Mason: Ball in Roberts’ court
I think Beth Mason is starting a good trend here in Hoboken. Not specifically the lawsuits (which seem to be the only way to create change in the city) but rather these press releases!
All council people should send them out like this. It seems like some members like to stay off the radar or pick and choose their outlets (you know, they do it on purpose).
Anyway, here’s a press release about how Mason has requested that Mayor David Roberts avoid litigation with the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority / OPRA suit. If they had nothing to hide, why would they want to spend more money protecting the information?
Mason asks Mayor to help settle lawsuit
Agreement On the Table Since Jan. 25
Councilwoman Beth Mason is asking Mayor David Roberts to help avoid further litigation with the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority by getting the authority’s board of trustees to approve a settlement mediated by a retired judge.
Mason sued the board in 2006 to obtain public documents relating to its operation and spending – including a $52 million bond sale backed by Hoboken taxpayers. Mason’s attorney, the board attorneys, and retired judge Eugene D. Serpentelli met several times last fall and reached a settlement that was presented to the board on January 25, But the board has taken no action on the settlement and the matter is due to go back to court on Wednesday.
Read the rest after the break.
In a letter issued to Roberts yesterday, Mason asked the mayor to spare further legal costs by getting the board to approve the settlement agreement. Mason has been criticized by the Mayor recently for legal action she brought against the city seeking public documents.
Today Mason said that “I hope Mayor Roberts will take this opportunity to speak to the members of the hospital board – several of whom are his appointees – and ask them to do the right thing for the residents and taxpayers of the city. The settlement is fair and it will help protect the taxpayers’ $52 million investment in the hospital.”
The HMHA was formed by Roberts to take ownership of 150 year old St. Mary Hospital – which was about to close due to financial difficulties. The HMHA bonded $52 million for improvements to the hospital without seeking voter approval. Local taxpayers are liable if the HMHA defaults on the bonds.
Mason, who was elected in May of 2007, demanded to know the financial plans of the HMHA. She also claimed that the authority violated the law by not notifying the public of its meetings to discuss critical financial issues.
According to the proposed settlement, the authority must promptly post all public documents concerning its public meetings and its finances on the HMHA web site and convene a public meeting prior to its adoption of its next annual budget and present to the public all past present and future financial arrangements and the rationale for forming the HMHA.
Additionally, all HMHA board members and key employees, including the executive director of the board, must attend a training session on the Open Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act — which are New Jersey laws governing disclosure by public bodies. The HMHA must also accommodate a member of the city council at its financial subcommittee meetings so that council member can report to the full city council the finances of the authority.