2nd Ward


ELEC filings foment spat between two Hoboken council members

The day after Councilwoman Beth Mason called for Councilman Ravi Bhalla to resign for pay-to-play violations, Bhalla struck back with a claim that Mason committed more severe violations of state election commission laws.

A review of records filed by Mason with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) show that Mason paid out $15,000 in "street money" - cash used for such things as get-out-the-vote efforts - apparently in violation of ELEC rules.

Judge to hospital: shine a light

Judge to hospital: shine a light

07/14/2008 Hoboken Reporter

Mason wins lawsuit regarding public meeting violations

Hudson County Superior Court Judge John O'Shaughnessy ruled June 30 that the government body overseeing Hoboken's only hospital has repeatedly violated state laws about open public meetings, and that they were deficient in their response to a citizen's request for information.

The decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason against the relatively new Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (HMHA) in 2007. Mason has filed a number of lawsuits charging that the city has failed to make certain records and meetings open to the public. Mason, who was elected to her council seat in May of 2007, had filed the suits while still a private citizen.

OPRA: Private Citizen vs. City Official. Why You Can

Record requests that, in the opinion of the Hoboken Law Department, create a legal concern/liability for illegal dissemination of "lawfully protected information" should only be made available to City Council members who have attended a "government official" OPRA training seminar.

For several years, Hoboken Community Activist Beth Mason has been in the forefront advocating "transparency" in government.  Mason and I, along eleven Hoboken citizens, were founding members of People for Open Government, a Hoboken-based civic organization dedicated to campaign finance reform, ethics, OPRA, public access and other open government issues. 

In addition, Mason serves as the president of the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government which seeks to increase transparency, accountability, honesty and democracy in government at all levels by defending and expanding public access to government records and meetings. Mason, as a private citizen, built a reputation across the State as a leader in government reform.


On July 1, 2008, Mason's political status changed from "private citizen" to "government official" when she was sworn into political office representing Hoboken's Second Ward as "Councilwoman Beth Mason." With several "private citizen" initated OPRA lawsuits against the City of Hoboken still pending in the Courts, Councilwoman Mason now finds herself in the political quagmire of suing herself as a Hoboken Government Official.

Close to settling suit over Hoboken records

Councilwoman Beth Mason may be close to settling one of her lawsuits concerning transparency in government - this time with the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority.

"The lawyers have worked out the basis for an agreement," said Ira Karasick, an attorney for HMHA.

Both sides stress the agreement has not been finalized and must be approved by HMHA's board of directors - by no means a sure thing. The board next meets March 26.

"The board wants to resolve the litigation," said George Crimmins, HMHA's executive director. "It's a matter of what that resolution is."

Taxpayers should be offended by lawyer's letter

Fellow taxpaying Hoboken residents, we should all be offended by the letter from City Corporation Counsel Steve Kleinman in last week's Reporter, as well as the statements by Mayor Roberts regarding the lawsuits filed by Beth Mason over the city's noncompliance with OPRA requests.


Beth Mason filed her first lawsuit against the city in March 2004. She filed her second just six months later. Then she filed another, and another, and four more after that.

Even after winning a seat on the City Council here in May 2007, Ms. Mason, 47, has continued to press her cases, leading other officials here to complain that she is a one-woman litigation machine, costing the city time and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ms. Mason, a management consultant, contends that the suits she filed before her election are simply intended to better understand how this city on the Hudson River is spending its $79 million budget.

Opening up about Mason's open records requests

Dear Editor:

As the Hoboken Corporation Counsel, I feel obligated to respond to the recent statements made by Councilwoman Elizabeth Mason regarding her lawsuits against the City. Her comments follow her most recent courtroom defeat, in which a respected appellate court found that her requests for public records were vague, inappropriate "fishing expeditions," making it impossible for the City to properly respond.

Justices to hear suit on access to Hoboken records

The tug-of-war between Councilwoman Beth Mason and City Hall over public access to municipal records reaches the state Supreme Court today.

A decision in the case could have broad implications for the Open Public Records Act.

The specific issues raised by Mason's suit are how long a person has to file a lawsuit if an OPRA request is not fulfilled, and whether a plaintiff should be awarded attorney's fees if requested documents are provided after a lawsuit is filed, but before a court decision is made.