LETTER: Bhalla should cut spending, not people, in midst of Hoboken budget crisis, DeFusco says


In a letter to the editor, Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco says Mayor Ravi Bhalla should be focusing on cutting spending, not people, in the midst of an ongoing budget crisis.

Dear Editor,

Politics is about people. Making people’s lives better is the basis for public service and making Hoboken run on a day-to-day level couldn’t be done without our hard working municipal employees.

Alarmingly, on Friday 79 men and women were notified that they could be facing layoffs.

This is a byproduct of the Bhalla Administration’s estimated $7-14 million dollar budget
deficit that has been snowballing since the mayor took office.

At the heart of the matter is Mayor Bhalla’s over reliance on politically connected contracts and patronage jobs dolled out to political supporters.

The mayor says rising healthcare costs are a significant driver in our city’s budget and he’s not wrong, but for the last two years I’ve advocated to switch our city’s health insurance vendor, to save millions. The mayor never budged.

This particular vendor has made statewide news for contributing into politically connected Super PACs in favor of politicians who support them.

At the same time, his office staff, a group of political operatives carted over to City Hall from the mayor’s 2017 campaign, grew the size of the mayor’s office 70 percent from where it was under Dawn Zimmer.

Last month, a state task force listed Hoboken as engaging in “questionable benefit and
compensation practices that reward employees with paid time off or cash payments.”

What that means is that the mayor’s former campaign manager, who was rewarded with a powerful City Hall post, received $45,000 in stipends, on top of his six-figure salary.

His other campaign manager was paid an extra $7,500 above equally high base pay.

The mayor’s unsuccessful council running mate, now a city attorney, received an additional $14,999 on top of his $100k job.

Clearly, political operatives are benefiting at the cost of taxpayers while the civil service jobs of our bread and butter employees are in jeopardy.

Instead of looking to cut spending, the mayor is looking to cut people. Making matters worse, these employees have been silenced by a questionably legal gag order they’re required to sign, preventing them from speaking their minds.

I have no boss other than the voters and I have no restrictions placed on my freedom of speech, which is why I stand with our employees and for a government that can do more with less.

Now is the time to work together to ensure no jobs are lost, and that responsible spending returns to City Hall.

Mike DeFusco
Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman


Editor’s note: On Tuesday morning, Hoboken Corporation Counsel’s Office told HCV that there are currently no gag or non-disclosure orders in effect pertaining to ongoing labor contract negotiations. 

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  1. Why does DeFusco get press coverage for stating the obvious ?

    No one wants to see Hoboken staffers lose their jobs.

    He is already staging fundraising events to take another run at being mayor.

    • You sound like a disgruntled Ravibot. Where is Dear Leader? How many fundraisers has he held leaving Hoboken behind for for off places? You can’t buy this kind of stupid anywhere.

    • Did DeFusco’s paid marketing team actually write this latest negative letter ?

      Do they write the negative, name calling on line attack posts to defend him ?

      Once you get passed the trite buzzwords, hype and negativity there is little else to him ?

      Hoboken needs to lead by someone who does the hands on work to bring about positive change for the City and not someone who does nothing but complain.

  2. Mayor Zimmer left a large million dollar surplus for anything to be used for important issues.
    Mayor Bhalla spent it all on his supporters, now the rank and file are worried about their necessary jobs. Shame on this MAYOR, maybe it is time to find somebody else who can handle a budget..Margaret

  3. What everyone fails to see, no sorry everyone sees it, what they fail to SAY is that yuppies come and go.. and vote. And the born and raised suffer at the hands of these overpaid 20-30somethings that leave for Westchester, Red Bank, Short Hills as soon as the second baby is on the way. “We just need more room!!”