HOBOKEN - After almost two months, Hoboken City Council President Beth Mason's resolution calling for the release of emails of Mayor Dawn Zimmer's confidential aide and the city communications director was passed by the council.
Mason originally wanted all emails from both of Zimmer's staffers to be released to see if the two have been doing political work on city time, but after being told that the request could cost the city almost $200,000 in attorney fees to review the documents, the resolution was reintroduced to include only emails to and from 12 people, mostly members of the local media as well as bloggers.
Before the vote, city attorney Mark Tabakin asked the council to go into executive session to describe what potential impact the resolution may have on the ongoing criminal investigation in City Hall by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The city announced last week that the FBI is investigating a potential breach in the city's electronic communication system after agents were seen removing computers from City Hall. The city has released few details about the probe.
Some members of the council seemed ready to ignore Tabakin's advice and vote on the resolution anyway, but the council eventually agreed to go into an executive session.
After the closed session, the council amended the resolution to call for the release of emails between two of Zimmer's aides and the local media and bloggers, contingent upon the FBI approving the emails' release. It is unknown whether the FBI will actually be willing to look at the emails or make any approvals. The resolution passed by a 5-3 margin. Councilman Peter Cunningham left the meeting early.
The City Council also voted to introduce ordinances that would lower the salaries of Zimmer and her directors. The ordinances will need to be approved at the next council meeting on June 15 to go to the desk of the mayor to sign into law. The council meeting on June 15 is the final meeting that the mayor's opponents will have control of the City Council.
Sixth Ward Councilman Nino Giacchi will be replaced by Councilwoman-elect Jennifer Giattino in July. Giattino defeated Giacchi in the May 10 City Council election after receiving the support of Zimmer in the race. After Giattino is sworn in, the mayor will have five allies on the nine member council.
It is unknown if the salary cuts will go into effect, as under Hoboken's form of government, a mayor can veto ordinances.
The council also passed amendments to the city's budget that will return the budget surplus to the taxpayers. Zimmer's allies had been trying to keep a 5 percent budget surplus to improve the city's bond rating. However, other members of the council said they would like to give all of the surplus back to the taxpayers to provide immediate tax relief.
For much more on the council meeting and the happenings of City Hall, make sure to pick up a copy of The Hoboken Reporter this weekend. - Ray Smith