In a poorly written August 19th letter, James Sanford writes that “I accept his challenge to a public debate. If Mr. Einstein wants to debate a Hoboken City official then he can debate me anytime anywhere!” The only problem is I didn’t challenge Sanford, I did challenge Hoboken Mayor Bhalla to debate the use of eminent domain. However, in order to show how hollow the argument for stealing private property is in the case of the NY Waterway dry dock, I was happy to accept a lieutenant from Bhalla world as a stand in for our crusading mayor who may be too busy at his second job.
Though the piece Sanford was responding to clearly stated that “I invite Mayor Bhalla to debate the issue with myself prior to the second reading of the (eminent domain) ordinance” on September 4, Sanford is allegedly backing out due to “scheduling conflicts” and cannot debate before Sept 4th. Sanford’s barely legible letter and knee jerk attempt at agitation propaganda aside, Mayor Bhalla has remained silent on engaging our city in a public dialogue on eminent domain use and abuse as it relates to the NY Waterway dry dock he is attempting to expropriate under, what many feel to be, false pretenses. I welcome Bhalla to make his case in a public fashion without hiding behind a push poll or press release. To date there has been no response from Bhalla and no response from anyone in Bhalla world other than Sanford.
Instead of stating whether he would face the public, our honorable mayor seemingly sent an appointee to engage in political hatchet work with a letter that reads like the rambling of someone who fervently believes government boards are the alpha and omega of our town. The real Hoboken, the one I have lived in for 12 years and that most of us call home, has a plethora of social and community organizations, eateries and volunteering opportunities, clubs and people with many, many, opinions. Many of those opinions are not to the liking of those in Bhalla world, which may be why Sanford pretends one cannot have an opinion without being on a government board (as he asks “has he ever served our community on any number of Hoboken’s municipal boards?” and “what dearth of governing experience does he draw upon”). In Bhalla world, unless you are from the right government faction, not only do you have no right to your own property but you also have no right to your own opinion.
Now that it has been announced that the debate will take place at Our Lady of Grace School (located at 422 Willow Ave), on Wednesday, August 28 at 7pm, with a neutral debate host – Peter Biancamano (host of The Pulse with Peter B.), Bhalla and his political lieutenants are oddly silent. I share the hope of many in our town that Bhalla will put his mouth where he has put tens of millions of Hoboken’s moneys and join concerned citizens for a debate about eminent domain abuse and his plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on another park. The debate is on, but does Bhalla have the courage of his convictions to show? Hoboken, we are just going to have to show up to find out.
See you there!
Joshua Sotomayor Einstein