INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM
TO:

CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS, MAYOR ZIMMER

FROM:

PETER H. CUNNINGHAM, COUNCIL PRESIDENT

SUBJECT:

M...
long wait, in this case approximately 7 1/2 months, for a case to be decided after the legal work has
been completed.
3. C...
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Council President memo to Council

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Council President memo to Council

  1. 1. INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM TO: CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS, MAYOR ZIMMER FROM: PETER H. CUNNINGHAM, COUNCIL PRESIDENT SUBJECT: MASON RESOLUTION DATE: OCTOBER 14, 2013 CC: 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 large. 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
  2. 2. long wait, in this case approximately 7 1/2 months, for a case to be decided after the legal work has been completed. 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. Thank you. Council President Cunningham 2

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