In an explosive conclusion to the City Council meeting, the matter of a Tim Occhipinti resolution to begin the process to remove Hoboken Zoning board member Nancy Pincus for satire on her personal website led to a 5-3 rejection ending the matter.
The vote taken after an executive (closed) session followed with Council President Ravi Bhalla attempting to hold a vote without comment in what the Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin stated as the legal way to proceed.
As the vote was called, Councilman Mike Russo claimed a point of order and then complained he had not been permitted to speak during the closed session and make a clarification he was not the co-sponsor of the Occhipinti resolution.
After Russo stated Councilwoman Beth Mason was the actual co-sponsor, the vote was again started but interrupted. This time it was Mason who demanded she be allowed to read her prepared statement. When Corporation Counsel restated the inappropriateness to do so, Council President Bhalla attempted to continue the vote but Mason continued insisting she had the right to discuss her vote and make an illegal statement on a matter of the closed session and began screaming "They have a right to know."
Again the Corporation Counsel interjected he had addressed the matter and Council President Bhalla attempted to restart the vote with Mason going into a complete meltdown before, during and after the vote that she should be allowed to voice her illegal statement.
Councilwoman Terry Castellano added to the mayhem making a comment with still more legal implications blurting out right in the middle of the vote it was okay for "Nancy Pincus" to say "she wants to shoot someone."
What part of illegal don't they understand? After an attack involving the police against satire failed, the council minority goes berserk when they can't grandstand as a last resort.
Finally Council President Bhalla regained order and insisted the vote on the closed session matter be taken without further interruption. Councilman Russo continued to interject throughout the vote and it appears insulted both Councilwomen Carol Marsh and Jen Giattino on a clarification of their vote.
Earlier the issue of a conflict was raised and Tim Occhipinti confessed he was the origin of a complaint to the "authorities" as he put it because he "felt an obligation to do so." At an earlier council meeting, Occhipinti requested a resolution to begin a process to remove Nancy Pincus from the Zoning Board on a matter he described as "an ongoing criminal investigation" while never informing the public HE WAS THE SOURCE of the complaint.
Corporation Counsel clarified there was no pending criminal investigation or municipal matter based on a conversation with Hoboken's new Public Saftety Director.
Voting in favor of totalitarian censorship Council members Terry Castellano, Mike Russo and of course the "conflicted" Tim Occhipinti. Beth Mason intended to vote similarly but was passed after speaking incoherently instead of submitting a vote.
Tim Occhipinti could have removed himself from the obvious conflict of voting on the matter of a complaint he made to the police on Grafix Avenger's satire. He voted anyway.
Talking Ed Note: This was a double loss with the City possibly facing legal jeopardy on this entire clearly political issue. Tim Occhipinti not only voted on a resolution where he made the original complaint to authorities on a piece of satire unrelated to Nancy Pincus' duties on the Zoning Board - he aired it publicly and stated there was an ongoing criminal investigation on the matter in a City Council meeting. (See earlier story/video below.)
Corporation Counsel indicated that was not the case based on his conversation earlier with newly appointed Public Safety Director Jon Tooke. While Hoboken Police detectives were involved in a severe line of questioning, there doesn't appear to be a reason for any "ongoing criminal investigation" as Tim Occhipinti said previously and he states during the council meeting last night he did not have evidence demonstrating otherwise.
An outburst by Beth Mason and also Terry Castellano could be legally problematic as Council President Ravi Bhalla asks the city legal counsel at one point if additional public comments will "further" place the city at legal risk.
Council members in the minority seemed oblivious to any legal concerns about exposure but Beth Mason's screaming outbursts were especially egregious. Demanding to make illegal statements shows a lack of competence combined with absolute arrogance.
MSV will be back with more but it's important to note the irony in the many actions Beth Mason took in her very brief stint as Council President silencing legitimate speech by the public and her colleagues with her now demanding she be permitted to make an illegal statement on an executive session. Is there any doubt on her involvement with this whole enterprise? After watching the above first video, you won't have any.
That's what Hoboken411 is for Ms. Mason. Go back to that well, if you dare.