I write to express my surprise by the Hoboken Reporter’s story last week concerning Councilman Ravi Bhalla. The story related to Ravi’s decision to participate in a unanimous vote to re-appoint an attorney, Paul Condon, so he could continue representing the city in an ongoing matter. The DCA advised Ravi that because he shared liability on an office lease with Mr. Condon he should not have voted, despite the fact that Corporation Counsel had advised Ravi at the time that voting was ok. The triviality of the matter was made clear by the fact that no penalty whatsoever was imposed. The DCA waived the already trivial $100 fine because they acknowledged that the issue was a judgment call for which no guiding precedent existed.
I have been a labor lawyer for over three decades and from reading the article, this is what is clear to me: Councilman Bhalla responsibly sought the advice of the Hoboken city attorney on whether to abstain or to vote on a routine matter that was adopted 9-0. Then, four years later, an agency in Trenton decided that it disagreed with the advice provided to Councilman Bhalla by his attorney. Is Councilman Bhalla unethical for following his lawyer’s advice and voting, which is exactly what he has been elected to do in the first place? This matter is not an ethics issue. It is nothing more than a reasonable disagreement among lawyers about an inconsequential matter.
I have observed Councilman Bhalla’s performance on the City Council for the last four years. Councilman Bhalla is a class act and a voice of calm and reason. We should all be grateful for the public service he has given Hoboken over these four years. As Council President, his leadership was essential in making sure we were able to save the hospital. And he has been a part of a team on the Council, working with Mayor Zimmer, to restore fiscal responsibility and cut taxes four years in a row – another real accomplishment.
I hope people can see through these unfair attacks and focus on the issues and accomplishments that make me and other Hobokenites proud of Councilman Bhalla, Mayor Zimmer and the rest of her team.
Very truly yours,