Mark A. Tabakin, of the firm Weiner Lesniak, will serve as the city’s interim corporation counsel until a permanent replacement for Michael Kates can be hired. Tabakin, who has worked for the city on employment cases, is a candidate for the permanent position, according to Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
Councilwoman Beth Mason abstained from the 8-0 City Council vote, saying she did not receive enough information to vote on the appointment.
“I don’t vote for people I don’t have a chance to [get to] know,” Mason said.
Councilwoman Theresa Castellano provided Tabakin with some expectations as he takes over for Kates, who, according to Zimmer, resigned for both professional and personal reasons on Sept. 8.
“The legal department is the nuts and bolts of this city” – Mayor Dawn Zimmer
The emergency resolution appointed Tabakin at a rate of $430 per day, with a contract not to exceed $6,500 through Oct. 6. The city expects to appoint a permanent corporation counsel at the Oct. 6 council meeting.
“We hired him [Tabakin] through the RFQ (request for qualifications) process,” Zimmer said on Thursday. “We were looking for an employment lawyer. We are extremely impressed with his expertise, his professionalism, and his approach. He’s already been vetted by the city as an employment lawyer. He has been previously approved.”
Zimmer said on Thursday she is not certain how many resumes the city has received regarding the permanent corporation counsel position.
“We’ve been getting quite a few inquiries but I’m not sure how many we’ve received at this point,” Zimmer said.
Part time vs. full time
In Kates’ resignation later, he stated that his part time service was not enough. Zimmer could not definitively say whether the next corporation counsel will be a full time position.
“We’re going through the process of fully analyzing the needs of the legal department,” Zimmer said.
Tabakin did not finish the meeting without being addressed by the public.
Patricia Waiters, a resident of Hoboken and former mayoral candidate, addressed Tabakin and asked him to “please not come in here to satisfy any politician’s agenda.”
Tabakin responded, “I’ll do my best.”
His appointment was also questioned by Lane Bajardi, a Hoboken resident and frequent speaker at public meetings.
“As far as Mr. Tabakin is concerned, he has concentrated his entire career on school law and labor employment law,” Bajardi said. “[He] lacks something you need right now, which is experience as a corporation counsel.”
Tabakin received his Juris Doctor Degree from Seton Hall School of Law in 1990. He is a member of the Bar of New Jersey, the Bar of the United States District Court of New Jersey, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third District.
Tabakin currently practices law at Weiner Lesniak, and serves as a partner and chair of the education and labor sections, where he represents management in all phases of education, labor, and employment matters, according to his resume.
‘A lot of litigation’
Zimmer said on Thursday the city needed to appoint an interim attorney before the position is filled on a permanent basis.
“We’ve got a lot of cases,” Zimmer said. “There’s a lot of litigation we’re dealing with. We need someone who can actively manage those cases. The legal department is the nuts and bolts of this city.”
Hoboken is currently entangled in a legal battle regarding the failed sale of the Observer Highway garage. The city claims the developer interfered with the environmental approval process needed to complete a sale of the garage, after the city rejected the developer’s proposal to lower the price of the garage. Up for grabs in this case is a $2.5 million deposit.
The city’s new garage on Willow Avenue had apparently already been leased to another tenant who is suing to enforce his lease. The city and a pet daycare company, along with Willow Avenue Enterprises, the landlord, will return to court on Oct. 12.
Zimmer has previously said the city will try to resolve the situation with the pet daycare company amicably, but there has been no word of a settlement out of either party.