Reflecting on Phil Cohen’s contribution to Reform and Hoboken

The Democratic primary on June 3rd will be decisive to Hoboken selecting its representative who will legislate at the county level.

One of the people who stood up for Jim Doyle and his original appointment upheld by Hudson County Superior Court Assignment Judge Peter Bariso was the Refom movement’s Phil Cohen.

He did so repeatedly as Hoboken’s ability to move forward was blocked in a cynical use of the courts.
As we approach election day on June 3rd, it’s important to revisit and recognize the contribution Phil Cohen has made to Hoboken.

Consider this Exhibit A.


Judge Bariso’s Order to MORTe and Phil Cohen’s remarks

Sometimes a dispute leads to going to the videotape.  In this case, there was some grandstanding on whether council members Beth Mason, Tim Occhipinti, Michael Russo and Terry Castellano were ordered by a judge to finally appear at the same council meeting and vote as a body on the Jim Doyle appointment.

Laughably and to no small consternation across the table, Tim Occhipinti claimed not to be aware of any court order compelling him to be at the City Council meeting and vote on the Jim Doyle appointment.  Speaking last before the vote, Councilwoman Terry Castellano would feign ignorance herself saying she “never received anything from the judge.”  Council President Peter Cunningham would read directly from the court order (below) causing more agita for MORTe who were squirming at Occhipinti’s disingenuous pretense there was no court order calling for he and his allies to vote.

In order to help MORTe and Masonista political operatives struggling with the facts, here is Judge Peter Bariso’s actual court order.  It clearly states MORTe – Mason, Occhipinti, Russo and Terry Castellano are expected to participate in the same meeting on the matter of the council seat’s vacancy.

Judge Bariso’s order came in December but was delayed further by an appeal MORTe made to the Appellate Court.  The appeal rejected on Friday paved the way for Judge Bariso’s order Wednesday night.

Phil Cohen also spoke on the issue for the third time, utterly rejecting the premise any special election was possible under the law in this circumstance.  His statement of fact on the council appointment countered misinformation on Hoboken411 repeated by Beth Mason in a mailer to Hoboken residents.

Phil’s comments follow:

Council members and members of the public, my name is Phil Cohen.
It’s simply amazing, and incredibly disappointing, that it took Judge Bariso in December, and then the New Jersey Appellate Division last Friday, to force four of our council people to show up and vote at one time on whether to appoint Jim Doyle to the City Council, given the real work  we face in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.  But I thank Judge Bariso for being the “adult in the room” and telling our council people “to go to work”, “do your job” and stop the nonsense.
So, now, the four of you finally have to vote. 
Now, when you first considered voting on Jim Doyle’s appointment, on October 3rdthe meeting Councilwoman Mason stayed away and made no arrangements to participate, a number of you talked about how you didn’t like the idea of appointing Jim Doyle to fill the council vacancy because the people should decide, in a Special Election.  And, indeed, in the lawsuit that Ms. Castellano, Mr. Russo, Ms. Mason and Mr. Occhipinti filed, you asked Judge Bariso to order a Special Election to occur.  But a lot has happened since October 3rd.  There have been numerous hearings and conferences before Judge Bariso, including the hearing that led to his issuing his Order in December that compels the four of you to finally vote on this question tonight.
What has Judge Bariso told you about a Special Election?  He has told you there will not be one.  He has told you that New Jersey law does not allow for a Special Election in these circumstances, and like it or not, Judge Bariso is running the show.  So, you all know that there will be no Special Election to fill this vacancy.
So, let’s be honest with the Citizens of Hoboken.  There are only 2 options for the City of Hoboken’s City Council this year.
Option 1:  Gridlock and dysfunction.  Instead of having 9 council people, we have 8.  A 4-4 deadlocked, do-nothing council.

Option 2:  A fully staffed City Council, able to do the People’s business, operating with a 5-4 majority as elected by Hoboken’s voters a year and a half ago, which resulted in Councilwoman Mason’s turning over the gavel as Council President to Councilman Bhalla.
While it is disappointing that it has taken Judge Bariso to order you four councilpeople to vote on whether Jim Doyle should be appointed to the City Council tonight, and while it has cost the City tens of thousands of dollars to get us here – essentially to compel you to do that which you are paid to do – cast votes on critical questions for the future of our City – you four still have a chance tonight to stop the games, stop dragging out your lawsuit, and get on with the business of rebuilding our City.
Tonight, the Council Minority has an opportunity to cast an honest vote.  Everyone knows you four oppose Jim Doyle’s appointment to the City Council.  For goodness sake, you sued to have him removed from the dais, and forced the City to spend tens of thousands of dollars fighting you in Court to overcome your well-designed plan to never vote, all four at once, on Jim Doyle’s appointment within 30-days of Carol Marsh’s resignation, preventing a 4-4 tie from ever happening, so Mayor Zimmer could never cast the 5th, deciding, vote appointing Jim Doyle Councilman. 
What do I mean, “cast an honest vote” tonight? 
I mean, Ms. Castellano, Mr. Russo, Ms. Mason and Mr. Occhipinti, VOTE NO TONIGHT!
Vote no tonight.  End the games.  Vote no tonight.  End wasting the taxpayers’ money.  Vote no tonight.  Stop dragging the City through even more trips to Court, generated by your Farce of a Lawsuit.
Do not abstain, and then run to yet another judge, and argue your abstentions don’t count as no votes.  Man up, be honest, and VOTE NO. 
Do you remember when Judy Tripodi came before the City Council with a proposed budget when Mayor Roberts’ administration was operating under State control?  It was an important vote, and Councilwoman Mason and Councilman Russo forcefully stated it was an “act of cowardice” for a councilperson to abstain on such an important vote, and that it was an “abdication of responsibility” for a councilperson not to vote yes or no.  Do you remember how you bitterly criticized then-councilwoman Zimmer for abstaining on such an important vote?  I remember that. 
Well, tonight it’s your turn.  Cast an honest vote.  Vote yes or no.
Stop suing the People of Hoboken.  
Stop wasting the People’s money.
Thank you.

Original comments from the story at the jump:


Tony's avatar

Tony· 64 weeks ago
I wish Phil lived in the second ward, oh god do I wish.

2 replies · active 64 weeks ago


manguest's avatar

manguest· 64 weeks ago
Looks like he’s been auditioning for the at-large seat that might be open if Ravi ends up running for something else. That’ll put him on the council sooner than waiting to go toe-to-toe with Beth in the 2nd ward.

Tony's avatar

Tony· 64 weeks ago
either way, Phil is awesome

Tony's avatar

Tony· 64 weeks ago
It’s really disgusting how they look down and ignore the taxpayer speaking at the mic.
Really ignorant of them.

6 replies · active 63 weeks ago


guest's avatar

guest· 64 weeks ago
You are right. Look at how Castellano acts throuhgout like she has more important paperwork to fill out than listen to the public. She is an embarrassment and nothing but a reminder of the dark old Russo days Why doesn’t she stop pretending and resign already? Or does she have to ram that little kid of hers down our throat first? What a bad reflection on Hoboken.
No, Castellano, Mason and Russo just opened those packets so they are reviewing them as the meeting is conducted.

guest's avatar

guest· 64 weeks ago
I wouldn’t be surprised if “reviewing them” means they just look at the pictures and draw mustaches and scars on the people in them.

Tony's avatar

Tony· 64 weeks ago
I sat next to a few. Just opening them is work for some.

PoogiE's avatar

PoogiE· 63 weeks ago

MasonWantsMonarch's avatar

MasonWantsMonarch· 63 weeks ago
Well when you have no full time job and you are councilperson for a 6 block area, you obviously need 5 people on staff, and an army of consultants. I mean how could you possibly be able to handle your duties by yourself. Unheard of

davidd's avatar

davidd· 64 weeks ago
Go Phil!

1 reply · active 64 weeks ago


davidd's avatar

davidd· 64 weeks ago
Congrats to Councilman Doyle!

Tess's avatar

Tess· 63 weeks ago
how can ms castilanno say she never received the order on tape LOL? It actually states their names? Well, congratulations to Mr Doyle

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