Bhalla, Pagan-Milano take aim at DeFusco ahead of Hoboken council pay-to-play vote


Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and 1st Ward challenger Migdalia Pagan-Milano are taking aim at Councilman Mike DeFusco ahead of tonight’s council meeting where the governing body is expected to vote on a resolution regarding the city’s pay-to-play laws.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“In my run for Mayor, I chose to abide by these [pay-to-play] rules, did not take a penny above the legal limit and rejected contributions from developers in Hoboken because it was the law and the right thing to do,” Bhalla said in a mass email that was sent yesterday.

“However, one of my opponents – Councilman DeFusco – chose to ignore Hoboken’s laws and regulations by taking tens of thousands of dollars above the legal limit from special interest groups and developers.”

Bhalla continued that he’s urging the council as a whole to approve tonight’s resolution, introduced by Council members-at-Large James Doyle and Emily Jabbour, that hopes to reinforce the city’s pay-to-play laws.

As HCV first reported, the City of Hoboken solicited a legal opinion from outside counsel on their pay-to-play laws, which called the regulations unenforceable and potentially unconstitutional – more than enough grounds for a repeal.

However, city officials have said they will not consider making any changes to the pay-to-play laws until after the November 5th municipal elections, where all six ward council seats are up for grabs.

“This is a very simple issue – the Council will either vote to uphold our laws or they will choose to ignore them for their own benefit,” Bhalla concluded in the email.

Also piling on was Pagan-Milano, who criticized DeFusco for allegedly yet to accept a pledge to “stamp out election fraud.”

“It is disappointing that Councilman DeFusco has so far refused to sign-on to our pledge, protecting the integrity of Hoboken elections, especially given that one of his largest political contributors, Frank Raia was the mastermind of the cash for votes scheme and his former campaign manager, Ryan Yacco, was at the heart of the operation,” she said.

“I call on him to do so today.”

Raia, a longtime politico, was convicted of vote-by-mail fraud in connection to the 2013 municipal elections in June and DeFusco donated away the $9,400 his campaign received from Raia in 2017 in the subsequent days.

DeFusco responded that he accepted the pledge, created by Hoboken Housing Authority Vice Chair James Sanford, back on September 9th, which appeared to be verified by an email from the councilman that said “please consider this response as an official my acceptance of your initiative.”

However, Sanford requested that all candidates sign a written pledge form, which DeFusco is yet to do, Sanford said.

DeFusco added that the mayor and his allies decided to go on offense as an attempt to distract from a super PAC, NJ Community Initiatives, getting involved in the Hoboken council races.

“This is another attempt by the mayor and his council slate to distract voters away from the politically connected Super PAC supporting their campaigns. The facts here speak for themselves, I accepted Mr. Sanford’s request the same day he contacted City Council members,” DeFusco stated.

“Instead of looking to manufacture misleading headlines, perhaps my opponent should try running a campaign based on policy and integrity by denouncing the influence of dark money in our local election.”

The Hoboken City Council meets at City Hall, 94 Washington St., at 7 p.m. in what promises to be another contentious session in the midst of election season.

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  1. Ravi Bhalla will wait until the dead of night to undo Dawn Zimmer’s Pay-to-Play ordinance. When it’s dark, that’s when he goes out for the Dark Money. How much is Ravi Bhalla coordinating with a Hoboken vendor and the Super PAC? Call the Feds!!

    • Well, the Supreme Court caught Ravi making his employee’s thousands of dollars disappear. He had to give it back. Can the Feds match the NJ Supreme Court getting the job done?

      • Doesn’t even care what the subject is, just runs through his “I hate Ravi” schtick like a crazy old coot yelling at cars with spittle running down his chin. Not the worst strategy though. Being clearly totally unhinged from reality probably insulates him from being sued for libel.

        • Facts are not feelings. Stop projecting your hate. All namecalling and the rhetoric of the exposed Bhalla campaign, not a good look. The facts about the NJ Supreme Court Case and needed law enforcement should generate more than tomfoolery.

          The NJ Supreme Court can’t be accused of racism for disciplining Ravi Bhalla. You can try that old standby. Egg on face won’t impress.

  2. Ravi Bhalla called Frank Raia an “asset to Hoboken.” Now he’s running against ghosts and battering him after he’s convicted for voter fraud. The same Ravi Bhalla tried to put Frank Raia back on the NHSA over reformer Kurt Gardiner.

  3. who the crooks are!

    Disregard above gibberish from the world’s worst political operative (and illiterate blogger) who mistakenly was put on Hoboken’s fire memorial committee.

    Let’s see who votes on enforcing Hoboken’s pay-to-players ordinance THROUGH THE ELECTION then fixing the ordinance AFTER the November election. A no vote= CROOK.

    Re: above nonsensical political operative gibberish: the mayor cannot unilaterally repeal an ordinance. The City Council makes and votes on legislation.

    • There was no enforcement and no enforcement will take place. Ravi Bhalla sought out a legal opinion to undo Dawn Zimmer’s 2011 pay to play ordinance. He got caught. The 2011 ordinance will see further legal examination to see results and address the legal conflict, not political grandstanding which is what the political Nazi graphics blogger and Ravi Bhalla council campaign sought for electioneering.

  4. Things that make you go hmmmmmm. First Ward Councilman DeFusco for some inexplicable reason held a fund raiser not in his own Ward but way across and up town at a bar on 10th and Willow Streets. According to reports the overall attendance was low with only one member of his ticket, Councilman Ramos, showing up.

  5. Frontrunners dont obsess over the opposition… seems Bhallabots are showing they fear a major loss and trying to spin on here.
    If Migdalia THE CITY EMPLOYEE is so great, why worry? If DeFusco is so hated, you don’t need to attack him, the public will vote him out… So transparent that everyone knows Bhalla is walking away with Phil Cohen and that’s it.
    Ravi will face a midterm embarrassment NATIONWIDE!

    • I think it is clear by the ongoing rants, insults, lies and personal attacks on this site by DeFusco supporters that their candidate once considered a front runner is now running in fear of losing his place at the City Council.

    • LOL…wait, I though superstar millennial mike was the unstoppable rising force of the Hoboken political scene, how can HE not be the frontrunner? do you mean to tell me the incumbent isn’t the frontrunner? do you even know what you’re talking about?

      Time for the high-priced Vision Media team to regroup (AGAIN), this last talking point is more confused than a MSV diatribe.