Oops! Hoboken mayor’s Facebook account thanks … himself
HOBOKEN — When Mayor Ravi Bhalla brought water to customers affected by a water main break on Tuesday night, he shared a post about it on his Facebook page.
In less time than it took for the water to be restored to the building, a controversy erupted after the mayor's account left a supportive message for, well, the mayor. The comment was written as if it were supposed to be written by someone else.
Bhalla said his brother, who he said had access to his Facebook page during last year's campaign, had written the thank-you note not realizing that he was posting under the mayor's account.
The congratulatory comment was erased, but not before several people, including Councilman Michael DeFusco, pointed it out. Online news source HMag.com was first to report on the errant comment.
City spokesperson Santiago Melli-Huber said it was a "misunderstanding," and that Bhalla's brother Amardeep Singh had taken to social media to explain what had happened. Singh also singled out DeFusco, who his brother had narrowly beaten in last November's election.
DeFusco told New Jersey 101.5 on Thursday that his comment had been meant as some lighthearted fun, but that it showed a larger problem with the mayor's communication skills with political rivals.
"Why does the brother of a sitting mayor have access to his social media that is probably filled with constituent's outreach, as well as personal information from people who reach out to the mayor directly?" he asked. "This should have just been an LOL, this should have been just a laugh shared all around. Instead of making light of it, the mayor, as he often does, becomes very defensive and sends out people to make excuses for him."
While the controversy over the comments could be seen as an extension of a contentious election almost a year ago, DeFusco said there are bigger issues for the governing body to focus on.
Melli-Huber said Bhalla was looking to help residents in need, and tell them that the end of the water shortage was near, as it was restored less than an hour later.
"We just thank the residents for their patience," he said. "The city's infrastructure is very old and we're working on updating it all. Water main breaks happen and we respond as quickly as we can and we appreciate people's patience."