One more... Thoughts on Upcoming Election

As you know, I try to uphold the principles of integrity, fairness, and democracy in our community and have often been the loudest voice to speak out against corruption.  


Whether its New Jersey’s broken ballot and county "line" system, elected officials trying to enrich themselves off the backs of our neighbors, or those in government using their office for personal gain.  We have it.  I fight it.
Today, I find myself faced with the challenging task of addressing a matter with you that has weighed heavily on me for the last four years and is suddenly front and center as we consider who we will support in the upcoming Congressional race. 
I can’t support our mayor, Ravi Bhalla for the Congressional seat.  And before the election really gets started, I need to tell you why.
Like so many others, I believe Ravi and his campaign team fabricated the 2017 racially charged flyer that made it look like he was being discriminated against in the 2017 mayoral race, falsely attributing it to rival mayoral candidate Councilman Michael DeFusco, just to gain an electoral advantage. A short time after that election, several people confirmed via those close to his campaign what we all suspected at the time - that it was a calculated move to manipulate public sentiment.  And it worked.  The incident gained widespread attention and sympathy, and seemingly was decisive in what was a close mayoral race. 
After sitting with this knowledge for two years, in late 2019 we learned that Ravi and his brother contemplated using similar deceptive tactics in his previous election for Assembly in 2011 against Rube Ramos - “putting out a flier to make it look like Ravi was being discriminated against”.  Only at that time, they decided against doing it because the race wasn’t a close enough race to take the risk.  To say we felt gut punched when we learned this disturbing pattern is an understatement.  And you can pinpoint the political shift in sentiment from that point forward – becoming increasingly critical and aware of the dishonest politics of a leader who IMHO was willing to betray the public’s trust in the worst way possible, and to do so just to win. 
After calls by the City Council in early 2021 for the Attorney Generally to investigate with Hoboken PD’s support seemed to fall on deaf ears, I spoke to Hoboken PD and then filed a complaint with the Attorney General and Hudson County Prosecutor’s offices on June 29th, 2021 providing details and testimony related to the above-mentioned incidents and Mayor Bhalla’s potential involvement. The investigation commenced and is ongoing, including federal officials, which speaks to the gravity of the matter.  I specifically excluded the Attorney General himself from my complaint because he was Ravi’s best friend.  Although many are aware of this complaint, I have not previously disclosed this publicly but have attached redacted excerpts. 
The complaint alleges, among other things, that the AG and HCPO failed in their duty to investigate what were not just one, but two potential crimes committed that day in 2017 – one, the racial bias crime and two, for attributing it to a political rival which is a crime of Impersonation under NJ Law.  According to all involved, myself included, Hoboken Police Department’s investigation should be commended for their efforts.  However they were hindered by the clear conflict of interest that existed because their union contracts and promotions are negotiated by Mayor Bhalla, making a fair and unbiased inquiry impossible, and difficult to consider Mayor Bhalla and his campaign team as the potential (and probable) source of the flyer.  A conflict that the AG and HCPO should have addressed.  However we later learned that HPD tried several times to move the investigation out of Hoboken up to the Hudson County Prosecutors and the Attorney General’s office, but their attempt to do so was denied each time which has also raised eyebrows.
So with all this you can imagine how shocked many of us were who watched his video announcement to run for Congress and saw that Mayor Bhalla claimed once again that he was the victim of this flyer. 
There are many reasons I struggle with our mayor’s approach to governing our amazing Hoboken that I have shared with you in my newsletters.  But it is his use of hate and dishonesty as his political strategy to betray our community for his own political advantage that is why I could never support him for Congress.  With so much hate and discrimination going on around us, to pretend to be a victim of discrimination to personally benefit and get the public’s sympathy and vote is an affront to all who really are suffering.  And something I could never accept.   
I know that sending this is a big deal and please know that I am not taking this lightly.  But I could not let another election involving him go by, without sharing this information with you.  Enough is enough.  

As always, please share this with everyone you know who may be interested and reach out any time on any issue important to you: 201-208-1764 or [email protected].  
Tiffanie Fisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
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