Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla vetoed a council ordinance on Friday, Dec. 28, which would have limited the personnel in his office.
The ordinance, passed by the city council during the Dec. 19 council meeting, would have limited the mayor to two non-civil service or “unclassified” employees in his office once one of the current three leaves his position.
The mayor’s office currently has Chief of Staff John Allen, Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Freeman, and communications manager Vijay Chaudhuri.
According to the now-vetoed ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Michael DeFusco who ran against Bhalla in the 2017 mayoral election, the states Civil Service Act “specifically limits the Office of the Mayor to TWO Unclassified Service positions.”
According to the mayor’s veto statement Bhalla decided to veto the measure because the ordinance “attempts to weaken the office of the mayor” and is unlawful according to the opinion of Corporation Counsel.
“Each of the council members who voted to adopt this ordinance were placed on notice by the Law Department that the ordinance they were attempting to adopt was unlawful,” the mayor states. “This advice was apparently ignored. The City Council Members took an oath of office to be lawmakers, not lawbreakers. I refuse to participate or be complicit in unlawful activity and therefore VETO this ordinance.”
Bhalla also says that the ordinance attacks the hardworking members of the administration who “are true public servants who put Hoboken first and do not deserve to be attacked by vindictive City Council Members.”
“Instead of wasting time trying to settle political scores, I once again, as I did one year ago, invite the City Council to join me in working collaboratively on initiatives and policies that benefit the residents we have been sworn to serve,” Bhalla said.
The Hoboken City Council could choose to override the veto during its next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. The override would require six out of nine votes to pass.