Five Hoboken elected officials, four council members (including one former running mate) and one county commissioner, are denouncing 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco for renting his home on Airbnb during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
” … This past year has been a difficult one for residents, students, senior citizens, teachers, first responders, and parents. I am not sure how he feels his absence is appropriate or why. During the pandemic, it was, and still remains an all hands-on deck approach in keeping residents safe,” said Councilwoman-at-Large Vanessa Falco.
“From delivering food, checking on senior citizens, providing education and awareness of testing and vaccines, my council colleagues have all contributed immensely during these difficult times. I unfortunately cannot say that Council member Defusco was a part of our collective efforts during the pandemic. Despite having conversations with him, he never once mentioned that he was out of the country and/or not living in Hoboken and I find that so disingenuous.”
She continued that DeFusco needs “to be honest, transparent, and accountable” for using Airbnb.
Falco was one DeFusco’s council-at-large slate in 2017 and she was the only candidate who emerged victorious. She is the first African American to serve as council-at-large in the history of the Mile Square City.
Earlier this week, the Downtown councilman answered questions about renting his home 23 times since August, stating he had been spending time with family, with the exception of one trip to Colombia.
He attributed other Airbnb host reviews from outside of the country to a childhood friend, also named Michael, whom he shares the account with.
Not everyone on the council is angry with DeFusco, with 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher calling the notion that he did something wrong “a politically motivated hit job,” pointing out that many council members traveled to see family over the past year.
“Many city council members, not just Mike, have traveled this last year to be with close family, including those who signed this letter. As most know, I lost my mom last year and spent a lot of time in Rochester while handling city business remotely in those cases,” she stated.
“I think my colleagues should be held accountable for bullying someone for choosing to supplement their income, while still doing their job, during a difficult time. Just another disgusting example of how far Team Bhalla will go to discredit a potential opponent.”
Mayor Ravi Bhalla is currently running unopposed ahead of a bid for a second term in November, though DeFusco, who hasn’t announced his plans one way or another, is still often viewed as a potential challenger.
Additionally, County Commissioner Anthony Romano (D-5), a rival of DeFusco’s during the 2017 mayoral campaign, accused him of being absent for constituents during the public health emergency (Romano lives in the 1st Ward).
“I, along with other constituents, have reached out to DeFusco about the issue of Airbnb, with no response from him. Now, after media reports of his many rentals through Airbnb and not living in Hoboken, it’s abundantly clear why,” Romano exclaimed.
“During his absence, our community has come together to help residents and seniors in the 1st Ward, because DeFusco has not been there for his own constituents, many of whom have not heard or seen from him in almost a year.”
Expectedly, Council members Phil Cohen, Emily Jabbour, and Jim Doyle, staunch allies of Bhalla, stated that DeFusco should consider resigning from the city council if he can’t provide “a complete and full accounting” of his whereabouts since August.
It is nice to finally see people take a stand against DeFusco and his bizarre behavior. I will say it is quite unfortunate to see Tiffanie Fisher bend over backwards and invoke the passing of her mother to defend this indefensible behavior. To make this story about visiting your family completely misses the point. Mike rented out his home in the first ward over 20 times, essentially not making him a resident of Hoboken. How is that ok and how is Tiffanie defending it?
What’s specifically “bizarre” about it, “Sylvia Jacobs?”
I am not sure why this is confusing to you “Jacob DeSilvia,” but please explain to me how a ward councilman who rents out his home in the ward he was elected to represent isn’t bizarre and beyond the pale?
Because there’s nothing illegal about it. And he’s done more for his Ward than Bhalla has for the entire city.
I know I speak for many of my friend and neighbours when I say we look forward to voting Bhalla out in November! And you too Vijay and his social media trolls. We all see through it.
Someone please buy Tiffanie Fisher a map.
Fisher’s confused interstate travel within the continental United States, with extended overseas trips to Europe and to South America resulting in long absences from the First Ward. Fisher’s main concern is damage control for a political ally, not the First Ward seniors left behind without help to navigate the City’s covid vaccination program.
Like DeFusco, Fisher doesn’t truly care about the health of Hoboken residents, only herself and the consolidation of political power. As always, Fisher plays the Bully Card should one dare point out the truth about her allies. They are the victims, legitimate criticism is bullying. What a bunch. The real victims are First Ward residents with an AWOL Councilman. He owes them the truth.
Who’s complaining? I live in the First Ward and Councilman DeFusco has ALWAYS been there for me and my senior neighbours, regardless of where he has been physically – day or night.
Quite the opposite can be said for our Trump-like Mayor who toots his own horn on social media and has his army of trolls commenting here:
DeFusco 2021, baby!!!
Interesting spelling of “neighbour”- must be how they spell it in Croatia.
Last Jan when First Ward seniors were scrambling to pre-register for a covid vaccine, they got a postcard from their AWOL Councilman in Columbia: “Having fun in Columbia! Wish you were with me on the beach!”
I was sorry to hear about her mother’s passing, but there is an enormous difference between Tiffanie sorting her late mother’s estate in Rochester and MDF vacationing in Belgium, Croatia, and Colombia for months at a time during a global pandemic (while operating an airbnb in town!). As a constituent, I would never see Tiffanie’s trips to Rochester to handle family matters as unnecessary or frivolous. DeFusco’s trips were very different- they were a choice, not an obligation.
I don’t know which mayoral office flunky you are but you have stepped into a pile of oozing crap.
Attending to family during illness has nothing to do with an “estate” and you should resign and take those other losers with you. Oh and take your Ravi Terror Flier out the door with you. Criminals!
Give me a break! This is nothing more that BHALLATICS at play.
What’s the issue here? Who is really complaining? Mike has been at every meeting and more responsive than my own councilman, Ravi’s boy. In fact, I didn’t even know he wasn’t in town and it shouldn’t matter! How many Hoboken residents were working from home?
And isn’t Jim somewhere out in Pennsyltucky?
What a joke and a waste of time.
Actually Councilman DeFusco hasn’t been at every meeting, he admits to that in the Tap Into article, that initially broke the story. And if you’ve watched any of the council meetings, there was a clear point that Councilman DeFusco exclusively used virtual backgrounds, when he wasn’t before nor were other council members, which would lead most to believe he was no longer living in his Hoboken home.
I respectfully disagree with you that it shouldn’t matter where he was living/working. When your job is to literally serve the community, you should 100% be in that community. You can’t help them if you don’t know what is going on. I can’t speak to Councilman Doyle’s whereabouts but my opinion remains the same, no matter who it applies to.
And we all know if the tables were turned, Council members DeFusco, Fisher, Ramos and Giattino would all be spending their days criticizing the administration every chance they got.
You mean a virtual background like this one?
His job isn’t “literally serving the community” and he was more than able to deliver regardless of his physical location; actually this is America – innocent until proven guilty. What did he do wrong and how did that impact ANYONE? Stop “Basing for Bhalla” – we will call you out, and we will defeat you in November
Maybe Croatia needs a mayor cause Superhost is toast in Hoboken.
How is a council person who rents out his apartment which he owns even an issue? Am I missing something? It seems like we should be spending our time on more important matters than political attacks, but this is more of the same games and detractors from this administration – one in which the fish’s rotten head has two jobs, Mayor Ravinder Singh Bhalla: “Gimme a break! Gimme a break!”
Are we reading different articles? Since when can Americans travel to Europe during the pandemic? Did Mike get a special pass that no other Americans could get to go to Europe? Didn’t Mike say other than Colombia he only visited his parents and sister in New Jersey? Does anyone know how long he was actually gone? I live in his ward and had to reach out to him in January and he responded quickly. I kind of don’t care if he was gone for a little while. Why do you guys care so much other than politics?
I’d like Councilwoman Fisher to explain why it’s acceptable for Councilman DeFusco to supplement his income but she continues to question others also supplementing their income, citing that second jobs don’t ensure #ourhoboken is the priority. Wouldn’t this mean he has three jobs??? How many times have we heard how the Councilman is a successful executive at a Fortune 500 media company, plus a City Councilmember, plus AirBnB Superhost. Count ’em up, that’s three.
The actions of Councilman DeFusco are the definition of not putting #ourhoboken first. For her to say he’s supplementing his income while “still doing his job” is outright #comfortablydishonest. The only time he does his job is when there is a photo-op, an opportunity to criticize the administration or when it’s election season.
I applaud Councilwoman Falco for taking a strong stance against her former running mate. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her. Since she took her seat on the dais, Councilman DeFusco has treated his colleague like she was no more than his puppet and she simply needed to fall in line with whatever he said. She deserved better and #ourhoboken deserves better.
When last I looked the Mayoral position was full time. City council members earn about 20K and its likely many of the people attacking Defusco are the loudest voices for wanting a cut for the city council salaries whenever they get the chance. One even suggested that the council members earn nothing and just provide the public service.
Falco sucks. She’s clearly flipped to team #BHALLATICS and should be exposed for being on the take.
She will be found out. She’s too stupid not to get caught. At least Phil has a phony law degree.
How about that councilman at large that was in the Poconos ?
LOL. He’s a Bhalla puppet like the other two so we can’t say anything about him.
All of these elected officials and their staff need to be voted out. Right now you could pick your flavor of misbehavior and misdeeds and slam the other side for it, but just remember – your side is just as bad if not worse. ALL of these people need to go and never be heard from again.
LOL, what a ridiculous comment. Why should Jen go, pray tell? Or Emily? What, exactly, have they done?
How much money are all the bar owners donating to Ravi’s campaign Via his liaison I heard the going rate for a street eatery call is the maximum elec allowance
I see nothing wrong with what Mike did. You may not support him, but there’s no reason to attack him other than if he is being setup for his forthcoming campaign against this shady administration.
A lot of people agree with me, so let’s just call this what it is: Bhalla being Bhalla.
If the mayoral race doesn’t work out for him (again), maybe he can star in an update of the TV game: “Where in the World is Mike DeFusco?” Or a new version of Where’s Waldo? And I guess there’s always basketball tryouts for the Globetrotters.
The stench around DeFusco grows ever stronger.
Boy, not since Rejected last place,Ex Councilman and Failing HHA Chairman Dave Mello stabbed Dawn Zimmer in the back has Hoboken politis seen such a ungrateful running mate.
Not to excuse DeFusco, Falco demonstrates she no better than Mike DeFusco
Like she doesn’t know people who pull strings with their apartments all over Hoboken.
Just ask her mentor Gene