Occhipinti: Hoboken Mayor Zimmer and Councilman Bhalla have ‘blatant conflict of interest’
HOBOKEN — Councilman Tim Occhipinti, a member of the City Council minority faction typically opposed to the administration of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, said that he feels Councilman Ravi Bhalla and Zimmer have a “blatant conflict of interest” because of a recent personal lawsuit in which Bhalla apparently represented Zimmer and her husband.
According to documents sent to the Reporter, Zimmer and her husband were named as defendants in a complaint on behalf of plaintiff Branch Services, Inc. The suit, which was settled June 29, sought the collection of debt for services for that the plaintiff had allegedly performed, including attempts at remediation for water and leakage damages.
A counterclaim had also been filed, according to the documents, seeking compensatory damages from Branch Services, Inc. for allegedly causing damage during the remediation.
According to documentation and civil court records, then-Council President Ravi Bhalla represented Zimmer and her husband in the matter. It was unclear whether or how he was compensated.
Bhalla, who is no longer Council President but still serves on the City Council, is typically allied with the administration.
The documents include a letter apparently from Zimmer’s husband explaining the matter to Bhalla, and saying, “Feel free to charge if real work is involved.”
“It’s just another indication of this administration operating behind closed doors,” said Occhipinti. “Under the [time] that he [represented them], he was voting on resolutions submitted by the administration.”
Voice messages for comment were left for both Bhalla and Zimmer, and have not yet been returned. They will be posted here once responses are received. –Stephen LaMarca
Search for oldest fridge through recycling program
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is on a quest to recycle the state’s oldest refrigerator or freezer and is offering a $1,000 reward, through New Jersey’s first ever “Oldest Refrigerator Contest.” The owner of the oldest fridge recycled through the BPU’s N.J. Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) will receive a $1,000 gift card good toward Energy Star products at any Sears store and the title of New Jersey’s Oldest Refrigerator Contest Winner. The winner will be announced in October. To take part in the contest, appliance owners simply sign up through Sept. 30 to have their refrigerator or freezer recycled by calling (877) 270-3520 or visiting www.NJCleanEnergy.com/refrigerator. Appliance owners get $50 per unit with a limit of two units each household. Appliances to be recycled must be in working order and between 10 and 30 cubic feet, using inside measurements.
For more information, visit NJCleanEnergy.com or call (866) NJSMART.
Take a pontoon tour around the Meadowlands
The NJMC Pontoon Boat Tour launches on July 31 and Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. For $15 per person, guests can get an up-close view of the Meadowlands District’s spectacular scenic beauty and wildlife with a two-hour guided pontoon boat cruise of the Hackensack River and its surrounding marshes. Experienced NJMC staff will discuss the region’s human and environmental history and point out birds and other wildlife along the way. Pontoon boat cruises depart from river Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt. The tour is for ages 10 and up.
Pre-registration is required. For directions, a complete schedule and to register visit www.njmeadowlands.gov or call (201) 460-4640.