As most know by now, the vacancy of 2nd Ward Councilwoman was unanimously excused last night, after a closed session discussion of the matter. Mason was locked out of the closed session, during which at least one witness heard her screaming into her cell phone.
When the 8 members of the City Council recovened, Council President Bhalla introduced a resolution to excuse the 2nd Ward Councilwoman's "8 consecutive week, 56 day" absence. Bhalla added he had spoken directly with Mason, Corporation Council and the rest of the Council members on the matter of Mason's vacancy.
Prior to the vote, a Horse galloped to the podium. GA hopes to get the video cut of this episode, but I will state for the record, I'm in agreement with Horse's statement.
I believe Reform Council members followed the law. On that basis, Mason was "excused" by all 8 members of the Council, allowing her to fill the remainder of her term.
The next concern for the 2nd Ward Councilwoman might be the matter of a residency requirement for a member of a governing body. Sources tell GA the Councilwoman is living in the state of Virginia, where she operates a bed and breakfast. Virginia is a lovely state. But how do 2nd Ward constituents access their the Councilwoman from 300 miles away? It doesn't matter if she has a mailing address in Hoboken; is she still living here?
The questions are:
1-- Is the 2nd Ward Councilwoman living out-of-state?
2-- If so, does she meet the residency requirement for a New Jersey member of a governing body?
Hoboken's 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason has failed to attend the following City Council meetings:
Week 1: July 8, 2015
Week 2: July 15
Week 3: July 20
Week 5: August 5
The 8th consecutive week was last week. Beth Mason has failed to attend and participate in any meetings of the governing body for eight consecutive weeks- September 1 was the 56th day. .
By statute, it appears 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason's seat is vacated.
What happens next?
Mason's seat became vacant on September 1, not "subsequent to September 1st".
GA's reading of the above statute, NJSA 40A:16-4b: Mason's vacated seat will be filled at "the general of regular municipal election."
The 2nd Ward Councilwoman has missed 4 meetings and 8 consecutive weeks (56 days) of meetings.
|AWOL Councilwoman, photo credit: MSV|
This lapse in service to her constituents and the entire City must not, should not, be condoned. It sends a terrible message to her constituents, and all Hoboken residents, that their elected representatives can go AWOL at any time without consequence.
If the Council allows Mason to sit up on the dias with the 8 Council members, she must not (in my opinion) be permitted to vote going forward because she no longer has the legal standing to do so. The City must protect itself from liability.
GA is no lawyer (although I did defend myself in the Bajardi-SLAPP for 17 months), but the statutes seem to be clear on the legal consequences of the 2nd Ward Councilwoman going AWOL.
Any lawyers out there to address this? Please weigh in.
The Council must not condone law-breaking by one of it's own.