In Hoboken, Bhalla supporter files ethics complaint against DeFusco over zoning laws


A Hoboken resident and supporter of Mayor Ravi Bhalla has filed an ethics complaint against 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, alleging a conflict of interest with a developer who donated to him and has project in front of the local planning board. 

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The complaint, filed with the state Local Finance Board on August 1st by Mike Donnelly, claims that DeFusco introduced local legislation that would specifically benefit developer Michael Ranuro, who owned Biggie’s Clam Bar and donated $1,200 to DeFusco late last year.

“Mr. Ranuro represented in his application for for a variance that the increased lot coverage would be used for the installation of stairs as part of the fire escape,” Donnelly writes, noting that city council approved an ordinance on July 11th that would allow developers to expand lot coverage beyond the 60 percent that is currently permissable.

That ordinance, introduced by DeFusco and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, says that ” … fire escape or fire stair of any kind that exceeds the minimum size requirements set forth in FTO-3 or the IBC and/or UCC as applicable, and a rear egress stair that exceeds three feet in wide shall not be exempt and shall count as lot coverage.”

Bhalla ended up vetoing that ordinance though, since it would allow developers to build larger buildings “at the expense of Hoboken’s charm and character.”

Donnelly, who got into a heated dialogue with DeFusco at last week’s council meeting shortly after he spoke about a vote related to an ethics complaint concerning Bhalla, continued that the ordinance was clear collusion between the councilman and Ranuro.

“By virtue of Councilman DeFusco’s B-40 Ordinance, the need for Mr. Ranuro’s application for a variance was obviated because he would, as a matter of right, be allowed to extend lot coverage to accommodate the installation of stairs.”

Many in Hoboken have referred to the local legislation as the doughnut ordinance, since in an overview shot of the Mile Square City’s residential blocks, the buildings encircle the block and the rear yards have open space in their middle portion.

Dating back to 2013, the zoning board of adjustment asked that the city consider permitting an increase in building coverage for the addition of fire escapes/rear decks.

In response to the complaint, DeFusco was quick to remind everyone that Bhalla was recently censured by the NJ Supreme Court and therefore he and his supporters didn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to ethics.

“Being lectured by the mayor censured by the NJ Supreme Court for ethics violations is humorous, like I’m living in an upside down world,” he told HCV.

“It’s unsurprising that after Ravi Bhalla lied to corporation council and has spent 10k in taxpayer funds appealing his ethics violation for voting on a business partner’s contract, an abandonment of public trust that caused the council to cut his legal funding, he has lashed back at me for speaking the truth against his ethically challenged administration.”

Referring to Donnelly as a “political attack dog connected to the mayor,” DeFusco also said he’s confident that the complaint will end up being dismissed.

In a mass email sent out earlier today, Bhalla continued to press the issue, exclaiming that “Mike DeFusco chose to violate the public trust and place the special interests of developers and his donors above of the best interests of our City.”

In the same email, Bhalla also noted that the ordinance goes against the spirit of the Master Plan, according to a letter from George Wheattle Williams of NiShuane Group, LLC.

Both elected officials also traded barbs on Twitter earlier today, yet another indicator that the ongoing bad blood lingering from the November mayoral race won’t be dissipating any time soon.

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/hcvcp/public_html/wp-content/themes/Hudson County View/includes/wp_booster/td_block.php on line 353


  1. Donnelly has no idea how stupid he’s about to look. Hope he’s got a good check coming via Bhalla connections to humiliate himself this much– He’s a shill. Nobody just starts showing up with such anger out of the blue.
    He’s a friend on one of Bhalla’s people. The file on him is thick

    Ravi should look at his own lot coverage on Garden Street and his INVESTMENT property at the Shipyard where he somehow RENTS OUT HIS SHIPYARD CONDO – when MOST PEOPLE THERE ARE NOT ALLOWED!

    • You really should take a deep breath and think before hitting the submit button. Do you understand how completely inappropriate your post is? Councilman DeFusco is not helped by the unhinged empty threats you are making on his behalf.

      All you are doing is making him look like he has something to hide and trying to use intimidation tactics to silence his critics. Of course sometimes a cigar is really a cigar.

      • There’s no threat there unless you’re trying to spin it.
        It’s not like that stuff where people decide not to run or pay out 700,000 settlements to sweep a discrimination suit under the rug.

        Asking if a “member of the public” is getting paid to finance a lawsuit any different than what your bloggers used to write about LB?

        If a known condo building doesn’t allow most people to su lease or rent their condos out it’s a totally fair question how the city’ s Mayor does?

        If there’s a good answer Hoboken is all ears.

        You don’t scare anyone with todays campaign of legal threats popping up all over the blogs

        Don’t you wonder how this Donnelly guy got a lawyer to write a complaint and how it’s so synched with Ravi’s stunt late yesterday? A tenant of The Shipyard files a complaint over a building not built on Madison street? Wow, a real activist there

        • So to be clear, you don’t think the phrase “the file on him is thick” is a threat? Perhaps you can explain then what the non threatening interpretation is so HCV readers can better understand.

          What’s truly sad is you’re apparent belief that your online rants somehow damage anyone’s reputation but your own. As for legal threats, you can sleep comfortably knowing that your lack of credibility and resulting inability to cause harm insulates you from any real legal exposure.

          • Considering millions in judgements and settlements during the Zimmer administration doled out to past directors and supporters because of outside interference by operatives and incompetent cronies in various roles one might think that LindaLou stop listening to Zimmer’s lawyers or himself.
            If the “activist” is so sincere, why are you so worried how think any file is?
            I disagree with “TheBhallaFiles” Seems more like the file on this Bajardi like character would have a rather thin file. Thin on credibility, virtually no social media presence ( yes people search Social- just like you did on LinkedIn and NP does on Facebook)

            Other than the “activist ” appearing on IG with the Mayor’s Chief of Staff at a private party and posts referring to a woman’s vagina as a “P#ssy” maybe your puppet Mayor should have done more research on who they would have front this paper thin operation to divert attention from Bhalla’s Supreme Court censure.

          • I don’t think anyone is concerned about the fictional file least of all Mr. Donnelly. The point is what threats like that, empty and impotent as they are, say about the people making them.

            I don’t know if Mr. DeFusco is colluded with the developer/zba applicant or not and my guess is that without legally compelled document production and testimony we’ll likely never find out for sure.

            But the strong circumstantial evidence reflected in the timing and stand alone nature of the ordinance which addressed nothing else in the zonng code is bolstered by the rabid response to the complaint by Mr. DeFusco and by your idiotic juvenile online threats.

            Silence would be golden for Mr. DeFusco and his council allies/dupes like Fisher right now. It’s time for them to put the shovel away and hope the hole doesn’t get any deeper.

      • Lindalou, Have you ever read the grafix trash blog? If you want to talk about making a politician look bad, just go over there and have a quick look see.

        If I were Bhalla I would tell her to stuff it fast. The casual onlooker that might stumble on one of her daily hit pieces might equate her vomit with the Bhalla administration and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

        Do you have any idea the extent to which her vindictiveness lands on Bhalla? It might not be so bad if she managed to post something that was at least 1/2 true 50% of the time or, if he hadn’t put her on his campaign payroll?

        Today’s vomit-girl lie: There has only been 1 or 2 tear-downs in Hoboken since the Zimmer flood ordinance. (You know, the ordinance that Doyle loves and won’t consider changing.) Get ready people. The next thing vomit-girl will post is that Fisher, Giattino and Cunningham are responsible for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, agent orange and the Holocaust. Defusco will soon be declared single-handedly responsible for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Pol Pot and the AIDs epidemic. And worst of all, vomit-girl in her total derangement will believe all of this as she posts it.

        The Bhalla blog vomits a daily puke-fest only worthy of the most vindictive or politicians and an inner core of fakes, frauds and phonies masquerading as public servants.

        Save us!