Characterized as a ‘political stunt,’ Hoboken council again tables pay-to-play resolution


For the third time, the Hoboken City Council did not end up voting on a non-binding resolution asking for all candidates to adhere to the city’s pay-to-play laws that were adopted in 2011.


When the resolution came before the council last night, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher lodged a scathing accusation against Mayor Ravi Bhalla, exclaiming that the resolution was simply a “political stunt” that the mayor was performing before ultimately opting to rescind the city’s pay-to-play laws.

“It started during contract negotiations with our local municipal workers union when the administration got a union leader to write a letter to the council asking to rescind our pay-to-play laws so that our municipal unions could make bigger contributions to elected officials,” Fisher began.

“So, just think about that for a second. That is what started this whole process.”

Back on September 3, Ray Hamlin, of the Paterson-based law firm Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley, wrote to corporation counsel that it’s strict pay-to-play laws, are unenforceable and may even be unconstitutional. Therefore, he recommended a repeal of these laws, as HCV first reported.

The current city ordinance, which has never been changed since it’s inception, limits contributions from political action committees to individual candidates to $500, compared to the state limit of $2,600.

The catalyst for the outside legal opinion came from a July 24th letter written by the Hoboken Municipal Supervisors Association President Joel Mestre, which claimed the current pay to-play rules were “preventing the union from being able to advocate effectively.”

However, Mestre said in an email just a week later that he wanted to rescind his letter from consideration, but that didn’t end up happening.

In an interview, Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle expressed that he was flabbergasted by Fisher’s remarks.

“Councilwoman Fisher’s slanderous comments about the mayor … it was a little bit shocking, and she’s fabricating a conspiracy that the mayor put the union up to request a legal opinion is so far fetched, I’m a little speechless, frankly,” Doyle said.

He added that he would be reviewing Fisher’s campaign finance reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission to try to understand why she is leading the charge to prevent this resolution from receiving a vote.

Doyle asked for a point of order when the resolution was up on the agenda, but Fisher immediately called a motion to table.

The councilman said he doesn’t expect the governing body to vote on the matter before the November 5th ward council races, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to stop trying, noting that he and Jabbour went the extra mile to try and force a vote last night.

“Just so you’re clear, they tabled the emergency resolution, which is a resolution saying there is an emergent nature here, we didn’t get to the actual underlying resolution, they tabled the emergency resolution that would authorize a vote on [our] resolution. That’s how far down the rabbit hole we are at this point, it’s disappointing,” said Doyle.

Expectedly, Jabbour echoed Doyle’s frustration regarding another vote to table.

“It’s very disappointing to me, frankly, that my colleagues … they’re not even willing to vote on it, they’re not even willing to discuss it … so it’s disingenuous to say that this is just a political stunt. We will continue to put this forward because it’s about the integrity of our elections, and that’s critical,” said Jabbour.

The vote to table the resolution was close, with Council members Jen Giattino, Ruben Ramos, Peter Cunningham, Mike DeFusco and Fisher voting yes.

Council members Vanessa Falco, Michael Russo, Doyle and Jabbour then voted no, meaning the motion to table passed 5-4.

Yesterday’s council meeting was the third time that the council had the opportunity to vote on the resolution sponsored by Council members-at-Large Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour and it ended with the same result from September 18th – the measure being tabled.

Additionally, a special meeting was called by Bhalla last week, but it was cancelled due to a lack of quorum since five council members did not attend or call into the meeting.

Predictably, Bhalla again scolded the council for opting not to vote on the matter.

“It’s unfortunate, but unsurprising that once again the Hoboken City Council majority failed to protect the integrity of our elections. This was a very simple choice for the council: would they agree to abide by the law or ignore it for their own personal gain,” he said in a statement.

“The decision to purposefully avoid a vote, led by Councilmembers Giattino and Fisher, made it clear that they’d rather disregard the law and allow special interest groups and developers to unfairly influence their own elections. I’m grateful that Councilmembers Doyle, Russo, Jabbour and Falco were ready to take a stand and put a good government vote ahead of petty politics.”

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    • As many times as needed to distract as Ravi Bhalla needs to generate campaign material to gaslight the public while Dark Money forces assemble on his behalf.

      Last night, Ravi Bhalla tried to ram through a new NJ Transit development plan down Hoboken’s throat. According to, Council President Jen Giattino asked why there was no Nixle alert to the public or any public meeting? Ravi Bhalla abuses the Nixle system with political garbage like this stupid non-binding resolution. No respect for Hoboken. None. He’s taking care of his PAC friends like Stronger Foundations for big development destroying this town.

  1. Dear Voting Public.

    Please be advised that while we may all have the same firm as our campaign handlers and vote in lock step
    we are not a campaign slate in this November Ward elections.

    Councilmembers Giattino, Ramos, DeFusco and Fisher

    • That allegation over a communications firm is a failure but it must be better than dealing with Ravi Bhalla urinating all over the 2011 pay-to-play ordinance. Not to mention how he tried to sell Hoboken out to Stronger Foundations & NJ Transit only yesterday, you were warned but you stupidly ignored. Chow down on the wrong.

        • Every person has their own positions and has a different point in trying to get their ideas across. As one upcoming example, there will not be an agreement on Ravi Bhalla’s new massive redevelopment plan. It will be evident as it has been on other issues in the votes. You’re just slow so read this again until you catch up.

          • LOL, what BS! Team Ramos (long-winded Fisher, 4th place Jen, Raia $ man MDF and multi-public pension Ruben) all vote EXACTLY the same way on EVERYTHING, what does that tell you? So obvious you’re just shilling, give up. No one cares what you say. You BORE us.

          • Council members always have slight differences. Your TICKET is no different. Vision Media and Boss Nick wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. It’s pretty awesome seeing Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour braying over a non-binding resolution that is nothing but campaign politics while they sat by silently as Ravi Bhalla worked to undo the 2011 pay-to-pay ordinance. And by awesome the actual word I’m thinking of is hypocrite. Ravi wants all the special interest money. Well, he should go on and fight with DeFusco about it. No one else is.

  3. Doyle and his friends spare us your holier than thou BS… You know quite well Fisher self funds. And she does it without donations from redevelopment lawyers like Marazetti

  4. Hey Jimbo, it’s not slander when it’s the truth!

    What does the record say about what Ravi Bhalla tried to do to the 2011 pay to play ordinance?
    Didn’t you get a copy of that legal opinion he solicited?


  5. Why do you bother to post all this anti-Bhalla stuff under different names? Is that supposed to make us think there are many different people feel the same way (aside from the blog guy, his tall sidekick and the Vision Media account team)? Do you actually think anyone believes any of these comments?

    All your posts sound exactly the same. You’re fooling yourself if you believe you’re convincing anyone. You bore everyone.

        • That’s auditor’s schtick. Pretend to be smart and call everyone Nancy. The alternative is Hoboken Horse who insists baseless conspiracies are true and calls everyone Nancy. Team Nick doesn’t spend much money on quality in this space.

          • Nah, my schtick is discussing how poor of a mayor Ravi is, how dangerous it would be if he were to have a rubber stamp, noting how comically inept his inner circle is, and hoping we can get some real leaders in city government.

            I’m not connected to MSV and I think GA is a total joke. It is possible to not fall into one camp or the other.

            That said, I’d venture to guess that GA is responsible for at least 50% of the comments on here and its painfully obvious to all which ones they are.

          • Why are you insisting Lonely is GA? Others as well. Just make your points and leave it at that. If you make sense, good for you. If you don’t, bad for you. But guessing who is who is silly.

          • I’m not GA (as Seinfeld would say, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”).

            It’s just a “gotcha” insult the anti-Bhalla crowd always seem to feel the need to include. It does nothing to further their argument, and no one (probably including Nancy) cares but for some reason the Ramos ticket supporters on here get some perverse satisfaction out of saying it, as if it makes them clever or something. Who knows, I can’t explain it.

    • Nancy please stop. Go out and get some air.
      Sports Book is betting Ravi will lose 5-1
      And now with Clean cut reformer Tim Crowell who is free being tainted by bad variances and Beth Mason suck up letters Ravi may even lose the 5th in a Turkey trot runoff

  6. If Adam Schiff were telling the story….
    * Artistic interpretation * Fiction inspired by local events
    Hi Gov Murphy… It’s US Stawn…This Carmelo suit is bad for us, they found all my texts…. and our emails… and the ink test on the Christie Diary… we need an exit but we also need to continue Dawn’s health coverage.
    Got an Energy company we can hide out at and make it seem like we are fighting global warming while REALLY BEING A LOBBYIST?…”
    We are happy to go on interviews to make it look legit….
    Just need as much time off as possible to hold Ravi’s hand at press conferences and photo ops.

    • you printed this gibberish on your blog too. no idea what it is meant to say though. merging your problems with the inevitable impeachment of the worst president ever with your disdain for zimmer for criticizing are republican governor? it’s a mess. just say what you mean for a change.