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Meeting Cancelled At Last Minute After Councilmembers Leave City Hall

Council members Peter Cunningham and Carol Marsh left the building at 7 p.m.

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.  

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. 

The reason for their sudden departure? 

They did not want to vote on a last-minute resolution—proposed by their political opponents Tim Occhipinti and Theresa Castellano—that called for a referendum for the people of Hoboken to decide whether or not to move school board elections, which are usually held in April, to the general election in November. 

Councilmembers Jennifer Giattino, David Mello and Ravi Bhalla were absent, which would have left the power of the meeting in the hands of the council minority. The resolution would have probably passed in a 4-2 vote. With a four-vote majority, the council minority would have been in charge of the agenda of the evening.  

After meeting with the mayor in her office right before the meeting, Cunningham and Marsh left the building. With only four council members present—not enough people to pass anything on the agenda—Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin officially called the meeting off.

"This is not the city council working together," said mayoral critic Michael Russo, calling it "partisan politics at its best" and "despicable."

"We don't have the majority every single meeting," said Castellano, who said she was equally disappointed with the situation. "None of us get up and run out."

Also present in the crowd was Stevens Institute Prof. Jonathan Wharton with a class of political science students. 

"What do I tell my class?" Wharton said, "they have a paper due!"

Other topics of the agenda includedThe four minority members said they would have likely voted "yes" on that deal. 

The minority, made up of mayoral opponents, also said they were planning to ask questions about three city representatives going to Indianapolis this Superbowl weekend for a seminar. Councilwoman Jennifer Giattino, Director of Health and Human Services Leo Pellegrini and Parking Utility employee Ryan Sharp flew there on Wednesday. According to a receipt of the city of Hoboken, Sharp's airfare was $339.20 to fly from New York to Indianapolis. 

Councilman Mello was absent from the meeting because he was under the weather, said Council President Bhalla, who was held up at work and couldn't make the meeting. But in a phone interview on Wednesday night Bhalla said he agreed with his colleague's decision to walk out. 

"It was the responsible thing to do," he said about avoiding the vote on the last minute resolution.

A special meeting will be scheduled within seven days. Castellano said this will cost the city hundreds of dollars in overtime that could have been avoided. 

"How selfish," she said. "Just because they can't get their way."

Lane Dastardly February 05, 2012 at 12:38 PM
what a joke. this getthelead out 44 barraccatto guy is the one who stinks at blogging. anger issues, stoopid jokes
Grafix Avenger February 05, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Earwitness News Report- the latest move to violate the Open Public Meetings Act brought to you by.... who else? http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2012/02/earwitness-news-report.html
C.Harrison February 05, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Mr rossi I'm try to teach my 3 year old to oppologize for mistakes. Then she gets forgiven. I'm teaching her fix her mistakes. Have the Russos ever apologized? Have they made restitution?
C.Harrison February 05, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Sorry posting from a mobile device. No useful spellcheck.
ThisMeansWar February 05, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Don't sweat the typos. A new authentic voice is always welcome.
Outofcontrol February 05, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Until she disagrees with you, at which point you will chew her up.
ThisMeansWar February 05, 2012 at 04:52 PM
1) I have no problem with principled disagreement. I have no principled disagreements with you. 2) You're an idiot.
BruceD February 05, 2012 at 05:20 PM
OOC, you vulgar anti Semitic STD petri dish. I actually am beginning to think that you are so effing dumb that you dont comprehend just how vile you are.
Outofcontrol February 05, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Pointing out your nasty, vile insults to Catholic prayer doesn't make me anti-semitic, it makes you a vile individual.
Redrider765 February 05, 2012 at 05:49 PM
K - I long ago came to the conclusion that OOC came from a very shallow and very base gene pool.
Lane Dastardly February 05, 2012 at 09:38 PM
quit kidding. outofcontrol is long established of intollerant of any one not BnRr or not tied into the olld Guards
Ian Rintel February 05, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Making this a ballot question seems to be the right thing to do - but I don't think this is the issue. Near as I can see it - two undeniable facts exist about this incident. 1) Two councilmembers left a meeting to prevent there being a quorum. 2) Four councilmembers attempted to pass a resolution which would only pass because of the absense of three of their fellow councilmembers. I do not know government very well - or how the city council voting works, but it seems to me that in no case should resolutions be adopted or ordinances be passed by taking advantage of absenses. Would this resolution pass if there was full attendance? While it is a shame that members of the city council were absent - taking advantage of this absense is reprehensible. I do not know what any of you do professionally - but could you imagine if you called in sick one day and came back to find out all sorts of decisions were made which would never have been made had you been present? Are our duly elected city councilpeople required to never have an absense lest law be passed contrary to their position?
ThisMeansWar February 05, 2012 at 11:03 PM
School board budget is $59million. A lot of patronage to be doled out if you control the school board. Right now a reform group holds a one vote lead on the BOE. It will be much harder for the old guard to unseat them if elections are in November. Elections in April have 10-15% turnout and very simply are easier and cheaper to buy. More than anything in this world the old guard fears voter turnout. They ran screaming from it on city council elections. Only with the BOE they have fewer options. They saw one and made a run for it. That's what we're dealing with. Democratic representatives who fear democracy.
Jabberwock February 05, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Ian: talk about being on point from start to finish. I think you summed the whole thing up exactly.
C.Harrison February 05, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Great post Ian.
p1ywood February 06, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Mr Rintel certainly has a clarity on this dynamic, but to delve a bit deeper: 1. The City Council has no authority over the Board of Education yet this proposed resolution would suggest otherwise. This is solely a B of E matter. 2. As Mr Rintel points out, the whole concept of introducing this resolution was to circumvent the will of a full council vote. That is why the resolution was introduced by the Council Minority members (Mr Occhipinti and Ms Castelanno) as "emergency", so it would take full effect immediately and without further review. It was know that Majority Council members would be absent in sufficient numbers to allow it to pass where it would otherwise fail. There was no "emergency" since the election in question was months away. Just desperate, sneaky politics. 3. I don't believe anyone has any problem bringing this to a referendum, just do so in a November election when there is reliably sufficient voter turnout to suppress long suspected intrigue of voter irregularities when the turnout is small and swayable. The resolution in question would not have achieved that. That needed accountability, I suspect, is what is feared by the Minority and drove them to such a desperate, underhanded act.
Jabberwock February 06, 2012 at 01:03 AM
P1y: I didn't read the resolution - did it state when the public vote would happen, i.e. - as part of the next election, which would be November, no? Or would it be on the BOE election? I also agree with you that, that the city council doesn't belong anywhere in this equation, but isn't that what the law that Christie signed said was one of the 3 ways that the BOE election could be moved to Nov? Lastly, how is an election moved by resolution? I thought elections had to be moved via ordinance. Does anybody have an explanation on this? Elections are held by law...aren't ordinances, not resolutions, our laws? The "problem" we have with elections is one thing, but is our gov and our elected representatives in Trenton playing a little underhanded politics here too? Sincere question, I support the move of this BOE election to November, and would vote for that given the choice. I'd also like to think the citizens of Hoboken would vote for the change too...those who care. The BOE is such a forgotten election sitting where it is. I wish the election fraud issues would somehow get addressed. I'd always like to see the people vote on stuff like this cause you never know who will be in power tomorrow. I do have concerns about elections in general, but it's awful when you can't trust the vote on issues right in your own back yard and that's what we've got here.
p1ywood February 06, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Jabberwock, I believe it goes something like this, but I am not 100% certain on the finer points. Yes, Governor Christie set 3 different mechanisms to move school board elections. Each could be used to vote to move it to November, but not to NOT move it to November (pardon the double negative but I am in something of a hurry now). One way is by voter referendum, one is by the school board and the third is by a citys council. In the case of the council I believe it has to be by ordinance, not by resolution, which is the way it was attempted to be done this past Wednesday. So probably what was attempted was not illegal, it was just not going to be binding per se because the council did not attempt to do it as required, by ordinance. Hope this helps, but I am not a final authority. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program: YO!!!! "SUPER" GIANTS ROCK THE HOUSE!!!!!
pied piper February 06, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Agree with P1y, any one of 3 entities may MOVE the boe election to Nov. If one of the 3 votes to MOVE the election- it gets moved ( njsba.org ). One Yes vote to Move the elections cannot be circumvented by any of the other 2 entities. This whole escapade was pure grandstanding /politics. Re: No quorum-There seems to be a few hypocrites amongst the minority bunch...fromJuly 15, 2008 Hoboken Tonight's Board of Education meeting has been canceled because they couldn't get the five (out of nine) trustees needed to make up a quorum. Board members Rose Marie Markle, Carrie Gilliard, Theresa Minutillo and Anthony Romano were all able to make it. But a family medical emergency caused President Frances Rhodes-Kearns to cancel at the last minute (her daughter broke an arm) and James Farina is ill, said Board Secretary David Anthony. Carmelo Garcia, Frank Raia and Phil DeFalco are all out of town on vacation. Reporter...http://www.nj.com/hobokennow/index.ssf/2008/07/board_of_education_meeting_ton_2.html
HobokenLeaks February 06, 2012 at 12:59 PM
"The focus of the Board of Ed elections should be on what is best for the schools, for the kids who attend them and for the parents and taxpayers who support them.... Too much politicization of the Board of Ed race has already occurred during this election cycle, and I do not wish to contribute to what, I believe, is an undermining of the Board of Ed’s purpose." -Beth Mason
Redrider765 February 06, 2012 at 01:56 PM
The purpose of the BOE is not so vote buyers can pass out jobs, sweetheart contracts and other favors to their BFFs so how about you stop aligning yourself w/ the vote buyers who want to turn the BOE back into a patronage mill so it can actually focus on educating children. It is the people you back who wish to undermine the BOE's purpose. BTW, seriously, you want to stop politicizing things now? You, the woman who has spent a fortune spewing out your lies, distortions, half-truths and misinformation on every contentious topic out there, you now want to stop politicizing things? How about you put your checkbook away then. No more paying your PR team to post online all the time. No more money for junk mailers every time you are in a snit over something. No more TV ads. No more hiring cameramen to film meetings around town to provide you w/ stock footage for your PR attacks. So you, the person who now wants to stop politicizing things, how about you just put your money where your mouth is and just stop your antics completely. You see Beth, it is you who is responsible for completely polarizing this town with your nastiness and with all the money you fling about. Just stop already if you want to stop politicizing things b/c you are the one politicizing everything!.
Lane Dastardly February 06, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Bet Mazin = embarrasment to herr family esp unfortunatte children. will never be mayor with her lies. dope
Eric February 06, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Lane Dastardly, you know, there is such a thing as going too far.
Eric February 06, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Well I am glad you had enough sense to delete the comment I was referring to.
Hobbs February 06, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Again, at the same time as Mrs. Mason was issuing this statement about the BOE, Mr. Mason was flooding the BOE elections with money. :-)
Outofcontrol February 06, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Oh please, why weren't any of you outraged when your girl Zimmer held fundraisers all over town for her Kids First puppets? Weren't the robo calls she made evidence of her desire to interfere in BOE affairs? Why is it ok when Zimmer infuses money into a campaign, but bad when someone else does it? The double standard used by you guys is sickening.
Redrider765 February 06, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Zimmer never lied about supporting Kids First or her involvement in trying to help get reformers elected. Mason did lie. You may not care that she lied but then again since when did you ever support anyone who was honest?
ThisMeansWar February 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
1) BETH wrote the letter about staying out of BOE affairs, then went on to fund a BOE ticket and attempt to use the city council to take the election day option away from the BOE. 2) You're an idiot.
Redrider765 February 06, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Yes, the basic problem w/ Beth is she again revealed herself to be a two faced liar. The only double standard was Beth's. She seems to think it is fine for her and her bottomless checkbook to be involved in the BOE elections but nobody else in city government can take a stand on the BOE race. She is the one w/ the double standard. And completely agree, OOC has again revealed a stunning lack of intellect that can best be described as idiotic.
gettheledout44 February 07, 2012 at 10:42 PM
angry and depressed and shrill. funny how when you're under the Jewish News investigation you're just a sniveling stay at home mom who has a fun blog. but when the spotlight is off you are a vicious hag who calls herself a member of the fourth estate (i.e. the media).

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