Hoboken Flashpoint: Zimmer Gets into Hot Water with Giattino Over SUEZ Contract

It finally happened.

Denied an endorsement by her old ally, Hoboken Council President Jen Giattino this evening lowered a meat cleaver on her relationship with the Councilman Ravi Bhalla-loving Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Bhalla and Giattino have been warring over the scraps of Zimmer’s empire, each attempting to shoulder that portion of the city otherwise known as the reformers. Giattino made the point tonight that she will no longer play footsy with the mayor, who shocked the council president when she suddenly announced her decision not to pursue reelection, then snubbed Giattino by backing Bhalla.

“For the past several weeks I have been reviewing in subcommittee Mayor Zimmer’s proposal to extend the Suez Water contract with the City of Hoboken,” Giattino said. My fellow finance subcommittee colleagues, Councilmembers Cunningham and Fisher, and I had raised a number of concerns to the Administration – in particular the approximate $8.35 million liability that had not been previously disclosed to the public. In an email to the Administration on August 30th, we expressed this concern and requested a meeting with the City’s auditor to review the accounting, disclosure and appropriations treatment for the liability.

“The Administration declined our request,” Giattino added. “The auditor and the City’s financial consultant attended last night’s council meeting and after hearing both speak on the matter, my concerns are now greater that the substantial liability has not been properly accounted for and that an independent investigation into this matter is warranted.  I cannot speak for them, but I am confident that the majority of the City Council feels similarly.

“I am also offended by the prepared remarks read by the Mayor at the meeting, attacking me and my council colleagues and alleging the concerns raised by the council were politically motivated,” the council president added. “I am disappointed that after over six years supporting her and her agenda, that Mayor Zimmer would feel compelled to make such politically charged and baseless statements.  She should know that I will always challenge and engage in healthy debate to ensure we are doing what is right, and what is best for Hoboken.  I am hopeful that all involved will consider the best interests of our residents and work to resolve this serious matter.”

Giattino wasn’t the only one who went on offense on the item.

Mayoral candidate and Councilman Mike DeFusco earlier today called for an independent investigation into the recent revelations that the City of Hoboken is carrying an $8.35 million liability to Suez Water, a sum unaccounted for in any recent city budget, or listed on the city’s audit.

DeFusco branded Giattino, Zimmer and Bhalla to mutual disdain.

“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.  
At a previous meeting, DeFusco revealed that 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.  
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  • Derek Barnes

    Dawn Zimmer has set a new low, as low as a sneaky career politician.

    • Joey Ladron

      And Jen and Ravi were working hand in hand with her through all of this, and would still be backing her for Mayor if she hadn’t chosen not to run. Now we know why she suddenly pulled out. The real problem is that Giattino’s response to this is a publicity stunt saying she’s offended. Jen can’t run from this, she’s been part of the inner circle for 6 years, 3 as council president, and her and Fisher serving as finance chair. DeFusco took real action in calling for the DCA to cut through their disinformation, that’s the only way we’re going to get answers from Dawn, Jen and Ravi. Better to bring them in now so we can get an honest budget together, rather than wait for another state takeover Ang huge tax increase to make up for this and the rest of the fiscal ineptitude we’ve seen from Dawn, Jen and Ravi in recent years.

      • Derek Barnes

        Nonsense (just like your fake name). Is that you Mikey?

        • Joey Ladron

          This is a typical response from the Giattino campaign. I support DeFusco, and what I said is absolutely true. The only response from Giattino is to try to deflect, because Jen can’t run from Dawn. She has been lockstep with Dawn her entire time on council and doesn’t have a single accomplishment of her own to stand on. She shares in her accomplishments as well as her failures, and this is a massive failure. The issues speak for themselves, and the childish reply is indicative of the lack of substance of the Giattino campaign. Every time you attack Dawn, you attack Jen. Denying that is a lie.

          • Derek Barnes

            What’s your real name? #hiding

          • Joey Ladron

            You are a racist. You also have nothing of substance to say. You are a superior representative of the Giattino campaign.

          • Derek Barnes

            Que lastima! The race card? Really Mikey? Good night.

          • Derek Barnes

            ladrón = robber (noun)

      • zanzibar

        What are you talking about? It was Jen Giattino, Tiffanie Fisher and Peter Cunningham who uncovered the hidden debt and demanded answers.

        DeFusco is attacking the people who brought the truth to light. That ambition thing is kind of reckless.

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