Wednesday night was a showdown on several levels for pay to play and campaign finance reform legislation at the City Council.  Beth Mason as chair hit a new low even by her previous actions on the council suppressing her colleagues from speaking, ignoring motions and refusing to allow the common courtesy to introduce an ordinance in support of campaign finance reform legislation.  That package offered by Council members Peter Cunningham and Ravi Bhalla adds teeth to prevent a wheeling loophole Beth Mason and PACs have used to flood Hoboken elections with money.

Adamant to keep the public eye from hearing or adding to the spotlight of her backdoor actions to funnel thousands of dollars well into five figures to Tim Occhipinti, monies applied to fund his massive fraudulent vote buying last November, Beth Mason attempted to squelch any and all reference to wheeling legislation sponsored by Council members Peter Cunningham and Ravi Bhalla.

At the previous City Council meeting, Peter Cunningham introduced a comprehensive package of pay to play ordinance updates and an anti-wheeling measure.  It was ejected by Beth Mason almost out of the gate when she claimed powers as chair later rejected on appeal to the Corporation Counsel.  In voting the complete package out, the updated pay to play ordinance worked on by People for Open Government (POG) was removed.

The video below begins with an inquiry by Peter Cunningham on why his sponsored ordinance appears below a copy cat ordinance sponsored by Beth Mason and Terry Castellano.  Their version is exactly the same as Peter Cunningham’s except  the anti-wheeling measure has been deleted.

Beth Mason answer for this little trick is “this is how it appears on the agenda,” and she immediately orders a vote on her ordinance in place of Peter Cunningham’s.  A nice act of politrickery right out of the gate.  Bravo Beth!

Then all chaos breaks out after the vote when Peter Cunningham again tries to take the floor to introduce to the public the details of his ordinance that had magically found its way below Beth Mason’s on the council agenda.  Note Mike Russo chiming in at key points here too acting in support of the suppression. But he’s not the only guilty actor.  Both Beth Mason and Mike Russo can’t pull this off without the full support of the Council of No, Nino Giacchi the linchpin to such preplanned maneuvers.

The Cunningham measure is then voted down with no explanation to the public on its content even as Corporation Counsel appears to state the measure should permit the sponsor to make an introduction.  MSV has never seen such suppressive tactics applied in Hoboken’s City Council and there have been many anti-democratic actions there over the years.

Voting NO on the anti-wheeling measure (it’s the usual suspects) Nino Giacchi, Tim Occhipinti, Terry Castellano, Mike Russo and of course your suppressor of ceremonies Beth Mason.  They are very clear in rejecting this legislation in not so much as a blink of the eye.  They all want Beth Mason’s monies  beyond the the individual maximum contribution limit of $2,600 too, lots of it.  Voting with Beth Mason on this is almost like voting yourself a pay raise.  She gets more power and you get lots of unethical loot for a re-election bid.

The City’s audio feed is worth a listen and view as well

Tim Occhipinti in particular needs that money to pay for another round of vote buying – by the hundreds.  His campaign directed payments to 550-575 ‘campaign workers,’ and he expect to do the same again.  His campaign’s obvious fraud in the November 4th ward special election is still an open question.  It’s unclear if the NJ Attorney General’s office will act against Tim Occhipinti’s campaign where several criminal referrals remain outstanding.  One thing is certain: with Rami Pinchevsky in the race, people of the 4th ward will have a choice in May.

But liberation for Hoboken can only be had at the hands of the 2nd ward voters.  This is some of the most anti-democratic behavior MSV has ever witnessed in person.  They will decide at the polls if this will be a marker in time or forgotten.

There’s going to be more video on this issue to follow, plenty more. 

Talking Ed Note: Two important board members of POG have publicly come out in favor of anti-wheeling legislation.  Ron Rosenberg a serious man on these matters made his statement of support in the Hudson Reporter.  Last night very late, Jim Vance another POG board member made a point that anti-wheeling legislation needed to see the light of day and be passed as well.

The POG updated pay-to-play ordinance passed by unanimous vote – but it’s not the amended version of Peter Cunningham’s resolution.  Beth Mason sponsored a competing version and now will use that for campaign fodder as it passed easily and will be expected to do so.  The public should support it and note Mason’s failure to support controlling her checkbook and buy Hoboken elections each and every opportunity.  Let her use that shiny gavel she bought to her heart’s content.

On a side note, there’s been reasonable discussion on the merits pro and con of adding anti-wheeling measures to the pay-to-play ordinance.  There’s plenty of good reasons and strong feelings on both sides.  But we move ahead and POG should now join in with the public in voicing unified support to stop wheeling in Hoboken.

MSV would be pleased to run a guest piece from the organization on the subject of wheeling.  Other parts of New Jersey have implemented the legislation and this was highlighted in the public portion last night.

Keep your eye on the prize.  It doesn’t hurt to make the bad guys sweat either.  Last night they were filling buckets.  You could almost feel their pain.  More on that to come.

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