Sue happy Beth Mason launches new lawsuit!
City votes 4-3 to defend itself on Mason lawsuit seeking information of former legal vendor Florio Perrucci
The City Council agenda seemed tranquil but as it turns out contained a bomb. The City requested a legal contract for $20,000 to defend itself against the latest lawsuit by Councilwoman Beth Mason.
Not coming long off the Mason family underwriting a lawsuit to keep Councilman Jim Doyle off the dais for more than a year in a series of legal machinations and appeals, Councilwoman Beth Mason is back doing what she loves most:
|“I sue!” Beth Mason is suing Hoboken again but it’s an old target in Ravi Bhalla she’s pursuing.
She was refused documents the City says fall under attorney-client privilege.
Mason has never denied she’s suing approximately two dozen Hoboken residents in a SLAPP suit.
Then again, she made an open threat in advance of its filing but it’s gone unreported in over a year.
In the surprising development during last night’s meeting, the Corporation Counsel discussed the latest Mason lawsuit had been initiated due to a request made by Beth Mason for legal documents in an OPRA request between a former vendor and the City.
The original request for the legal documentation came last fall. (There was vague discussion about billing.) Later it surfaced the former legal vendor for the City is the current law firm Councilman Ravi Bhalla joined, Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader.
Mason has been on a less than obvious vendetta against Bhalla, a central figure in Hoboken’s successful reform movement for several years. Most recently Mason invested funds in what she and her political operatives claimed Bhalla had not withdrawn from voting on business before the City.
Last fall Mason attempted to leverage Councilman Bhalla being hired with the prestigious law firm of former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio making wild accusations he had voted on matters of the firm before he began abstaining due to consideration of joining the firm.
As it turned out, Bhalla had recused himself in the summer months PRIOR to his acceptance to join the firm. In addition, the law firm Florio Perrucci accepted and agreed it would no longer seek new business with the City of Hoobken, making clear it valued Bhalla’s services more.
But Mason ramped up personal attacks, her trademark she’s known for leading into the November election with nasty attack ads and unleashing her political operatives in the Hoboken blogosphere in the hope of seeing Bhalla’s re-election thwarted.
Some of the nasty attacks appeared in comments here on MSV and the barely there former AOL owned website Hoboken Patch under names believed by many a political operative underwritten by Beth Mason deploying her long time bottom feeding fish, Finboy.
The efforts were a massive fail and Bhalla was easily re-elected.
Later in last night’s meeting, Councilman Dave Mello would remark he’d be willing to give a heads up notice to colleagues if he would ever contemplate litigating against Hoboken asking others to do the same.
Councilwoman Terry Castellano who used to beseech Beth Mason not to sue the City of Hoboken for public records on phone records and similar, showed no such desire this time but asked for a period of calm discussion in the hope no legal contract would be required.
But City Council President Jen Giattino indicated the rubicon had been crossed as Mason had already filed legal action against the City and a defense had to be mounted.
Councilman Jim Doyle questioned Beth Mason who attempted to lobby the council from the public microphone or as former member Peter Cammarano ridiculed that dividing line, “a magic piece of wood,” saying she had a personal interest in her lawsuit and lobbying from the public microphone was a conflict of interest.
Mason who did not announce her latest lawsuit publicly to anyone including council colleagues was promptly stopped from further participation. (It’s unclear if her Old Guard colleagues knew.)
The occupant of the fourth ward seat, Timmy Occhipinti argued against the City hiring a lawyer to litigate and fight Mason’s lawsuit. He stated as he has on many occasions regarding legal work, no outside legal contract was required and the City should use internal counsel.
In the end, the Old Guard council members aligned to stop the City from protecting itself in a party line vote where the contract passed in a 4-3-1 vote.
Voting in favor of engaging a legal contract to defend against Beth Mason’s latest litigation: Council members Peter Cunningham, Dave Mello, Jim Doyle and City Council President Jen Giattino.
Voting against the City defending itself: Council members Michael Russo, Terry Castellano and Timmy Occhipinti.
Abstaining: Councilman Ravi Bhalla.
Standing behind “the magic wood” suing: Beth Mason
The last Mason family lawsuit achieved a modicum of success when an appeals court agreed a vote ordered by the Hudson Superior Court of the council to fill an empty seat was not required.
After more than a year of a logjam due to the open council seat, the people of Hoboken took the matter into their own hands and promptly put Councilman Jim Doyle back into the seat with a Reform sweep last November.
Talking Ed Note: The vastly unpopular litigious councilwoman (polling last year showed her completely upside down in favorable ratings) is believed by many including senior Hudson County and Hoboken political observers to be suing approximately two dozen Hoboken residents who irked her by complaining online about corruption and her behavior in a SLAPP suit.