When politics conflicts with good government it is important to speak out. And when it affects my ability to represent you on an important issue, it is time for me to speak out.
Last Friday, our Mayor used a recent city council vote as his reason to exclude me from speaking at the Union Dry Dock / NYWW “Protect the Waterfront” Rally on Friday evening. When I asked to speak at the rally, I was initially told by his Chief of Staff that the schedule had been set and that the Mayor was “not inclined to make any changes.” But when I spoke to Mayor Bhalla directly about speaking, he instead told me the reason he would not support me speaking at the event was because I voted against paying a recurring, biweekly stipend for his two, salaried Chief of Staff’s at the last council meeting.
As I said to him during our conversation, since January, members of the City Council have repeatedly requested clarification and transparency concerning both the expansion of his staff and his 2nd job as “Of Counsel” with the politically connected law firm Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen, P.C. Specific concerns raised have included the increased costs and need for the expansion of his staff and the potential for conflicts of interests that his new 2nd job raises with his role as Mayor of Hoboken. To date, his few responses have been vague and incomplete, including the one given when asked about the recurring stipend. With no exception, both the expansion of the Mayor’s office staff combined with his 2nd job are of concern to every Hoboken resident with whom I have spoken. I will continue to push to make sure we understand and address the full impact these have on our community.
As a founding member of Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront since 2011, I have been advocating to protect our waterfront for years. Regarding the former Union Dry Dock site, I have been fighting for that land to be public since I was elected in 2015 alongside council members Giattino and Cunningham, and often then councilman Bhalla. I have continued fighting for this, working closely with my neighbors and constituents, councilmembers, Fund for a Better Waterfront, and the Mayor for the past several months. Had I spoken at the rally on Friday evening, my additional message would have been:
“Where it starts, is not where it ends. With significant planned and hoped-for ferry expansions throughout the Hudson River waterways, the potential growth of NYWW’s fleet is uncapped. And if NYWW are allowed to keep their operations at the former UDD site, the future impact to Hoboken will be even greater than what is current being discussed. This is why it is imperative that we continue to reach out to our elected officials, to Governor Murphy in particular, and advocate for Hoboken today. And that we also help NYWW find a better site to accommodate its future plans.”
If holding to good government principle sees me at conflict with the Mayor then so be it. I remain committed to working with and supporting the Mayor and my council colleagues on all good governance and issues important to Hoboken. And as importantly, to engaging with, informing, and advocating for you.
As always, please feel free to email me or call me at 201/208-1674 if you have any questions of comments or want to discuss this.