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Lights, Camera, Action, No Pay: City Cable Broadcast Crews Waiting Two Months for Checks

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PATERSON, NJ – The per diem city workers who handle its cable television broadcasts have not been paid in about two months, as Paterson awaits approval from the state to release about $3,000 in back payments, officials said.

The five crew members normally get between $60 and $80 apiece per night to film City Council meetings and other events that are broadcast on local access cable television.  

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But the last time they were paid was in May, officials said. That’s because the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) determined they had to be treated as temporary employees and could no longer be paid through a voucher process, city officials said.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding covering $21 million in transition aid that the state provided the city last year, Paterson must get state approval before hiring anyone, including temporary employees. So now, Paterson is awaiting the DCA’s approval to “hire” people who have been working for the city all along, officials said.

“I work for the money, but I can’t make plans because I don’t know when I’m going to have the money to spend,’’ said Gerard Burns, one of the cable crew members. “To me, it’s like we’re doing this on a volunteer basis now.’’’

PatersonPress.com asked the DCA about the situation last week, but has not yet received an explanation for the delay.

The cable broadcasts of city council meetings tend to be popular viewing in Paterson. Often, the meetings drag on past midnight. “We don’t get any overtime if we’re there until one in the morning,’’ said Burns.

In a similar situation, city officials said the state also had delayed the payments the city issued to election poll workers. Those checks were issued earlier this month, officials said.

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