How I met Ravi

I  met Ravi long long ago, when Earth was young, and dinosaurs roamed the land...  Okay, not that long ago.

Nine years, actually.  I met him in 2008, when the Dark Side owned City Hall and the Board of Education in Hoboken.  Oh, you are not familiar with the term "Dark Side"?

The 'Dark Side' is the political faction that controlled Hoboken prior to 2009.

And when the Dark Side ruled Hoboken, corruption ran rampant; City Hall and BoE monies were used like a slush fund, both were a patronage mill for the politically-connected.

GA can give you examples of how bad it was, featuring supporters of Mike Defusco.

In 2008, DeFusco backer Mike Russo "cleared up" a million dollar theft of parking meter quarters (transcript here). Yep, Russo discovered a million dollar discrepancy in parking collections; by next meeting he declared it was a "mistake" and the matter was "cleared up."  Only it wasn't-  in 2012 Director of Parking and transportation John Corea was sentenced to 7 years in state prison for the theft.  

An audit of the 2005-2006 Board of Education finances, when the Board was controlled by  DeFusco backer Frank Raia (President) the audit discovered that Raia's board:
  1. spent $48K on 157 unauthorized cell phone accounts
  2. put 1,050 employees on the BoE payroll: no names, addresses, job description
  3. wrote a $500K purchase order to itself- paid itself $56K with no explanation
  4. spent hundreds on steak house dinners
  5. took pals to Atlantic City, gave them $300 stipends
  6. cooked enrollment numbers from 2003-2008 
  7. rewarded a pal with a $60K contract for marketing-  excessive for the work done 
  8. outsourced janitors for $91K when 60 "janitors" were on the BoE payroll 
  9. bought  extra rooms for pals at the Plaza Hotel with classroom money
  10. spent petty cash like a slush fund
  11. awarded $1,900,000  in contracts "not available for review" or with "no evidence of approval" or "exceeded the bid threshold" 
That's the tip of the iceberg, people.   

So, what does Dark Side malfeasance have to do with meeting Ravi?

Well, in 2008 Ravi was a Hoboken resident, not yet involved in Hoboken politics.  But somehow, he caught wind of Dark Side shenanigans on the Hoboken Board of Education.  In response, Ravi  sent the following letter to the Hoboken District School Board Attorney Joseph Morano, Esq.   


Ravi, who had no particular status in Hoboken, acted on principle to protect the Hoboken District from potential abuse. On his own time, simply to do the right thing. 

I only saw the letter when the cretin of Hoboken411 posted it (stamped everywhere with his shitty watermark).  I was so grateful!  Remember, the 2008 School Board was under Dark Side control with only the brave Theresa Minutillo and Rose Markle representing Reform.  District parents (like myself) felt helpless, like we were getting steamrolled by Board President Frank Raia.  Then some lawyer-guy (Ravi) comes from out-of-the-blue to help us...

That's when I got in touch with Ravi to thank him for stepping up...  and that's how we met!

Why am I telling you this story?

I hope it helps those who have forgotten the inherent goodness of those they are now 'against', and to remember where we came from.  Nobody wants to go back.

Here's another one: don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.


  1. Wow. You have a sick obsession over MDF .
    I'll make sure to mail you a signed picture saying Mayor Defusco on Nov 8th

  2. I met his brother first. I didn't know they were related. It was the 2009 election and we were driving people from the Path to the polls in a big white van. We couldn't be cheeky and blow off the Cammarano voters, tempting as it might have been. (Hopefully we didn't help him win and launch his 3 weeks in office...)

  3. GA, thanks for posting this letter. It's substantive and a compelling reminder of real acts over the years to be supportive of Reform goals.

    This letter triggers two thoughts that I would like to share. Both points have at their center what I think of as the central pillars of reform -- merit and substance.

    1. Like many, I am on a few of the listerservs or email lists that leaders or activists under the reform umbrella generate. One email really bothered me. It was from Theresa Minutillo someone who I really admire for her strength and dedication to honest, smart government and her social and political values here on Hoboken and on national issues. Theresa wrote an email telling us that she supported Jen for Mayor. What was disappointing was that we were not given a reason why, literally none. Theresa just relayed said she met Jen in 2009 on the campaign trail, Jen though not a district parent campaigned with Kids First, and Kids First won a BOE majority.

    By this criteria she should also endorse Ravi, since as per the letter in this post it looks like he has done all this and more for Kids First and for longer. I don't think I have seen an election where Ravi, his wife, and kids were not on a street corner campaigning for Kids First.

    Is this what reform has become? Are we a popularity contest, where leaders pick who they support without sharing a reason why and we're all supposed to just fall in line?

    If there is a past track record and current policy analysis of where Jen and Ravi are on substance that matters to Kids First, I'd like to see it. Reform should stand behind substance, merit, issues. That's not what I saw in that email and it's not good for reform. We should be about merit and substance. This letter you posted is substantive.

    2. Speaking of substance, I remain deeply disturbed by Tiffanie actively campaigning for Jen. I agree with the important point that our elections are non-partisan and with the point that our reform tent should be big. Yet the optics of the party's chair working so hard and publicly to elect a Republican (yes even in a non-partisan election) does not sit right with me. We need to elect Phil Murphy, we need Dems in swing districts to have our support, we need to pushback against policies coming out of D.C. that negatively impact Hoboken (ACA, budget cuts anyone?) but it looks like our Dem Chair is more concerned about electing Jen and mailing in her Dem Party Chair responsibilities. It's fine for her to make that choice if she was not the party Chair because again it's a non-partisan election here in Hoboken and our tent is big, but not as Chair in my book. It's not a good look and it's time suck on both sides. I want a Chair who will stand up to Trump on the ACA repeal and its impact on Hoboken and ask Jen her position on the issue when the time comes. The right thing to do is choose one or the other. Holding both is untenable and again an indication that Reform is losing ground on substance and devolving into a popularity contest.

    1. RE: #1, sometimes people just click (or not) on a personal/personality level that doesn't have anything to do with policy positions. It sucks that reform could be splitting but i think we have to accept that this will happen. btw, i'm sure there are also reformers (like me) who like both candidates but happen to click better with ravi and will support him, so maybe it will even out.

      RE: #2, totally agree. of course Tiffanie is free to support and endorse anyone she wants, but not if she also holds the local dem chair seat. as you say, it's one or the other. this is like the chairman of coca-cola recommending that mcdonal's should serve pepsi, makes no sense. if he wants to recommend pepsi, then he shouldn't be the chairman of coke, duh.

    2. and as far as #2 goes, Tiffanie must be completely ambivalent or willfully ignorant of the fact that many non-dems in town are salivating over Jen's candidacy.

    3. I hear you @me on the "hey I just click with Ravi/Jen" point. I guess that makes my point though. I don't think it's enough for Reform to say "I like someone more" as a reason others should support them. I want to hear analysis. Here's what they did or did not do on X, Y, Z issue, here's their stand now, etc. All I got from Theresa was, "they've both supported us, I'm supporting Jen." I would like to hear substance on the issues. That's healthy for all involved, right?


    4. Right, All Hoboken. I read Sue Pregibon's endorsement of Jen. She calls Ravi the "status quo." Well, there's really no daylight between Ravi/Jen's voting records, they both supported the Zimmer administration's initiatives ("the status quo"). Is Jen campaigning agsinst her own record? What are these initiatives, and why didnt she lobby for them as a councilperson? I guess we will find out.

    5. that't true, @allhoboken. i agree with you but just saying that favoring one candidate because you click with them is bound to happen to some degree, and hopefully the number of instances will balance out between ravi and jen.

      saw sue p's letter, came off as kind of ham-fisted with a few cheap shots. like how she craps on mayor zimmer endorsement of ravi, saying "it is not her prerogative to dictate" who will run for reform. um, the mayor can endorse anyone she wants.

  4. A better metaphor for the chairman of coca-cola would be: it's like the chairman of coca-cola enjoying a great cup of coffee for breakfast and saying so. Would any board members be concerned to learn that he (or she) likes coca-cola, but drinks coffee with breakfast? Since our elections are nonpartisan, Coke vs. Pepsi, Mac vs. PC or even Ginger vs. Mary Ann aren't even applicable. To infuse Dems v. Repubs into our very decidedly local elections is like criticizing Star Trek fans for enjoying Star Wars.

    1. not sure that analogy works, indie, because in my original one, the chairman of coca-cola (aka, tiffanie) isn't just "enjoying" her pepsi, he's/she's actively trying to SELL pepsi to mcdonald's (aka, voters). it's more than just preference.

      our elections are nonpartisan, but people usually aren't. they don't think that way. actual humans tend to feel a certain way and have certain beliefs. some people can or try to put those allegiances aside, but others do not (whether consciously or unconsciously).

      it seems a little naive to think hoboken democrats will magically put their natural partisan leanings aside and have no problem with voting for a republican mayor just because our elections are technically nonpartisan. i'm not saying that's right, i'm just saying that's reality outside of the political insider bubble. my wife, for example, doesn't really follow local politics but i can pretty much guarantee she'll never cast her vote for a republican mayor, just on principle. she isn't alone. in fact, she may represent a majority of voters.

    2. Funny, @me. A friend's wife, who doesn't follow Hoboken politics, said "I'll never vote for a Republican." Like it or not, that will be an issue- for some.

    3. Hey me: Actually, you've got the analogy that I'm making wrong & that's my fault. The chairman of coca-cola (aka Tiffanie) isn't promoting coke OR pepsi at all. She's asking us to meet her for a cup of coffee.

    4. i dunno, indie. you have to admit it would be unacceptable for the chairman of coca-cola to also serve as the head of communications for pepsi, amiright? ;)

    5. I was a republican for decades before I switched to democrat (2 years) and then independent. In the decades I was registered republican (and I was no RINO) I voted for Zimmer for mayor and many other democrats in the local and state level elections. Somehow I was able to put partisanship aside. Anyone who can't should be absolutely ashamed of him/herself, especially in light of the fact that no one had a problem with Cunningham or Giattino being a republican until now.

    6. i applaude your sensible open-mindedness, snoopy. not everyone is like you, though.

    7. Well thank god for that. If everyone were like me the world would be a boring and likely worse place.

    8. aww, not at all, snoopy! you're one of the most worthwhile contributors here and i, for one, appreciate your no-nonsense perspective on local issues. we may not always agree 100%, but that's ok (in fact, we probably agree 90%).


Post a Comment