Last week, Hoboken resident Phil Cohen described the actions of Council members Mason, Russo, Castellano and Occhipinti as “chutzpah.”
Last October, Mrs. Mason and Mr. Russo successively failed to attend City Council meetings at which the appointment of Jim Doyle to fill the City Council vacancy was considered, and chose to abstain instead of voting “no” at the meeting they attended. Ms. Mason and Mr. Russo have made no secret of the fact that they oppose Mr. Doyle’s appointment, but chose not to do their jobs by participating at council meetings or honestly voting “no.” The four Council members then sued the City to remove Jim Doyle, claiming that because Mrs. Mason and Mr. Russo failed to attend and vote “no,” too few Council members voted against Mr. Doyle’s appointment for his appointment to be valid. That’s, right – they claimed that Mr. Doyle couldn’t be appointed not because Mr. Doyle didn’t receive enough “yes” votes, but because their refusal to attend and cast an honest “no” vote resulted in not enough people voting “no” for the Mayor to break the tie, as permitted by State law.
Last month, the four members of the council minority were admonished by Judge Peter Bariso for what the Judge called “gamesmanship,” and he decided the case, finding that the four Council members lost the suit. Now that they have lost the suit, the four Council members have appealed Judge Bariso’s decision, resulting in a gridlocked, deadlocked City Council, and thousands upon thousands of dollars in more legal fees stuck to the Hoboken taxpayer.
Mr. Cohen believed that chutzpah properly described these actions.
Councilman Russo responded that while he didn’t speak Yiddish, he felt Mr. Cohen, a former Zoning Board member, had “some brass” for daring to come before the City Council as a member of the public to express his views during the portion of the meeting specifically set aside for the public to speak.
Mr. Cohen and Mr. Russo are both correct. The Urban Dictionary defines “chutzpah” as “unmitigated effrontery or impudence.” It defines “brass” as “courage, also known as balls.” Mr. Cohen does indeed have “brass” for having the courage to come before the City Council and express his views. And Mr. Russo does indeed have chutzpah for having the effrontery to attack a member of the public for expressing those views.