The Hoboken City Council tabled again a non-binding resolution to enforce the city’s pay-to-play laws, along with a new measure that sought to ensure that the city enforces its ethics ordinances currently on the books.
Yesterday’s meeting is the fourth consecutive meeting where the council had the opportunity to vote on the pay-to-play resolution introduced by Council members at-Large Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour.
While it was tabled three times total, on September 26, a special meeting specifically to vote on the resolution was cancelled because there was no quorum, which the mayor chastised five council members for not participating in the meeting.
While Doyle expected the governing body to again table the resolution last night, he was surprised to learn that 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher and 5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham introduced a resolution that directs the city’s administration and corporation counsel to enforce the city’s ethics ordinances.
“It was anticipated, what wasn’t anticipated was a competing resolution that was introduced that has nothing to do with this one [pay-to-play], but they’re conflating the two as if there…the resolution that we had put forward is solely to enforce the existing law,” said Doyle in an interview.
During the interview, Doyle read Fisher’s and Cunningham’s resolution which states that certain council members have been engaging in a campaign that amounts to a conspiracy and a scheme.
“There’s a whereas clause that talks about ethical conduct of ‘certain employees’ relating to a non-binding resolution and so the implication is that Councilwoman Jabbour and I are somehow engaged in unethical conduct by introducing a resolution that says let’s abide by the law. That is offensive and it’s untrue and I don’t understand why they won’t vote on it.”
At the last council meeting, before Councilwoman Fisher asked to table the pay-to-play resolution, she characterized the resolution as a political stunt and then went on to reiterate her point of view.
An outside law firm, Paterson-based Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley, wrote an opinion last month stating that the city should repeal its pay-to-play laws, because they are unenforceable and may even be unconstitutional.
Since the opinion was requested by Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia, Fisher stated that she felt this was the beginning of a plan by the administration to repeal the city’s pay-to-play laws after the November 5th municipal elections.
Hoboken’s current pay-to-play law, on the books since 2011, limits political contributions to individual candidates to $500, while the state allows up to $2,600.
In an interview with Fisher after the meeting, we asked why she characterized the recently persistent resolution as a “political stunt,” to which she replied that the resolution is non-binding and therefore has no merit.
We followed up by asking why not vote against the resolution, even if it is meaningless, just to get it over with and move on to something new.
” … I can vote abstain or we can just not have a conversation, not give it any air time, on something that is literally just a political stunt, like why would we waste taxpayers’ time, why would we waste the public’s time on a political stunt like that?,” Fisher questioned.
The total vote tally to table both the old and new resolutions was 7-2, with Fisher, Cunningham, Council members Vanessa Falco, Mike DeFusco, Ruben Ramos, Michael Russo and Jen Giattino voting yes.
Expectedly, Doyle and Jabbour voted no.