LETTER: Hoboken mayor’s ethical lapses show checks and balances on city council still needed


In a letter to the editor, Hoboken residents Perry Belfiore says that Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s ethical lapses show that checks and balances on the city council are still needed.

Dear Editor,

It is not surprising that untoward behaviors are tolerated more from tribal members, than competitors. The brilliance and need for checks and balances can be seen in today’s politics, where giving deference to allegiances, rather than truth, can be dangerous.

If Past is Prologue, this is what I fear will happen if Mayor Bhalla successfully gets his at-Large Council running mates elected.

Ravi Bhalla had been cited several times for pay to play violations before voting to renew a contract for legal services for his, office mate, Paul Condon. Subsequent to the vote, local blogs discovered an apparent partnership between Condon and Bhalla.

Dawn Zimmer was Mayor, and an era of honesty was supposedly ushered in by her inauguration. Certainly, this potential conflict of interest complicated this perception and could not stand.

So as Zimmer’s opposition seized the opportunity to demonstrate that corruption is a human trait not confined to political ideology, Zimmer, to her detriment, countered by doubling down and accepting Ravi’s explanation that he sought approval to cast his vote on the contract; from the Law Director.

To prove this and show no corruption, Law Director, Michael Kates was assigned the task of researching his opinion and to issue a report to the citizenry, council members and the administration. In essence, to opine on his opinion.

Seeing this nonsense, I filed a formal complaint with the Local Finance Board (LFB). Needless to say, Kates report found no conflict because he did no investigation.

What is interesting and attached is a May 10, 2010 article from the Hoboken Reporter in which Bhalla states that a partnership on the lease existed.

The Local Finance Board found Ravi and Condon were partners in the lease, was in a conflict and imposed a de minimis fine. Bhalla, at the taxpayers’ expense, appealed to the Administrative Law Division.

He did this in spite of knowing he and Condon were partners, and knowingly lied to the Citizens of Hoboken, the Hoboken Law Director and the members of the Hoboken City council.

I have often thought, does lying during an official council investigation, rise to perjury.

Believe that the judge found that although partners on the lease, a Condon default would not materially affect Bhalla’s finances and more importantly, at least to Bhalla, I am not a good person.

So the judge found a little conflict of interest could be tolerated, as it would not impact decision making.

The Local Finance Board found this logic foolhardy and imposed the fine. Again Bhalla, represented by taxpayer funded, municipal attorneys, appealed.

I believe the situation resolved with the LFB waving the de minimis fine but stating that the conflict of interest existed. How could the LFB do otherwise?

The point is simple. This behavior was enabled and condoned by the Zimmer Administration and Bhalla’s council allies because his vote was needed.

You see, the source of Zimmer’s strength was the unity of the five pro administration council members that always voted in unison. Might makes right, so a little conflict of interest is acceptable when you have a city to run.

We each have a responsibility to shape each other’s behavior, whether the discipline a parent exert on a child or the gentle coaxing friends bring to a social construct. Worse than what a person would do if no one is watching is the acceleration of tolerated bad behavior.

Now, some might think this episode enough to vote for a council that would augment policy initiatives while, in this mayor’s case, and more importantly, act as guide rails of propriety. But Ravi Bhalla’s questionable behavior did not end with this conflict.

Perry Belfiore
Hoboken resident

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  1. Hoboken must stop 🛑 the Ravi-Russo Alliance. Turning control over to them would be the beginning of Ma Russo and the $5 dollars a tow Parking Director scam, for starters!

      • Shove off. Death doesn’t mean you get to rewrite the biography you Ravi-Russo crook lover. Michael Russo wants to follow in mom’s footsteps and get on the taxpayer payroll by being the Parking Director. Ravi approved his “resume.”

          • Look it’s Nancy Stinkus, the Russo Corruption supporter in the Ravi-Russo Alliance trying to distract from the truth. Nancy, you deserve that job working for Russo and a big raise from Michael Russo too when he becomes the new Hoboken Parking Director!

            For more on the corruption, Nancy no longer opposes but supports see Russocorruption.com

          • Michael Russo is dead? I saw him in a news story photo standing right next to Ravi with Jim Doyle. Is that a fake Ravi-Russo Alliance or is Nancy Stinkus trying to rewrite history? Hopefully she’s not a danger to Michael Russo because no one can tell her she’s wrong!

            Look at you Nancy, kneeling before Michael Russo just like a good paid political operative for Ravi in the Ravi-Russo Alliance. You deserve the traitor to Hoboken Reform award, a brand new set of knee pads!

          • Nancy Stinkus, the Russo Corruption supporter in the Ravi-Russo Alliance trying to distract from being exposed.

            it’s too late Nancy and you should tell us if you will be working for Michael Russo as the Parking Director as part of the deal he made with Ravi?

            For more on the corruption, Nancy supports see Russocorruption.com

  2. Oh look former Hoboken Mayor and convicted felon Peter Cammarano’s good friend, advisor and political operative has come out from under his rock at election time and is trying to lecture people on ethics.

  3. Did miss something or did Mr. Belfiore forget to let us know which Council candidates he supports and which he opposes. Does he oppose all three of the mayor’s candidates? Or just one of them since the thrust of his article is simply to prevent the mayor’s allies from having a council majority. A result that is mathematically impossible anyway since 4 (three at large plus Councilman Cohen) is not a majority of 9.

    Which of the ten candidates does Mr. Belfiore support? If he opposes everyone on the Mayor’s ticket, which of the 7 other candidates does he support? And why? He somehow forgot to tell us. Is it possible he doesn’t know? Is hating on Mayor Bhalla his only guiding principle?

    An odd political strategy. But Mr. Belfiore, expert and experienced as he is in identifying unethical conduct and corruption, has been searching in vain for a plan B since Peter Cammarano was arrested.

    I guess the search continues.

    • Ha, ha – speaking of unethical conduct and corruption, did you see the endorsement from Hoboken’s original King of Corruption, Michael Russo for Team Bhalla? Ravi’s 5th vote. But you knew that, didn’t you?

      • We’re not supposed to talk about that. Dawn Zimmer will be issuing a press release about the Ravi-Russo Alliance so can’t undercut her. Any minute now… Ok, maybe not.

      • As you well know, Councilman Russo is on Councilman Russo’s team not Mayor Bhalla’s. Counting him as the mayor’s 5th vote because of an endorsement is disingenuous at best.

        No matter how this plays out, Councilman Russo will be wielding a lot of influence over the next Council unless Tiff and Jen finally put their vendetta aside and end their anti-Ravi alliance with Ramos and DeFusco.

        Russo only has the power given to him by Tiff and Jen – because of – well – math. That’s been true for the last four years and it will be true for at least the next two.

        That’s reality. But of course reality isn’t your “thing ” so rant away.

        • It’s out in the open now with the Ravi-Russo Alliance. Don’t blame anyone else who puts Hoboken ahead of their dirty deal. Just admire their picture of Ravi & Russo and congratulate yourself for dirty deeds well done. Own it.

    • Don’t know, but I know that Ravi, Emily, Jim and Joe are happily touting an endorsement from this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqC5ZBG4MyM (Russo/Dwek tape.) Wonder how Dawn gets past this. She posted the full video on the city’s website back in the day so that everyone could see the Russo corruption. Now she embraces it rather than admit to herself and all of us in the voting public that she handed the baton to someone cut from that very same corrupt cloth and whose team is just fine with all that.

      • I see. Trying to distract everyone with some whataboutism of some sort. But I don’t know what you are talking about. Could it be that he was referring to how the residents of the HHA were being treated? That sounds more likely to me.

        How does Dawn feel about the way Ravi has opened city hall to old corruption raids again? After she worked so hard to root it out.

  4. Nope.
    A white male politician referring to the Hoboken Housing Authority with a racist slur as a plantation totally discredits anything this political operative has say,

    His long seething hatred of the present and former mayor reinforces his obvious prejudice. It is well within his established character to resurface just before and election to resurface a try to smear his opponent with half truths and whole lies.

    Thankfully for Hoboken most of the old corrupt machine have either died off or have become irrelevant.

    Hoboken has become will continue to be a much better place without them.

  5. Endorsements from impotent politicos like Mike Russo stimulate conversation but don’t really sway many voters. What really matters are the endorsements from the true opinion shapers like Roman whose legendary and powerful Hoboken Horse website was for years where Hoboken voters went to find out the Truth and be told who to vote for. His decision to end his enthusiastic support for Beth Mason and throw his weight behind the otherwise hapless Dawn Zimmer in 2009 is recognized by most Hoboken pundits as having been truly decisive in enabling Ms. Zimmer to almost defeat Peter Cammarano. And then, after Mayor Cammarano’s arrest, Mr. Brice almost singlehandedly forced Mayor Cammarano to resign and hand his office to Zimmer.

    His decision to support Donald J. Trump for President in 2016 surprised many, and it enabled the previously unknown Trump to gain the name recognition and instant credibility needed to ascend to the Presidency.

    Sadly, Roman is on hiatus, leaving Hobokenites and Patriots everywhere with nowhere to turn. I know I speak for thousands of Patriotic Hoboken voters when I say “please Roman, return to the barn and tell us what to do. We’re lost without you. Help us!!”

    • Absolutely, @saveushorsey, agree 1000%. I’m waiting breathlessly for a signal, any sign from the all-knowing, all-seeing Horse on who to vote for. HorseAnon has replaced QAnon in my book, and in that of thousands of others in Hoboken. We’re just waiting on that drop. Also, if the barn doesn’t spring back to life and lead us to the Promised Land, we can always just cry voter fraud.

      • That’s a good one. That dude is living in the past, fighting with ghosts. Everyone’s moved on with their lives except him cause he’s got nothing else in his life but Hoboken politics. Really, you people should stop poking him. Leave him rant to himself. I won’t engage him.

    • About the only thing I’ve learned here other than Ravi & Russo being more alike than not is that the Horse guy impacted crooks in Hoboken. Even if he moved on, he lives rent free in the minds of many. He was consistent unlike these self-indulge politicos and their “it’s all about me” mantra. Ravi and Russo, what a tandem. In these uncertain times and we are Biden our time as the country spirals.

      • Dude, do you even read? The ONLY reason Horse get mentioned is because he spends all day here posting nutty nonsense and gets called out on it. He “moved on” from his blog because everyone stopped going there, this is the only place he can get any attention. “He was consistent”…LOL! Too funny.

        • Doubt it. He took on the old guard and now Carmelo Garcia is another of their leaders he clashed with who is on his way to the clink. The idea everyone who criticizes Ravi and/or Russo is one person is silly. Smells like the criminal element is ready to take back Hoboken. Thanks, Dawn. Horrible.

          • Yes, bingo, Horse is responsible for Garcia being indicted. Absolutely, you got me there!

            What drugs are you on, and where can I get some?

  6. Hey Perry did you forget the 4 C’s you supported?
    and now Rolex Watch boy

    How can you point to this one conflict when so many around you have done time?