City Council overwhelmingly passes resolution of 26 questions for Mayor Bhalla to answer on ‘side hustle’ law gig
Not two months into his mayoral term, Mayor Ravi Bhalla finds himself under scrutiny facing 26 questions on the holiday weekend revelations of his new “side hustle” law firm employment contract.
Mayor Bhalla announced an unspecified “of counsel” law firm contract for himself with Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen Friday night on his Facebook.
The lone dissenter voting to the resolution questions was Councilman Jim Doyle who ran on the Bhalla campaign ticket last November.
The City Council President Ruben Ramos suspended the agenda to allow the resolution’s introduction under the emergency powers of the legislative body.
Councilman Jim Doyle attempted to push back saying why not talk to Mayor Bhalla about it before “grandstanding” in preparing a resolution with the Hoboken City Council’s questions?
Council members Mike DeFusco and Tiffanie Fisher individually responded revealing Mayor Bhalla doesn’t respond to their efforts in communications on unrelated matters over weeks.
Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher pointed out that numerous nixle alerts had gone out at week’s end from the Bhalla Administration but nothing was noticed to the City Council or the public about a law firm employment contract Mayor Bhalla is undertaking.
She concluded her remarks to Councilman Jim Doyle with an exasperated, “Are you kidding me?”
City Council President Ruben Ramos noted during his lifetime no Hoboken mayor had ever taken a “side hustle” job of employments outside of the Hoboken mayor’s full time role. He highlighted how the previous mayor Dawn Zimmer argued the job is 24-7.
The public was invited to weigh in before the council vote and the commentary was universally against, overwhelmingly negative and sharply critical of Mayor Ravi Bhalla. One member of the public brought the house down saying convicted felon and former mayor Peter Camarano must be kicking himself why he didn’t run a similar game versus taking bribes in envelopes outside the Malibu Diner.
Councilwoman Emily Doyle followed the council and public’s remarks with the sole abstention.
The 26 City Council questions submitted to Mayor Bhalla in the letter passed by resolution:
Talking Ed Note: Last night was a light agenda but there was some heavy impact. Mayor Ravi Bhalla has the next move on his “side hustle” law firm employment contract but the response from both the City Council and the public to date has been anything but positive.
A big turnout from the public also spoke out on the appointments to the Rent Leveling Board. Again, an overwhelming negative response to Mayor Ravi Bhalla with support for Cheryl Fallick and Michael Lenz. Many public speakers recounted the aid in trying to get answers to critical questions on the subject and how Cheryl Fallick had helped them over many years.
Rent Leveling Board members nominated for another term by Mayor Bhalla also spoke with some quite critical about his actions. One board member, Rosemary Orozco concluded her remarks saying, “What the mayor is doing is totally shameful.”
Her remarks were met with booming applause from the audience.
Councilwoman Jen Giattino proposed an ordinance to split the appointment process for the nine member board. She offered four would be appointed by the mayor and three by the City Council, with the clear intent of retaining the experience of both Fallick and Lenz.
The Rent Leveling Board consists of 7 full time members and two alternates.
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