Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hoboken City Council abstentions to see legal verdict Friday

Ruling Friday could see outcome in Jim Doyle council seat after months of MORTe lawsuit

The staged absences in the City Council last October leading to two abstentions and a Mason family lawsuit against the people of Hoboken will meet its fate this Friday afternoon when Judge Peter Bariso decides how abstentions should be counted.

At the last council meeting, all eight members finally voted and abstentions were counted as a "no" vote.

Technically Judge Bariso can not actually solve the matter Friday afternoon in Hudson County Superior Court.  He will rule based on state law how Hoboken abstentions are counted in cases similar to these council appointments.  The judge can not stop the Mason family (with MORTe) from filing another lawsuit against the people of Hoboken.

Newark's case cited by Masonistas have attempted to confuse the matter on some local websites by saying Hoboken should be decided similarly but there's one major difference.  Unlike Hoboken, Newark passed a resolution saying an abstention would be counted as no vote at all.

Should Judge Bariso rule the Hoboken abstentions are counted as a "no" vote, Jim Doyle should be sworn in and seated.  MSV anticipates Councilwoman Beth Mason will again sue the people of Hoboken in an attempt to stop Doyle from participating on the council and eliminate the reform majority back formed after the spring 2011 council elections.

The 2011 council elections resulted in Beth Mason being removed as council president in what some believe may be the shortest term in the position in living memory.  Others say it was the shortest council presidency in Hoboken history.

At the last council meeting, Beth Mason watches as Hoboken reform activist Phil Cohen demolished her
direct mail efforts to convince residents her staged lawsuit against the City of Hoboken was due to
the mayor and her council allies refusing to allow a special election.  Cohen noted that was not possible in this circumstance.  

The "Doyle seat" is one of three at-large seats on the ballot in November.

Talking Ed Note: Back in 2009, MSV published a Horse Sense editorial, "The Art of abstain." It is this website's view abstentions should be exceedingly rare but when used, a brief explanation following the vote should be required.

The City of Hoboken should review the law on this and put some consistency into the usage. As it stands now, does anyone believe Beth Mason or Michael Russo are unsure whether they supported Jim Doyle's appointment to the City Council?  The abstention was applied as a tool to launch a lawsuit against the people of Hoboken.