Editor’s note: This article was updated with additional comment from DeFusco.
Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco accused city Mayor Ravi Bhalla of keeping him out of a commuinty meeting with the residents of the Marineview Plaza, which falls inside of DeFusco’s district.
“This is a clear case of the Bhalla Administration putting petty politics ahead of not just transparency, but the basic principles of community and open government,” DeFusco said. “I am trying to work with the Mayor to help my ward and move things forward but he’s unable to put politics behind us, and it’s frustrating and hurtful to see this level of obstructionism when we could be working together to tackle important issues like reducing flooding, supporting local businesses and improving municipal services.”
DeFusco pointed to a flyer advertising the meeting that had the city’s seal and a city employee’s email address on it. But, the same flyer said the meeting was for Marineview Plaza residents only, and emails shared with the Globe by the mayor’s office show at least one resident asking that DeFusco not attend.
“I will be there IF 1st Ward Councilman DeFusco is not invited to attend. He hasn’t shown his face around here since he was running for Mayor,” said the resident, whom the Globe is not naming for privacy reasons. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a fast talked that should have nothing to do with [the Marineview Plaza]. So…if he walks in (he doesn’t live here), I will be walking out.”
The mayor’s office said the purpose of the meeting was to give residents a venue to discuss issues facing the 450-unit complex and its community.
But, DeFusco still took issue with his being locked out of the meeting, claiming it was a political event that handed taxpayers the bill.
The two have been feuding since last year’s mayoral campaign, which ended with Bhalla holding the mayorship.
“It is disappointing the Councilman fails to appreciate that meetings like this are not about us, but about the residents we serve,” Bhalla said. “Last night, I honored my obligation to the residents of Marineview Plaza to keep the meeting strictly to Marineview Plaza residents. We had a wonderful meeting about constituent service-related issues. The residents were deeply appreciative and said it was the first time a high-ranking elected official came to their building for a community meeting to hear their concerns.”
DeFucsco fired back later on Thursday.
“If Mayor Bhalla’s decision to block me from a taxpayer-funded event is based on an anonymous message that supposedly came from a resident, then that is absolutely laughable,” DeFusco said. “I was invited into the building by a resident, but beyond that this event was clearly a government event that should have been open to anyone who wished to attend and discuss issues in our city.”Email