is that the pandemic adds another few million or more with some offering outside of the mayor's office, mum to these realities; the actual figure may top $20 million.

Meanwhile, Ravi Bhalla is doing what he always does. Fight for the fattened insider salaries in the mayor's office and keep the fat thick and insulating. When his staff isn't launching political attacks on council members, throwing them out of City Hall when they are on site helping residents, they've found time to send their friends and the usual noisemaking battering ram to issue flippant charges of racism.

Unfortunately, the political investment at present in protecting mayoral staff comes under dire financial duress for the Mile Square City and after dozens of Hoboken workers for the City have already undergone the chopping block. Dozens more await the ax which Ravi Bhalla had measured for them to the tune of 79 city workers in total.

The all-around hypocrisy here is waning rather thin.

The only real argument which can be mounted with any fiscal sanity is the engineering role which has saved and may save far more in the coming months justifying retention of that salary. Perhaps the City Council should give that a closer look and weigh the distinct advantages in that role.

Otherwise, there's plenty of cutting Hoboken needs to be acting on, sooner than later.
Councilwoman Vanessa Falco

Council VP Vanessa Falco yesterday issued this statement to the media.

"It’s astonishing to see Mayor Bhalla take a position on the City Council’s effort to more appropriately fund City Hall since he remained silent when 26 people were laid off or forced into early retirement last month. Many of these employees were lifelong residents of Hoboken and played an integral role in the day to day operations of the City. All we are doing is simply asking the Mayor to better allocate the funds within his own office. Instead of handing out nearly $70,000 a year in stipends to three political insiders imported to City Hall from his 2017 campaign who already bring home a six figure salary. We were all elected to office with the responsibility of addressing constituent services, and that’s exactly what will continue to be done until those positions can be better funded in our budget.”

Hudson County View breaks down the particulars.

This Horse Sense editorial is dedicated to all the Hoboken City Workers who were shown the door recently without so much as a tear out of the mayor's office. None of them however were political insider hires of the mayor.