Thursday, January 3, 2013
Below are the complete remarks as prepared for delivery by Phil Cohen at last night's council meeting.
Council members and members of the public, my name is Phil Cohen.
Here we are at another 4-4 deadlocked, gridlocked, city council meeting.
Two weeks ago, I was here addressing the ridiculous lawsuit against the City four council people insist on pursuing. Instead of addressing the huge problems we face in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, our elected officials play political games, tie the City up in legal knots, and waste our money.
After Carol Marsh unexpectedly resigned effective October 3rd, the council minority realized they had an opportunity.
So the four of them hired Mayor Roberts and Mayor Cammarano’s Corporation Counsel Steve Kleinman and asked him for his advice.
By the time of the October 3rd council meeting, when appointing Carol Marsh’s replacement was the first item on the agenda, they believed:
• Appointing a new council person requires 5 Yes votes; and
• Mayor Zimmer can cast a decisive 5th vote, but only to break a 4-4 tie.
So, they figured, if one of them stayed away, there could never be a 4-4 tie, Mayor Zimmer could never cast the 5th vote, and the Council Minority would regain control of the City Council.
Do you remember when we were all afraid the Hoboken University Medical Center was going to fail? With critical City Council votes scheduled, Councilwoman Marsh was stuck in a hospital in Nicaragua, dealing with her husband’s medical crisis. Yet, Carol Marsh found a way to call in from a Nicaraguan hospital, participate at the council meeting, do her job, and provide key votes to save our hospital. I remember that.
Well, what happened October 3rd? Councilwoman Mason stayed away from the Council meeting on the vote for Jim Doyle’s appointment. Only three members of the council minority attended and none voted for Jim Doyle. I’m not aware of any arrangements Councilwoman Mason made to call in and participate on October 3rd. After Jim Doyle was sworn in, the members of the Council Minority who showed up to the October meetings protested loudly how improper Jim Doyle’s votes were. They knew. One of them stayed away, and they had created the problems they would use to sue the City.
Two weeks ago Mr. Russo and Ms. Castellano didn’t like what I had to say. They didn’t deny that they had a plan to prevent a 4-4 tie vote. But they claimed Judge Bariso agreed with them when he ruled that Jim Doyle’s appointment was illegal!
Nonsense. Judge Bariso never ruled that Jim Doyle’s appointment was “illegal.” He ruled the vote “ineffective” because it lacked 5 votes – agreeing with Mr. Kleinman’s view that 5 “yes” votes were needed; and disagreeing with our City Attorney’s position that 4 “yes” votes were sufficient. But, at that time, Judge Bariso said he would consider whether he could require all 8 Council People to show up to vote on Jim Doyle’s appointment at one time, and that’s exactly what Judge Bariso did. Ordering the four of you to come here and finally vote on Jim Doyle’s appointment at the last Council meeting.
Council people are paid about $25,000/year with benefits, and for that we expect a council person to attend at least 2 council meetings a month. Now, I know there is more to being a good council person than that, but showing up at two council meetings a month seems to be the minimum. That’s why I don’t understand why you four, rather than dropping your lawsuit, showing up for work, doing your job, and voting on Jim Doyle’s appointment, insist on dragging out your lawsuit, making a desperate appeal to the Appellate Court, that has no chance, instead of simply obeying Judge Bariso’s order, and showing up to vote, as you four should have done in October, and getting on with it.
As I said to Mr. Russo and Mr. Occhipinti and Ms. Mason and Ms. Castellano two weeks ago, and I will repeat again tonight – in your quest for power, you have lost all perspective.
I guess you figure every day Jim Doyle is not a councilman is a win.
But every day you four drag out this ridiculous farce of a Lawsuit, is another day the City has to pay its lawyers to defend it.
We have real work to do in this City. Vote up or down on Jim Doyle’s appointment.
Stop suing the People of Hoboken. Stop wasting the taxpayers’ money.