Paterson Top Stories

Mayor Will Attend Next Hearing, But May Not Testify

a2f1fe109f7d2dd114b8_jonewalk2.jpg
Mayor Jones moments before the walk-out
a2f1fe109f7d2dd114b8_jonewalk2.jpg

 

PATERSON, NJ – In the aftermath of last week’s walk-out, Mayor Jeffrey Jones said he will attend Thursday’s City Council hearing on flood overtime, but he’s not sure whether he’ll agree to testify.

“It depends on the information I get,’’ the mayor said, referring to the payroll documents and other records that the council has requested from the administration as part its “discovery” for the hearing.

Sign Up for E-News

Jones said he likely would not answer the council members’ questions at the hearing if he didn’t have the documents beforehand, with time to examine them.

“If they want this to be a fact-finding exercise, then they should wait for the facts,’’ Jones said.

Jones isn’t the only one anxious to see the discovery, which is supposed to be provided by his own staff. Councilman Kenneth Morris, who is leading the inquiry, has criticized Jones’ administration for being slow to provide the documents, which council members say are routine records that should be easy to produce. Among the material requested were overtime requisition forms and a payoll  sheet that would include all employees’ salaries and overtime earnings.

Jones said his staff was working “diligently” to prepare the requested records, but said in a press release “we must be mindful that the day-to-day operations of the city continue.’’

Jones’ press release said he intended to testify on Wednesday night when the city council launched its investigation of the controversial flood overtime, including the $6,144 check issued to the mayor. But the mayor said “it became clear that the hastily called meeting could have been in violation of municipal employees’ rights. The pointing out of this potentially problematic situation went unheeded. At this point, the mayor became uncomfortable with continuing to participate in the proceedings.’’

In response to the mayor’s walk-out, the city council is considering taking a vote of “no confidence” in Jones and is talking about filing a court order to compel him and his staff to testify. Council members disagreed with Jones’ assertion that the walk-out was spontaneous, saying that it seemed to be an orchestrated move.

The city council first announced it would conduct the inquiry on September 30 and notices were sent to the first wave of witnesses, including Jones and administrators in his inner circle, on October 14, five days before the first hearing was scheduled. Jones argued that was not enough time for his staff to consult with attorneys, if they felt they needed to.

In fact, during preliminary public discussions of the investigation process, City Corporation Council Paul Forsman had said that witnesses could ask to have their testimony delayed until they had chance to retain a lawyer. He also said employees could opt to exercise their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

At the hearing, Jones gave a opening statement detailing his criticisms of the hearing process and asked that the proceedings be delayed until October 31. Morris rejected that request and Jones stood up from the witness table and walked out of the council chambers.

Jones ignored Morris, who called for him to remain in the room. “”I find it interesting that you want to protest the employees, but not the taxpaters of Paterson,’’ Morris said as the mayor left the room.

It was not clear why Jones and his staff simply didn’t go through the formal and orderly process of taking the oath as witnesses and then invoking their right to have legal counsel for the proceedings. Instead, the proceeding turned into a circus when Jones tried to have his staff released from a side office where they had been sequestered and Morris sent a city police officer to prevent the mayor from doing that.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Paterson

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_4a7c1d9531382f8f978c_d3414e24-7d80-4b40-b695-3d07804f3502

Thu, April 26, 12:00 PM

Paterson Public Library, Paterson

Book Discussion

Arts & Entertainment Law & Justice

Carousel_image_897be50e75068cc49c3a_bronze_heat

Thu, April 26, 6:00 PM

Paterson

Bronze Heat Community Carnival

Carousel_image_897be50e75068cc49c3a_bronze_heat

Fri, April 27, 6:00 PM

Paterson

Bronze Heat Community Carnival

TAPinto Paterson Reader Shares Concerns About Absentee Ballots

April 21, 2018

Dear editor:

I am writing this letter to express a grave concern I have regarding the influx of absentee ballots. To my understanding, absentee ballots were designed to be used by those who are unable to make it to the polls on Election Day. Such as people in the armed services or those who are away on vacation. 

This year’s municipal election will be one for the history books.

Assembly's Longest Serving Member Dead at 79

April 19, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- Paterson's Assembly members, Shavonda Sumter and Benjie Wimberly, are mourning the loss of their colleague, Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Plainfield) who died on Thursday.

Green, 79, was the longest serving member of the Assembly, and considered to be a champion of affordable housing. Green stepped down as Chairman of the Union County Democratic Organization on January 24 to ...

Team Pedro Rodriguez Receives Endorsement from the New Jersey Organization for Economic Growth (NJOEG)

April 25, 2018

PATERSON, NJ – On Monday, The Organization for Economic Growth (NJOEG) endorsed Paterson’s mayoral candidate Pedro Rodriguez and his Council-at-Large running mates Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman and Juan “Mitch” Santiago in the May 8th election.

The organization is a New Jersey based, pro economic nonpartisan political action committee, and their decision to endorse the ...