Saturday, June 4, 2011

BREAKING: Councilwoman Mason calls for special meeting Monday; public meetings act not satisfied


Late Friday afternoon Councilwoman Beth Mason sent a letter to City Hall stating a special City Council meeting would be held late Monday on important "personnel" matters.  The letter included notifications to council members and the Jersey Journal.  Notification by letter to a media outlet does not satisfy the requirement of a meeting to be noticed to the public.

According to a source close to the Administration, it's unknown what the Councilwoman hopes to gain in holding a meeting on personnel matters believed to be related to the IT members no longer working at City Hall.  A criminal investigation by the FBI is ongoing.

The mayor can call a special meeting of the City Council but the Council Chair can not.  Instead there must be five members agreeing to such a meeting.  But there's another conflict.  Five members are not permitted to hold such a gathering without adequate public notice.  It's unknown how such a meeting agreeing to a Monday special City Council meeting could have been called.

At the last City Council meeting, the Beth Russo 'majority' fought strenuously to not hear comment from the FBI via the Corporation Counsel on the resolution requesting emails from the mayor's two staff members and local media, reform writers and people in recent political reform campaigns.

The resolution brought back for the third time, finally was passed after executive session with an amendment stating the FBI would decide on what emails would be released.  The FBI has not commented on its investigation and is not likely to respond to the request with an ongoing criminal matter at hand.

Monday evening MSV will see if there is in fact a meeting.  Councilwoman Beth Mason has often complained of inadequate notice for holding special meetings.  Last year she refused to sit on the dais for a budget meeting as she complained the notices to local media outlets was insufficient.  The City Clerk would indicate the meeting was properly noticed to media in time but the Councilwoman refused to participate and sat in the audience listening.

It's unclear how the meeting was organized and who will in fact attend.  Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin is not in Hoboken on Mondays and Business Administrator Arch Liston and the reform council members may or may not.  Councilman Ravi Bhalla is unlikely to attend.  He's running for an Assembly seat on Tuesday.

Talking Ed Note:  Theories abound on why this meeting is being called.  Sabotage of the FBI investigation would be considered by some a motive but another is that this is some sort of desperation move to either change the subject as the pressure is mounting from the FBI interviews around town.

Others believe that attorneys have been put on retainer and are telling Councilwoman Mason to obtain whatever information the city may have on the case and what was provided to the FBI.  MSV contacted the FBI asking for comment on the case but the duty officer declined.

Councilwoman Beth Mason was contacted for this story.  A voicemail was left requesting confirmation of the meeting asking if it was properly noticed.

BoE "Independents" funded by Frank Raia and Ricky Mason

In a new match up of Old Guard money, ELEC reports show Frank Raia and Ricky Mason, husband of Councilwoman Beth Mason made large donations to the BoE slate that swept the elections last April.

The beneficiaries of the monies as it turns out called themselves "Independents for Education," a ticket consisting of HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia, Peter Biancamano and Francis Rhodes-Kearns.

Frank Raia who has had his hands in many elections even when he isn't running as a candidate for office, staunchly opposses the Kids First BoE majority and their brand of education where kids are placed higher on the list of importance than handing out jobs or worse jobs with little work required. Kids First has angered the Old Guard by slashing positions and cutting costs where legally possible, upsetting those who look on the school system as a source of jobs and benefits.

Ricky Mason at a City Council meeting in 2011
Ricky Mason in the prior year made a maximum $5,700 contribution to Real Results a slate organized by BoE commissioner Maureen Sullivan and Nathan Brinkman. His $5700 contribution in his and his wife's name was the maximum permitted. This time he made an in-kind contribution totaling $7540 consisting of $965 for palm cards, $2,500 for t-shirts and election day hired workers, many from out out of Hoboken to the campaign committee slate.

In the last couple of years, Councilwoman Beth Mason has stated a belief to stay out of the BoE elections, even writing a letter to the Hudson Reporter on the matter, but in each of the last two years her family has made large financial donations to vastly different ideological slates opposing Kids First.

Kids First has been supported by Mayor Dawn Zimmer who originally supported the group when she was a councilwoman.

Talking Ed Note: The Hudson Reporter has a big story this weekend on the BoE race and absentee ballots. This investigative report should be worth a read as it asks questions about monies used to generate the absentee ballot windfall and quotes the perennial absentee ballot suspect Frank Raia.

Raia describes the "new wave" of campaigning with paid street workers and absentee ballots but reporter Ray Smith points out the new wave has not caught on elsewhere in Hudson County noting that Raia's ticket produced 400 paper ballots mostly out of the Hoboken Housing Authority.

Monday MSV's feature story focuses on this from the view inside.

A big hat tip to Ray Smith for his feature story. The timing of his feature and ours is coincidental but timely.

Now Frank Raia can go complain to someone else about fairness.

Beth Mason to MSV at Council meeting "Why are you late?"

The glue is coming apart with the FBI recently visiting Hoboken and MSV gives you exhibit A testifying to that fact.  Here's a video clip of the appearance on the infamous witch hunt for emails in the Beth Russo resolution well, it's before the discussion on the resolution itself.

First some background, after a long day like others, the last place you want to be on a beautiful day is at a City Council meeting, let alone feeling compelled to speak at a Council meeting.  What does one do when jammed up and doing a million things like so many others in our bustling town?

Even with your name appearing on a nonsensical political resolution as a secondary target, even with your website being named in a Beth Russo repeated staged attack, it isn't always at the top of your ways to spend an evening.

Arriving more than an hour after the meeting began, there was plenty of time to sign up, on arrival folks were complaining about an hour long discussion on solar panels with the resolution list hardly underway.

What you are going to see here is the lead in to the remarks on the Beth Russo hand ove all the emails resolution.  I don't believe any council chair has ever accused a member of the public who is signed up to speak on a resolution of being late.

That's right, Beth Mason became so crazed by MSV not attending the meeting at the start time, she goes on the attack accusing there's a plot for "late" attendance.  You have to see it to believe it.

Councilwoman Terry Castellano notices she's again inverted the speaking list and asks her to take the people in order as members of the public who have signed earlier are protesting.  She's responding to Margaret O'Brien who was sitting in the front and complaining.  You can't hear them off mic, but everyone in the room could.  Scott Siegel was annoyed to the extent where he also states his complaint aloud.

Beth Mason's reaction to all this shows the FBI's visit to Hoboken is having an effect.  And here we give you Exhibit A in Beth Mason's bizzaro world:

Talking Ed Note:  It only gets more interesting.  Wait until you see how Beth Mason and Mike Russo react to a clear yes or no question.

Maybe you will have the same reaction as the FBI.

More to come.