Hoboken council OKs 1st reading of measure to tighten pay-to-play rules ahead of mayor’s race


The Hoboken City Council unanimously approved (8-0) the 1st reading of an ordinance that would tighten up their pay-to-play rules ahead of the November mayoral contest.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The previous version of the measure was voted down at the council’s December 16th meeting after Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia said he was unsure if a provision prohibiting family members of city vendors from donating to political campaigns in certain instances would have legal standing.

The revised ordinance, both of which were introduced by 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, removed that language and focuses on limiting the involvement of vendors who receive emergency contracts.

“Over the past few years outside money coming into Hoboken’s elections has risen extensively via PACs and Independent Expenditures,” Fisher said in an email today.

“To further disincentivize ‘quid pro quo’ type arrangements, these changes fix loopholes in our pay-to-play laws to capture IE’s and vendors provided with emergency contracts, both currently excluded. Significant outside money makes local elections less competitive and not necessarily reflective of a community’s view.”

She added that she is not planning to challenge Mayor Ravi Bhalla for his seat and is simply looking to make Hoboken’s elections as fair as possible. Currently, only 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos has signaled he may run for mayor.

Additionally, the local legislation would not allow vendors who received emergency contracts to contribute to independent expenditure groups, such as super PACs, for one year after finalizing a financial agreement with the city.

This provision already applies to vendors who receive standard contracts.

Under state guidelines, the maximum contribution a union can make to an individual candidate is $2,600, while the most they can donate to a political group or entity is $7,200.

However, Hoboken’s current pay-to-play law, which were enacted in 2011, only allows PACS and unions to write a $500 check for an individual candidate.

The ordinance was largely an afterthought in an uncharacteristically short council meeting that lasted for just slightly over an hour. Councilwoman-at-Large Vanessa Falco was absent.

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    • Bhalla/Cohen wanted The Russo “Familia” member that only lives in affordable housing but owns property in town and was part of the Raia era in politics

      “Paddy Boy” voted against all of Zimmer’s proposals when he was still on the commission and begged her to stay because he “needed da check”

      Kudos to Zimmer who never sold out to Russo/Stack like Bhalla/Cohen does….

      • SO you are confirming Bhalla doesn’t care about flooding and Rebuild by Design? Okay, got it.
        Thanks for confirming what 70% of Hoboken already knew 😛

    • Was Ravi Bhalla too sad after trying to get Pupie the vote fraud criminal extended on the NHSA?
      Maybe Ravi was sad because he said Pupie was an asset to Hoboken and those good times are over?
      Or does Ravi not care because he’s trying so hard to get a judgeship position for more money?

      We shouldn’t only blame Ravi Bhalla for trying so hard for an arch voter fraud criminal. He was acting on the orders of Dawn Zimmer. What was Dawn’s deal with Pupie?

  1. How did Kurt “outfox” the Mayor? If some kind of trickery was employed by Kurt that sounds kind of sleazy and certainly not anything his friends should be bragging about. But given the composition of the council (controlled by the Mayor’s opponents) it doesn’t seem like any skulduggery by Kurt would be needed.

    • It appears that far from being “outfoxed” the Mayor’s Council supporters actually had the 3 deciding votes since his opponents were split between the supposed “Russo” candidate supported by Russo, DeFusco, Falco and Ramos and Kurt who was supported by Fisher and Giattino.

      The Mayor was not in a position to get his own candidate into the position but he was in the position of being the “decider” between the two candidates put forward by his council opponents.

      Since both candidates had held the position before, my guess is the Mayor chose Kurt because he put politics aside and believed, based on their respective records of service, that he was the better man for the job.

      Kurt and his friends should be thanking the Mayor for his trust and support and pledging to work with him for the betterment of Hoboken as the NHSA tackles vitally important issues like it’s role in protecting Hoboken from flooding and Rebuild by Design.

      Nonsense about somehow “outfoxing” the Mayor seems both childish and counter to the best interests of the City that both Kurt and the Mayor have sworn an oath to serve.

      • I think it was really a testament of Council members Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour that should be credited here.
        Jabbour did her homework and so did Jim, they voted for Kurt because he’s doing his job well. If they voted for the other candidates… THAT would have been political.
        I’m sure Mayor Bhalla , like Ex Mayor and Paris Accord Activist Dawn Zimmer learned not to meddle in the NHSA appointments and try to install their paycheck seeking pals since they lost every time they tried.

      • Nice spin Stan. The truth is Cohen reached out to Zimmer and she said go with Paddy at least as it was was reported to me. Now why Zimmer would tell Phil that you should ask the wife yourself.

      • too bad you left town… hated it so much that rather than sell, you wanted out so badly you and the puppet/ex mayor flet upstate and rented the Hoboken house… Nowthat Biden rejoined the Paris accord no thanks to the idiot ex mayor will she get back into politics?
        Hope so, Feds hate when politicians stick a finger in their eye – ask dad Russo…

  2. “She added that she is not planning to challenge Mayor Ravi Bhalla for his seat..”

    PHEW! What a huge sigh of relief, Tiff would have definitely runaway with a crushing victory…said no one, ever.

  3. This is Kurt Gardiner chiming in.

    I believe I got 5 votes by being the best candidate out there. Russo and Defusco voted for Paddy for purely political reasons and Venessa likely would have gone along but she was absent due to illness so I am told. I hope Vanessa recovers soon.

    That leaves Phil Cohen who voted for Paddy as well. A vote for Paddy is a vote for Brian Stack and it has been reported to me that former Mayor Zimmer told Phil she was for Paddy too. I will tell you quite simply Paddy is not qualified and he eliminates the veto power of Hoboken because he is aligned with Union City and not Hoboken and doesn’t even use a tablet or cell phone.

    I think if Ravi would have selected someone better I might have even stepped down. So the fact is Phil Cohen sold out Hoboken with Former Mayor Zimmer’s nod tells me Phil could give two Sh#ts about infrastructure. I called Ravi today about something about Authority business, I gave him several options for him to decide. I have a professional working relationship with him. Phil Cohen is garbage to me. A real duplicitous snake in the grass and I am being kind. Very kind.

    • Mr. Gardiner – I have no idea who you are or why Councilman Cohen chose to support someone else for this position, but I am shocked by the immaturity reflected in your comment here. Based on that alone I think Councilman Cohen made the right decision, and I am disappointed that the majority of the Hoboken City Council saw fit to appoint someone obviously emotionally unfit to an important government position.

      • When did Antifa and the BLM Marxists become right wing? I’ve seen that Guy Fawkes mask and NHSA Commissioner Gardiner doesn’t riot or support political violence. Ravi and his people do. They air it in social media AND on public property. Disgusting.

  4. Gardiner’s manifest unfitness to sit on a public board representing the City of Hoboken is evident. He uses a symbol of the Alt Right, the Guy Fawkes mask, and publicly bullies a council member for the crime of not voting for him. America just dumped one fascist bully, but Hoboken appoints one to a public board? Kurt Gardiner is temperamentally unfit to represent our city. Surely the Mayor could have found someone better than this.

  5. Kurt is an anti-semite and a unfit to serve in any role. I would say he could be town dog catcher, but he’d fail at that too. He’s a doofus and if you don’t believe me, ask his colleagues on the NHSA. And I am being kind, very kind.

  6. Look no further than Mr. Gardiner’s own Facebook post. He gratuitously calls out the councilman’s RELIGION (Jewish) and calls him “one sneaky little devil” – that’s the oldest Anti-Semitic trope in the book. This “horned Jew” trope has been around since the Middle Ages.

    Further, what relevance is the Judaism of the Councilmen who neglected to vote for Kurt Gardiner? Did he neglect to vote for Mr. Gardiner because he is a Jew or a devil? According to Mr. Gardiner, the councilman is both. I believe there are appropriate agencies to deal with anti-Semitic public servants like him. Please read Kurt Gardiner’s vile, inappropriate words yourself. This person has no place on any public board representing the City of Hoboken.