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Councilman Jim Doyle Removed From Seat after Judge's Ruling

The newest member of the council was appointed to complete Carol Marsh's term.

Hudson County Assignment Judge Bariso ruled on Friday that five votes were necessary to appoint Jim Doyle to the Hoboken City Council.

Doyle was appointed in October to complete former councilwoman Carol Marsh's term. Marsh resigned, citing personal reasons, in September.

Doyle's appointment — which was met with heavy opposition from the council minority — passed in a 4-3-1 vote. Councilman and mayoral critic Michael Russo abstained. Councilwoman Beth Mason was absent that meeting.

Corporation Counsel Melissa Longo and City Clerk Jimmy Farina both said that a simple majority of council members present was enough to appoint Doyle.

The four minority council members sued their opponents on the city council, Mayor Dawn Zimmer and City Clerk Jimmy Farina to have Doyle removed.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer reacted that that would lead to "gridlock" for the entire city. A vacant seat means that a lot of the resolutions and ordinances may fail in 4-4 votes. 

Whether or not all council members were required to be present at the appointment of a new member is still unclear.

"Judge Bariso made clear that he was not ruling at this time on the issue of whether all Council members were required, under the Municipal Vacancy Law, to appear at a meeting to vote on the vacancy," the city announced.

Doyle's seat will be vacant at the next council meeting — which has been moved to Nov. 28 — but the city is looking to make sure to try to fill the vacancy.

The city announced that it's "preparing an application to have the Court order all Council members to attend a Council meeting and vote on the filling of the Council vacancy."

The next scheduled city council elections — while previously in May — will tkae place in November 2013.

I am Spartacus November 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Beth sure does like to sue people and pay lawyers. Someone should make her pay the other side's lawyers too b/c I for one think the frivolous suits are a bit ridiculous at this point.
I am Spartacus November 18, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Common sense? She lost that a long time ago. Common sense would have told her to fire everyone she has had on retainer years ago given how bad their advice has been. Hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain and she still can't get elected to anything more prestigious than city council despite the vast sums of money she has thrown around.
puzzledone November 19, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Are you saying that the mayor should have worked with the minority in order to kill the hospital and bankrupt the city, with actually no real reason? How about working with them to arrange absences from doing their job. Carol Marsh stepped down by her own accord. She could have held a position that she did not have the time for, and just show up and do what her handlers wanted, alla Occhipinti, but an attempt to do the right thing was seen as an another opportunity by a bloodthirsty minority, which has continuously showed they don't care about Hoboken, only about unseating reform so they can replace their cronies, and for that reason, there should be no horsetrading.
ThisMeansWar November 19, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Right, if Mason/Russo had the majority, they'd go with an open election instead of replacing one anti-reformer with another anti-reformer through council vote. You're a lying idiot and no one is fooled.
CuriousGal November 19, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Unwillingness to try to reach consensus, disregarding rules about appointments, going against legal advice, and doing everything possible to avoid having the people decide seems to be what Dawn is REALLY about. puzzledone- the city was not going bankrupt because of the hospital. Recall, it was the council minority who did not buy into Dawn shoving a $5 million bond down our throats- but it WAS Dawn who had no trouble with the law firm going $700,000 over their $50,000 DO NOT EXCEED levels for representing the city. Amazing--- too bad everyone doesn't have poor memories, yes?
FAP November 19, 2012 at 05:58 AM
I think very quickly the City will ask the courts to ORDER Mason, Russo, Castellano, and Occhipinti to attend a council meeting and participate in a vote to install a new councilperson. . I think it is very likely the court will grant that request and order the old guard minority to do what they should have done in the first place, attend the meeting and vote their conscience. . Though how pathetic is this? People ran for office and now have to be ordered by Judicial ruling to do the job they campaigned for.
ThisMeansWar November 19, 2012 at 09:32 AM
Speaking of legal fees, this idiotic lawsuit will just waste more of them - and taxpayer money. There is nothing at stake ethically, just parliamentary bs based on Beth not going to a meeting. During a state of economic catastrophe Beth Mason sued the city and wasted precious time and money. Yes, she of all people will be remembered for this stunt. I suspect the county job she is chasing with her latest publicity stunt is gone now. But she'll always have your vote.
CuriousGal November 19, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Was it all that long ago when Peter Cunningham (hiding in the mayor's chambers) and Carol Marsh slithered out of a regularly scheduled council meeting? "With a room full of Stevens Students, council meeting regulars and city directors waiting, Council Vice President Peter Cunningham and Councilwoman Carol Marsh left City Hall around 7 p.m. on Wednesday night, the exact moment the bi-monthly meeting was supposed to start, cancelling the meeting for lack of quorum. " -Hoboken Patch/Claire Moses Here, read all about it: http://hoboken.patch.com/articles/meeting-canceled-at-last-minute-after-councilmembers-leave-city-hall
InfotainMe November 19, 2012 at 01:31 PM
November elections greatly increase turnout. It was decided by the people in a public referendum. How is that *not* letting the people decide?
FAP November 19, 2012 at 02:48 PM
They left because 3 other colleges couldn't attend that night and felt it was better to hold the meeting on a night where most if not all could attend. . Did Mason, Russo, Castellano, or Occhipinti ask for a different night after the fist meeting? How about after the second meeting? . Something seems fishy with these absences. The Judge left the door open to discovery into why Ms.Mason chose not to participate in the first meeting and Russo in the second. After discovery I would be very interested in reading the depositions of Mason, Russo, Castellano, and Occhipinti as well as those who may have advised them to have a person absent. . Who knows where discovery could lead.
XJS November 19, 2012 at 03:08 PM
CG- Thanks for that link. The comments were most insightful. So the minority tried to pull a fast one and the majority members who were there left to stop it. Seems reasonable to me.
CuriousReplacement November 19, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Dang, CuriousGal pal - you forgot to spoon feed XJS the right conclusion to draw from that meeting. Now he's gone and thought for himself. That is exactly what they tell us not to do up at 1200. How many times have they said "give them the facts we want and tell them exactly what the facts are supposed to mean" Not helping. I need this money for that Stevens Cooperative tuition. Quit slacking off, eh?
Hobbs November 19, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Beth Mason has learned so much about more sleaze since she has been working hand in glove with the family of convicted felon Anthony Russo.
Rockin Out With My November 19, 2012 at 06:19 PM
What happens if someone abstains again? Then it's a 4-3-1 vote, and not technically a tie, so the mayor can't break the tie. Do we know what the scenario is here?
MadisonMonroe November 19, 2012 at 06:51 PM
If city attorney Melissa Longo couldn't decipher a very simple portion of the Municipal Vacancy Law and present the facts clearly to the council, then she should be fired. It states that a majority of the remaining members -- 5 out of 8 -- is needed to name a replacement, not a majority of those present. From the comments I've seen (by brains such as Scott Siegel) it seems that Ms. Longo said 4 votes were enough. Where did the city find this genius? And one would think that the other brilliant legal minds on the board -- Bhalla, Mello and the newest, Doyle, would have familiarized themselves with the law before the vote, perhaps even called into question the legality of what they were doing based on the simple fact that they didn't (for whatever reason) get 5 votes. They all appeared ready for a tie -- Mayor Zimmer was at hand to cast a tie-breaker -- but they weren't ready for a no-tie. Since everyone knew for months that Ms. Marsh was stepping down (and waiting until after Sept 1 to avoid an election) one would think the homework would have been done to ensure a guaranteed result. oops. The law also states that the council had 30 days to accomplish this task. It failed. The next step appears to be holding a special election (oh the delightful irony after all that fuss about moving everything to November) or just holding the seat open until next November. I'm no lawyer, but I can't see how the judge could negate the law's 30-day limit and order a do-over. Ms. Longo?
puzzledone November 19, 2012 at 07:09 PM
The $5 million when chris christie called them out for trying to destroy a city based on playing politics and he said not on his watch? If you are trying to get people to believe that the minority knew $5 million was coming from Christie, you are the one playing revisionist historian.
DaHorsey, SmartyJones of MSV November 19, 2012 at 08:50 PM
You folks shouldn't waste too much time arguing with Mason operatives frick and frack talking to themselves under multiple screen names. They trot out the lie, you slam home the truth and they come back and try again. None of this is going to impress the judge. MSV broke the story Friday: http://www.hobokenhorse.com/2012/11/judge-bariso-on-hoboken-at-large.html
puzzledone November 19, 2012 at 09:33 PM
So what you are saying is the former majority should have known that the minority would stop at nothing to use the law to their advantage in order to prevent the simple replacement of a board member, including the premeditated dereliction of their responsibility to their electorates to attend meetings? You should talk with CuriousGal who suggests that the Mayor should just be nicer and give more to the minority, who will in turn not try to destroy the city or democratic process on technicalities at every chance they get.
Journey November 19, 2012 at 10:20 PM
I hope that karma gives you the same sympathy you give to Mrs. Marsh when a member of your family is very ill.
CuriousGal November 20, 2012 at 01:35 PM
"With a room full of Stevens Students, council meeting regulars and city directors waiting, Council Vice President Peter Cunningham and Councilwoman Carol Marsh left City Hall around 7 p.m. on Wednesday night, the exact moment the bi-monthly meeting was supposed to start, cancelling the meeting for lack of quorum. " -Hoboken Patch/Claire Moses "Cunningham ran out in the direction of the ground floor bathroom, while Marsh took the elevator from the second floor of the building, her folder of paperwork still on the table in the council chambers where she had placed it minutes before. " - Hoboken Patch Why did they slither out of City Hall that night? They didn't want the possibility of not having the majority and not getting their way. Is that good and responsible government? Here, read all about it: http://hoboken.patch.com/articles/meeting-canceled-at-last-minute-after-councilmembers-leave-city-hall
MadisonMonroe November 20, 2012 at 09:07 PM
This is third-world government at its finest. I read the lawsuit -- the one that persuaded the Judge - and what this council and its team did was reprehensible. The lawsuit is attached to Ms. Moses' story on Oct. 25. I encourage anyone who is interested in the facts, rather than the spin from the sycophants, to read it. Ms. Marsh resigned on Oct. 3, which is the same day that Mr. Doyle was illegally appointed to her seat. Yet the position was not advertised for 30 days, per city policy. The state law states that there needs to be a 5-vote majority, not just a majority of the members present. The city attorney was incompetent or unwilling to lose her job by bucking the ruling side. Mr. Farina, by virtue of being city clerk for decades and decades, should have known better than to swear in an illegally appointed council member. Then, on Oct. 17. the council had what's being called a "re-vote" on this. It wasn't on the agenda (but since when are illegal "re-votes" on the agenda?) They apparently knew that they had acted improperly, so they took a mulligan. Not in golf, in governing. This is while Mr. Doyle was sitting up on the dais. Once again the motion failed. That, however, didn't keep the council from acting as it the second outcome had been any different from the first. Mr. Doyle then began voting on agenda items again. And despite the judge's ruling, Mr. Doyle's bio is still up on the city website. Thank God someone is exposing this third-world hubris.
I am Spartacus November 20, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Are you effing kidding me? Mason and Russo both deliberately skipped meetings all so they could file this frivolous suit. Their behavior over the last few years has been completely disgusting. If you want to talk 3rd world politics, then how about you talk about the rampant voter fraud and the trading of money for votes that goes on in this town. That is straight out of Hugo Chavez's playbook.
XJS November 20, 2012 at 09:52 PM
The only thing 3rd world about our council is the way the minority conducts themselves. If you can't see that, you're part of the problem and not part of the solution.
FAP November 20, 2012 at 10:18 PM
I was in the courtroom when the decision was made and the Judge didn't seem to think it was reprehensible. In fact the only thing the Judge seemed to imply could use investigating was why Councilwoman Beth Mason and Councilman Mike Russo decided not to participate in the meetings. . What the Judge seemed to say was that if Mason and Russo were playing games the course of action would have to ask the courts to ORDER Russo, Mason, Occipinti, and Castellano to participate in the vote to appoint a replacement councilperson. . My guess is the City will take the Judge's hint and now ask the courts to order the council minority to participate. I would expect Mr.Doyle to return to the dais as soon as the court ordered vote is held.
CuriousGal November 21, 2012 at 12:45 AM
I am Spartacus, XJS, and FAP-- you can't take nor acknowledge legitimate criticism can you? Everything has got to be spun and then you need to mention Russo or Mason. Is this a directive you guys have? No comment about Cunningham? No comment about Marsh? No comment about Marsh giving up the seat so there wouldn't need to be a vote (I don't care what reason she gave for giving up the seat). Please, read-- "Cunningham ran out in the direction of the ground floor bathroom, while Marsh took the elevator from the second floor of the building, her folder of paperwork still on the table in the council chambers where she had placed it minutes before. " - Hoboken Patch
franksinatra November 21, 2012 at 04:14 AM
I have to conclude that Madmon is right about this because the Dawn folks respond by just calling names and not addressing any of the points. It appears the Dawn faction on the council broke both state law and municipal law with this illegal appointment. Doyle is a lawyer himself and let this go on. I hope he is reimbursing the city for the council pay he's collected. If he wins the special election -- if the Dawn people dare to hold one -- he can resume his paychecks. The mystery, FAP, is why your crowd keeps obsessing about Mason's and Russo's attendance at council meetings. What does that have to do with filling this vacancy? Absolutely nothing, as far as I can tell. The state's 30-day period for filling the slot is now over and so this is all a moot question, but what difference would it make if all of the (former) minority members were on hand? One would surely abstain and there would still be no tie for Dawn to break. You and your crowd are purposely muddying the issue to deflect attention from an incompetent city lawyer and a bungled strategy for replacing Marsh and keeping their majority. And the idea that a judge would order councilpeople to attend a meeting is simply absurd. The bottom line here is that we now have some checks and balances back in this city. It's a very welcome development that we now have a 4-4 council and Dawn will finally have to reach out and compromise instead of endlessly shoving her often terrible ideas down our throats.
FAP November 21, 2012 at 05:02 PM
It was the Judge not I who seemed to comment that the reasons behind the absences of Mason and Russo may be of legal interest. If you think the Judge is fixated on the issue you'll have to take it up with him. . I think this is a question of interpretation of the law. The administration of Mayor Zimmer, and just yesterday the administration of Mayor Corey Booker, interpreted that an absence could create a tie if there are an equal number of votes in favor of an action and a combined equal number of votes against, abstentions, and absent participants. Functionally since if the absent person was there and had voted yes the measure would have passed and if the person voted no the Mayor's vote would have passed the measure, I personal find this reasoning persuasive. . As for what is moot and is not moot is another issue you may want to take up with the Judge. I'm not a lawyer but my take on what I saw the Judge say left open the door for a hearing on ordering Council members to participate in a vote to install someone in the vacant council seat. . Again I'm not a lawyer and I could be wrong but that is my take.
puzzledone November 21, 2012 at 07:09 PM
You mean after Tim Occhipinti ran around the room holding an "emergency" resolution over his head with a s***-eating grin on his face? Seems the minority cares about process only when it helps them get their way. When it means that Lane Bajardi does not get to speak after Roman Brice, suddenly Beth Mason forgets how to read names going down a list.
MadisonMonroe November 21, 2012 at 08:14 PM
It doesn't matter what the judge "seemed" to say. We know exactly what he did say: Mr. Doyle is off the city council.That's because our city council broke the law when they seated their friend. And they knew they were in the wrong, too, when they had their "re-vote". And the Zimmer supporters who called themselves reformers should hang their heads in shame at the lack of transparency in the process. The opening left by Ms. Marsh's resignation should have triggered an automatic 30-day advertisement period. It didn't. Instead, this council and mayor accepted her resignation and swore in a replacement on the same day. In my book, that makes them no better than the "old guard" politicos who regularly pulled that kind of stuff back in the day. The Zimmer/Bhalla Machine, just like their predecessors, evidently believes the end justifies the means. I had higher hopes for Jen Giattino, a mom from the block who just wanted to bring sunshine into the city, but she's as new-old-guard as the rest of them. And Mr. Doyle, who's an attorney and political insider (one of Joe Vas' top contributors before he went off to prison on corruption charges), certainly didn't step up and do the right thing either. To the council and mayor: hope your Thanksgiving turkey served with a side of Bariso-smack-down doesn't give you too much agita.
puzzledone November 21, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I love how you are saying that setting up a situation where you get your way through an absolute and hostile dereliction of duty by the minority is a move against a machine with an end will justify the means mentality.

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