Hoboken council passes measure urging Bhalla to disclose details of new job


The Hoboken City Council passed a resolution urging Mayor Ravi Bhalla to disclose all the details of his new of counsel position at a politically connected law firm.


The resolution, which was an add-on item, asks for the disclosure of any financial and political incentives associated with the mayor’s job at the law firm Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen, P.C., as well as questioning how any potential conflicts of interest would be handled.

2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher gave a brief explanation of why the council introduced this measure.

“I think anyone whose ever worked with a large law firm and potentially worked with someone of the title ‘of counsel’ … you may have different views as to what of counsel could be,” she said.

” … The mayor of Hoboken has historically been [a] full-time position, is compensated for a full-time position, I think members of the public would generally expect the mayor to be 24/7 for Hoboken and we’re not expecting [him] to have a side gig.”

Hudson County View reported Bhalla’s new position over the weekend, a move which drew the ire of the majority of the council.

Councilman-at-Large James Doyle, who sought re-election with Bhalla in November, wanted to know what warranted making this matter an emergency addition to the agenda.

“Do our council minutes, our bylaws, allow for 5 p.m. resolutions to be just thrown on the agenda, unless it’s an emergency?,” Doyle asked.

“Yes,” Council President Ruben Ramos said to some laughter from the crowd.

“Number 3, have you asked the mayor these questions, rather than assuming that he won’t give you the answer and you need to pass a resolution asking questions?,” Doyle continued.

“Why have you not asked the mayor these questions instead of grandstanding in this matter?”

“The same way the mayor didn’t inform us of his new employment, besides Facebook,” Ramos quipped back.

Doyle further stated that under the Faulkner Act, the council is supposed to issue a subpoena, not a resolution, to question a public official – though no one on the council backed up that notion.

1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, Bhalla’s most definitive adversary on the council, further defended the local legislative action.

“As we’re approving political contracts on this agenda, legal contracts that people want to know that we’re vetting the vendors the right way, making sure that there’s no funny business going on,” DeFusco said.

“It is this council’s absolute due right to ask these 26 questions and that’s what we’re doing: we’re doing nothing more than asking the mayor what the role is.”

Ramos then boldly exclaimed that Bhalla is the first mayor in the history of the city to take an outside job.

Furthermore, 5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham said the timing of the announcement was “a little strange.”

3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo chimed in that he’d like answers as well, but expressed disappointment that this situation has been “politicized.”

“Every single one of these concerns are the same concerns I have. What is he doing in that firm? How is he handling that? What does that mean for the taxpayers in the City of Hoboken? What does that mean for this body?,” Russo began.

“All those same questions, I have the same exact concerns. But what my major concern here is tonight is how this is being politicized.”

6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino added that Bhalla’s new gig is no better or different than when he worked at Florio, Perucci, Steinhardt and Fader.

The council ultimately approved the resolution by a vote of 7-1(1), with Doyle voting no and Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour, another recent Bhalla running mate, abstaining.

In response to the council’s action, city spokesman Juan Melli simply said that the mayor “will review the Council resolution and respond accordingly.”

A copy of the council’s letter to Bhalla can be read here.

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  1. So can we expect Ravi to be as tone deaf to date as he’s been?
    Yeah, it sure sounds that way. Poor Hoboken, welcome back to the new Old Guard back room politics (and worse).

      • When you see the same old guard operatives out shilling for DeFusco and putting hundreds of day workers on the official payroll and who knows on the unofficial one. The old Guard is not dead they are just hiding behind a new straw man.

  2. Councilman Doyle’s comments appeal to the politically and professionally naive. Aside from the ABA requirement one ethics for attorney council members, all Council members should have annual continuing ed requirements on government ethics – particularly on procurement and contracts.

    One Councilperson had the audacity to invoke the tangential argument of a man’s duty to bring in the family earnings, rather than to strongly advocate for constituents on the glaring issue which, of course, is ethics.

  3. Requesting additional information is certainly appropriate, but as Councilmen Doyle and Russo pointed out, there is a right way and a wrong way to do that. The way the Council has handled this so far reeks of politics rather than true concern for the public interest. In fact, they seem more gleeful about being handed a political weapon than concerned for the public interest.

    A simple request that the mayor release his employment agreement would have sufficed.

    • Yes, that is what a reasonable person would do. Unfortunately, requests to Bhalla and the Office of the Mayor have been regularly unanswered. Bhalla’s constituents have been clamoring for this information for days. Your tangential commentary, distracts and digresses from the ethical questions at hand – which a proactive Mayor keen on providing clear communications – would have provided prior to both swearing in and signing a contract. Worse yet, is this major distraction is taking away from the very good governance that Bhalla claims.

      • Did anyone get the Bhalla-Cammarano text messages on this? I hear Petey boy is pretty upset he didn’t come up with this diabolical scam against Hoboken people.

        Ravi is a diabolical genius I tell ya, a genius. Is there an award for criminal masterminds?

  4. For a self anointed political blogger to not understand a remedial understanding of Hoboken and New Jersey’s municipal laws and powers is really shameful.
    Maybe Sybil should look back to 2009 when the council took away zoning power from Cammarano the crook the night before he was indicted.
    Do your homework, there are boards the Mayor can appoint and boards the council can appoint.
    What’s wrong with giving more power to the council like Zimmer did in 2009 when they paved the way for you to be voted by 9 people instead of 1 onto the ZB?
    How sad you have become

  5. Fisher changing the rules to save two of her campaign workers Lenz and Fallick future credibilty credentials as part of run to stay on the Council a great deal about how little confidence she has in actually getting reelected.
    After all she didn’t even win her own Ward when she lost running for mayor with their help,

    • RomanHoliday You do realize that the 2019 elections are almost 2 years from now. The only people talking about those elections are Ravi, you and the rest of his small group of insiders. The rest of Hoboken is worried about getting things done right in Hoboken now and will worry about the 2019 elections in September 2019 when campaigning begins.

      • Zimmer was always blessed by the quality of her opposition. Ravi is doubly blessed – addition by subtraction. You’re far more valuable to Bhalla hating on him than you ever were to Zimmer kissing her ass.