Mayor Dawn Zimmer issued a revised resolution pack to the Hoboken City Council and with it a letter addressing several issues including a later introduction of the budget due to the State of NJ's extension and the issuance of municipal aid. (Introduction will be sooner than the deadline - see the letter below.)
There are several important items in addition but the most interesting is the strengthening of the pay-to-play ordinance. This was worked on by the People for Open Government and closes some loopholes but the critically important part is the mirroring of other NJ municipalities and improvements proposed by Sen. Loretta Weinberg to stop the practice of wheeling.
Wheeling is the practice of transferring money between political organizations in order to skirt campaign funding laws. Included in the improved pay-to-play legislation is a penalty for moving funds through self-controlled campaign committees. (See the bottom of the letter page 2.)
The problem of wheeling became transparent after the 4th ward special election when ELEC reports were published showing Councilwoman Beth Mason exceeded the $2,600 limit on contributions to Tim Occhipinti just days before the election. Her total officially came in over $13,000. Later those funds were clearly dedicated to covering payments to hundreds of Tim Occhipinti's invisible army of 'campaign workers,' in the back of the fourth ward. Those voters were distinctly invisible from the streets on election day.
Now the pay-to-play legislation will come before the City Council for first reading tonight. What will the Beth Mason led council do tonight? If she votes to table and move it to subcommittee and tries to bury it until the May City Council elections, it will be apparent she is looking to again use the unethical practice of using her checkbook to flood the town with cash through her "Friends of Beth Mason," campaign committee. Obviously, that is a transparently unethical move.
The public may have a reasonable hour to comment on this improved and important legislation to all of Hoboken in public portion at the end of the meeting. Based on the agenda, it appears it will end at a reasonable time.
How much you want to bet there will be no ethical concerns or outrage vented by the angry little angry Mason411 minion tonight on this pay-to-play proposal. You can bet the children's college fund not a word will be said on Mason411 tomorrow either. Shoot, bet the house!
Join the Hoboken Journal tonight if you can't make the meeting. Kurt Gardiner will be providing insightful gavel to gavel coverage in an uncensored forum. MSV is sure he will be all over the pay-to-play issue.
Mayor's Letter to CC Feb 2011