Labor union that backed Bhalla for Hoboken mayor attacks Doyle over hotel vote


A politically active labor union that backed Ravi Bhalla for Hoboken mayor last year has released a TV ad attacking Councilman-at-Large James Doyle, an ally of the mayor, for voting no on the Hilton Hotel project. 

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Councilman Doyle abandoned Hoboken’s children. He voted against $5 million for community schools and community centers and turned down smart economic development, that would create hundreds of good paying jobs for Hoboken’s workers,” says a voiceover in an ad paid for by International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825.

“Hoboken Hilton will be good for our city, but Doyle doesn’t get it. Councilman Doyle: voting no for our children, no to infrastructure and no to Hoboken’s future.”

After much contention between the mayor and council, the governing body approved the Hilton Hotel project, which comes with $4.85 million in community givebacks, by a vote of 8-1, with Doyle being the lone dissenting vote.

Those givebacks include $1 million to the Hoboken Public Education Foundation, $1.165 million in infrastructure improvements, $484,000 to be split between the city’s three charter schools, as well as 170 union labor jobs to construct the hotel.

Doyle voted no on the previous iteration of the project and was obviously not swayed by any of the changes.

He did not immediately return an email seeking comment this morning.

Local 825 backed Bhalla for mayor one year ago and their super PAC, Stronger Foundations, Inc., chipped in at least $50,000 to Bhalla’s campaign.

Speaking to HCV over the phone, Bhalla said the leadership at Local 825 agreed to stop running the ad and that it had already be taken out of syndication.

“I contacted the senior leadership at the operating engineers, who are friends and supporters, and I explained to them my longstanding friendship and personal relationship with the councilman and his family and how I felt the ad was inappropriate and unfair to Jim and they immediately took it down and apologized to me,” Bhalla said.

“I made an affirmative commitment, not at the request of any unions, to send a public message to the development community, that if they want to work with the City of Hoboken that there will be a baseline expectation that all development labor will be union based.”

The mayor also said he spoke to Doyle and they “had a good laugh” when discussing the commercial, indicating that he didn’t seem at all bothered by it.

Early this evening, ELEC 825 spokesman Mike Makarski said the union stands by the message in the ad.

“Councilman Doyle’s vote against the first major redevelopment agreement of the Bhalla administration, and the first major redevelopment project in Hoboken of recent memory was a miscalculation,” he said.

“Our organization is committed to infrastructure investment and economic development – which are both cornerstones of this project. This left us no choice but to inform residents of his decision.”

Makarski also confirmed that after a “constructive conversation” with Bhalla, the union agreed to pull the ads.


Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with comments from Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and ELEC 825 spokesman Mike Makarski.

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  1. Why would a union spend thousands of dollars attacking a Councilman who isn’t up for re-election for 3 years, over a meaningless dissenting vote on a project that passed 8-1?

    It seems like they want to stifle any dissenting voices – pretty Trumpian. And pretty concerning. Jim and his wife Leah Healy are true Hoboken heroes for their principled stances on parks and development.

  2. The Union attacking Councilman Doyle make little sense as the Hilton Hotel project has already been approved and he is not facing an election for three plus years. What it most likely is a not so sublet threat to any politician in Hoboken who would dare disagree with the Union that we have the money and the will smear you if don’t vote in our favor. It should be noted that the massive LOCOR/NJT development project a big pay day for Construction Unions was dramatically scaled back by Governor Murphy late yesterday by his compromise decision to protect Hoboken and proceed with the Rebuild By Design project and the Unions not content with a half a loaf greedily wants the whole loaf.

    Hopefully all Hoboken’e elected officials always remember that the good of the people of Hoboken outweigh any outside political or finacial special interest.

      • It was read at Thursday night’s Rebuild By Design community update meeting and is also on Governor Murphy’s website.

        It calls for placement of the flood mitigation measures to accommodate non-residential development around the actually station and along the river and limits residential development to the West. This decision will allow the RBD team to move forward with planning along the southern edge of Hoboken.

  3. This kind of nasty attack by an outside group against a council member for simply doing his job and voting in accordance with his well known and consistently articulated sincere strongly held beliefs is despicable, and should be immediately and strongly publicly denounced by every elected official in Hoboken – that means the mayor and every single Hoboken council person.

    The unions need to hear that this stuff will not be tolerated in Hoboken by anyone.

      • Actually no, I wouldn’t be OK with it if it were an attack on DeFusco or Ramos. It would be equally repulsive if it were directed by outside groups against them. Out of town interest groups like the laborors union are free to support candidates in elections to the extent permitted by law, but they have no business trying to bully Hoboken elected officials into casting votes supporting their agenda – full stop. All of Hoboken’s elected officials – the mayor and all nine council members – should stand together to send that message loudly, forcefully and clearly, no matter what the victim’s relationship with the Mayor is. Hopefully, that’s what the Mayor told those guys in no uncertain terms when he spoke to them.

        Please share the non political reasons you think cause me to “have problems” with DeFusco or Ramos. I’d be interested in hearing what you think those are though I seriously doubt you can legitimately claim to “know” me in any meaningful way.

        • Where were you last year the same PAC was bullying voters and using Dawn’s image in attacks on Ravi’s opposition?
          Save your scrambling for your eggs tomorrow morning.

          • It’s too late for Lindastan to try and dig out of this with this weak sauce. Damage is done. Hope it was worth it to save your butt with that ugly Mister Carmelo lawsuit LindaStan.

  4. Ravi Bhalla was endorsed by the union that ran this ad, IUOE Local 825. Jim Doyle was on Ravi’s ticket. Dawn Zimmer’s image was plastered across the ads run by this same union, on FOX News, prior to the 2017 Hoboken mayoral election – ads which touted Ravi as “Mayor Zimmer’s choice” in big, bold letters.

    This same union brags about “advocating for investments in infrastructure and construction” on their website. Ravi Bhalla, just last Friday afternoon, had an op-ed piece published where he wrote about the “various mechanisms” NJ Transit can use to “secure funds for infrastructure improvements and recover the increased property value created as a result of the real estate development.”

    Don’t get it twisted, this advertisement (hit piece) was a warning sent to all elected officials in Hoboken; demonstrate your loyalty to our projects, like Ravi Bhalla did in his op-ed, and you will be rewarded. Vote against our projects (even when your vote turns out to be inconsequential), as Jim Doyle did, and you will pay the price.

    NJ Transit and ELCOR will seak to increase the density permitted at the Hoboken Railyards – they have to, or the project is never going to happen – a development that would make many in Hoboken happy, but many in Trenton and at IUOE Local 825 distressed. Like was done with the Hilton Hotel project and its accompanying public relations effort, this increased density will be coupled with charitable donations in order to foster and galvanize public support, giving backers like Ravi cover. If any elected official even thinks about standing in the way of these increases in density, rather than setting the table for them (like good old Ravi did in his op-ed), then that politician will be ground into powder!

    Ravi Bhalla didn’t take a few thousand in cash, in a cereal box, at the Malibu Diner parking lot. Ravi’s way too smart for that – he’s good friends with President (I mean Senator) Booker gosh darn it. Instead, Ravi took money and support from one of the biggest construction unions in the New York area – the same union that just made an example of his running mate for all the world to learn from. The creators of the Sopranos would have been proud of this example – real down and dirty Jersey political stuff.

    Oh, Dawn (and Stan), what on earth have you done, and why do you remain silent as your legacy is ravaged by Ravi and his special interest fund, ELEC825?

  5. This sort of Union sponsored, dumb, jackbooted, extortionist goon squad behavior rightfully undermines everything good about Unions in the minds of the public.

  6. Oh this is hilarious! The faux outrage by Lindastan and his Cave blogger… Spare us the horse dung.
    Ravi has been hand in glove with this union.
    But if this union PAC did this video about Fisher or DeFusco we know you’d be just fine.
    As for Doyle and Healy, sorry, they aren’t heros to anyone except maybe the boathouse crew, some 60 year old runners and her former redevelopment law firm that still earns big bucks on Hoboken redevelopment.

      • lost his readers cause he rants about bhalla, stan, and nancys blog and no one cares anymore… whos going to pay him $75 to read that $hit. Got no commenters. makes up names and talks to himself online… bitter bitter bitter. his head is a cave… dark and empty. lol

      • That’s not Horse but didn’t break this story and publish the Ravi-Union attack ad? Hate him for telling the truth but I doubt he cares.

        • I believe HCV broke the story first and certainly covered it much better. TS Unless you can prove it isn’t the Horse the pattern of self important obsessive insanity that permeates his posts says you are wrong.

          • hcv wrote the story first…. soros- hating trump globalist conspiracy lunatic…
            his obsessive bhalla stan nancy hate posts… hating non stop on two jews and a sikh…he needs to be on a watch list….. his head is a cave dark and full of hate

          • Saw this story last week on first but HCV did a great follow-up. They are a tremendous asset to Hoboken and the wider good government folks in this area. Thanks to both of you!

            Looks like published a release from councilmembers Jen Giattino, Tiffanie Fisher and Peter Cunningham defending their colleague who elected to vote differently from the vicious union and friends of Ravi Bhalla. Why did Ravi do this to Jim Doyle? Mean.

            Thank heavens we have some good government folks left looking out for Hoboken.


  7. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that “constructive” call between the mayor and the union? I’m just wondering when the cave dwellers who are feigning outrage over the union’s behavior are going to admit to themselves (they’ll never admit it in public) that the ton of money that this union dropped on Ravi’s campaign wasn’t because Ravi is such a ‘good guy’. Ravi had to promise lots of things for that amount of dough.

    We all know that if Tiffanie or Jen or Peter had been the one lone “no” vote any one of them would have been had the “X candidate hates children” role in the commercial and the queen of the cave dwellers would have been cheering the union on. We also know that Ravi would have been just fine with this type of slime ball commercial if one of his “enemies” had defied him. Did you notice how scared Vanessa was to vote the way she obviously wanted to?

    • The entire City Council could show they won’t be intimidated by unanimously supporting Jim Doyle’s resolution against the North Bergen power plant/patronage mill that will send all of it’s electricity across to NYC while sending all of it’s pollution around Hudson County.

      The reference to that resolution was deleted for some reason in the union’s comments quoted in the story, but the threat was made and can’t be deleted.

      • North Bergen? WTF?
        Would Jim support Jersey City’s opposition to Hoboken blocking the views of the Palisades? Oh wait, he and Team Marezitti gave away PILOTs and denisty for a postage size plot
        This powerplant issue is a non issue.
        That resolution is just a headline grabber

        • The pollution caused by the proposed North Bergen power plant in the meadowlands flood plain will negatively affect air quality all over Hudson County. If the opposition expressed by affected communities like Hoboken didn’t matter, the unions wouldn’t be running expensive ad campaigns like the attack on Jim to try to stop it.

          Do some homework before you post next time. You can’t help being unintelligent and inarticulate but you can be less uninformed. For any Council member who really opposes the union bullying this is the opportunity to make it clear that the Hoboken City Council will do the right thing and won’t be bullied.

          FYI since you mentioned PILOTs , the project is PILOTed so Hudson County doesn’t even get it’s share of the taxes. NYC gets the power, Hudson Gets the pollution and North Bergen gets the PILOT.

    • Hey, dealing the race card from the bottom of the deck got the mayor into office didn’t it? Thank us later. Ravi did and still does. 🙂

  8. Looks Like LindaLou should be satisfied with the response from Cunningham, Giattino and Fisher who just strongly denounced the union for their thug tactics. Wonder if LindoLou is concerned that we are still waiting for the mayor to do the same. If need be, the mayor could return the massive funding from elec825 and denounce them by saying that he apologizes to the citizens of Hoboken for ever having anything to do with that organization. He needs to eat a lot of crow about this; bullying is not a laughing matter no matter how much chuckling he and Doyle do over the ad.

    Anyone wanna take a bet that he won’t.

    • I haven’t seen their response, but if they spoke out forcefully against the union’s bizarre attack on their colleague then that was certainly appropriate. Did they denounce the union bullying without twisting it into an attack on Mayor Bhalla? I hope so, since trying to turn this into a political opportunity by twisting it into a political attack on the Mayor would make the response seem like politics as usual rather than a sincere attempt to defend their colleague and stand up to bullying.

      Hopefully the entire Council will put their votes where their mouths are by joining with Councilman Doyle and supporting his resolution opposing the North Bergen power/pollution plant. Its pretty obvious from the oddly deleted reference to that project in the union comments within this article that this was not only about the hotel (if indeed it was about the hotel at all which I doubt). The union was trying to bully elected officials into not joining the eight Bergen County towns that have already passed resolutions opposing that dangerous polluting, PILOTed boondoggle.

      Talk is cheap. If the City Council wants to show they won’t be bullied, they shouldn’t play politics attacking the Mayor, they should stand with Jim and pass the resolution 9-0.