Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said: “you are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” Sadly, Councilwoman Beth Mason’s letter last week played so fast and loose with the facts that it seemed to be more the product of a fertile imagination than the expression of an honest opinion. Ms. Mason, together with Council members Russo, Occhipinti and Castellano lost their law suit with the City which resulted, in Judge Bariso's words, from their "gamesmanship" in attempting to obstruct the lawful appointment of Jim Doyle to fill Hoboken's City Council vacancy. The lawsuit continues because despite having lost the case and being reprimanded by Judge Bariso, the four members of the City Council minority chose to file an appeal. It is not possible for the City to "drop its lawsuit" as Ms. Mason demands in her letter because the City has already won the lawsuit. All that remains to be litigated is the appeal filed by Ms. Mason and her co-litigants and only they can stop wasting taxpayer money by "dropping" the lawsuit.
In addition, Mrs. Mason continues to intentionally mislead the public by falsely claiming that the law permits a special election to be held to fill the City Council vacancy. It does not, and I sat in Judge Bariso’s courtroom together with Mrs. Mason’s lawyers when Judge Bariso made that emphatically clear. Ms. Mason knows that if she succeeds in blocking Mr. Doyle’s appointment, the only legally available alternative is that the City Council deadlock will continue until November. It is unfortunate that she has been unwilling to be honest about that indisputable fact in her public statements.
Councilwoman Theresa Castellano asserted at the last meeting that the Mayor and the City Council majority only wanted to fill the vacancy "so they can get everything done that they have to get done.” She is, of course correct. What we want to get done is the people’s business, the job that we all, including Councilwoman Castellano, were hired to get done. We want to get done things that have been obstructed by the Council minority like the upgrading of Washington Street, Frank Sinatra Drive and Observer Highway and the hiring of a City engineer so that we can complete the construction of new parks and the renovation of our existing ones. We want to get done things that we must get done in the coming months like the passage of a budget with no increase in our tax levy despite the costs of Superstorm Sandy. The list of things that must get done goes on and on.
Yet as Ms. Castellano acknowledged, she, Ms. Mason, Mr. Russo and Mr. Occhipinti brought this lawsuit specifically for the purpose of stopping us from “getting done everything that we have to get done”, intentionally creating deadlock that, while it may serve their political goals, does nothing but harm to the citizens of Hoboken who we have taken an oath to serve.
It's time for the games to stop and for Council members to start telling the truth. Stop suing the City, stop obstructing the people's business, stop writing letters to the editor intended to mislead the public and start doing your jobs.
Ravi S. Bhalla