Why Didn't Mason Release the Names?


That 2005-2006 BoE audit has become a Pandora's Box.

GA posted yesterday how the BoE had paid for 157 Nextel cell phone accounts (plus 1 Verizon Wireless account) that cost taxpayers 48K that year.  In a comment below, Eric Kurta noted that same year, the Jersey Journal exposed a similar scandal at Hoboken City Hall.  From May 6, 2005:
A review of Hudson County municipal cell phone records by The Jersey Journal found that Hoboken taxpayers have shelled out at least $230,000 in cell phone bills over the past three years.

By way of comparison, Union City - which has a slightly larger population and more city employees - spent just $5,000 during the same period.
As a result of that expose, Beth Mason OPRAed the City's cell phone bills for the 2005-2006 fiscal year.  She was reportedly unsatisfied with the response:
The city supplied bills a month later, but with information blacked out. Mason was allowed to see the monthly cost for each phone, but not the name of the person using the phone, the phone's number, or any information about the individual calls. In addition, the city failed to explain the redactions. 
Mason wanted to know WHO had been given cell phones, and the City would only release the expenses.  So, in 2005 she filed a law suit against the city, to get those NAMES.

Remember, this was the same year the BoE had paid for 158 cell phone accounts.  Those flew below the radar.

So what happened to Mason's 2005 lawsuit?

She won.  It was settled in August, 2008:

As part of the settlement, Hoboken will give Mason a list of names of all the municipal workers, including police and fire fighters, who have cell phones and the monthly bills they have incurred. Mason will also be given a record of all calls made on each phone for the period between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005.

"This is about city employees having cell phones with public money," said Mason. "It's critically important to know how much they're using and why they're using them."

As part of the settlement, the city must also pay Mason $10,000 in legal fees.

Mason said she is concerned about city employees using the cell phones for personal use and racking up long-distance and roaming charges.
Isn't that interesting?

Because back then, the Mason brand was advocating for good government and transparency- she even had a web site from 2006 - 2008, wethepeoplereports.com an open government forum for City and School Board business, videotapes, etc.

So in August 2008, Mason got what she wanted- a list of the people whose cell phones were being paid for by Hoboken taxpayers.  

Then what?

What did she do with those NAMES?

She ran for Mayor.

On a 'unity ticket', targeting the 'Old Hoboken' constituency, quietly romancing the Russos for the Church Towers vote.

So she held onto her hard-fought list of City cell phone account holders- municipal workers in the police and fire departments.

Why didn't she release those names?  On her 'wethepeoplerports' web site.

Did Mason use the list as leverage on a 'trade' with the Russos  for their support?

Or did she just walk away from it?

Mason cost the City significant legal fees, on top of that was awarded $10,000 of taxpayer money, purportedly to find out WHO was spending taxpayer money on cell phones so.... why did she withhold this information from The People?

It makes no sense to fight the fight, win the fight, then.... do nothing.

The people want to know.  Why DIDN'T Mason release those names?


  1. Perhaps it is time for the city to make that list public so the rest of us can see the names and who cost us how much.

  2. I wish that someone would have the guts to put these criminals away for life. Everything in politics is twisted and corrupt all the way to the core. I believe that these are only small fragments that resurface from time to time. This fight against the Hoboken sopranos will take many more years, and unfortunately after each Cammarano there's a Timmy Ochippinti. I doubt that the FBI has the manpower to deal with Hoboken or Hudson county's crooks.

  3. Let's rule out the reasons why she didn't release the names.

    -She does not enjoy humiliating political opponents. Check with Tom Greaney on his bankruptcy.

    -She believes one should let sleeping dogs lie. How many people thought about the Triumph of the Shills for more than its appointed news cycle before Baghdad Bajardi and Beth "I'm just like Gabbie Giffords" Mason made a cottage industry out of it?

    -She balances the possible damage to the city over her own lust for power. See blocking HUMC sale at every turn we are aware of an many we aren't.

    What's that leave? The names don't look good for the Russos.

    Question for Not-Stempler. Is this Mason's private affair? Can the city simply give the names to her while forbidding all others who haven't sued them to see the names? Doubt it.

  4. Agree with the thoughts of Info on this one. Why would the City PAY 10k for the shrew's legal fees? Perhaps as a way to buy her silence for not releasing the names? It is incredible that that the City actually paid money to keep secret the names of employees who were "assigned" cell phones. Why do I believe that the distribution list for phones had a very loose definition of "employee".


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