Horse Sense: Gaffes, garages and $6 million for tax relief?

With all the problems Hoboken and the State of New Jersey face, it’s certainly fascinating how the light of a minor gaffe in a speech by a public official attracts more attention than insects to a bug zapper.  Mayor Zimmer misspoke the Governor’s name and there was a lot of laughter including from Gov. Christie.

Gov. Christie: takes mistake in stride – “I’m here, he’s not.”

Last night’s City Council meeting saw a number of unusual events including a large group of concerned residents speaking on the city’s RFP process to identify a yet unannounced site of a temporary garage.  MSV is all but certain this outpouring of legitimate concern for one site on Jackson St. will generate the bulk of discussion as the scene is one that makes for good copy and drama – much like Monday’s.  But were there other equally important developments in the five hour plus marathon meeting?

Moving the City of Hoboken from a fiscal year to a calendar year has many advantages, one being $6 million gained in the transition among numerous other accounting benefits on a yearly basis.  Likely to be little noticed, City Council President Peter Cunningham stated the savings could provide 5% in much needed tax relief.  To this the “Council of No” (a term coined by our colleague at the Hoboken Journal) sat firm in opposition, arguing numerous points in multiple ways with one bottom line: if Mayor Zimmer is for this, we’re against it.

Now it’s no surprise that the Russo clan would not favor such a move.  Even with numerous lengthy detailed explanations, former Director of Finance Nick Trasente included, no logic could budge them.  Long time resident Helen Hirsch later criticized the City Council for not being honest and being more interested in showing off business cards with the city logo or getting a “free meal” than doing the right thing.  One reader just posted here about witnessing one such free lunch taken.  Hey is that ethical?

Councilwoman Beth Mason reacts to the crowd’s applause to Gov. Christie’s response 
during one of her three questions at last Monday’s town hall meeting.

But then there’s the other member of the Council of No: Beth Mason.  Isn’t she for reform and lower taxes?  Her government-in-exile supporters even posed with her fall campaign t-shirt at the last City Council meeting showing those exact printed words.  Apparently since her defeat at the hands of the voters last November, she’s for neither.  The reform part comes as no surprise, Councilwoman Mason jettisoned reform since she aligned with the Russo Association earlier last year.  Now she can add no tax cuts to her list.  Does anyone think that when that comes up next she’ll see the light?

What was the tally of Councilwoman Mason’s contribution last night?  She wants resumes.  Resumes obtained by the mayor in the earlier search for a Business Administrator.  Although she’s been advised they are available via the mayor’s office for weeks now, she’s declined to do so instead first requesting they be made available to the City Clerk’s office, and then yesterday insisting Corporation Counsel Michael Kates intervene and obtain them.  Mr. Kates offered to do so since the Councilwoman has not and apparently will not contact the mayor’s office to arrange such a viewing, although that again was discussed as an easily accessible option.

The Corporation Counsel advised the Councilwoman he could make such an arrangement but only after she commits to preserving the confidentiality of the applicants.  Not only is the Business Administrator position now filled, but the candidates still hold their existing positions and would expect their names not to be made public by anyone involved in the city’s hiring process.  On this point, Councilwoman Mason refused to make any commitment though she was given numerous opportunities to do so.  Each time she changed the subject to her aggrieved victim status, finally agreeing to discuss the matter “offline.”

Wonder what she’d say to the question of why she didn’t take the matter “offline” with the mayor’s office to begin with?

Last, another effort by the Councilwoman to change the conversation and elevate her image after her violations of ELEC laws emerged by restructuring the city ethics ordinance exploded at liftoff.  Since the early 90s, the controlling entity on such matters is the State and Corporation Counsel explained any proposed changes have to go through Trenton.

Does this mean she will be getting back to the Hudson Reporter and the public on her investigation of street money illegally distributed in her mayoral campaign last spring?  A video she posted on her website earlier this week claimed she had “nothing to hide” and she didn’t distribute any cash to any “campaign worker” in her mayoral bid last spring.

Well of course you didn’t Councilwoman.  Your campaign did.


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