Disciplinary Hearings on Flood Overtime Scheduled to Begin Thursday
Monday, June 4, 2012 • 7:43pm
PATERSON, NJ – The City Council has scheduled three special meetings starting on Thursday at 6:30 pm to weigh disciplinary action against four top Paterson officials as a result of last year’s flood overtime hearings.
A report on the hearings issued in February recommended the termination of Mayor Jeffrey Jones’ Chief of Staff, Charles Pettiford, and his Personnel Director, Betty Taylor. It also called for unpaid suspensions to be imposed on Business Administrator Charles Thomas and Community Development Director Lanisha Makle.
The report questions Taylor’s competence, says she received inappropriate overtime, and accuses her of allowing city employees to receive overtime without proper documentation or verification.
The report says that Pettiford’s job is superfluous and should be eliminated. It says Thomas breached in his fiduciary responsibility to the city by taking on extra duties and paying himself overtime for them. It accuses Makle of misrepresenting her time sheets and taking inappropriate overtime.
Jones has argued that the city council’s hearings were a “kangaroo court’’ with a predisposed outcome. “I’ve said they were less than genuine and I still feel that way about them,’’ the mayor said.
Makle’s lawyer, Neal Brunson, said he received notice about the proceeding only on Friday, and not within the 10-day advance notice period required by law. “I continue to be amazed by the lack of due process associated with these proceedings,’’ said Brunson. “They don’t follow any of this stuff.’’
Brunson also asserted that he was troubled that the city council’s report was “conclusionary.’’ I have a real problem with that,’’ he said.
Neither Miles Feinstein, the lawyer who represented Thomas during the hearings, nor Grayson Hannigan, who represented Pettiford, returned phone messages seeking their input on the impending disciplinary hearings. Taylor also could not be reached for comment.
The agenda for the second special meeting on the overtime discipline, scheduled for 6:30 pm on Friday, includes resolutions that would call for the termination of all four managers, as well as other options that would admonish them or suspend them for 30, 60 or 90 days.
The agenda also includes a resolution for a vote of “no confidence” in the mayor.
The third meeting has been scheduled for Mon., June 11 at 6:30 pm