Hoboken’s 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason is trying to carve out a reputation for filing lawsuits in the pursuit of “open government” – to date filing at least eleven such suits over access to public records.
But yesterday, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously smacked down Mason – who has filed 125 separate requests for public records from the City of Hoboken, saying those who seek records must do so in timely manner. In the Court’s unanimous ruling, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote of Mason’s 17 requests for city records – including every single financial transaction by the City of Hoboken in 2003 and 2004: “Citizens are entitled to swift access to public records, and both the public and governmental bodies are logically entitled to have any disputes brought and addressed in the same, rapid manner.”
Of the eleven lawsuits filed by Mason, this is the 6th she has either lost or been forced to drop or appeal. While there have been merits found in some of her suits, with every one Mason loses, she seems to be tossing the baby out with the bathwater.
Mason, a first-year councilwoman in Hoboken’s 2nd Ward, is angling to run for mayor next May. This past fundraising quarter, Mason raised less than $5,000, plus received a $7,000 loan from her husband. The personally wealthy Councilwoman has been seeking to have the city foot the bill for her own attorney’s fees. The Supreme Court said yesterday that Mason was not entitled to attorney’s fees.
Some insiders view next year’s mayoral race as coming down to Mason and Councilman-at-Large Peter Cammarano, who raised over $21,000 this past quarter. Another rumored mayoral candidate, 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo, the son of the former mayor, reported raising no money this past quarter.
Sources say that Mayor David Roberts, who has said he is not going to run for a third term, could change his mind and seek re-election.