Complaint from staunch Bhalla critic over renovations at mayor’s Hoboken home to be reviewed


An ethics complaint from Perry Belfiore, a staunch critic of Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, over an architect contracted by the city renovating his home will be reviewed, according to the head of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ ethics unit.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The Local Finance Board (Board) acknowledges receipt of the complaint letter you filed alleging a violation of the Local Government Ethics Law,” Dana Jones, who also sits on the LFB, wrote in a letter to Belfiore yesterday.

“Please be advised that it is the Board’s practice and intent to conduct a thorough investigation of all complaints. The Board’s staff is processing your complaint at this time and will, subsequently, present it to the Board for review and authorization of any necessary formal investigation.”

John Nastasi, of Nastasi Builders, received a $1.7 million contract via a council vote in February to design the early phases of their municipal complex at 1501 Adams St., which at the time was going to be a public safety complex with a Department of Public Works garage.

According to building permits, the total cost of the renovation – which began in the summer – will be $547,700, as The Jersey Journal first reported in October and what Belfiore based his complaint on.

This isn’t the first time Belfiore has went to the state to file a grievance about Bhalla, with the two ensnared in a years-long legal battle over Bhalla, then a councilman-at-large, voting for a city contract for a lawyer he shared a lease agreement with for an office space.

While he received a notice of violation in November 2017, the two parties finally settled the matter in August 2018, with the state’s position remaining that Bhalla violated New Jersey ethics law and the mayor not admitting to any wrongdoing.

Rob Horowitz, a spokesman for the mayor, noted that a judge overseeing the prior matter referred to Belfiore as “a bigoted malicious crackpot with a personal grudge against Bhalla” and while the complaint has no validity, the board must still investigate it.

“It is important to consider the source of this complaint. It was filed by Perry Belfiore, a long-time political antagonist of the mayor and a professional gadfly. In a hearing on a previously filed complaint, Judge [James] Geraghty called Mr. Belfiore ‘a bigoted malicious crackpot with a personal grudge against Bhalla,'” he said in an email.

“As with all complaints no matter how baseless, however, the ethics board is obligated to investigate it. This complaint is without merit. The Mayor vetted the hiring of Mr. Nastasi for his home renovations before doing so with the City’s legal counsel and with outside counsel, both of whom determined it was not a conflict.”

While Bhalla told HCV in May that “there’s no way it’s not gonna happen” in regards to the municipal complex, which had expanded in scope to include a community pool, municipal court, council chambers, among many other amenities, the city looks to be heading in another direction after being unable to get six votes for a necessary bond effort.

The city council approved an $84 million bond to acquire the land between Madison, Jefferson, 15th, and 16th Streets for a new DPW garage at the end of last year, which is needed to fulfill the terms of their Monarch settlement with Ironstate by November 2024.

At that point, the city must be vacated from their current DPW facility, located at 256 Observer Highway.

As for Belfiore, he often remains involved behind the scenes on Mile Square City politics, signing his name onto a three-person recall committee for 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, a political ally of Bhalla, in May.

However, that effort never really got off the ground, with signatures never being submitted to the city clerk’s office within the 160-day time frame.

Belfiore said that the effort took a backseat to the November board of education race, where he supported the “Kids First” team, who lost to the Bhalla-backed “Leadership that Listens” slate.

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  1. Hey Perry, how’s that Phil Cohen recall going? Guessing the reason it hasn’t happened yet is because you’re so overwhelmed with so many signatures, it could take years to count them all.

  2. Just talk to Perry for 2 seconds and watch him butcher the pronunciation of Ravi’s name after a decade plus of knowing better. You can feel the hate for Ravi from him. It’s a bit unnerving in my opinion.

  3. Direct hit! Thankfully, someone finally acted on a blatant Ravi corrupt activity.

    Ravi is well known in the State of NJ for his uncompromising questionable antics. The NJ Supreme Court knows all about him.

  4. Isn’t it interesting when Ravi gets in hot water, out trots the guy from Rhode Island to “speak” for him.

    How much is the woman in the mayor’s office paid to do communications? Can’t she throw enough shade to protect Ravi from his illicit antics?

  5. How corrupt is this Ravinder Singh and team Longer Runways?!

    We should also investigate how many hours Mr. Bhalla has spent in the City Hall Hoboken doing the needful for the Hoboken taxpayers as opposed to doing a second job at the Schenck Price or doing the travelings to Washington District to meet with Peter Buttegojizz. Does he want to be our mayor? When will he resign and give the job to Emily Jabber?

  6. This man hurt many Hoboken families with phony contrived layoffs of 26 long-time City employees and he did it during COVID-19. He made sure certain employees who had at least 25 years in pension service were forced to choose to retire instead of being laid off in May 2020.

    The City received $27.2 million in COVID-19 aid from the Federal government, and he decided to do nothing for the families he hurt. The money went to fund bloated budgets in 2021, 2022 and this year.

    He decimated the Rent Control office and its 3 employees, by forcing one to retire, another was demoted and moved out of the office and the third, a former Legislative Aide to a local former State Senator, recently retired, allowing new hires to come in and “run” the Rent Control office.

    He also made sure that all union contracts settled last year contained no retro for employees, which affected the pensions of those who were forced to retire and expected to receive retro for the years 2018, 2019 and up to May 1, 2020. Such a very devious and despicable action.

    And here is the recent Council resolution putting those “saved” contract retro funds back into the City budget for spending now. The City gave out large 12-15% increases to all employees with no retro for retirees (except PBA), to ensure that those forced to retire got nothing. Then the City went and gave out large raises to department heads, the council and select employees. After that many new hires started to appear, including adding new deputy directors.

    Yes, he hurt many families in Hoboken. The public can see through the lies. We all hope that he leaves soon.

  7. All the childish comments above miss the facts of the story: of all the architects available, the mayor chose the one who was doing business with the city. It smells, and say what you will about Belfiore, he’s paying attention. And even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  8. I don’t know Perry, but I applaud his effort for shining light on this continued corruption of this mayor and his administration.

    I am a proud Indian-American and believe me: there are many of us who are ashamed by Ravi. Most are too afraid to speak out, but we see how he lies and misuses his position.

    He was sanction by the state of NJ for a reason, after all.

    Ravi must go.