Will you stand up to hate?

         

 

*SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES TO THIS STORY*

 

Friday night, a disgusting, racist flier calling my colleague and opponent Ravi Bhalla a “terrorist” appeared in Hoboken, and it was made to look like it came from my campaign. The flier is a crude, photoshopped copy of a previous mailer with a racist epithet added. This is gutter politics at its worst -- we’re working with the Hoboken Police Department and all relevant authorities to find out who perpetrated this smear and who is trying to paint the campaign we’ve built together as racist.

Immediately, I spoke out not just about this vile attempt to divide our city, and also against several previous instances of hate that have been displayed, from an anonymous flier calling me a “crime boss” to Super PAC campaign lies blaming me for a tax increase that happened seven years before I was in office, to hate-fueled blogs and attacks on my sexuality and my partner. This campaign has shown the worst of Hoboken, but we won’t let hate win -- stand up and vote this Tuesday for the new energy our city needs by supporting Team DeFusco.

From the start, this campaign has been about shaking up the status quo and evidently we’ve made an impact, with powerful forces aligning to take us down. But we won’t let that happen. We’re working as hard as we can through the finish line, knocking on every door and meeting every resident we can to spread our message of positive change. Please help us spread the word by sharing the video above.

Thank you, and on to victory on Tuesday.


** UPDATE as of Monday, November 6th at 1pm **

Today the Hoboken Police Department confirmed an outside actor or actors with no connection to my campaign distributed a faked, altered version of my literature with a racist epithet. This is not only an attack on my colleague but also on my own integrity and on my campaign. This was a calculated criminal act designed to sway an election. 

I urge all Hoboken residents to review this video footage and images and please contact Hoboken Police at 201-420-2131 or 201-420-2106 if you have any information about the person(s) seen here. We must all stand united against this kind of racism and interference in our democratic process, and not let fake news and misinformation change the outcome of this election.

Political stunts like this are everything that’s wrong with politics today and I’m horrified to see this happening in Hoboken.

A disgusting, racist flier was found on car windshields tonight that altered one of my campaign's mailers and added a racial epithet aimed at Ravi Bhalla. I condemn this piece of racist garbage in the strongest possible terms. Hoboken is far better than this and whoever made this flier is not only insulting one of my opponents in a despicable way, they are also painting me as a racist, which as the only openly gay elected official in Hudson County and a progressive Democrat simply could not be further from the truth.

I called Councilman Bhalla tonight to assure him that although we disagree on many issues, we can stand united against this kind of racism infecting our city. I’ve also submitted a copy of this flier to the Hoboken Police Department and will be sending it to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office to demand an investigation to determine who is intentionally misrepresenting my campaign. This injustice will not stand and we will do everything possible to get to the bottom of it.

Political stunts like this are everything that’s wrong with politics today and I’m horrified to see this happening in Hoboken.

SHADOWY SUPER PAC SUPPORTING RAVI BHALA

 

SHADOWY SUPER PAC SUPPORTING RAVI BHALLA

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A Super PAC that's backing Ravi Bhalla is trying to buy this election with a last-minute advertising blitz, spending over $50,000 to mislead Hoboken voters. This kind of interference from outside political interests is unprecedented in Hoboken elections and it is a clear sign that Bhalla is controlled by the special interests who are funding this shady campaign. This is especially troubling given the conflict of interest that was recently exposed related to Bhalla's vote on the NJ Transit Hoboken Yards redevelopment, because the law firm where he is a partner was paid $168,000 by NJ Transit in the same year that he voted in favor of the project.

The group funding these ads says on its own website: "ELEC works with developers to help win project approvals" and cites the very same Hoboken Yards project as a major win in its lobbying efforts.

A copy of the Stronger Foundations official campaign finance report now shows $50,000 spent on the Hoboken election.

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Anyone who is concerned about over-development in Hoboken should take Ravi Bhalla's connection to this pro-development Super PAC extremely seriously and he needs to answer for this blatant attempt by outside political interests to take control of our city. Residential development has continued unchecked in the last eight years under Dawn Zimmer and Ravi Bhalla, with little to no community benefits or givebacks, more stress on our crumbling infrastructure and a lack of commercial development. With Ravi Bhalla as Mayor, this unbalanced development approach will no doubt continue. 

Read more about Ravi Bhalla's conflicts of interest and why he's the wrong choice for Hoboken. 

MIKE DEFUSCO WILL STOP RESIDENTIAL OVERDEVELOPMENT

Mike DeFusco believes in taking a smart, holistic approach to development that emphasizes attracting new businesses by modernizing outdated zoning laws and creating responsible public-private partnerships to build new schools and make major investments in the city. He has called for a dedicated infrastructure fund that would be mandatory on all new developments to make sure that needed improvements are not made solely on the backs of residents. 

Hoboken can't let outside political interests take over our city -- stand up to the special interests and vote Team DeFusco on November 7. 

 

 


 

Still undecided about the Hoboken mayoral race?

Election Day is next week - Tuesday, November 7th. If you are still undecided, here is more information about the race via Hudson Reporter:

Mike DeFusco for Mayor

First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco grew up in Marlboro, N.J. He moved to Hoboken the day after graduating from the George Washington University and started his career as a marketing professional in New York City. 

“I have spent the majority of my life post-college here in Hoboken, and that’s typical of a lot of people here,” said DeFusco. “I’ve come to love it here. As a guy born and raised in New Jersey, I had always heard of Hoboken as a fantastic city, a place where residents and culture thrive. Everyone growing up wanted to move to Hoboken.”

Now he is a homeowner and full-time marketing executive for a fortune 500 media broadcast company in New York City, where he oversees a multimillion dollar budget, employees, and projects. He said he will leave the job if he becomes mayor.

“I am the only candidate running who works in a field unrelated to state or Hoboken politics,” he added. 

DeFusco said he first got involved in politics by volunteering for the Obama campaign in 2007. 

“When Obama decided to come to Hoboken, I went to his rally and I was moved by the positive changes he wanted to make,” said DeFusco who then worked on his primary campaign. 

He then got a seat on the Zoning Board in 2011, where he served for five years, before he ran for City Council in 2015, beating mainstay Theresa Castellano. 

“Despite everyone telling me I wasn’t going to win, sure enough I beat a longtime incumbent by 14 percent,” said DeFusco. 

He said his biggest accomplishments are work he did on the Zoning Board and City Council. He cited approving the building where Trader Joe’s is located, working to include affordable housing in new buildings, and the fight to improve traffic in southwest Hoboken. He also mentioned obtaining a commitment from the train terminal operators for an outdoor French market. 

DeFusco was the only political official to announce his candidacy for mayor against Mayor Dawn Zimmer earlier this year, before she announced in June that she was not going to seek another term. He also had stood up to her on certain matters, such as zoning, whereas his opponents – Jennifer Giattino and Ravi Bhalla – rarely if ever publicly opposed her until this campaign. Giattino and Bhalla have both been on the council for more than one term.

“After working with the mayor, after disagreeing with the mayor, after having successes with the mayor, and after being frustrated with the mayor, I had an opportunity to decide again if I wanted to run for office,” he said. “And I decided to run against Dawn because I feel I can do a better job.” 

DeFusco said his main issue is transparency. 

“I don’t think we have had an administration that’s been transparent,” said DeFusco, citing the 8.5 million debt with the city’s water provider, the city budget funded by “unbridled haphazard residential development,” and the acquisition of park land using eminent domain which took the city 10 years to build. 

He said one of his biggest frustrations is that “we had a master plan reexam in 2010 and during that time no one codified the recommendations the plan made.” 

He said the masterplan is the “roadmap” that will help guide development and redevelopment zones instead of “zoning by variance.” 

He said if elected he will turn the recommendations into law and that he will work with the Planning Board and City Council to update the city’s outdated zoning.

As for development, he said he would like to see a mix of residential and commercial space including tech incubators, urban wineries, co-working spaces, and mom-and-pop shops. 

He said eminent domain is a last resort used for a greater public good but only after honest upfront negotiations have taken place with property owners. 

He said rent control not only helps senior citizens or those who have been in town for 30 years but journalists, artist, musicians, and teachers. 

Some residents have criticized DeFusco for running a negative campaign. He has pointed out problems with almost every other candidate.

“If the facts sound or seem negative, perhaps it because they actually are negative,” He said “When ever we state a fact, it is sourced with where we found it including news sources or council documents.” 

DeFusco is the most highly funded candidate, collecting more than $300,000 in donations this year. This has led some residents to wonder if he will be beholden to some of his contributors if elected mayor. Residents have also said that he may be supported by the Hudson County Democratic political machine. For instance, his hired campaign spokesman is also the spokesman for North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, a leader of the countywide party.

“Independence to me is the heart and soul of why I ran in the first place,” said DeFusco. “Nobody asked me to run in the 1st Ward. Nobody put me up to run against Mayor Zimmer for the mayor’s office. I did this because I independently knew that my vision, my heart, and my integrity were going to serve the city well.” 

“I’m honored to have the support of many in the building trades,” he said, “however they aren’t developers, they aren’t land owners. There are actually benefits in the long run in terms of our ability to find support in Trenton to find support in finding money in Washington. Having the support of trade unions is a good thing for leadership because we can work together with them to make sure we can find additional funding for resiliency or our water main infrastructure or our failing sewerage line.”

He added, “So in regards to independence, it’s a common political tactic that my opponents have used successfully in other races, but it’s not holding. It’s not sticking against me because I think people are smart enough to know that.”

Corner Stores Can Fill Potholes. It All Works Together.

Mike DeFusco for Mayor

Throughout this campaign, we’ve presented a lot of big ideas — modernized parking garages with real-time availability of spots, a seasonal dome over the field at 1600 Park and a European-style market at the train terminal, just to name a few. These are certainly exciting ideas but the question I hear a lot is “how are you going to pay for it — raise taxes?” Absolutely not. We’re going to stabilize taxes by creating new revenue sources for the city that aren’t on the backs of residential taxpayers, and without negative streams like the $6.5 million we generate from parking tickets.

A POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST THAT COULD COST HOBOKEN TAXPAYERS MILLIONS

This summer, it was revealed that Hoboken has racked up a previously unreported, completely unbudgeted debt of $8.3 million to Suez Water, our city's water provider, that has increased unchecked for the last two years. Residents are outraged and I’ve called for an independent DCA investigation to find out how this debt could have accumulated without public knowledge.

Only one major political figure in Hoboken was silent when this issue was brought to light -- Councilman Ravi Bhalla. The reason why is important to understanding why he’s not the right choice for Mayor.

Ravi Bhalla is a partner at one of New Jersey’s most politically-connected law firms, a firm that has $3.8 million in government contracts. He can’t speak out about the Suez debt, because Suez is one of his law firm’s clients. Suez Water paid Bhalla’s law firm $240,0000 in lobbying fees over the last two years, at a time when the city was negotiating the new contract. You can see the payments right here on official lobbying expense disclosure documents filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission:

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Bhalla was forced to recuse himself from all votes and discussions on the water contract because of the potential for a major conflict of interest, but that doesn’t answer all the questions on this issue. The Zimmer administration began renegotiating the Suez contract two years ago, before Bhalla’s potential conflict was exposed. Mayor Zimmer has described Bhalla as “my partner from the beginning” in a recent letter she sent to voters endorsing him. Does that mean that Bhalla had a role in negotiating with Suez, even though he had the potential for a major conflict?

ANOTHER POTENTIAL CONFLICT

In 2014, the Hoboken City Council voted to approve a redevelopment plan for the NJ Transit Hoboken Yards property. Ravi Bhalla voted in favor of the plan, but during the same year the vote was cast the law firm where Bhalla is a partner was paid $168,630 by NJ Transit. This created a potential conflict of interest and possibly a serious violation of state ethics law. Bhalla’s law firm, which had $3.8 million in government contracts last year, continues to work for NJ Transit to this day according to its website.

Bhalla’s vote on the NJ Transit redevelopment plan appears to be a violation of the law given that his law firm has a long term business relationship with NJ Transit, billing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for personal injury defense work. Bhalla did not disclose any potential conflict prior to the vote and chose not to recuse himself.

New Jersey’s Local Government Ethics Law states:

No local government officer or employee shall act in his official capacity in any matter where he, a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in  which he has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment;

I believe that Hoboken needs a new perspective so we can solve our longstanding problems and create a better future. That's why I ran for First Ward Council and defeated a 21-year incumbent, because I think we should always challenge the status quo. I’m not a part of the political establishment and as a private sector media professional at a Fortune 500 company I have no ethical conflicts. I’ll work to reduce flooding in our neighborhoods by fixing our failing infrastructure, and I’ll also prioritize renegotiating the Suez debt to protect our taxpayers and our city. The same can’t be said of Ravi Bhalla.

Check the Facts

Hoboken’s Future Will Be Decided This November. Before you Vote, Check the Facts. 

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Over the last few months, we’ve been talking about big ideas for Hoboken’s future together, as well as the necessary changes we can make right now to make our city work better. But now Election Day is almost here, and I think it’s time to take a look not just at what I’m proposing, but who I’m running against in this race.

All of my opponents have positive attributes, and this isn’t about personal attacks. But I think you deserve to know more about their backgrounds, because we can’t solve the problems in our city with the politicians who have helped cause many of them. This is why I think it’s important to check the facts about the candidates for Mayor.

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Councilman Ravi Bhalla is a partner at one of the most politically connected law firms in the state, with over $3.8 million in government contracts last year. Although he initially denied a conflict, he was forced to recuse himself from voting on the city’s water contract when it was revealed that Suez had paid his firm $240,000 in lobbying fees over the last two years. He’s also been subject to two lawsuits for violating residents’ first amendment rights at city council meetings, one ongoing and one that the City settled at taxpayer expense.


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Freeholder Anthony Romano is running for two offices at the same time, both Mayor and Freeholder. He’s a career politician who lives in subsidized housing, occupying an apartment that could be used by a family who needs it, even though he collects two government paychecks (a pension and Freeholder salary) worth over $160,000 per year and has substantial real estate investments in Hoboken. Romano has been a Hudson County Freeholder for over nine years, and during that time Hoboken’s county tax burden has increased by 86% to over $70 million.


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As City Council President, Jennifer Giattino presided over city government during a time when we racked up an unreported, unbudgeted $8.3 million debt to our water provider. She also sponsored an ill-conceived flood ordinance which is now causing the destruction of historic brownstones, placing huge financial burdens on homeowners and displacing long-time residents from affordable garden level apartments. (Ordinance Z-263 2nd reading 11-6-2013 sponsored by Giattino, seconded by Mello). Now, she’s pointing fingers and asking for an explanation for something that happened on her watch.


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I’m the only candidate for Mayor with no personal business interests in Hoboken and nothing politically to gain. As a private sector media executive in Manhattan, I’m not part of the political establishment. I ran for City Council because I saw that the longtime incumbent representing my neighborhood wasn’t getting the job done. I knew I could deliver more to my neighbors, and I’ve done that by reducing traffic congestion in the Southwest, improving pedestrian safety on Newark Street and securing a commitment from the operator of Hoboken Train Terminal to open an outdoor French market next year.

Now, I'm running for Mayor to be a problem solver for all of Hoboken, to make our city work for everyone -- I hope you'll help get us there on November 7.

Councilman Ruben Ramos Endorses Mike DeFusco for Mayor

Councilman Ruben Ramos Endorses Mike DeFusco for Mayor

Fourth Ward Councilman and former State Assemblyman Ruben Ramos is endorsing Mike DeFusco for Mayor along with the Team DeFusco Council slate in the November 7th city election. Ramos was elected decisively in 2015 and has partnered with DeFusco on numerous issues on the city council, from improving traffic conditions in the Southwest to pushing for better pedestrian safety on Newark Street and more.

“Mike DeFusco is the only candidate running for Mayor who truly understands what makes Hoboken so special -- the people who live here,” said Councilman Ramos. “Mike is a valued colleague of mine on the City Council and a tireless advocate for his constituents. As Mayor, I know he will fight hard for everyone. I'm proud to support Mike DeFusco and his entire team.”

DeFusco is running for Mayor along with Council candidates Michael Flett, Andrew Impastato and Vanessa Falco.

“I’m honored to be endorsed by Councilman Ramos, someone I consider not just a colleague but a true friend who shares my vision for a more progressive and inclusive future for our city,” said DeFusco. “Our campaign isn’t about old Hoboken or new Hoboken, but about bridging the political divides that have held our community back for far too long. I look forward to working hard to earn every vote in this election and I thank Ruben Ramos for his strong support for our campaign.”

$8.35 Million

Hard truths are never easy to accept, especially when they come with long term consequences. When we began this campaign together four months ago, we talked about the need for change and for new energy and ideas in City Hall. Now, we’ve learned that Hoboken has rung up a debt of over $8 million to Suez Water that seems to come as a surprise to the very people who were in a position to do something about it. Need for change has never been more urgent.

Some time in 2014, for reasons we are not yet aware of, Mayor Zimmer’s administration stopped paying Suez for repair work the company had done on our city’s aging water infrastructure. These repairs cost the city millions of dollars each year, yet somehow these figures were never included in the city’s municipal budgets or annual audits. Now, with the administration pushing for a new contract with Suez seven years before the current deal expires, the truth about this $8.35 million liability is coming to light.

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We don’t know what the ultimate impact will be yet, but if the city has to pay these bills in one year it would cause a 15% tax increase, which would hurt every homeowner and renter in Hoboken. I will do everything I can to help us avoid this outcome.

This all happened at a time when two of my opponents in the race for Mayor, Ravi Bhalla and Jen Giattino, served as Council President and had seats on the Council Infrastructure Committee. Now they are pointing fingers, but the truth is that they have been Mayor Zimmer’s closest allies on the Council and have always been in a position to do something about this unbudgeted liability. Councilman Bhalla has since had to recuse himself from any of these discussions due to a potential conflict of interest stemming from his law firm’s business relationship with Suez.

Yesterday, I sent a letter to the State Department of Community Affairs requesting an official investigation into these issues to find out the extent of the damage done to our finances. Only an independent analysis will reveal how deep a hole we’re in and the costs that could be eventually passed on to taxpayers before it gets any worse.  

I'm running for mayor to bring new energy and new ideas to City Hall, but now it’s clear that we also need a fresh injection of transparency and sound fiscal judgement. As your mayor, I will work tirelessly to resolve any outstanding liability in an open and transparent manner while modernizing our aging infrastructure. Only an honest discussion will allow us to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

Now is the time for new leadership and a new direction for our city. I hope you will join me in making that a reality.

DEFUSCO CALLS FOR DCA INVESTIGATION INTO CITY’S UNBUDGETED $8.35 MILLION SUEZ LIABILITY, POTENTIAL FOR MASSIVE TAX INCREASE TO PAY OFF DEBT

Mayoral candidate and Councilman Mike DeFusco is calling for an independent investigation into the recent revelations that the City of Hoboken is carrying an $8.35 million liability to Suez Water for infrastructure repairs over the past three years, a sum that was not accounted for in any recent city budget, or listed on the city’s audit.  Speaking about the liability at last night's City Council meeting, the city's auditor claimed he just became aware of the sum “yesterday” while the City's Business Administrator, Steven Marks, first was alerted of the presence of the liability “a year ago” but claimed to have not realized the extent of the debt until “a few months ago.” The liability came to light due to the administration's push for a new long term contract with Suez, seven years before the current agreement is set to expire, and the questions raised by DeFusco and other members of the City Council.

“This unbudgeted, previously unknown liability is a shocking display of either incompetence or obfuscation by the Zimmer administration and its Council allies Ravi Bhalla, who is a member of the Subcommittee on Infrastructure and Council President Jen Giattino, who is also a member of that committee,” said DeFusco.  “It's difficult to believe that a publicly traded company would allow a liability to get so large over many years and not say anything to the debtor. This could amount to a 15% tax increase to pay off this unfunded liability, which would be a harmful outcome for our city.”

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DeFusco has sent a letter (attached) to the State Department of Community Affairs, which oversees local governments, outlining the situation and requesting an official investigation.

At a previous meeting Councilman DeFusco revealed that Councilman Ravi Bhalla had a potential conflict of interest due to his work as a partner for a law firm that Bhalla has now admitted counts Suez as a client. The firm’s business dealings with Suez date back at least to 2014, which was the year Hoboken began negotiating the proposed new contract. Ravi Bhalla has since recused himself from Suez related discussions and votes.  

“As further details come to light, it is becoming more and more clear that the root of this mess was Mayor Zimmer’s intent to try and take this debt off the books through a hasty and ill-planned restructuring of the city’s contract with Suez so she could claim a tax cut for residents going into an election year,” said DeFusco. “It’s not yet clear exactly when Mayor Zimmer became aware of this mounting debt, but her decision, and the willingness of her Council allies, to try to sweep it under the rug rather than publicly acknowledge and address the problem flies in the face of open and responsible government. We need a full and impartial investigation into this matter to determine the extent of the damage that has been caused and the costs that will be eventually passed onto taxpayers thanks to the Zimmer administration's actions.”

Romano Simultaneously Running for Two Offices is Legally Questionable, Unethical, Unfair to Hoboken Residents

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Anthony Romano’s decision to simultaneously run for re-election as Freeholder and for Mayor of Hoboken is potentially against state election law and should not be allowed, said mayoral candidate Mike DeFusco, pointing to state statute that does not allow candidates to seek offices that the state constitution would not allow them to hold.  DeFusco is confident that the Hudson County Clerk’s Office will advise Romano that he cannot run for both positions on the November ballot. Romano filed petitions with the city clerk today.

“Although I welcome all candidates to the race, the simple fact is that Freeholder Romano can't simultaneously serve as Freeholder and Mayor, and thus is prohibited from running for both at the same time according to state statute” said DeFusco. “Compelling legal questions aside, this decision sends a terrible message to voters by reinforcing old stereotypes about politicians cracking back room deals and thinking the rules don’t apply to them. I’m running for Mayor with no conflicts and nothing to personally gain, because I believe our city needs new ideas and new energy. The same can’t be said of my opponents, including Anthony Romano.”

DeFusco first voiced his objections to Romano’s candidacy last week after a letter filed on behalf of a concerned citizen challenging the legality of the decision  was recently made public. The letter outlines specific sections of state law that Romano’s dual candidacy would violate, most notably NJ Revised Statute 19:3-5.1 which states that no candidate may appear twice on a ballot for offices which the state constitution would prohibit “the simultaneous holding” thereof. In addition, the letter lays out the possibility that the Freeholder seat could remain vacant for up to a year if Romano wins both elections.

In addition to the legal issues related directly to his potential candidacy, DeFusco is highlighting the clear possibility that Romano has intermingled funds from his Freeholder and Mayoral campaigns. Romano is using the same headquarters for both campaigns and much of the same campaign staff. His campaign did not file an official D-1 form with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission until late July, over a month after Romano mayoral materials were seen around Hoboken. All of this points strongly to a mixing of funds, an action that would violate election law, however given Romano’s history of failing to file campaign finance reports in the past, it is impossible to determine conclusively.

During his current term in office, Romano failed to file required ELEC reports for more than 31 consecutive months, with at least $31,300 of activity hidden during that time. Perhaps most troublingly, Romano has refused to file his 20 day post-primary ELEC report for this year and is refusing to file any mayoral ELEC report until October, denying voters the chance to see who is funding either of his simultaneous campaigns.

“Hoboken voters deserve to know who is funding all of the campaigns seeking their support, and candidates who hide behind loopholes or just ignore the law to shield their donors from public scrutiny are not promoting open government and transparency,” said DeFusco. “Anthony Romano has habitually failed to file mandatory campaign finance reports, leaving Hoboken completely in the dark about who is financing his campaign. This is unacceptable and yet another reason why his dual candidacy is problematic.”

DeFusco Responds to Legal, Ethical Concerns about Romano Running for Two Offices on Same Ballot

After a letter filed on behalf of a concerned citizen was made public this week regarding the legality of Freeholder Anthony Romano running for both Freeholder and Mayor in this November’s election, Councilman and mayoral candidate Michael DeFusco is responding to the legal and ethical concerns raised by the situation. The DeFusco campaign obtained a copy of the letter by filing an Open Public Records Act request with the Hudson County Clerk’s Office, and a copy is attached.

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Currently, Freeholder Romano is set to appear on the ballot for Freeholder by virtue of winning the primary election.  He has also announced that he intends to run for Mayor at the same time. This action may be a violation of state election law, and is certainly a disservice to Hoboken residents who deserve elected leaders who put the community first, as well as appropriate representation at all levels of government.

“Compelling legal questions aside, what Freeholder Romano is apparently planning on doing is exactly why so many people are disillusioned with politics -- because he’s putting his own interests ahead of our community’s,” said DeFusco. “I’m running for Mayor because I believe that Hoboken needs new energy, new ideas and a new leader who will be focused only on giving back to our city and helping it reach its potential, not on taking from it.”

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Read the full letter obtained through OPRA request from the County

The letter outlines specific sections of state law that Romano’s dual candidacy would violate, most notably NJ Revised Statute 19:3-5.1 which states that no candidate may appear twice on a ballot for offices that which the state constitution would prohibit “the simultaneous holding” thereof. In addition, the letter lays out the possibility that the Freeholder seat could remain vacant for up to a year if Romano wins both elections.

“The possibility that Hoboken’s representative on the Freeholder Board could remain vacant for up to a year until a special election, or that our seat could be appointed by politicians, not elected by the voters, is a chance that we simply can not take,” said DeFusco.  “Hoboken needs more representation, not less, and with so many pressing issues affecting our community at both the local and county level, it is shocking that Freeholder Romano would ask Hoboken residents to accept that outcome.”

Washington Street Construction -- A Haphazard and Dangerous Mess

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For the past few weeks my phone has been ringing off the hook about the construction on Washington Street and how haphazard and dangerous the process has become. We were promised an organized rollout, but the Zimmer administration’s handling of this vital project has raised concern throughout the community. Take a look at some of these disturbing photos taken recently on Washington Street.

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We can’t live like this for the next year, which is how long it will take at the current pace.  Businesses are suffering, quality of life is being disrupted, and alarming changes are being made that will permanently alter the face of Washington Street. We have recently learned that 22 mature trees along the sidewalk are slated to be cut down, and last week we witnessed the destruction of a historic bluestone sidewalk in front of City Hall, forever altering our city’s unique character.

In response I have requested an emergency Council Meeting to discuss these concerns and look for a solution that will repair Washington Street without harming our city’s historic features or our environment. I’ve submitted an official request to Council President Jennifer Giattino asking that the meeting be scheduled immediately given the urgent nature of the subject, and that it be open to public comment about the construction. The residents of Hoboken deserve an opportunity to voice their concerns and frustrations with this bungled project.

Vanessa Falco joins defusco's council slate

I'm thrilled to welcome Vanessa Falco as the final member of our team. As the mother of two public school students, I know Vanessa will represent our young families and push for expanded municipal activities, like summer camp and a broader range of cultural, tech and athletic programs for our children to supplement our school system.

-Mike DeFusco

DeFusco calls for full disclosure of Bhalla law firm's business relationship with Suez Water

Councilman and Mayoral candidate Mike DeFusco is calling for a full public disclosure of Councilman and fellow candidate Ravi Bhalla's business dealings with Suez Water, the city's water provider, with whom the Zimmer Administration has negotiated a new contract proposal that will have a major impact on residents for decades to come. Bhalla is a partner at the law firm of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader, which has received payments of at least $130,000 in lobbying fees from Suez as recently as 2015 according to publicly available records (Source: NJ Law Journal). Despite this publicly documented information, Bhalla denied at an August 2nd, 2017 City Council meeting that the firm has continued business dealings with Suez, and further claimed that the firm only negotiated the original agreement between the City and Suez in the 1990s. 

Suez is listed as a client on the FPSF website as of the time of this release. This raises serious questions as to whether Bhalla is attempting to conceal his law firm's dealings with Suez at a time when the City of Hoboken is actively negotiating with the company. 

 

Mike DeFusco is calling on Ravi Bhalla to disclose the full nature of his law firm's relationship with Suez, including how much the company paid Bhalla's firm in legal fees and lobbying fees since he has been a partner. Additionally, DeFusco is calling for Bhalla to recuse himself from all negotiations and any votes related to Suez as long as this conflict exists, and for an investigation into whether Bhalla was present or involved in the city's previous negotiations with Suez. 

"Councilman Bhalla's failure to disclose that Suez Water was a client of his law firm while the City was negotiating with them on a decades-long agreement worth tens of millions of taxpayer dollars is the antithesis of transparent government. Ravi was asked directly at the 8/2/17 Council meeting whether his firm still represents Suez and he said "no", but the truth is, his firm received $130,000 in lobbying fees from the water provider as recently as 2015. Negotiations between Hoboken and Suez started in 2014, so we need to know the full extent of Ravi's business relationship with Suez and determine whether or not he was involved in the city's negotiations given this apparent conflict of interest. It's about time he decides if he wants to represent the taxpayers or his own private business interests." 

Bhalla's law firm is one of the most prolific public contractors in the state, with $3.8 million in government contracts in 2016.  Bhalla has faced numerous ethics complaints during his time on the Hoboken City Council, including failing to disclose mandatory public information on government contracts, and a case under active review by the Local Finance Board regarding his vote for a city contract for an attorney with whom he personally held shared business interests.

 

MIKE DeFUSCO’S PLAN FOR A BETTER HOBOKEN

GET BACK TO BASICS:

Reallocate city resources to fix potholes, repave streets and keep our sidewalks clean.

INVEST IN OUR QUALITY OF LIFE:

Create a quality of life department, a joint operation between environmental services and the Hoboken PD, to respond to noise violations, vagrancy, panhandling, dog waste and other daily nuisances.

STAND UP FOR TAXPAYERS:

Keep residential taxes stable while expanding the commercial tax base by encouraging innovative uses like urban wineries, coffee roasters, co-working spaces and culinary incubators.

THINK BIG ON EDUCATION:

Plan a new public high school complex north of 14th Street so that families can stay in Hoboken.

UNSNARL TRAFFIC:

Return Observer Highway to four lanes of traffic, with three lanes out during the morning rush and three lanes inbound in the afternoon. Address traffic caused in and around Paterson Plank Road by the Light Rail, a promise made by the current administration a decade ago.

ELIMINATE BACK DOOR PARKING TAXES:

Stop quota-driven parking tickets used to plug deficiencies in the city budget. Focus on safety and traffic flow, instead of interfering with people going about their day-to-day lives. Invest all revenue from valid parking violations directly into improving parking and transportation.

GET WASHINGTON STREET BACK ON THE MAP:

Cut the prohibitive costs and red tape that are chasing businesses out of Hoboken. Encourage an even more vibrant restaurant scene and help mom and pop shops, makers and creative enterprises thrive.

KEEP POLITICS OUT OF PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTS:

Slash the current administration’s reliance on politically connected contracts, producing better services while eliminating cost overruns.

STAY GREEN:

Continue the push towards a more resilient and green future by developing responsible public-private partnerships to build out park space and protect against flooding. Take a neighborhood approach to planning to ensure Hoboken stays charming and unique.

PRESERVE THE PAST:

Stop the demolition of historic brownstones by expanding the historic district and fight against residential displacement caused by the current administration’s overbearing flood ordinance on streets that rarely flood, like Bloomfield, Garden, and Park.

IMAGINE THE FUTURE:

Advance plans to encourage a regional tech hub developed in conjunction with Stevens Institute of Technology, adaptively repurpose parts of the train terminal into a world-class European market and rebuild the crumbling multi-service center.

DEFUSCO FILES PETITIONS TO RUN FOR HOBOKEN MAYOR

Today councilman and mayoral candidate Mike DeFusco filed petitions to officially place his name on the ballot for the November 7th election.

"This is an important day not just for our campaign, but also for Hoboken.  Election Day is 100 days from today and that's when we'll have the opportunity to bring new ideas and new energy to City Hall," DeFusco stated.  "I'm humbled and proud to have submitted 564 signed nominating petitions for Mayor today, showing the tremendous support our campaign has received so far from throughout our city. We will be continuing to collect petitions up to the deadline in September, each one a personal conversation about the future of Hoboken.  It's time for new leadership and a progressive agenda that will allow Hoboken to thrive, and based on the response I've seen from Hoboken voters so far, I'm confident we'll make it happen."

DEFUSCO STATEMENT ON GIATTINO COUNCIL SLATE

Councilman and mayoral candidate Mike DeFusco released the following statement on Councilwoman Jen Giattino’s announcement of her Council ticket:

“Councilwoman Giattino says she wants to take a ‘fresh look’ at our local government, but her selection of Zoning Board Chair Jim Aibel as a running mate shows that she’s truly interested in the same status quo approach that has led to a stagnant business atmosphere and lack of investment in our community under the current administration. Jim Aibel has consistently voted no on land use projects that would bring needed community amenities to Hoboken. He voted against a project that will soon house a Gravity Vault rock climbing gym and West Elm retail showroom on 15th Street, against 600 Harrison Street which is adding units  to our affordable housing inventory, and against a building that now houses Elysian Charter School. Aibel’s vote against a building that would have provided free space for the non-profit Big Brothers and Big Sisters helped stop this project from moving forward, denying our community a needed addition. I first ran for Council because these kind of shortsighted planning decisions have been slowing our city’s progress and preventing our community from reaching its full potential, and now I’m running for Mayor for the same reason -- to bring new energy and new ideas to Hoboken, not the same tired, status quo approach.”

 

Jim Aibel Zoning Board Votes Cited:
Gravity Vault / West Elm = 1420 Willow -- December 22, 2015
Elysian Charter School = 1415 Park -- August 21, 2012
Big Brother Big Sisters = 1417 Adams -- May 16, 2017
Affordable Housing = 600 Harrison -- May 5, 2015

DeFusco Calls for Full Compliance with Election Laws

Councilman Mike DeFusco, a candidate for Hoboken Mayor, is calling on his fellow candidates to publicly release their donors and expenditures before the September 5th filing deadline in order to exercise transparency and provide voters with the information they deserve. DeFusco is also calling on all candidates to comply with New Jersey State Election Law by filing the required Candidate Certificate of Organization (D-1 Form), which is required to be filed by anyone running for office or exploring a run for office who has spent more than $500 on his or her campaign. Any campaign spending above that threshold by a candidate who has not filed a D-1 Form is illegal. Potential candidates Councilwoman Jen Giattino and Freeholder Anthony Romano have both failed to file a D-1 Form with the state and have publicly stated that they will not release any campaign finance information until October, less than a month before Election Day. 

"Hoboken voters deserve to know who is funding each of the campaigns for mayor, which is why I am proud to have released our full list of donors showing a broad coalition of residents, business leaders, labor unions and more," said DeFusco. "It is disheartening to see some candidates refusing to comply with the spirit of transparency by hiding their donors and expenses from the voters, and even more troubling to see candidates raising and spending money without even filing their official Certificate of Organization with the state, a violation of election law. I am calling on all candidates to voluntarily release their donors and comply with all applicable election law, because Hoboken voters deserve transparency as they make this crucial decision for our city's future."

Romano's apparent failure to file the D-1 form is particularly troubling given that he is considering running for both Freeholder and Mayor at the same time, raising questions about whether funds donated to his Freeholder campaign are being used for his mayoral campaign, which would constitute an ELEC violation. Currently, Romano's most recent filing for his Freeholder campaign shows a balance of negative ($3,407.81), along with an outstanding personal loan from Romano to his campaign of $113,900. 

"Hoboken has seen candidates for office skirting transparency and pay-to-play laws in the past and now is not the time to return to this kind of irresponsible practice," said DeFusco. "Every candidate for mayor should be eager to meet these important requirements and to give the residents of our city the transparency they need, and I see no reason why any of us should not be willing to hold ourselves to a higher standard." 

DEFUSCO STATEMENT ON PROPOSED SUEZ CONTRACT

Councilman Mike DeFusco, a candidate for Hoboken Mayor, released the following statement regarding the proposed contract between the city and Suez Water announced today by Mayor Zimmer:

"Mayor Zimmer has had nine years in office to reach this agreement and announcing it now shortly before an election to succeed her as Mayor is troubling, especially given that if approved this contact would be in effect for decades. The proposed agreement deserves serious scrutiny from both the Council and the community to ensure that it's the best possible deal for the city. It's particularly concerning that the contract would include an annual rate increase of at least 2%, which would amount to yet another hidden tax on Hoboken residents that many will struggle to afford."