Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Whose SLAPP-suit is this anyway?

Did Grafix Avenger just expose another smoking gun in the Hoboken SLAPP-suit?

It looks so based on a new public email published yesterday for the very first time on Grafix Avenger.

That email timed only two months before the SLAPP-suit was filed by Beth and Richard Mason friends Lane Bajardi and Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi reveals this odd exchange. (See the highlighted yellow email exchange from the bottom up below:)

An original, unedited email highlights in yellow a request by former Plaintiff Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi of Beth Mason's chief political operative, James "FinBoy" Barracato if the lawsuit had been "served" on Grafix Avenger "yet?"

The May 17th email appears to implicate Beth Mason's self-declared "business partner," James "FinBoy" Barracato of Weehawken having an intimate, continuous and active role in the frivolous, now court-designated SLAPP-suit.

Barracato was first connected to Beth Mason in the litigation with a January 2014 sworn deposition by Hudson County decades long political operative Tom Bertoli.

According to that deposition, it was Bertoli who first introduced Barracato aka "FinBoy" to Mason back in 2008. Bertoli stated on the record Barracato has been on the Mason payroll ever since. In an exclusive interview with MSV, Bertoli said of his deposition, "I was happy to do it." 

Some legal observers view those dots connected on the record a turning point in the case with the myth of a "Hoboken couple" being previously sold to the public by complicit local media.

Oddly,  in the email above, Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi is requesting an update OF James Barracato on HER frivolous lawsuit wanting to know if Grafix Avenger had "been served yet."

Notably, Councilwoman Beth Mason has been absent from every single City Council meeting (four consecutive) since Hudson Superior Court rendered the July 8th legal decision ordering $280,000 be paid to the defendants by Lane Bajardi, Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi and sanctioning three of their attorneys in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

To date, Beth Mason has yet to make a single comment on the record anywhere.

Back In August 2012, Beth Mason was quoted extensively in the Old Guard friendly Hudson Reporter. Her remarks appeared in their feature story even before Grafix Avenger who was a named defendant. 

The 36 page legal decision delivered last month in addition to ordering hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees be paid by the Mason family friendly Hoboken couple, highlighted the evidence presented at trial by the defendants writing, "

"there was significant evidence to support the truth of Defendants' statements." 

Contrast that with no evidence offered by the Plaintiffs at trial where the court wrote of Plaintiffs

Beth Mason, MIA since July 8th has missed four consecutive
Hoboken City Council meetings after her friends were
slammed with $280,000 in sanctions and legal fees
against a dozen Hoboken residents.

Related: The political operation against Hoboken residents and their First Amendment rights to anonymous political discourse didn't begin with the filing of a SLAPP-suit against a dozen Hoboken residents in 2012. 

As public emails obtained in the case now reveal, Hoboken411's Perry Klaussen turned over private registration information of anyone considered a vague nuisance to Beth Mason to her political operatives. Some of those who had their privacy compromised include this editor and others who would later find themselves named as defendants in the SLAPP-suit.

Grafix Avenger highlights all this and more in what the Honorable Judge Patrick J. Arre summed up as a "SLAPP-suit disguised as a defamation case" with more emails, depositions taken under sworn oath and the still smoking email where Lane Bajardi tells Beth Mason's paid political operative FinBoy he recognizes the importance "going with an attorney Ricky and Beth are comfortable with is key." 

Turf Track: All the emails in the SLAPP-suit published here and on GA were never "released" by the court. They were public documents obtained in discovery and previously filed in motions by defendants. No additional authorization was required of the court. 

This is a First Amendment case with weighty issues on important matters of public concern and public discourse.

For those unhappy with the truth revealed in those emails, perhaps you should have thought better of this before cheering on the SLAPPers.


Update: Grafix Avenger has blown the roof off with a "Earwitness" report today.

Vote-by-Mail changes signed into NJ law

Recently Passed Vote-By-Mail Legislation Got it’s Kick-Start from the Citizens of Hoboken

New Jersey Appleseed is pleased that the NJ Senate passed new vote-by-mail (VBM) legislation on August 10, 2015.  One update, the law reduces the number of voters a person can serve as messenger and limits the number of VBMs that a bearer can deliver to three.  Executive Director, Renee Steinhagen, initially proposed some of these legal updates last year.

Renee Steinhagen’s legal efforts focus on voter rights issues and more recently this new VBM legislation after representing the Hoboken Fair Housing Association (HFHA) in a challenge to their 2013 election victory against a ballot initiative intended to weaken Hoboken rent protections.  At the heart of the election challenge were approximately 300 vote-by-mail ballots that had been disqualified by the Hudson County Board of Elections.  

The court challenge to the election was withdrawn after the judge ruled that Steinhagen could call 180 voters to testify to the manner in which they had cast their VBM ballot, but Steinhagen and many Hoboken residents were still intent on seeing legislative changes to New Jersey’s VBM law because many residents believed that, in Hoboken, voters were often paid to sign their ballot and illicitly allowing it to be filled out by unscrupulous campaign workers or filled in outright for a fee.

With the support of many Hoboken residents behind her; dozens of whom attended a fund raiser last year hosted by Councilwoman Giattino to raise money to assist NJ Appleseed in pursuing legislative changes, Steinhagen drafted a bill that would ban campaign workers from serving as ballot bearers, limit the type of voter who could receive assistance to the disabled and limit the number of ballots that a bearer can submit in a given election.  Following the fundraiser, Steinhagen met with NJ Senator Vitale’s office where there was a similar concern on VBM issues in Perth Amboy.  Ultimately the draft was passed off to Senator Lesniak who introduced the legislation that was ultimately passed and signed by NJ Governor Chris Christie.

Renee Steinhagen
Steinhagen has stated that this is an important and positive step and, while the restricting of direct assistance was not included in the final bill and more work needs to be done; this legislation should have a positive impact on future elections in Hoboken.

Steinhagen modestly declines to take any credit for the legislation because she did not work with Senator Lesniak and does not know the extent to which her draft of the bill was considered when the final bill was crafted; but many Hoboken residents that have had strong concerns about vote-by-mail fraud for decades feel differently.  Even though Senator Lesniak took over the cause and spearheaded the VBM legislation to passage;  with the support of Hoboken residents behind her, Steinhagen’s  tenacious advocacy for changes to VBM ballots happened at exactly the right time, and timing, as they say, is everything.

Related: PolitickerNJ covered the story of the NJ VBM rules being tightened.