Wednesday, September 2, 2015

NJSA 40A:16-3 "When office deemed vacant"- UPDATE

UPDATE- September 3, 2015 


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?

Original post 


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 is unacceptable for any City Councilperson, Reformers AND Dark Siders.

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.    

50 comments:

  1. They should remove her and appoint Tiffanie as the interim

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    1. No one can be appointed if I am reading the statute correctly (I think I am.)

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    2. Why do you say that? too close to an election?

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    3. It's technically AFTER/subsequent Sept 1st since it still needs Council action. No?

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  2. You know Mrs. Richard G. Mason and the Russo clan would be demanding that the vacant seat be filled if it benefitted them.

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  3. Any second ward resident could temporarily hold the seat until the election right?
    Doesn't Horsey live in the second ward?

    He could keep the seat ward until Tiffanie Fisher wins the election in November.

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    1. I mean keep the seat "warm" until the election.

      Would Horsey be willing to keep the seat warm?

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    2. That would fulfill the karmic continuum.

      Plus it would be hilarious to watch Castellano's head spin around when he sat next to her.



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    3. Horsey as a Councilman? Please....

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  4. If the reform majority does not look to remove her tonight I will be pretty disapointed and at least would want to know why.

    This woman has been a cancer upon this town for too long. And now we have a cure for it. Make it happen

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  5. We'll get a nice reminder of Beth's tenure when she votes against the park.

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    1. And wouldn't you know it Beth Mason voted no for the park with Terry Castellano and Michael Russo.

      Seemed almost like good ole Council of No times.

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  6. By law the second ward council seat is vacated. So, there's no remedy to unvacant the seat for Beth Mason.

    That means any and all votes she possibly takes would be illegal. Hoboken better get this statute to the Corporation Counsel Office.

    They could leave the city open to major problems (and lawsuits) if this issue goes unaddressed.

    Allowing Beth Mason to vote on anything is at a minimum problematic and could set up a lawsuit against Hoboken.

    Great catch Grafix Avenger!!

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  7. I look forward to the expensive and drawn out litigation over removing her from office.

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    1. I don't. I think the hyper litigious Masons knew that not showing up to do her job would vacate the seat and that it would be a final FU to the Russos for not living up to their end of the bargain and giving her a graceful exit as the Hoboken Democrat Chair.
      Mason has used the no-show tactic before to keep Doyle off the Council.

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    2. She's vacated her seat. No need to remove her if she wants to sit at the dais like a potted plant. But Corporation Counsel must not allow her to vote.

      Btw, word on the street is her litigation-budget has been cut.

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    3. agree with anon@1:05, she knew what she was doing, I'm sure it was intentional. what a sad ending, like a child who takes her ball and goes home just to spite the other kids.

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    4. I think we will see Beth Mason look straight into the TV camera and read a a long, self congratulatory resignation speech her staff has written, sighting family obligations for her departure rather then watch herself get unceremoniously canned.

      A resignation would allow Mason to to keep he delusions intact but in return spare the City Council majority of some of the inevitable divisive political hate rhetoric.

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    5. or her pizza....

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  8. As I read the statute the Council is required to excuse the absence if it was due to illness and may excuse the absence for any other reason if it chooses too (as it should in my opinion if the reason is not completely off the wall).

    Unless you know why Mason was absent its impossible to know what the situation is. Mental anguish due to the Bajardi verdict would probably constitute a legitimate illness legally requiring an excusal if Councilwoman Mason can show she was receiving medical treatment.

    The way I read the statute MegaPhone is right that if the Council fails to excuse and the seat is therefore vacant the council could, if it chose to with 5 votes, appoint a temporary replacement to serve until the new Councilperson is seated in January.

    Its hard to see why it would be a good idea to appoint Tiffanie though with an election in only 2 months in which the voters can make their own decision.

    Doing so would be viewed as a political shenanigan that would only help the opponents of reform and hurt Tiffanie's chances.

    I'm surprised that MegaPhone, who seems to have been around the block a few times in local politics, doesn't realize that. Unless of course he or she does.



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    1. Mason's constituents have a right to representation on their governing body. The consequence for dereliction of duty is addressed by the law. It's not a political stunt, it is the law. Why would the City want her casting votes when she has legally vacated her seat?

      It appears by statute says the seat remains vacant until the next election.

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    2. Valid point that Mason could show an illness. She's most likely on one or more mood related medications. She certainly could get a doctor's note.

      However, she missed the last August 5th meeting because she told people she wanted to be in Virginia for her mother's birthday.

      So I'm not sure how that all gets cleared up. But she won't be able to make a valid vote tonight until that's cleared up with some effort on her part. Maybe she can purchase/get a doctor's note before tonight's meeting.

      That is if she does even show up at all tonight.

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    3. Wait are you trying to say that picking out wallpaper and deciding on thread count of the sheets with your interior decorator for the renovation of the Inn your husband bought you is not a valid reason to not show up for these silly little meetings ?

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  9. GA the seat is not legally vacated unless the Council fails to excuse, and the Council is required to excuse in case of illness. The statute also provides no required time limit for the excusal to take place other than after the 8 weeks have elapsed so it will not be legally clear whether the seat has actually vacated unless and until the Council takes an affirmative vote not to excuse.

    As for a replacement, re-read the last sentence of paragraph (b). The CC is clearly empowered to appoint a temporary replacement if a vacancy exists so it might make sense to consider appointing whoever wins on November 3rd to start serving right away if the option still legally exists at that time.

    The fact that the CC is required to excuse for illness and empowered to excuse for any other reason makes this not just an operation of law thing. Assuming no illness, the council needs to in effect affirmatively remove her by voting not to excuse the absence.

    That would create an unnecessary political distraction especially unnecessary given that she is not running and is unlikely to show up much anymore anyway. If she can't even articulate a reason better than picking out wallpaper then I think that she is basically removing herself, but if she provides a coherent reason that's not obviously and provably false then its hard to see why it would be worth the distraction it would create when the 2nd ward should be focusing on who will represent them for the next 4 years starting on January 1.

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    1. In order for the City Council to grant and approve an excuse, one must be presented to its members in full view of the public. Then they would have to vote and approve same.

      Is the City Council after all Beth Mason's savage attacks on Hoboken and many of the members themselves willing to do that?

      Didn't the Superior Court just rule the civil suit by Beth Mason's political operatives which she vocally backed and announced in a live council meeting a SLAPP suit?

      The action required is for an excusal by the City Council which can only take place with a vote. They will need to hold a hearing on the matter availaing the public an opportunity to lobby in advance of a vote.

      Bottom line, Mason can neither participate or vote until a final legal conclusion is made and acted upon.

      Is Beth Mason's stated desire to party down in Virginia considered a legit excuse to miss council meetings all summer?

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    2. So we agree that she has been AWOL for 8 weeks- which as you say per statute, triggers the Council to excuse (or not) her absence. If they do not, her seat is vacated. So, why is removing a SLACKER who can't be bothered with doing her job, GOVERNING, a "distraction?"

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  10. Forgetting the politics of the situation, there are 4 months of city council meetings left. That's 4 months of chances for Beth to be a deciding vote. Anyone on the losing end of such a vote may be in a position to make legal trouble for the city. No one knows that better than Beth.

    Corporation Counsel needs to provide guidance at the beginning of the meeting. No offense to the rest of us, but we're all spit-balling. What is the city's exposure if Beth votes, what steps need to be taken, etc.

    How it looks and smells is secondary.

    What's the law. What's the legal obligation. That's all we should be concerned with.

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    1. I seriously doubt that Corporation Counsel will provide guidance at the start of the meeting unless someone has had the foresight to ask her to research it. At most, she will agree to research the issue.

      That said, the law is actually pretty clear except for a couple of time line issues like when the clock starts on the 8 week period and how long it takes without formal CC action for the CC to be deemed to have not excused.

      As I read the law, the only time the CC has the legal obligation to excuse is in the case of legitimate illness.

      However, since the law permits the CC to excuse for other reasons the CC pretty clearly is expected to consider whatever reason is given and make a responsible decision based on all the facts and circumstances, including in my opinion, the fact that there is an election in two months in which Mrs. Mason is not running.

      A previous poster posted incorrectly that some kind of public airing of Mrs. Mason's reasons followed by a formal hearing (basically a trial) would be needed before the CC could excuse with the seat effectively vacant in the meantime. While the CC could certainly choose to hold such a hearing, the law has no such requirement. A simple resolution excusing the absence seems like it would suffice.

      Its not even clear that any reason for the excusal needs to be given, though in my opinion excusing the absence without a publicly provided reasonable reason would be inexcusable even if legal.

      It will be interesting to see if Mrs Mason shows up tonight. I'm betting she won't so the CC will have until the next meeting to find out why Mrs. Mason has disappeared and make a decision what to do about it.

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    2. This absentee behavior is the same old same old petulant demand to always be the center of attention with drama swirling around her. Tiresome. Glad she's gone.

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  11. This is a valid issue, missing four consecutive meetings. Is her residency Hoboken or Virginia? IMO she ought to resign her seat.

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  12. Even in her absence the bitch causes controversy.

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  13. Anon is confused on my earlier post. If a resolution is voted approving to an excuse for eight weeks of Beth Mason's absences, it would require opportunity for the public to sign up and comment if they choose just like any other resolution.

    There's nothing incorrect in that scenario. Since Beth Mason and her husband funded the forced phony vote with her phony absence to create 4-4 gridlock after Hurricane Sandy, there's not a little delicious irony here NJ law has ejected her and now she needs the reform majority to save her.

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  14. Mason spotted at City Hall!! Screaming into her phone!! Did she get some news?

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  15. WELL EXCUSSSSSSSSSSEE ME .

    City Council excused Beth Mason for her many absences from her job.

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    1. Pathetic. I'd like to hear why from Doyle, Mello, Bhalla, Giattino and Cunningham

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    2. Oh just let it play out. Mason has so destroyed her political career through her own ineptitude and out of control ego that you just know she will implode.

      Plus, do we really want to wast a fortune on lawyers when the that foul wench is on her way out already? Better to just let her scurry back under the rock she crawled out from under and let her stew there for the next 20 years wondering how she failed so miserably after spending so much money.

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    3. Whether it was true or not Mason apparently delivered a personal excuse for her absences and the City Council decided that not to ejecting her was the right thing to do.




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  16. Reform city councilors take the high road, it's a sharp poke in Beth's eye that they declined to stoop to her level. I take that as a BIG f-you to the Masons (both of them), kudos!

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  17. Even Horsey said City Counsel should do what it needs to do. He has every reason to say vote her out but like Council galloped to the high road.

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  18. Much as I would have liked to see Beth finally made to account to the taxpayers, I was mostly interested in neither the high nor the low road, but the road that keeps the city from getting sued (which apparently everyone wants to do) in the event of an unfavorable vote by someone whose right to vote was in question.

    That said, the Castellano vote hands an issue to Mike Defusco. Let's see what he does with it.

    Russo v Raia is a lot of professional wrassling in my book. Not really interested in their separate paths to their own self interests. And Frank already built us that nice park at the edge of the Shoprite lot where the employees go for a quick toke on break.

    Waiting to hear what Biancamano has to say about it - but again, only as a campaign issue. He belongs to Frank. Like Tim. And Frank's car and dog if he has one.

    From my point of view, most things come and go and will be forgotten in a few years. Bikes, road repairs, tax assessments. But that park will be there (or not be there) 100 years from now. If it seems hard now, wait a few years. It will be, more than most other change, the legacy of this generation of do-ers.

    Let's see who 'gets' that.

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    1. I embrace the echo chamber
      Ummmmmmmmm
      I embrace the echo chamber
      Ummmmmmmmm
      I embrace the echo chamber
      Ummmmmmmmm
      I embrace the echo chamber
      Ummmmmmmmm
      I embrace the echo chamber
      Ummmmmmmmm
      I embrace the echo chamber

      Here's a hint from the outside world.... no one will give a shit come November
      Ummmmmmmmm
      This will not be an issue of significance
      Ummmmmmmmm

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    2. Most of my comments are directed to the 6 acre park. Most of yours are directed to your rectum. That's probably the best place to put them.

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  19. Dang that catfish is right. A 6 acre megapark would be a lasting legacy well beyond my life, unless I get pushed off a building first. The reference to Pupies' little toker park just makes me laugh. Would have been better with semi permeable parking lot instead of Pupie Pond every time it rains hard high tide.

    Eduardo either is negotiating with developers directly or there is another leak in city hall. Building residential units without commercial offsets is not a fiscally sound policy by Eduardo as residential units cost more I terms of services that need to be provided.

    I love the book Animal Farm so I will say it this way 4 acres bad, 6 acres good. It gives us the ability to build two multiuse fields instead of one. That area is zoned I2 so the concept that the supposed BASF deal is complete hogwash. Nothing is for free. especially from developers.

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    1. I wonder if in his day job Eduardo leaks confidential information too ?

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  20. So Beth was humiliated once again. This time having to ask the benevolence of the reform council members that she so detests. Begging at the chamber door to be let back in. This after being slammed blindside by 411. This has not been a good year for her (and her minions/ aka "political operatives") Let the appeals court finish her off. She is that pathetic political Norma Desmond begging for her close up but finding that the camera crew has left the building. Time to try out her act in Virginia. At this point who cares about her and her failed NJ political aspirations? I am sure that Sweeney is glad that he dodged that bullet. She is toast. Is it true that the Mason marriage is on the rocks? And that Kimbo has fled back home? Karma much?

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  21. Is that Cardinal on the Virginia map named Kimberly ?

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    1. Yes. It cries, vomits and shouts, "you threatened my child!" on demand.

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