Hoboken mayor veto’s ordinance to appoint Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board members

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Hoboken mayor veto’s ordinance to appoint Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board members

HOBOKEN – Mayor Ravi Bhalla has vetoed an ordinance by the City Council which would have allowed them to transfer appointment authority of three full Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board members and two alternates from the mayor to the City Council.
The quasi-judicial nine-member Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board is comprised of residents. It hears cases such as those of landlords who are applying for a hardship exception to the city’s long-term rent control laws, which keep rent increases to a few percent each year.
The veto came after the city’s legal department issued a memo stating that the city council’s proposed actions would violate New Jersey state statutes and the Faulkner Act. After receiving this memo, the council disputed the legal opinion and voted to approve the ordinance on second reading on March 15 with a 6-3 vote.
“First, the ordinance is unlawful for the reasons stated in the attached legal opinion from the Law Department,” Bhalla said in his March 23 veto statement. “Second, even if the City Council had lawful authority to transfer appointment authority of board members of the Rent Leveling & Stabilization Board away from this office and to the City Council, the City Council has failed to articulate a compelling public policy purpose in support of the ordinance,”
Bhalla charged that the ordinance was driven by the council’s dissatisfaction over the fact that two political allies of its leadership were not re-appointed to the board.
“While the City Council has made unconvincing attempts to couch their purpose in policy terms, it is strikingly obvious that their conduct is driven by politics, not good government.”
Both former board members Michael Lenz and Cheryll Fallick, who were supporters of Councilwoman Jen Giattino’s mayoral run, were not reappointed by Bhalla. Instead the mayor has nominated Warren Hall and Heath Urban. The council has not voted yet on whether to confirm their appointments.
Last month, Bhalla vetoed another measure by the council which would allow a referendum be placed on the November ballot enabling voters to choose whether to reinstate runoff elections. The council overrode that veto with a 7-2 vote.
The council needs a minimum of a 6-3 vote to override a mayoral veto.

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