Hudson Reporter Archive

Shouting at Hoboken council meeting as council votes not to remove zoning board member/blogger

HOBOKEN – After a heated executive session in which yelling could be heard from the City Hall lobby, the Hoboken City Council voted down a resolution that would have authorized the beginning of the for-cause removal of Nancy Pincus as a Zoning Board member.
Pincus, who supports Mayor Dawn Zimmer, often takes aim on her personal blog at Zimmer’s opponents, including Councilman Tim Occhipinti and Councilwoman Beth Mason. Occhipinti and Mason were the sponsors of the resolution to remove her from the Zoning Board.
Several of Pincus’ posts have aroused their ire. Recently, Pincus wrote a series of satirical “Letters to the FBI,” obliquely referring to an ongoing FBI investigation into alleged e-mail tampering in City Hall, rumored to be by Zimmer’s opponents. In a recent letter, Pincus said she wanted to become an agent and knew who to arrest in Hoboken. She made references to visiting the homes of certain council members — without naming them, only listing streets — and spoke about how she wanted a gun as an agent.
“I think I’d do a great job,” she wrote on the blog. “First of all, I’ve always wanted to shoot someone. I’d get a gun, right? Well, I’d definitely use it. Alot [sic]. Maybe everyday. Bang, bang! Take that!”
However, Pincus also jokes in the letter about having falafel with FBI agents, asking if they like theirs with hot sauce.
Her allies have defended her posts as satire, but some parts of the recent “letter” caused at least one councilperson to contact the Hoboken Police Department.
Pincus confirmed last weekend that Hoboken Police Department detectives visited her home to question her about the post. She said they told her she would be arrested if she blogged about it.
Pincus said their visit lasted an hour and that they interrogated her about the blog. She said that the visit scared her daughter.
Occhipinti said at the meeting on Wednesday that he had spoken to police about the issue.
However, Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin told the council that he was informed as of Wednesday that there was “not any pending criminal investigation, [or] municipal violation,” against Pincus.
Pincus asked that the issue be discussed in closed session, according to Tabakin.
When the closed session was finished, Mason said she hoped to make a statement before she voted. Tabakin repeated that the issue should remain in closed session. Mason’s request was denied by Council President Ravi Bhalla.
Mason and her allies said their comments had been suppressed during the closed session.
“The public has a right to know why I’m voting the way I’m voting,” Mason said.
Bhalla asked Tabakin if the city would be exposed to legal liability “by Councilwoman Mason opening her mouth.”
Councilwoman Theresa Castellano said, “We just argued about First Amendment. Nancy Pincus has freedom of speech to say that she wants to shoot somebody, but we can’t make a statement about her statement.”
Bhalla said no one could speak on the matter right then, and added, “Got that?”
“You’re like a dictator,” Russo said to Bhalla. “You wouldn’t let any of us speak in closed session.”
Mason, who did not register a vote on the resolution due to the commotion, left her chair and approached the microphone where the public speaks to read a statement, arguing with Bhalla and the council, still requesting that she be allowed to speak. Bhalla denied her request once again, calling a vote for the adjournment of the meeting.
The measure to begin the process of removing Pincus failed by a 5-3 vote. The council currently consists of five of Zimmer’s allies and four political opponents.
For much more on the council meeting, make sure to pick up a copy of The Hoboken Reporter this weekend. For previous posts regarding Pincus’ blog, see links below.
– Ray Smith

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