MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE
An exchange of letters between Mayor Dawn Zimmer and current Council President Beth Mason shows the war over public policy on campaign finance reform raging and revealing a less than democratic sensibility emanating from Beth Mason.
Other than the continued differences on how to discuss the surplus, the battle lines on City Council agenda items reaching the public is now a bloody war zone Beth Mason intends to control - apparently by any means necessary including her again attempting to apply anti-democratic powers she does not hold.
In a letter Mayor Zimmer details she has put campaign finance reform back on the meeting agenda including the wheeling portion Beth Mason had yanked off for this Wednesday's council meeting at the City Clerk's office.
The wheeling legislation reform sponsored by Council members Peter Cunningham and Ravi Bhalla would put an end to circumventing legal contribution limits to Hoboken campaigns by Political Action Committees (PACs). A number of them have used the current loophole in recent elections to confuse Hoboken voters to further their agendas. There have been numerous ones from developers to pro-Cammarano interests coming from all the way down in southern New Jersey looking to get a chip in on Hoboken.
Both the Hudson Reporter and Hoboken Patch have reported on the campaign finance reform portion as being directed at Beth Mason - but that's just minimizing drama. The problem is far larger than any one person or PAC. While much of the areas surrounding Hoboken is of no interest to developers from an economic standpoint, the development of land here is very much on the agenda. The Rockefeller Group last summer tried to initiate some publicity to advance their tower in Hoboken tens of stories high.
The mayor stated at Thursday's press conference, she's hearing from developers threatening to use PAC money to undermine her moderate development policy position for Hoboken and that of similar minded candidates in this May's City Council elections.
The media has failed to properly scope the true breadth of the issue facing Hoboken, instead implying Beth Mason is central and/or being victimized in her desire to further bankroll her ambitions for power by exceeding legal limits on individual contributions via PACs. (No play there?)
It's clear Beth Mason not only wishes to further circumvent state law on individual contributions, she doesn't even want the public to see or participate in any such discussion at the Hoboken City Council. One can only conclude, she plans to wheel lots and lots of dough above and beyond the $2,600 individual limit by law in the coming May City Council ward elections. This while the final number is not known on her contributions to Tim Occhipinti are unclear. It stands at $13,400 and very much suspiciously counting, just like his "election" under review by the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.
On the top of page two of the letter (see above) subtitled: "Working together/Resolving major issues," the mayor states disagreement with Council President Beth Mason that agenda items need her authorization before going on unless it "had the votes" to pass.
It's unclear why Beth Mason would make such a claim if this is her stated position. The mayor invited Beth Mason to follow up and put that verbalized position on managing the council agenda in writing. It appears Beth Mason who loves to ask everyone else to put things in writing to her has to this point declined to do so.
More problematic yet, any insistence a majority of votes on the Council is required to have an agenda item added before public discussion in the body is a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act. There can be no polling of Council votes before meetings to obtain a majority on an actionable item as a condition of being on the agenda before the City Council outside of the public's view. This is the polar opposite of where public policy needs to be discussed - in the light of day not in the back room of the Mikie Squared Civic Association.
Can someone fill Beth Mason in on what the Open Public Meetings Act means? Again, she seems to be struggling with the limits of power on the City Council chair. She does not have limitless dictatorial powers and should refrain from again acting so. Sadly, her only standard in our town's governance appears to be what furthers her own agenda and power with no respect for our institutions or the Hoboken public at large.
Talking Ed Note: At the last City Council meeting Beth Mason yanked the campaign reform legislation off the agenda sponsored by Peter Cunningham. The Corporation Counsel weighed in at the request of Ravi Bhalla stating she did not have the authority to do so. Now Beth Mason is trying to stop the same proposed ordinance from appearing on the agenda even in ADVANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL meeting.
Didn't you Beth Mason, the self-proclaimed Queen of Transparency support a midnight power grab with a resolution to take control of the City Council springing a resolution at 11:30 at night using the vote of your vote buying puppet Tim Occhipinti? It's part of the Council rules but in bad form to do so without providing public notice. But now, you want to assume control over anything appearing on the City Council agenda with non-existent powers as City Council President?
Once again the contempt for the public reveals itself. Maybe Beth Mason would be happier to buy an island in the Pacific and just inform the residents she's in charge and they are all her minions.
Here's the City Council documents page link. Beth Mason's two page letter on the surplus starts it off. She makes some valid points on budget introduction procedure, the only problem is it's contradictory to her earlier position on returning the surplus.