Bhalla vetoes allowing Hoboken council two more rent control board appointments

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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.” 

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, then a councilman-at-Large, being sworn in as council president in 2015.
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, then a councilman-at-large, being sworn in as council president in 2015.

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.”

Last month, Bhalla vetoed allowing voters to decide on whether or not to bring back December runoff elections, but the council overrode that veto by a vote of 7-2.

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.

20 COMMENTS

  1. What’s better than rent controls? A tax on vacant lots and unoccupied housing. While rent controls make it less attractive to supply housing, a vacancy tax makes it less attractive NOT to supply housing! A vacancy tax of $X/week makes it $X/week more expensive NOT to get a tenant, and thereby REDUCES, by $X/week, the minimum rent that will persuade the owner to accept a tenant.

    If NEW buildings are exempted from rent control in an effort to encourage construction, the stock of rent-controlled housing becomes an ever-shrinking fraction of the housing supply — unless the exemption is only for a limited time, in which case there is less incentive to build! A vacancy tax avoids such conflicts; it unequivocally tends to increase the effective supply of housing and therefore reduce rents.

    Similarly, a vacancy tax on commercial property would reduce rents for job-creating enterprises.

    With a sufficiently heavy vacancy tax, evictions due to foreclosures would be consigned to the past, because the foreclosing bankers, in order to avoid the tax, would want to retain the current tenants or former owner-occupants as continuing tenants. Of course the existing stock of empty foreclosed homes would be immediately made available for rent, as it should have been all along — not just drip-fed to buyers over a period of years.

    Under a vacancy tax, squatters would not count as occupants, because they don’t officially exist. So the squatters (and the nuisances they cause) would be displaced by lawful tenants. The owners would get rent, the tenants would get accommodation, and the neighbors would get peace.

    A vacancy tax would be GOOD FOR REALTORS — who would get more rental-management fees for properties coming onto the rental market, plus commissions from any owners who decided to sell vacant properties.

    And the political trump card… Avoidance of the vacancy tax would initiate economic activity, which would expand the bases of other taxes, allowing their rates to be reduced, so that the rest of us get a tax cut!

  2. Well see, Ravi ain’t gonna listen to the community who came out before, unless he gets paid. And don’t call it a job; it’s a calling. When Ravi hears the Brinks truck outside City Hall, he gets wood. Only reason he vetoed is that he wants to desperately retaliate because the council wouldn’t let him control their appointment to the NHSA and the council designee to the Planning Board. So he snuffs two senior people on the RLB who didn’t support his 32% campaign. He’s such a wannabe dictator. But he’s going to FAIL!

    • Written like a true Doofus. Speaking of Doofuses did you see the post on the Doofus site about the assault on 2nd amendment rights and how no one wants to talk about the real issue which is the Parkland shooter’s name?

      For some reason the Doofus edited the post to delete the stuff about the name. Is there a duufus explanation? Did someone tell the Doofus he should hide his bigotry better? Arent more doofy voices better even if they are ignorant and hateful?

      • I apologize. I was misinformed. The Doofus didn’t edit his Doofus post. The reference to the supposed odd failure to talk about the very important (ethnic sounding) name of the Parkland shooter is still in the the incoherent Doofus ramblings.

  3. This issue is getting old. I’m not sure anyone on that council really cares a rats ass about rent control.
    It’s now going on 2 months.

    • This was never about rent control for the GiaFusco gang though was it? It was all about power and the odd desire to wield it on behalf of Michael Lenz and Cheryl Fallick.

  4. Serious question… does this city council even pretend they are doing this because it is in the best interest of the people of Hoboken? IMO that is the funniest (or saddest, depending on your perspective) part of this whole thing. If I still lived in Hoboken, I would have some serious concerns about this council’s priorities.

    • I think the answer to that question is a resounding yes. I am guessing you know very little about Hoboken’s history surrounding tenant protections. But, regardless, you don’t live here anyone so why should you care one way or the other?

      • No one on the City Council has even tried to articulate a public policy reason other than their desire to force the reappointment of Cheryl Fallick and Mike Lenz by any means possible.

        Perhaps you can enlighten us by finally providing an actual public policy rationale beyond Ms. Fallick, Mr Lenz and their political allies believing that they are somehow indispensable to the Board or otherwise entitled to reappointment.

        By all accounts, everyone agrees that Mayor Bhalla’s appointees were fine choices. Their only disqualifying characteristic is that they are new and were displacing those two individuals who happen to have long and checkered histories in Hoboken politics and a close political affiliation to the Councilmembers behind this effort.

        • What is the reason for getting rid of them? It is odd how Ravi never had a problem with them until now. Were they bad before and he was ok with it because they were his supporters? You can’t bash Lenz and Fallick and ignore the fact that Ravi was in league with them for many years. If they are bad, so is he, and Dawn, etc for putting them there. It’s a moot point, because it’s obviously just Ravi playing politics and trying to punish them for going against him, but the attempt to spin it is just juvenile.

        • Hey LindaStan, can you say OVERRIDE!
          The experience on the RLB ain’t finished after all. Hey, Ravi can find someone else to retaliate against, no worries. In the meantime, here comes another Brinks Truck from Hackettstown coming with more loot for Ravi. Let’s get law enforcement to shut down downtown Washington and protect Ravi’s money arriving from his other “job.”

    • A word of warning, Samantha, you were good to get out of here and would be wise to stay away! If you disagree with Indiecom, you need to be careful because she may be keeping a scorecard of all dissenters, to be published online at a time of her choosing when she feels there’s a suitable “shame factor” involved.

      Get out! GET OUT! GET OUUUUUTTT!!!!

  5. This is simple. Before being elected Mayor, Ravi was a major part of the political majority that put and kept Lenz and Fallick there in the first place, when they were supporters of his and Zimmer’s campaigns. Based on things that happened during the past election, he’s now trying to get rid of them. He’s the one acting on political motivations, rather than good government. Don’t let him turn this around. The only other explanation is that he’s saying he practiced bad government for the past 8 years.

    • It seems like you’re saying that you believe Fallick and Lenz were appointed to the board in the first place for political reasons. Can you explain how that is an argument for going to these extraordinary and legally dubious lengths to keep them in their political appointments?

    • Perhaps it’s possible that anyone involved in appointing Lenz at the time were unaware of rumors of the extent to which he advocated for and applied pressures on behalf of his friend Lynda Walker while she was allegedly violating federal housing law by harboring a known sex offender. Such a person has no place on a board of this nature, and if this information came to light it would give pause to anyone who previously supported him.

      As for Fallick, she discredited herself as a suitable candidate as soon as she started spinning that the people who supported the renters on the MSTA referendum were bad and the people who sat on their hands and quietly stood on the other side were good.

      • The issue isn’t whether Lenz and Fallick are good or bad. They both have long controversial histories and its certainly fair to disagree on whether their contributions over the years have been positive or negative.

        Changing the law just for them, no matter what you think of them, is flat out wrong. The fact that the City’s lawyers say its also illegal certainly makes it worse, but it would be totally indefensible and wrong even if legal.

        The public understands this, which is why all this is not only wrong but unbelievably stupid on the part of Fisher, Giattino and Cunningham.

Comments are closed.