In light of a lawsuit filed against the city by 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, the council again approved first reading of a measure to increase union donation limits.
“There’s been a lawsuit filed against the City of Hoboken for an ordinance that was approved last year. Councilwoman Fisher brought up some concerns and we have the opportunity to try to rectify those concerns by revoting on an ordinance that was already voted on to try to cure that issue,” explained Council President Mike Russo.
“So I’d just like to ask the council to have a vote on the emergency, number 1, ‘cuz I don’t want to just unilaterally put something on the agenda here, I most certainly don’t let anyone else do it, so I’m it gonna do it … Then if that does pass, I’d like to revote on first reading.”
The council voted 5-2 both times, to introduce the measure as an emergency and to then approve it on first reading.
4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino voted no, while 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco and Fisher recused themselves from the vote.
Fisher’s lawsuit contends that the “trigger mechanism” added about an hour before second reading violated state statute since it was done about an hour before the vote.
City Clerk Jimmy Farina filed a complaint against 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco in October 2019 alleging he violated the city’s pay-to-play laws and it has still not reached a conclusion.
The added language, which was again included in last night’s approved ordinance, indicates that it won’t take effect unless DeFusco wins the case and the original local regulations prove to be unenforceable.
The court filing also points out that a legal opinion from Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia last month recommended a new vote on the ordinance to avoid legal challenges, though it would remain in effect if it went unchallenged, as HCV first reported.
The council did not heed his advice until last night, after the lawsuit was filed on Friday.