The Hoboken City Council tabled an ordinance last night that would require Mayor Ravi Bhalla to disclose his clients and compensation package for his second job at a North Jersey law firm after the city’s top lawyer said the plan was unenforceable.
The vote came a few hours after the New Jersey Supreme Court announced it had censured Bhalla for an attorney ethics violation.
“It’s appalling that after months of the Mayor ignoring the City Council and refusing to accept any oversight regarding his second job that he would then send Corporation Counsel out to publicly threaten Council members last night for simply trying to bring sunshine to this unprecedented situation,” said City Council President Ruben Ramos. “Transparency is essential to protect the city and taxpayers from potentially damaging conflicts of interest due to Mayor Bhalla’s employment at a politically connected law firm, and if the city attorney won’t enforce this then the Mayor needs to do the right thing and disclose his clients voluntarily.”
Ramos and Councilman Michael DeFusco, who ran against Bhalla last year, now want the mayor to at least voluntarily disclose his clients and salary package.
“With Mayor Bhalla now being censured by the State Supreme Court for an ethics violation, in addition to his other past and ongoing ethical issues, Council oversight on this unprecedented situation is more urgent now than ever,” DeFusco said. “Given Mr. Aloia’s refusal to act, we feel that there are only two valid options at this point: either Mayor Bhalla must voluntarily disclose his clients and income generated from his second job, or he should resign and return to his broken campaign promise of serving as a full time Mayor.”
When the ordinance was introduced earlier this month, Bhalla challenged the irony of two city councilmembers pushing a narrative of lack of transparency while facing questions that they violated Hoboken’s campaign finance law.
“ Councilman DeFusco’s penalties add up to nearly $300,000 and Council President Ramos’ nearly $30,000. But the height of hypocrisy is that at one point Council President Ramos had three publicly funded jobs and was collecting three taxpayer funded paychecks simultaneously,” Bhall said. “Not to mention that during his trips to Trenton, he forced the taxpayers to cover the cost of substitute teachers, while he received full salary and benefits as both a teacher and an Assemblyman.”HOBOKEN 6.6.2018.legal.opinion.chapter.51.amendments