Did Beth Mason commit defamation against a city employee?

The alleged assault of a city director has produced much drama over the past few days and a fine mix of political attacks from the well heeled and consulted.  Did those statements clear the legal hurdle on defamation is the question now stirring with some pointing to the less than professional words coming from Councilwoman Beth Mason directed at Director Ian Sacs.

Beth Mason went uncorked on a city personnel issue under investigation.  Did she just add defamation to her resume?

As Ian Sacs has made a personal account of the incident public to media outlets, questions now center on why Beth Mason even thought it smart to politicize a personnel matter under investigation where witnesses were still being interviewed at week’s end.

At a City Council meeting earlier this year, MSV noted two councilmen voiced concern an employee “was taken away in handcuffs,” earlier that day.  The two councilmen were actually referencing an erroneous report briefly mentioned here on MSV linked to another local website.  That concern surrounded the now departed Al Arezzo and the two councilman rising to his unnamed defense were Mike Russo and Nino Giacchi.

Beth Mason however decided to take a quite different path implying guilt and actions she did not and could not possibly verify.  Of course Beth Mason can’t help herself.  She’s running a permanent mayoralty-in-exile campaign and holding the voters of the 2nd ward hostage to that unfulfilled ambition.

Here’s her less than careful legal remarks pointedly clawing into Director Ian Sacs:

“The actions taken yesterday by Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the City Administration in response to an altercation between a city employee and City Parking Authority Director Ian Sacs are very troubling.

To have a city director engage in a physical altercation with one of his subordinates in front of passengers and City Police is unacceptable, and Mr. Sacs physically commandeering a city vehicle and driving it without a proper commercial license is worse, but the Administration’s response was outrageous.

Police led Mr. Sacs away in handcuffs, along with the city employee, and then Mr. Sacs received legal counsel in a jail cell from two lawyers, including the City’s Corporation Counsel, while the city employee received no legal counsel.

The Corporation Counsel’s responsibility is to represent the City, not serve as Mr. Sacs’ personal attorney.

The Mayor’s decision to suspend the employee without pay, while keeping her friend, Mr. Sacs, on the payroll with free legal advice from the Corporation Counsel, goes beyond any reasonable bounds of fairness. Apparently, the Mayor has already decided that Mr. Sacs is absolutely right and the city employee is absolutely wrong. That is the role we have entrusted to our legal system for more than 200 years and I am shocked that Mayor Zimmer would so easily trounce anyone’s civil liberties.

Lastly, the Mayor has called for a “third-party investigation” into this matter. Before she spends any more tax dollars to defend Mr. Sacs, she should let the Hoboken Police conduct a thorough and objective investigation and let our courts decide where to affix responsibility for this ugly incident.”

Talking Ed Note:  Although MSV doesn’t wish to advise others on a matter of importance as in taking legal action, the comment here spells trouble:

To have a city director engage in a physical altercation with one of his subordinates in front of passengers and City Police is unacceptable

The accusation here, Ian Sacs was engaging in a physical altercation is one Beth Mason can not and will not be able to prove in any court of law.  The question is how damaging Mr. Sacs will view that to his current and future professional career.

It’s too late for Beth Mason to take back her uncouth words here.  However, an apology would be a good place to start.  But as many well know and MSV can attest, Beth Mason doesn’t do apologies.  

MSV sent the following question to Beth Mason: Do you feel your comments were professional, appropriate and legal regarding Transportation and Parking Director Ian Sacs?

As we know Ms. Mason doesn’t like to be questioned, we’ll let you know if an answer comes but don’t hold your breath.  

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