There are too many extra long council meetings in Hoboken which inhibit the opportunity for the public to voice their opinion. To have to wait until after midnight to speak is unreasonable. For example, at the seven hour meeting held on Feb. 16, 2011, one citizen said to the council, [in the early hours of the morning], “shame on you” and another said that the council is “alienating the public.” I concur with both statements.
This condition is of long standing. During the lengthy council meeting of March 19, 2008, Councilman Nino Giacchi recommended a return to having a caucus to expedite council business. This has merit, since items and issues can be discussed, consensus gained and new items can be pulled if the council needs more study time or requires additional information and briefing. My letter to The Editor, Hoboken Reporter, was published March 30, 2008, [Bringing back council caucus will improve productivity]. I have also spoken at council meetings in follow up. Unfortunately, it could not gain a council majority at that time.
Ironically, at the March 2, 2011 council meeting, I had to wait until after 1 a.m. to address this caucus issue with the governing body. I have communicated this request to Mayor Zimmer and Councilperson Beth Mason, president of the council. My request has been forwarded to the council’s rules committee, which is chaired by Councilperson Carol Marsh. Councilpersons Theresa Castellano and Michael Russo are the other committee members.
In my opinion, the current length of the meetings act as a filibuster to the public portion, hinders the right to speak at a reasonable hour and causes many who have signed up to speak to leave. Who really wants to speak and/or listen at 2 a.m. the next day?
Planning and organization will be greatly improved by having a council caucus before the meeting. Accordingly, I have recommended this again with the hope that the city council will seriously consider re-instituting the caucus system for improved time management, which Hoboken has used successfully in the past.
The governing body should set the example and act professionally. I hope that personal politics are set aside and that this issue does not die in committee.