Hoboken Council members-at-Large Emily Jabbour and James Doyle are doubling down on their position that the governing body should vote on a resolution tonight supporting the city’s pay-to-play laws, though at least one of their colleagues disagrees.
“Thursday night’s meeting is important because having different standards, and contribution limits, apply to candidates in the same race creates an unlevel playing field which is patently unfair. This should be clear to all,” Jabbour said in an email blast that went out yesterday.
“We have received a recommendation from an outside counsel that the council ‘consider’ changes to its pay to play laws, a recommendation that will be seriously considered in due time. However, that recommendation should not be interpreted as a green light to disregard the law currently in place.”
A September 3rd outside legal opinion advised the city to repeal their pay-to-play rules, and in response, officials including Mayor Ravi Bhalla said they’d consider revising the policy after the November 5th municipal elections.
“The City Council confirms that the current Ordinances shall remain in full force and effect during the November 2019 election cycle, and will consider any improvements thereto in accordance with the legal opinion thereafter,” the resolution for this evening’s scheduled special meeting says.
In an email exchange with HCV, Jabbour and Doyle further explained the significance of such a vote, even if it is not legally binding, which is the case for many resolutions.
” … In the opinion, a question was raised about the role of the City Clerk’s office in enforcement, but, ironically, it based its principal concern regarding the impacts of disparate enforcement of the ordinance on differently situated candidates, namely between those who complied as opposed to those who chose to violate the current code who might not be prosecuted,” they said.
“That is the very issue that we are trying to address – if some candidates erroneously read the outside counsel’s opinion to mean that the law does not have to be complied with, and others continue to abide by the current law that is in place, that is not fair.”
Council President Jen Giattino sees it another way, telling us that the resolution serves essentially no purpose since the pay-to-play laws on the books haven’t changed since they were enacted in 2011.
“I’m not really sure why we’re voting on a resolution, that’s a law already in place, asking Corporation Counsel to enforce a law that’s already in place just for this election cycle,” she explained.
“I’m not sure if it’s to make it seem like some council members are against pay-to-play because the laws already exist. I voted for it in 2011, I was actually the deciding vote in 2011, so I don’t know why [we need to vote again now].”
She also said she won’t be attending tonight’s session because she has already committed to an event for the public library and their neighbors.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hoboken City Hall, 94 Washington St.