Earlier today Hudson County Assignment Judge Peter Bariso ordered the Hoboken City Council to vote on the open at-large seat. The vote is scheduled to take place this Wednesday at the regularly scheduled meeting and council members may vote in person or by telephone if necessary.
The legal wrangle ends the Old Guard council effort of avoiding a full vote of its eight members to avert a 4-4 tie where the mayor could cast the legally binding fifth and deciding vote. At the previous hearing Judge Bariso ruled five votes were required and the mayor’s earlier vote was not valid short of a 4-4 tie.
Councilwoman Beth Mason was seen by a reliable source last month in town driving her younger daughter in her car and did not show up for the council meeting two hours later where a vote was held on the council candidacy of long time Hoboken activist Jim Doyle. Mason has never provided a reason for her failure to appear at the meeting.
The following meeting Councilman Michael Russo failed to show up with his godmother Councilwoman Terry Castellano saying he was out due to a family illness. Both Russo and Mason made no effort to call in and cast a vote on the council appointment.
In court, Mason lawyers attempted to hide behind the 30 day window for the council to back fill the at-large seat and make an appointment but the judge ruled against them and set forward the decision to hold a vote of all eight members.
The judge has indicated he will hold another hearing January 2nd to determine what the actual vote means. It’s expected at least one Old Guard council member will attempt to abstain and claim their vote is not a “no” vote. In doing so, the Old Guard council will cast their last hail mary to prevent Mayor Dawn Zimmer from casting a tie-breaking vote and keep Jim Doyle from being appointed to the council at-large seat up for election next November.
Beth Mason and her Old Guard council colleagues Michael Russo, Tim Occhipinti and Terry Castellano could make a legal application to stay the legal decision today and forestall the vote on Wednesday. It’s unclear if an attempt for an emergency injunction will be filed and if it would be granted leading into Wednesday’s meeting.
Will Beth Mason attempt to hide again from her council responsibility and avoid a vote for the at-large seat risking contempt of court? The ruse has been shot down in Hudson County Superior Court earlier today.
Talking Ed Note: Beth Mason is said to have told others the judge can’t make her vote. We’ll see what Mason does now that the sabotage of the council has failed to stave off a legal vote this Wednesday as ordered by the Hudson County Assignment Judge Peter Bariso.