Bhalla vetoes Hoboken council’s measure to limit future hirings for the mayor’s office


For the third time since taking office, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has issued a veto for a measure approved by the city council, this time regarding how many people would be able to work for the mayor’s office in the future. 

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

” … Each of the Council Members who voted to adopt this ordinance were placed on notice by the Law Department that the ordinance they were attempting to adopt was unlawful,” Bhalla wrote in his veto statement on Friday.

“This advice was apparently ignored. The City Council members took an oath of office to be lawmakers, not lawbreakers. I refuse to participate or be complicit in unlawful activity and therefore VETO this ordinance.”

Furthermore, Bhalla continued that the ordinance was “a petty attempt to weaken the office of the Mayor” and that the council needs to stop “wasting time trying to settle political scores.”

Sponsored by 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, Bhalla’s chief political adversary, the local legislation would have potentially limited the mayor to two non-civil service employees in his office once one of his three current aides leave the administration.

Currently, John Allen serves as Bhalla’s chief of staff, Jason Freeman is his deputy chief of staff and Vijay Chaudhuri is the city’s communications manager, commonly referred to as the city spokesman.

As Bhalla alluded to, on both July 6th and December 4th, Hoboken Assistant Corporation Counsel Scott DeRosa told the council that the measure would have no legal standing if approved.

“There does not appear to be any state statute that specifically regulates that personnel of the Mayor’s office with a population comparable to Hoboken … Furthermore, it should be noted that the City Council does not have the power to enact legislation that regulates the personnel of the Mayor’s office,” he wrote in the more recent legal opinion.

Nevertheless, the second reading of the measure passed at the December 19th meeting of the government.

Supporters of the ordinance have previously argued that the previous two Hoboken mayors, Dave Roberts and Dawn Zimmer, operated with two aides – a trend that was consistent for at least 16 years – and therefore taxpayers should not be on the hook to pay for a third.

In a statement, Chaudhuri did not address that specific aspect of the situation, but called the ordinance as a whole “an embarrassment.”

“This ongoing vendetta against Mayor Bhalla and his staff is an embarrassment to the City Council. Instead of working on positive initiatives with the Mayor, the Council led by Mike DeFusco and Tiffanie Fisher, wastes valuable tax dollars to retaliate at every turn. Mayor Bhalla has rightfully vetoed this petty, unlawful ordinance.”

DeFusco hit back that he has worked with the new administration on many occasions and it was actually the mayor playing politics here.

“I am proud to have worked with the administration over the past year, growing the staffing at city hall, by forming a new office of constituent services as well as hiring a long-overdue city engineer and construction manager,” he said.

“However, it’s unfortunate the mayor needs to continue to play politics through his former campaign manager, now taxpayer funded city spokesman, for political gain. I call on the mayor to work with the City Council to address skyrocketing costs in our city’s budget and hope that 2019 will see less politics from the mayor’s personal aides and more policy, for the benefit of all of Hoboken.”

Chaudhuri argued that DeFusco did not actually play in any role in creating the construction engineer or constituent affairs positions.

Bhalla previously vetoed measures that would give voters the opportunity to bring back runoff elections and allowing the council two more rent control board appointments in January and March, respectively.

The council overrode his veto on runoffs in February and the ballot question won with ease last month. While Bhalla spoke out against the issue, he did little to campaign against it.

Additionally, the council decided not to fight his veto regarding the rent control board.

For any veto override, the city council would need at least six affirmative votes.

They next meet at City Hall on Wednesday at 7 p.m., where they will select the new council president and vice president.


Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco.

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  1. The real embarrassment is a city spokesperson that, in reality, is running the mayor’s perpetual political campaign.

    Time to see what Councilwoman Falco is made of. Will she vote to let the mayor hire unlimited political cronies in his office or will she join the good government council members and vote to override the (to use the mayor’s own word) petty veto?

  2. Hoboken voters have the obligation this November remove the political hate group that is now in power on the City Council. Their only goal is to stay in power for personal and self serving political gain.

    As elections draw closer and their constant power plays continue to fail they are increasing desperate and will do or say anything even continue to hurt Hoboken to advance themselves.

    Having their online shill try to pressure Councilwoman At Large Falco, a woman of color, doesn’t do much to dispel the recent public comments accusing them of of racism.

    • And you know the ethnicity and skin color of the commenter, how?

      Just a little tip, “Community,” the bunch of narcissistic, affluent white people that make up the Bhalla political operation masquerading as the Hoboken Democratic Committee, screeching and squealing that everyone else is a racist are tiresome and offensive. Yup, I heard the name Patricia Waiters revealed at the city council meeting and the specifically identified instigator should be tossed out faster of the committee than a politician’s promise during election season

      • You mean narcissistic, affluent white people like Peter Cunningham, Tiffany Fisher, Jen Giattino and the most ultimate narcissistic white person of all on the City CounilMichael DeFusco.

        Tiffany and Michael really freaked out when Waiters called them out.

        Does Councilwoman Fisher still have her post on her Facebook page
        asking for funds to keep right wing Trump backer site Hoboken MSV solvent that protects her and defends even her indefensible actions ?

        BTW have Cunningham and Giattino rejoined the Republican Party ?

        • The only thing in Hoboken indefensible is Ravi’s second job with a Republican law firm and how he ripped off his employee for over six large. No one would have voted for him if the NJ Supreme Court had issued that decision a little sooner. Of course, there’s more wheeling off Hoboken we haven’t discovered yet.

        • No, I mean the crew from the Democratic Committee that long-ago forgot that they have NO role in our non-partisan local elections but who are working overtime to call everybody else a racist, whipping Patty W. into a frenzy to do their bidding when they have no use for her otherwise.

          And, speaking of Republicans, are we going to pretend that the Mayor doesn’t work for a Republican law firm, the BhallaBats seem to feel that Republicans are the closest thing to vermin on the planet, so, I’d think they’d all have a HUGE problem with that.

          • No problem with that shady no-show job. And no problem with an employee out of the mayor’s office on the payroll for thousands of dollars into 2019 who left in November either.

  3. Defusco had nothing to do with constituent services, city engineer, or construction manager. He is desperately grasping at straws for ANY accomplishments (to date he has done nothing but troll the mayor.) I hope the people in his ward recognize what a phony he is and vote him out of office. They deserve so much better.

        • Hey Happy New Year Stan!
          You ain’t getting the shadow gig back so don’t even think about it you big doofus. Tell Dawn happy new year and to enjoy the view of the new tower going up down your block. If she keeps complaining about it, it’ll go even higher. Ravi is the mayor and knows what’s best!

    • DeFusco has an accomplishment. He helped a wealthy, politically connected developer friend shoehorn in a inappropriately huge building on Observer Highway that will delay screw over everyone who has to drive in or out of South Hoboken. I am sure he will not put that on his restricted Facebook page or his campaign literature because even he knows how sleazy it looks.

      I heard after learning of that stunt even his friends on the City Council are fed up with him and are removing him from the Hoboken Planning Board.

  4. The disgrace in this situation is that in a mile square city the Mayor would actually even consider burdening the taxpayers with a Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff and a Communications Manager. Since it is mentioned, the council should also look into the actual job performance of the City Engineer and the Construction Manager. Their duties overlap and they certainly have done nothing to speed up the Washington Street Project. Perhaps the Council should simply refuse to pass a budget that contains the unnecessary positions in the Mayor’s office.
    Then the Council should propose hiring a Director of Ethics who will in turn advise the Mayor and Council that continually robbing the taxpayers by creating positions to satisfy patronage and nepotism is ethically and morally wrong.

    • Then we disband the council for another $270k savings, pop an orange wig on the mayor ($30-60 depending on quality) and Hoboken residents will shout, ” Heil Trumpler!” (free)

    • Remember when Councilman Ruben Ramos got his mommy a six figure with full benies on the Hoboken payroll and when the City’s got taken over for sketchy finances the dumped mommy’s position first thing.

      Ramos was playing the same game on the down low to appoint his crony to the Hospital Board

  5. WAIT!!! Did we learn that Santiago didn’t actually leave on November 30th at tonight’s council meeting? Or, did he leave and the City is still paying him? Or, was there some kind of agreement that he’d leave (or pretend to leave, ) on November 30th so that Vijay could start sucking salary off the City teat the minute his NY unemployment ran out?

    Shady dealings in the censured Bhalla administration. REALLY SHADY.

  6. The usual hate filled insanity unfounded conspiracy theories that permeates the horse barn manure pile from the unhinged old man who runs it to it’s equally unstable handful of commenters continues to reach new lows with a another racist slur on the Hoboken Mayor.
    Councilwoman Fisher still has her public pitch to fund that site and it’s disgusting political ideolgy on her Facebook page. It is impossible to credibly try pretending you are on the moral high ground when rolling around in that kind of filth.

    • 2019 – you should quit while you are ahead…and what I mean by ahead is the profound radio silence that graced the pro-Ravi blogisphere today when last night anyone watching local politics learned that city hall has a former employer (former as in working somewhere else for weeks) is still collecting a salary from Hoboken’s coffers. The insipid narrative that criticism of the Mayor doling out unearned salaries could possibly somehow be racist amounts to little more than a desperation move. In truth the whole racism narrative is long past its expiration date even when the fruits of its conquest were rotten to begin with.

      The words and phrases bubbling around in my thoughts today include: payroll fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, breach of the public trust, and everyone’s favorite – CORRUPTION.

      The froth just bubbled up and we all know that the froth is not the beer.

      When it’s indefensible, it’s best to not go on the attack.

      Something tells me that there’ll be more coming.

    • Last I saw, is the first highlighting facts on the latest scandal in Hoboken out of Ravi Bhalla’s office. Nancy and her cave-dweller blog should stick to doing images for Ravi and calling Jen Giattino a bitch like she did last night. All because the new Council President followed up on a request for more information about thousands paid to a former employee who left last November. Talk about being completely unhinged. Ravi should be ashamed to have that paid political operative on his payroll.