Public remarks leads to all out brawl with personal attacks on Carol Marsh, Cohen with Beth Mason finally answering to hiding out on critical council vacancy vote blocking Jim Doyle's legal appointment
Phil Cohen's remarks:
Council members and members of the public, my name is Phil Cohen.
Tonight I’m going to talk about “Chutzpah”. “Chutzpah” is a Yiddish word, which loosely translated means “that’s some nerve”. The classic example of Chutzpah is when a man, after killing his mother and father, pleads for mercy from the court because he is an orphan. That’s Chutzpah!
Here, in Hoboken, the Council Minority has given us a new definition of Chutzpah. Let me try it out:
When you don’t attend a council meeting, and don’t phone in to participate, then claim the Council’s vote was illegal because not enough people voted . . . That’s Chutzpah!
In October, the City Council voted twice on filling Carol Marsh’s vacancy. Beth Mason didn’t attend on October 3rd and Michael Russo didn’t attend on October 17th. Neither of them phoned in.
Then, the four members of the Council Minority sued the People of Hoboken, claiming they not only had the right not to show up and vote on filling Carol Marsh’s vacancy, but when in December Judge Bariso ordered the four to show up (or participate by phone), they dragged their case out another month, APPEALING to the Appellate court, claiming (with a straight face) that they would be IRREPERABLY HARMED if they had to show up and vote on Jim Doyle’s appointment. They said the Appellate Court should “stop the vote” just like the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount for George W. Bush in the 2000 Presidential Election. Well the appellate court denied that silly motion, and on January 16 you four were finally FORCED, BY COURT ORDER – heaven forbid – to do your job, show up and vote to fill the council vacancy.
On January 16, I asked you to “cast an honest vote” and vote “no” and not “abstain” claiming your abstention shouldn’t count as a “no vote”, because everyone knows you oppose the majority’s choice of Jim Doyle, and you are fooling no one. But Mr. Russo and Ms. Mason insisted on playing games, when they abstained and kept right on suing, claiming their abstentions shouldn’t count towards a 4-4 tie.
On February 1st, Judge Bariso called out your frivolous lawsuit.
This is what Judge Bariso said:
“Mayor Zimmer correctly used her power to cast a tiebreaking vote . . . To conclude otherwise would permit a single member of a city council to exercise veto power over the filling of a vacancy which would thwart the process established by the Municipal Vacancy Law. This Court cannot countenance the notion that the Municipal Vacancy Law was intended to encourage gamesmanship. Council members should not be permitted to undermine the deliberative process . . .”
Instead of complying with Judge Bariso’s latest order, letting Jim Doyle sit beside you, you appealed again, dragging out your lawsuit for months.
Some may think you can play these political games, not voting at meetings, then suing and appealing, as much as you like, because it only costs you money, not the taxpayers. But make no mistake, your courtroom games cost us all.
I’d like to hand up two documents I received in response to a recent public records request.
These are two invoices from the City’s lawyers, McManimon & Scotland, for services rendered in October and November of 2012. You’ll see the description “Castellano v. Zimmer” – that’s your lawsuit, Mrs. Castellano.
These invoices total $16,163.08. That’s real money. That’s our money. For only two months of Hoboken’s legal fees for a case you have dragged out five months, with no end in sight!
Now, if it’s Chutzpah to claim that since you missed a meeting, there can’t be a 4-4 tie;
and, as Judge Bariso found, if it’s gamesmanship to plan to abstain, and then claim because you abstained, there can’t be a 4-4 tie, so Mayor Zimmer can’t legally break a tie;
Then it’s OUTRAGEOUS for you to expect me, and the other taxpayers of Hoboken to pay the City’s costs opposing your frivolous lawsuit and the appeals you file, each time Judge Bariso rules against you.
So, let me conclude by asking Ms. Castellano, Ms. Mason, Mr. Occhipinti and Mr. Russo a question:
Will you agree to cover the City’s costs opposing your manufactured lawsuit against Hoboken’s taxpayers -- or, do you seriously expect Hoboken’s taxpayers to pick up this $16,163.08 tab?