DeFusco slams Bhalla since several Hoboken bathrooms still not gender neutral

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Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco is again going on the offensive against Mayor Ravi Bhalla since several bathrooms in the city are still not gender neutral after an executive order was signed with great fanfare at the end of April. 

A photo of the bathrooms located at Pier C in Hoboken. Photo courtesy of Vision Media.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Three months ago I stood with Mayor Ravi Bhalla when he announced an executive order mandating single use bathrooms on City property be made gender neutral. Unfortunately, the order has not been implemented in either City Hall or within our park system, where signage still indicates the gender exclusive approach the Mayor’s executive order said would end,” DeFusco said in a statement.

Bhalla signed the executive order on April 25th and local businesses were expected to follow suit after the city council passed an ordinance on May 16th, with the executive order set to be enacted by May 31st and businesses having 60 days to comply.

However, that doesn’t appear to be the case, as DeFusco provided photos of two bathrooms at City Hall, as well as two more bathrooms at Pier C, that still have not been given gender neutral labelings.

City spokesman Santiago Melli-Huber said that the remaining restroom signs are in the process of being changed and thanked DeFusco for bringing it to their attention – with a caveat of course.

“A number of the City’s restroom signs were changed in May. The remainder are now in the process of being changed and will be corrected shortly. We thank the Councilman for bringing this to our attention,” he said in an email.

“In the future, rather than raising the issue in a roundabout way with a press release, Mayor Bhalla invites the Councilman to reach out to him directly. That way, we can address any issues more quickly and efficiently.”

Melli-Huber declined to answer further criticism from 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who said the situation is “disappointing” and “begs an apology from the mayor.”

DeFusco added that this is typical of his former council colleague, who is more interested in “splashy headlines” than actual tangible accomplishments.

“All of this fits an increasingly clear pattern of Mayor Bhalla being more interested in splashy headlines than in doing the real follow-through work of governing. It’s the same story on Washington Street,” he continued.

“While businesses are suffering, the Bhalla Administration is lauding itself on progress all the while quietly requesting another $500,000 in additional contractor cost overruns and pushing the project’s completion well into 2019.”

Last week the council took T&M Associates, the vendor for Washington Street improvements, to task for being months behind schedule and still asking for a $230,000 check for work performed.

Despite their displeasure, the resolution to pay the bill was still approved by a vote of 6-3 (DeFusco was one of the no votes).