Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Sue You!

When your only tool is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. Such as it is with Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason who is suing the City for the release of documents exchanged between the City and one of the law firms it's contracted in the past. Mason's tool of choice is the lawsuit - a great tool for depleting the resources, both time and finances, of its target. For this reason it's a terrific tool for revenge and obstruction. Of course, it's a terrible tool for carrying out the day-to-day duties of a ward councilperson. But when revenge and obstruction are all your councilperson is interested in, then that's what ward residents have to settle for. For the record, let's take a brief look at Councilwoman Mason's history of lawsuits against Hoboken and its residents.

Most recently, there is the aforementioned lawsuit against the City of Hoboken that some believe is tied to politically motivated attacks against recently re-elected Hoboken Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla.

There is also the lawsuit filed against Hoboken  Councilpersons Bhalla, Cunningham, Giattino and Mello that prevented newly elected Councilman Jim Doyle from serving as interim Councilman after Councilwoman Carol Marsh resigned in October 2012. This lawsuit blocked a reform majority on City Council allowing Mason and her fellow Council plaintiffs to obstruct city progress for more than a year.

Then there is the sordid SLAPP-suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) filed against two dozen Hoboken bloggers in August 2012. While Mason's name is not on the complaint, the names of two of her closest supporters are. More damning though is that Councilwoman Mason publicly disclosed the lawsuit's existence prior to its receipt by the targeted bloggers. Needless to say, the bloggers were not, and are not, Mason cheerleaders.

Prior to Councilwoman Mason's failed attempts for election as Mayor in 2009, Mason filed at least eleven lawsuits against the city, the school board and the city's now defunct hospital board. Back then, these actions may have been viewed as heroic attempts to shine light on possible corruption. But, as I've written about elsewhere, in light of Mason's behavior after losing these elections, all her actions are now suspect.

In 2008, the New York Times estimated that Mason's lawsuits cost the city about $200,000. Just imagine the total cost to her constituents, our city's bloggers, and the city to date.

I Sue You! from Greg Bond on Vimeo.