Hoboken mayor, council majority clash over potential E-scooter referendum question

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Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla is once again at odds with the majority of the city council after they voted down an ordinance to place a non-binding referendum question on the November 5th ballot regarding the future of E-scooters.

Photo via https://www.li.me/.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Last week, I asked the Hoboken City Council to consider authorizing a public, non-binding question on the ballot in November to allow the public a voice in whether or not the City should permit an e-scooter sharing program,” Bhalla said in a statement.

” … I believe this is a democratic way for residents to make their voices heard on an issue with a number of positive benefits, but also many passionate opinions.”

At Thursdays special meeting of the city council, the governing body voted the measure down 5-2, with only the ordinance sponsors, Council members-at-Large James Doyle and Emily Jabbour, voting yes.

Councilmen Mike DeFusco and Peter Cunningham were absent.”

The language of the question would potentially be very basic: “should the City of Hoboken allow e-scooter sharing entities to operate within the City of Hoboken?”

E-scooters have been a hot button issue for weeks, with pedestrians and drivers alike routinely complaining on social media about reckless and/or irresponsible E-scooter drivers.

Late last month, the Hoboken Police Department made their first E-scooter-related arrest when after a rider hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk and then attempted to flee the scene.

According to the mayor, all this controversy warrants the community weighing in at the ballot box.

“I strongly believe we should be governing by listening to the voices of more residents, not stifling an opportunity to gather input on an issue through a fair and democratic method,” he continued.

“Whether the City of Hoboken continues to allow e-scooters is not just a mundane question of governance as we are one of the first municipalities in the region to pilot the program, and the end result could have an impact broadly across the State and region. This is all the more reason why residents should be heard.”

2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, one of the five elected officials who voted no on Thursday, said that she has an ordinance in the works to curtail irresponsible E-scooter riders and that this problem needs to be solved well before November 5th.

”Since day one of the eScooter program rollout, the City has struggled to effectively address the critical safety and enforcement concerns that have been plaguing our streets. We need to be gathering information from residents, hearing their voices and acting today, we cannot wait until November. This is what we were elected to do,” she said.

“As a result of what we have observed already, I will be introducing an ordinance to stop irresponsible riding of E-scooters on our crowded waterfront at our next meeting. Now is our opportunity to continue working together to address the safety and economic concerns together to make E-scooters work, or not, for Hoboken.”

In response, city spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri said that continued efforts to improve E-scooter services are underway and that it would be “unfortunate” if the council decided not to put this on the ballot.

“Mayor Bhalla, the City Transportation Department, and the Hoboken Police Department continue to work diligently with the E-scooter companies to improve the service and make it safer for all riders and residents,” he explained.

“This will undoubtedly continue in the months ahead. This non-binding public question is one of several considerations Mayor Bhalla proposes the City takes into account to evaluate the program’s future. It would be unfortunate if the Council prevented this public and democratic process from occurring.”

Phil Jones, the senior director for East Coast Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships for Lime, one of the most popular E-scooter vendors in Hoboken, said that they continue to monitor issues such as riding on the sidewalk, underage riding, and riding through traffic lights

Furthermore, they are working with the city on a regular basis to ensure the best experience possible for all demographics, Jones said.

“Lime scooters have proven tremendously popular in Hoboken, with over 100,000 rides in just the first month. Hobokenites have taken quickly to incorporating scooters into their daily commutes while taking carbon-emitting cars off the road,” he said in an email.

“We’re working closely with the City to ensure riders are using scooters safely and properly and remain encouraged by this growing partnership.”

 

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a comment from a Lime spokeswoman. 

31 COMMENTS

  1. Truth stranger than fiction:

    Michael DeFusco used to go around shilling for Lyme scooters to anyone with a microphone and camera looking for good press for himself, then when the Bhalla Administration got the good press, his crew wants to kill the program and doesn’t want the voters to make their voices heard made sure in the back room it was never put up for a public vote.

    Could the real reason that the anti-Bhalla Council crew didn’t want the question on the ballot is that it would result in a larger voter turnout that would not play out in their favor ?
    Didn’t Councilwoman Fisher like to say “More voices are better” unless they don’t agree with me.

    • Well, I guess your plan backfired. There’s no emergency nor need for any referendum on the e-scooters. As long as parents are kept from giving them to kids, things are already much improved.

      • If the electronic scooters question were on the ballot it would have energized the electorate both for and against increased voter turnout Low voter turnout elections as we have seen with the recent convictions of Hoboken political operatives are ripe for voter fraud

        • Ravi’s “asset” to Hoboken, Frank Raia is convicted. There’s no voter fraud ripe for November and neither is your planned non-binding referendum. You failed.

          • Frank Raia was certainly an asset to First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco giving him close to ten thousand dollars and he and his cronies working the streets for him. DeFusco’s campaign manager Ryan Yacco was in charge of making sure Raia’s VBM workers got paid. Raia was convicted of voter fraud in Hoboken and because Raia and Yacco were so closely tied to DeFusco for so long. DeFusco and his handlers, public relations firm an political allies and bloggers are trying to help distance him from them. The obvious deflection we see here only make Defusco look more tainted.

            Councilman Michael DeFusco was an “asset” of Frank “Pupie” Raia.

        • Convicted of voter fraud in Hoboken Frank Raia gave Councilman DeFusco $9.400.00 in his last run for office. Raia even used DeFusco’s campaign manger to distribute payments to voters. Raia was an asset to DeFusco.

          What did Raia hope to get from DeFusco ?

  2. This is so RIDICULOUS. It was a NON-BINDING referendum! If the mayor was serious about truly letting the electorate make this decision, the outcome of the ballot question would bind the City of Hoboken to keep or can escooters. Our elected officials can gather the pulse of the community by speaking with them or gathering information via another city online poll. The council approved the referendums that are of true importance (additional 1cent open space tax, etc.)

    Who is he kidding? It’s obvious his camp is just trying to run another scorched earth Trump-style election campaign with as many no-information voters as possible at the polls. Must bug him that DeFusco is gay because an election homophobic flyer won’t work against him.

    Here’s a big fat hint. Let your slate put out some policy positions instead of posing for silly pictures and we’ll decide if we want to vote for them or stick with the people already serving. If your (or the other) candidates inspire us, we’ll go to the polls and vote for them.

    • The electronic scooter question would have undoubtedly and dramatically increased the number of people going to the polls in November. Keeping the turnout low is always an advantage to an incumbent candidate.

      If after the Raia convictions they will have a harder time out right buying votes suppressing the vote is next best strategy.

      • Bingo! But there is a way to turn these lemons into lemonade. Imagine the voter registrations and voter engagement that will come from a petition drive. Hoboken folks on both sides have strong feelings about e-scooters. A friend of mine hates them, another loves them. I guarantee they’ll resent being denied a voice at the polls, and there is no doubt now on WHO tried to silence them.

        • GA – your friends in City Hall are only pushing this so more people go to the polls to vote for their candidates. You just admitted it. Why don’t you and they just say this instead of pretending to the public that they give a crap about the e-scooter issue which they obviously don’t. Just like how bhalla used lies and scare tactics to get unengaged voters out to vote so he could eek by with 32% and steal the election. If he did give a crap he would actually be doing something to fix the Escooter problem now. Such a phony.

          • Listen, you are entitled to your opinion. But, IMO you are absolutely wrong. Good public policy comes from getting the most information about public support for or against an initiative which impacts every person in Hoboken. I am personally ambivalent about e-scooters, but I know people on both sides who feel strongly. I am mystified that the Council would oppose a citywide question to gauge public support for this. A phone poll samples 300 persons. An election will be much more accurate representation of where the public stands. In fact, the City is working with LIME to “fix” the e-scooter problem now. But you know, no one on this board comes here to exchange ideas, just personal insults.

    • Trying to get “as many no-information voters as possible at the polls.” That’s what Defusco, Fisher and Ramos fears the most: high turnout. Messes up their vote buying strategy.

  3. It is outrageous that partisan, irresponsible council members would DENY residents the RIGHT to VOTE on keeping or canceling the e-scooter program after Hoboken’s 6-month Pilot Program expires. YES, the Public Question is non-binding. There is no way forward for the City AND the Council to make informed public policy without the PEOPLE’s support. That is DEMOCRACY.

    Whatever ordinance Fisher believes is a substitute for the PUBLIC’s RIGHT TO VOTE, she is wrong. Making the e-scooter Pilot safer now is not material to the matter of allowing the PUBLIC to voice its OPINION on November 5. HOW DARE FISHER or anyone muzzle the Public on the matter of e-scooters in Hoboken. If the Council does not change their tune, then it can be put back on the ballot by petition.

    https://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2019/07/ramos-fisher-council-refuses-to-put-e.html

    • WAAAHHHHHHHHH! It was a phony non-binding referendum. But you knew that. Keep pushing lies!
      Just more garbage politics out of the mayor’s office and his paid political operative, re: the usual.

      • you depend on lime juicing for income, along with being an apologist for vote buyers. vote buyers don’t like too many people at the polls. fewer voices are better.

          • Hudson County View referenced the source of Defusco’s $4000 “gift” to his OWN caucus in its first paragraph. So did the Hudson Reporter.

            Only full-time shill Roman printed Defusco’s utterly cynical press release on the “gift” without offering any context on the source of the money.

            That’s an apologist at work.

  4. Go out and collect 4000 signatures and get it on the ballot yourself if you believe this is such a critical issue to the residents of Hoboken.

    • You mean the way the grassroots campaign to eliminate runoffs did? And then the petty council of TiffJenMikePeterRuben decided to wipe that away with a whim and a stroke of a pen?

      The council clique haven’t found a way to blame a scooter failure on the mayor, nor to grab scooter success for themselves. So they stew and wait and see where the winds blow then they can tweet their outrage/gloating.

      You know, like TiffJen voted against the new park but still showed up for the photo op at the opening. Zero shame, and an abundance of chutzpah.

    • Defusco’s ELEC reports are awash in Pay-to-play violations from labor and developers. Chances that Defusco’s full-time apologist Roman will mention it: 0%

  5. Sucks to be her!
    5 days of Bhalla News All The Time. You give her 10 lies she will write 1000 more!
    Nice that she is keeping the Masonistas and Russos happy again.
    What next support tanking the HUMC?

  6. Must have had a great 4th there Sybil! non stop all weekend… SAD SAD SAD….
    Rest of us were at our retreats as you bigot blogged for bhalla

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