PATERSON, NJ – On the eve of the City Council’s first hearing in the investigation of Paterson’s flood relief overtime, Councilman Kenneth Morris said Tuesday night that the administration has been slow to provide documents crucial to the inquiry.
Speaking at the regular city council meeting, Morris said he was upset the administration had not provided him with the “discovery” documents he requested, such as employee time sheets and overtime forms. Without that information, Morris said, the council should consider putting off the start of the inquiry, which is scheduled for 8 pm tonight, Wed., Oct. 12.
“The public deserves a fair and thorough investigation, not a dog and pony show,’’ Morris said.
Morris, who has taken the lead in the council’s inquiry on the overtime, sent City Corporation Counsel Paul Forsman a request for various municipal records late Saturday night. Morris asked that the materials be provided to him by the end of the day Monday and to the rest of the city council by 2 pm on Tuesday.
But Monday was a municipal holiday, Columbus Day. So as of late Tuesday night the information had not been provided, Morris said. Getting the information at the last minute on Wednesday would not allow council members enough time to go through it, Morris said.
The city on September 23 issued more than $756,000 in flood relief overtime checks to more than 600 employees, including Mayor Jeffrey Jones and several of his closest aides. Jones and his Cabinet members decided to return the checks after state officials said the payments to elected and salaried officials were inappropriate. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs is conducting its own review of the city’s overtime.
Among the items Morris said he asked for are:
- The amount of overtime paid to each employee so far this year, including a separate breakdown for those employees on the witness list for the investigation.
- A list of all employees’ payroll information, including gross salary, overtime earnings, and a log of dates and times worked.
- All time sheets submitted for the flood overtime.
- The duty rosters for all police officers being called to testify.
- Forms signed by Department Heads and the city’s Finance Director, Anthony Zambrano attesting to the authentic of the records provided to the council.
It was not clear when that information would be provided to the city council. Administration officials at Tuesday night’s meeting did not respond when Morris made his comments.
Twelve employees – the mayor and other high-ranking officials - have received formal notices to attend the inquiry because they may be called in the first wave witnesses. The council has a list of another 11 employees who may be called to testify and officials say other names could be added as the probe unfolds.
The employees will have the right to request they give their testimony behind closed doors whenever the questions target their own job performance, officials said.
But the workers will be required to answer certain questions in public, according to Morris.