Tonight is a rare Monday evening meeting of the Hoboken City Council and with it, a countdown of sorts is underway.
After tonight, there are the December council meetings left culminating with the exit of three council members: Tim Occhipinti, Beth Mason and Terry Castellano.
It's the end of an Old Guard era signified by a longstanding war against the mayor and her reform agenda and outright sabotage when the stakes were nothing short of the closure of the hospital and possible bankruptcy for the City itself back in 2011.
The voters took notice and ejected any thought of a quarter century with Castellano on the council and the ruminations back in August forced Beth Mason out without even reaching for the family checkbook. Late in the summer, Mason had unleashed her political operatives calling into the Hudson Tea Building, polling second ward residents and then citywide. The results couldn't be whitewashed not even by a bottom-feeding fish who's dined on the Mason payroll since 2008.
Mason also went to ground after Hudson Superior Court issued sanctions of $280,000 in legal fees for the frivolous lawsuit of her friends Lane Bajardi and Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi in Bajardi v. Pincus. She disappeared from public view the day the legal decision came down absent from the City Council meeting that night and five consecutive meetings overall through the end of the summer, automatically resigning the council seat under NJ law. Her council colleagues quickly voted to allow her to be reinstated without so much as a written excuse permitting her to complete her lame duck existence to year's end.
In August however, Mason political operatives tried to salvage her wilting council reelection prospects repeatedly attempting to set up a meeting with Tiffanie Fisher before the August 31st council candidate filing deadline. Fisher declined the invitations and publicly revealed her intentions to run for the second ward seat before anyone else.
Reform stalwarts aligned behind her and a third candidate non-campaign only peeled away a bigger margin of her council win repeated with the crushing victories led by Peter Cunningham, Jen Giattino and the shocker of the election: Mike DeFusco in the first ward.
Terry Castellano threw everything at DeFusco she could pulling in similar vote totals to her 2011 election win. Rumors of phony calls to first ward voters by someone pretending to be Defusco's mother stopped when reported first on Grafix Avenger and then MSV.
It was a dirty desperate act failing to stop the eventual Defusco victory as he campaigned hard with Mayor Zimmer pulling away with hundreds of new votes in the first ever November ward council election.
The modern era of Hoboken Reform officially takes shape in January with new members Tiffanie Fisher and Michael DeFusco joining stalwarts Peter Cunningham and Jen Giattino. Fisher's arrival means the City Council will see its first professional holding an MBA coupled with major corporate CFO experience.
Progress will intensify tackling the Washington Street infrastructure design underneath and above. (Both PSE&G and United Water are making major investments underneath.) A final Washington Street design and retooling approval will likely be followed with several other major project decisions including Sinatra Drive.
When the calendar turns on 2015, the end of an era when municipal government was treated as a personal business with fiefdoms and backroom deals departs with it. Hiring at City Hall was often done without the presentation of so much as a resume.
Things have come a long way in Hoboken municipal government since 2009.
Seeing gone the most foul and vindictive element uptown on the council doesn't mean all the Old Guard problems are out the door. The fourth ward emerged again as a shored up Hoboken Syndicate base with heavy usage or misue of Vote-by-Mail ballots. The VBM complaints from some quarters in 2013 in the Ramos camp are non-existent now with the unilateral disarmament allowing its campaign to sweep in and scoop up hundreds of VBMs.
One building, 400 First St. saw close to triple figures of VBMs with not many more total registered voters at the location. That political operation remains intact and who do you think will be mobilizing it again in 2017?
Previous calls for an investigation from one ally of Ramos ejected from a recent council meeting is sure to evaporate with no further letters to the editor at the Jersey Journal on the miraculous VBM output. One must enjoy these festivus miracles with a wink and knowing smile.
MSV however has an investigation on some of the voter fraud hijinx offering some insights into the newest tactics on buying votes which backfired. Votes paid in the fourth ward for were flipped to Ruben Ramos while the underwriter was burned. The effort went down as part of an adjustment where some felt the FBI was lurking in the shadows.
That story will be forthcoming later today to MSV Premium members.
Talking Ed Note: Beth Mason also has some important December business with her criminal charges against MSV. She filed them last year after being handed a subpoena right before the start of the late September council meeting. Mason claims she's a victim of an assault with an envelope, charges she filed and then attempted to utilize in the frivolous lawsuit she publicly supported: Bajardi v Pincus.
Of course you'll never read about any of this in the Hudson Reporter, the home of the Mason Media Complex.
The Mason criminal trial against MSV is scheduled for the morning of December 11th in Jersey City Municipal Court.
Related: The 2011 live City Council meeting where Terry Castellano mocked the dying hospital saying there were "other bidders" when it was running on fumes and voiced cynical comments about "ongoing investigations."
Hoboken was more than a little lucky to escape that Hoboken Sopranos destructive plot. With half the Russo Clan gone, that cynical self-destruction should never occur again.