Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has taken aim at five of his adversaries on the city council after a special meeting to vote on a single resolution regarding pay-to-play laws was cancelled due to a lack of quorum.
“It’s troubling that five council members decided to not show up to tonight’s city council meeting. This deliberate action prevented an important vote to protect the integrity of our local elections as well as our redevelopment initiatives and city contracting process,” Bhalla said in a statement.
“Instead of taking a stand against special interest groups, agreeing to abide by our current pay to play laws, and setting a positive example, the council majority is choosing to ignore the law for their own benefit. We must continue to be vigilant to stamp out voter fraud and strengthen campaign finance regulations, and tonight the council failed to accept the very the laws they have been elected to uphold.”
3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo was the only elected official who joined Councilman-at-Large James Doyle, the resolution sponsor, in person, while Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour – the other co-sponsor – and 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco called into the meeting.
Since the nine-person council needs a majority to convene, the meeting was cancelled.
It would appear that Doyle and Jabbour sensed that the special meeting would not take place, given that they reiterated their request for the council to convene and vote on the matter yesterday after the measure was tabled on September 18th.
Hoboken’s pay-to-play laws were enacted in 2011, particularly notable since they limit political action committee’s contributions to individual candidates to just $500 – as opposed to the $2,600 allowable by state law.
Earlier this week, Council President Jen Giattino questioned the need to vote on the resolution since the pay-to-play regulations have remained unchanged since their inception, noting that she was the deciding vote on the measure in 2011.
The Mile Square City’s pay-to-play regulations have come under scrutiny after a September 3rd outside counsel opinion solicited by corporation counsel recommended that the current ordinance be repealed due to questions of enforcement and constitutionality.