Fisher, Giattino call on AG, DCA to probe Bhalla’s recent Hoboken job offer to Falco

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Hoboken Councilwomen Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino are calling on the state Attorney General’s Office, as well as the Department of Community Affairs, to probe Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s recent job offer to Councilwoman-at-Large Vanessa Falco.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Councilwoman-at-Large Vanessa Falco, who has been tapped to head the new division of housing. Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Abusing the resources of public office is illegal and antithetical to the principles of good government, democracy and public trust and the reason we have laws against these practices,” Fisher and Giattino said in a joint statement.

“We hope the Attorney General and the DCA use every resource available to their offices to investigate these troubling actions by Mayor Bhalla.”

On Thursday, Bhalla announced that Falco had been tapped to be the director of the city’s new division of housing, a job with an annual salary of $87,500, come January in lieu of seeking re-election this November, as HCV first reported.

Fisher and Giattino cite three state statutes they feel this offer violated: provisions requiring compliance by local government officers and employees, official misconduct, and an offer of unlawful benefit to a public servant for official behavior.

“No independent local authority shall, for a period of one year next subsequent to the termination of office of a member of that authority … employ for compensation, except pursuant to open competitive examination in accordance with Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, any former member of that authority,” the state compliance statute for government employees says.

The two councilwomen, both frequent political adversaries of the mayor, weren’t done there, also throwing individual haymakers at Bhalla over the situation.

“Predatory and unethical politics has been the hallmark of Mayor Bhalla. Unfortunately, a respected Hoboken councilwoman who has been an important voice and advocate for affordable housing and those who are most in need in our community, was on the receiving end this time,” said Fisher.

“It is Hoboken residents who are hurt the most by this. Housing affordability in Hoboken is a major problem, but instead of actually addressing this, Mayor Bhalla has put this at risk by putting his own political interests above Hoboken’s,” added Giattino, who is also the council vice president.

In response, Falco said that assuming anything unethical occurred is “slanderous” and “disingenuous.”

“Affordable housing has been severely ignored for far too long and they will take any and every opportunity to attack the Mayor and create false narratives that seek to diminish the efforts of his administration,” she said in a statement.

“To assume that anything unethical was done is slanderous and disingenuous to me as their council colleague. I seek to continue my efforts in working diligently to improve upon the very complex issue of affordable housing with the support of Mayor Ravi Bhalla and I hope these council members due the same.”

City spokeswoman Marilyn Baer added that the administration stands by the move and the announcement of Falco’s appointment did not go against any state guidelines.

“It’s the city’s position that the appointment and announcement of the appointment are not in violation of New Jersey law and any insinuation that it is, is simply misguided nonsense,” she wrote in an email.

“Mayor Bhalla is excited to work with Councilwoman Falco on good government initiatives. He hopes the rest of the council will do the same and put politics aside.”

In a similar vein, Council members Phil Cohen, Jim Doyle, and Emily Jabbour, political allies of the mayor, called the accusation from Fisher and Giattino “reckless and meritless,” though it is typical behavior from them as Bhalla seeks re-election for a second term.

This isn’t the first time Hoboken electeds have called on the AG to open up an investigation this year, with Bhalla and five council members asking for a probe into the “terrorism” flyer the came at the end of the 2017 election cycle back in March.

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment this afternoon.

 

Editor’s note: This story was updated with a joint statement from Hoboken Council members Phil Cohen, Jim Doyle, and Emily Jabbour.

37 COMMENTS

  1. “Unfortunately, a respected Hoboken councilwoman who has been an important voice and advocate for affordable housing and those who are most in need in our community, was on the receiving end this time,” said Fisher.”

    Fascinating construct casting Councilwoman Falco as a victim (for accepting the job) and Mayor Bhalla as a perp (for offering it). No political calculation there LOL!

    What’s the point of saying really dumb politically motivated stuff like that if you’re not even running?

    Please run Tiff. Hoboken could use a good laugh.

      • These councilwomen consistent talk about how Councilpersons Cohen, Doyle and Jabbour are simply Mayor Bhalla’s puppets. I’d bet a lot of money that Councilman DeFusco is the puppeteer behind this (pathetic) political move. It’s even more pathetic that Councilwomen Fisher and Giattino don’t realize they are getting played like fiddles.

        • I’d take that bet. Anyone who thinks senior council members who’ve driven a lot of good policy in Hoboken over years answer to DeFusco isn’t paying much attention. The voting records would show that plainly if you had.

          Or you can blame the ethical issues Ravi had with the NJ Supreme Court on DeFusco too. Why not since we’re in Oz?

          • “…senior council members who’ve drive a lot of good policy”? Can you back that up with any examples? More often than not Councilwoman Fisher’s ordinances or resolutions don’t have the votes because she’s wasting the council’s time with stupid legislation. Unless you haven’t been watching the meetings and seen her pouting when she gets beat. She looks like a child who wasn’t allowed to get ice cream from the ice cream truck.

            AND TO CLARIFY, I never said they were answering to DeFusco, I said they are his puppets because once the “unelectable” (Fisher’s words, not mine) Ravi Bhalla got into office, Council members DeFusco, Giattino and Fisher quickly played a game of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Over the last 3+ years, that trio became the three best friends there ever was.

          • Yeah, did you ever hear of the Suez Water contract? How about tax reductions for Hoboken residents? Or maintaining existing housing laws? If you paid attention you’d notice the difference of DeFusco’s votes and Giattino & Fisher. Obviously, you don’t or are only selective in your understanding.

  2. I didn’t think tiffanie could act anymore like a shim, but here we go again.

    As A city employee, I don’t even like Bhalla but tiffanie is a far worse. I’m glad to see Vanessa get this role and actually make a difference while tiffanie just pisses into the wind and back into her own face.

  3. First in with terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer terror flyer…

    • Apparently not. An absolute ugly mark and black cloud over Hoboken which has not passed the statute of limitations. Grewal is gone so let’s see if Hoboken will see any justice uncovered with the inside job in Edison, NJ. Would that woman down there connected to Ravi give state’s evidence? How about you? Ready to give sworn testimony about your knowledge and role on the Bhalla campaign?

    • Maybe DeFusco’s people did it.

      After all his name was on it.

      When it all went bad for him he then tried blaming the real victim.

      Having the handful of the loony fringe backing him only gives rational people in hoboken think DeFusco may have done it

  4. There are either no perps here or two perps. As for the terror flier, Councilwoman Fisher has made false claims about that as well.

    But honesty has never been a pre-requisite for running for Hoboken Mayor. So please Tiff grow a set and run. You know you want to. And you’re already a laughing stock so there’s no real downside to getting crushed.

    Ravi’s Monarch deal has put $hundreds of thousands into your pocket. How about giving a few $$’s back to entertain the constituents you betray every day

  5. I’m wondering if it was Vijay or Marilyn that wrote the City’s comments in this story and I wonder how Marilyn feels now that she is getting a healthy taste of how sleazy this administration is knowing that she’s now part of it.

  6. With Falco leaving the council and this type of questionable hiring, can’t think of a better candidate than Ex Councilman/Current HHA Chairman to run at large with Team Bhalla!
    Let’s face it, these 4 years without Dave have been terrible. Hoboken has been deprived of more shortchanging PILOT for developers who build Palisades blocking towers, postage stamp kiddie parks and the way he has improved the safety and stopped the gun violence from the HHA in recent months has been impressive! Hoboken cant take another 4 years without his legal expertise, selfless job in public education (Did we mention In the Bronx ! ) and his brilliant monologue against the Whole Foods project downtown.
    Mr Mello, service is calling you again!

    • Mr. Mello being called to serve agaiin??!?!? By who? The less than 5% of votes that he got, coming in 12th out of 14 candidates? BAHAHAHAHAHA. Thanks, I needed a laugh. This was getting too serious of a conversation.

  7. We here at HobokenMatters have seen a clear pattern developing from Councilwomen Fisher and Giattino who are simply jaded and purely politically motivated at this point doing very little to help Hoboken residents. They seem to be the poster children for term limits on the City Council.

    We’d like to pose the following editorial question:

    Should there be term limits on the Hoboken City Council?

    We look forward to your comments!

  8. I’ve said it once and I’ll say again. If Councilwoman Fisher or Giattino thinks they can do such a better job as Mayor, then they should run for Mayor. #FourthPlaceJen failed once and can’t really risk being a two-time loser. And Councilwoman Fisher is spiraling out of control thinking she’s the only one that knows what’s right for #ourhoboken. She attacks everything the Mayor or the Administration does with zero merit, claims are baseless and #predatory. She has been unsuccessful in EVERY effort she’s made. Let’s move on already. It’s pathetic to watch. Like really, really sad, Tiff.

  9. I don’t think Tiffanie is self aware enough to understand how this statement comes off:

    “Predatory and unethical politics has been the hallmark of Mayor Bhalla. Unfortunately, a respected Hoboken councilwoman who has been an important voice and advocate for affordable housing and those who are most in need in our community, was on the receiving end this time,” said Fisher.“

    As I read it, this is saying that CM Falco is a steadfast but sadly naive affordable housing advocate who is a hapless, helpless victim of the Mayor, but two much smarter white women are here to save CM Falco the not as smart Black woman who is not sharp enough to make choices for herself that advance her long held advocacy in support of affordable housing. This is a new low, but I can’t blame Tiffanie for being intentional here since she genuinely does not get it.

    • No one pointing to the lengthy and growing list of ethically challenged acts and worse by Ravi is overlooking anyone else’s responsibility in cutting dirty deals with him. Shoot, Michael Russo loves Ravi because they cut dirty deals behind closed doors all the time. Ravi brought Pa Russo, the Hoboken Culture of Corruption poster child into the mayor’s office on the first day he took the office. That was Ravi’s first act as mayor. Wow.

  10. Both voted to defund the Office of Constituent Service just as the pandemic peaked, ignoring the pleas and dozens of letters from Hoboken residents who begged to keep the office open. They took that away. Time for Council term limits. These two embittered shrews no longer serve needy constituents. As some residents are in danger of defaulting on mortgages or missing rent payments, facing foreclosure or eviction, Giattino and Fisher could care less– they lead privileged lives, its always politics first. Will they defund the City’s new Division of Housing? Probably so.

    • I think the Mayor eliminated the position rather than move it under the administration budget. Had to make sure that his unqualified gaggle of sycophants retained their north of 6figure jobs, you know.

      • The only lies coming are from you. The council overrode the Mayor’s veto to eliminate the department. HCV link below to refresh your memory of the actual truth.

        Furthermore, one of the worst kept secrets is that both Councilwomen Giattino and Fisher strongly dislike and are unsupportive of other women. It’s like watching Mean Girls. Maybe on Wednesdays (for council meetings) they should start wearing pink.

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/hudsoncountyview.com/hobokens-office-of-constituent-affairs-officially-ceases-operations-caulfield-exits-city-hall/amp/

        • That’s pretty amazing. You do realize that you just proved MY point, don’t you? The OFFICE OF CONSTITUENT AFFAIRS was eliminated, but NOT the POSITION. Duh. If the Mayor cared about the community he could have easily absorbed the role into his office. I guess he thought it more politically prudent for his purposes to eliminate the position and point fingers than to serve the community. Typical.

          • https://hudsoncountyview.com/bhalla-vetoes-hoboken-councils-measure-to-limit-future-hirings-for-the-mayors-office

            You forgot that when Giattino, Fisher majority council’s ordinance to STOP new hires at the mayors office and REDUCE his staff FAILED they reduced his staff by defunding the office? Did you really forget or are you just stupid? “Move the position into the mayor’s office” you say?

            The Giattino-Fisher Council justified the elimination of Constituent Services for budgetary reasons– the same reason they slashed the budget for the mayor’s payroll. So, you MORON, you believe that the same council that voted to reduce the mayors staff payroll would PAY for a new position in his office? You really are stupid.

            Now these two WEALTHY WHITE WOMEN are attacking the elevation of their black colleague to a leadership position as head of Division of Housing, a new department focused on housing affordability for Hoboken’s dwindling middle class. One lives in a million-dollar brownstone, the other owns two units in the Tea Building- what do they care about retaining middle class residents in Hoboken? Sure, attack their black colleague, suggest she’s too stupid to know being taking advantage of.

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