Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has vetoed a measure approved by the city council that would allow them to appoint two more members to the rent leveling and stabilization board, claiming that “their conduct is driven by politics, not good government.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
” … Even if the City Council had lawful authority to transfer appointment authority of Board Members of the Rent Leveling & Stabilization Board away from this office and to the City Council, the City Council has failed to articulate a compelling public policy purpose in support of the ordinance,” Bhalla said in his veto statement.
“Rather, the ordinance is driven by the City Council’s dissatisfaction over the fact that two political allies of its leadership were not re-appointed by this office … it is strikingly obvious that their conduct is driven by politics, not good government.”
In February, Hudson County View first reported that the council would be voting on who would replace Michael Lenz, a longtime chairman of the rent control board, and Cheryl Fallick.
Both Lenz and Fallick were supporters of 6th Ward Councilman Jen Giattino’s mayoral run. She is currently the vice president of the council.
Then at a special meeting on March 15th, the council voted to gain the ability to appoint three full-time rent control board members, as well as two alternates, to the nine-member board.
This came after an opinion from Assistant Corporation Counsel Alyssa Bongiovanni said passing such an ordinance would be illegal.
Defending the council’s decision prior to the vote, Giattino read a differing legal opinion from North Bergen attorney Jason Ryglicki, saying such an action would certainly be permissible: citing similar actions in Atlantic City, Irvington, Passaic and several other municipalities.
In a second legal opinion from Bongiovanni included in the veto document, which is undated, she says that the ordinance in question violated the council rules of procedure since it was not sent to the clerk until 5:15 p.m. on the day of the meeting (which started at 7 p.m.
She is also not kind when breaking down why she feels Ryglicki’s legal opinion was inaccurate, specifically when noting that other municipalities governed by the Faulkner Act operate in the same fashion that Hoboken would if the ordinance went into effect.
“Frankly, it is ridiculous to contend that because other municipalities have an ordinance which violates the Faulkner Act, it is legally acceptable for the City of Hoboken to do the same,” she wrote.
“This is a dead-end argument which provides no legal basis for the enactment of Ordinance B-10.”
In response to the veto, Council President Ruben Ramos made it clear that he remains unconvinced the ordinance would not have proper legal standing.
“The Mayor had another opportunity to do the right thing by the residents of Hoboken by appointing individuals that have done an outstanding job on the Rent Leveling Board and have support throughout our city to be reappointed,” Ramos stated.
“The legal opinion in the mayor’s veto acts as if Hoboken is only City that operates under the Faulkner Act and has a Rent Leveling Board … a number of municipalities that operate under the same form of government as Hoboken have adopted multiple ways of appointing members of Rent Leveling Board.”
Given that the rent control ordinance passed by a vote of 6-3, it would certainly make the override process a lot more interesting this time around in the event the council decides to place the item on their April 2nd agenda.
The governing body needs a minimum of six votes to override a mayor’s veto.