Is the City Council Second Board Appointment Illegal?
MILE SQUARE EXCLUSIVE
In the controversy of Hoboken Zoning Board President Tony Soares’ second board appointment last Wednesday in the City Council to the Hudson Sewerage Authority, there’s now questions arising on the validity of the City Council’s action. The problem stems from the fact it is against the City Council’s own written policy to approve a second board position and the action itself may be illegal.
Based on existing policy as clearly stated on the City Clerk’s application, the legality of the City Council’s vote to give a second board position is now very much in doubt.
Page two of the application clearly states “City Council policy allows individuals to serve on only one standing board or commission at a time.” As indicated in an exact copy below on page two of that document, the top portion asks if there is any conflict the applicant has for the position.
With Tony Soares already President of the Zoning Board, the legality of the City Council vote to authorize a second board position is potentially problematic. Although the North Hudson Sewerage Authority (NHSA) is a county body, this board position represents Hoboken, the process is generated through Hoboken, conducts its meetings in Hoboken and is approved by the City Council as are all Hoboken board positions.
In a brief phone interview with Tony Soares this morning, the newly appointed board member stated he was well aware of the statement on the application itself and found it to be contradictory. “I read it and asked about it. I’m not a lawyer. The city attorney knew this on Thursday and no one has talked about it,” Tony explained.
Corporation Council Michael Kates was not available today but a lawyer on his team stated it was not clear what the legal policy is offhand and would investigate the matter. It’s an open question if there is a corresponding Hoboken ordinance at the time of the vote supporting the stated City Council policy on the application.
Last Thursday Tony Soares attended his first North Hudson Sewerage Authority meeting as a full participating member.
The City Council members voting in favor of Tony Soares’ appointment to a second board position were Council members Mike Lenz, Carol Marsh, Peter Cunningham, Mike Russo and Terry Castellano.
MSV has contacted the members who voted in favor of the appointment to inquire about the clearly stated City Council policy on the application and why they ignored it in voting an additional board position for Tony Soares.
The complete two page document can be found here:
State legal requirements mandate certain overlap such as a member of the City Council needing to be on the Planning Board. Other arguments regarding the “synergy” of having multiple board positions fail to address that existing board members are allowed to attend other board meetings and participate on a public basis.
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