CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS, MAYOR ZIMMER
PETER H. CUNNINGHAM, COUNCIL PRESIDENT
OCTOBER 14, 2013
Q. WEIST, S. MARKS, M. LONGO, A. PROKO
Dear Council Members,
Last Thursday, Council Members Mason and Castellano submitted to the City Clerk a
proposed resolution that they had prepared. The resolution asks the City Council to, among other
things, "express concern" about issues that the two Council members assert are raised as a result of
Councilman Bhalla recently joining the law firm of Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader, LLC.
Unfortunately, neither of the two Council members appeared to have made the necessary
inquiries to determine the facts involved. As a result, their resolution is replete with factual errors
and misrepresentations. The resolution also purports to reach legal conclusions that this Council has
no authority to make, based on assertions of purported fact that Corporation Counsel has advised
this Council are simply untrue.
I have considered the advice given to this Council by Corporation Counsel, Mellissa Longo,
and on that basis have made the determination, as City Council President, that the resolution is not
just inappropriate, but has the potential to subject the City to potential legal exposure. It was
therefore not included in the Council agenda.
In light of the grossly inaccurate statements in the proposed resolution, I also thought it was
important to highlight several facts to provide clarification both to the Council and the public at
1. Councilman Bhalla joined Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader ("Florio Perucci") as a
partner on August 1st 2013. Florio Perrucci has done no legal work for the City of Hoboken since
Councilman Bhalla joined the firm. All of the parties involved, Councilman Bhalla, Florio Perucci
and the City of Hoboken, were in agreement that it would not be appropriate for Florio Perrucci to
continue to represent the City. Existing cases were either transferred to other law firms or handled
in house by the Law Department immediately upon Councilman Bhalla advising the City of the
possibility of his joining the firm. Put simply, when Florio Perrucci took Councilman Bhalla on as a
partner, it did not gain any benefit with respect to its relationship with the City of Hoboken. To the
contrary, it lost both the benefit of its modest existing legal contract with the City of Hoboken and
the opportunity to benefit from future contracts.
2. On September 6, 2013 the Appellate Division issued an opinion in which the City
prevailed in Thomas Sweeney v. City of Hoboken, a case successfully handled on the City's behalf by
Florio Perrucci. The Appellate brief in that case, the last legal work done on that case, was filed on
January 22nd 2013, more than six months before Councilman Bhalla joined the firm. Apparently
Councilwomen Mason and Castellano, who are not attorneys, did not understand that there can be a
long wait, in this case approximately 7 1/2 months, for a case to be decided after the legal work has
3. Councilman Bhalla did not take part in any City Council votes regarding Florio Perrucci
after joining the firm on August 1. In fact, Councilman Bhalla abstained from votes regarding the
payment of claims to Florio Perrucci in the month prior to his joining the firm, as well as after
joining the firm. (See attached)
4. The most recent vote on a legal contract for Florio Perrucci in which Councilman Bhalla
participated was on February 20, 2013, approximately 6 1/2 months prior to his joining the firm.
In the future, it is important that matters brought before this Council for official action be
based on accurate information, particularly when, as here, the facts were readily available from the
Law Department. Taking the time to learn the facts before making unwarranted accusations with
respect to our colleagues is not merely a matter of basic courtesy, it is also an ethical and a legal
requirement, and I urge all Council Members to remember that going forward.
Council President Cunningham