Hoboken Legal: City Council must follow one person per board position

A lawyer working for the Office of the Corporation Counsel stated a legal view all Hoboken board appointments should adhere to the written standard on the City Council’s application form of one person per board position. That policy, not established under town ordinance is currently not being applied based on recent statements by some City Council members.
The recent North Hudson Sewereage Authority appointment escapes the provisio as it apparently falls under existing law.  Tony Soares was appointed to his second board position by the City Council at its last meeting in a 5-4 vote.
Alysia Smickley, a lawyer working for Corporation Counsel Michael Kates spoke last Friday outlining a legal view in the controversy over board appointments.  While describing the North Hudson Sewerage Authority appointment as falling under existing law, she said there was no current Hoboken ordinance applicable in the City Council’s appointments to local board positions.
On the mater of the City Council’s using its current form for candidate board applications, Ms. Smickley said, “the City Council should apply its existing standard,” as stated on the form.
Candidates applying for Hoboken board positions must fill out a two page application.  Included is a question on page two asking if the applicant has any conflict of interest followed by a policy statement from the City Council: one person may serve on one board.  There are caveats to the limitation based on existing law as is the case with the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, (NHSA) a public-private agency created in 1988 by order of the federal courts and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Some City Council members have made statements overlooking the policy on page two of the application clearly stating one person per board position.  In an interview last weekend another member on background stated he was unaware of the policy stated on page two of the application.
City Council President Carol Marsh in an exchange with Hoboken politico Perry Belfiore at the last City Council meeting said she saw no reason why current board members should not be allowed to serve on additional boards.  Councilman Michael Lenz issued a statement last week saying he saw no controlling authority on the matter since his time on the City Council last November.  Both Council members were strong proponents of having Tony Soares appointed to a second board position at NHSA.  
Mayor Zimmer issued a policy position in interviews the next day calling for one board position per person except in “extenuating circumstances.”
Tony Soares’ appointment to the Hoboken Zoning Board expires in December, a month after the fourth ward City Council election.  Although fourth ward City Council candidate Tim Occhhipinti declined comment on the matter earlier, it’s almost certain to be an election issue this fall.
MSV originally broke this story last week, “Is the City Council second board appointment illegal?”
Talking Ed Note: MSV originally submitted questions to Corporation Counsel Michael Kates.  As a follow up to the discussion with Ms. Smickley, MSV sought comment from the mayor’s office and understands Mayor Zimmer is seeking to review the matter with Corporation Counsel Michael Kates.
Look for an update on this story next week.

Related: The Hudson Reporter noted the recent discussion in the blogosphere among Grafix Avenger, the Hoboken Journal and MSV.


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