Waiting For a Quorum: MUA Holds Monthly Meeting
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 • 5:21pm
PATERSON, NJ - After waiting more than 90 minutes to achieve a quorum, Paterson's Municipal Utilities Authority held its regular meeting on Mon., May 14 and officials said they are closer to hiring the agency’ss first executive director.
"We will have the candidates at our next meeting or a special meeting to interview them and then at our June meeting we'll make a decision,’’ said MUA chairman Erik Lowe.
Lowe said the MUA had narrowed the field down to two candidates, but declined to name them.
In regards to the recent controversy surrounding the authority's decision to donate public funds to charities without an open public application process, Lowe said the board's attorney Bruce Ackerman was "working on procedures and it’s still a work in progress."
Ackerman said there was "no timeframe" for finalizing the procedures.
On the agenda for discussion, however, was an April 27 letter from Council President Anthony Davis asking for a response to the issue, which was raised by city activist David Gilmore at the April 3 City Council meeting.
"I have received a letter from Councilman Davis in regards to the donation that we gave to the Freedom School from St. Luke's Baptist Church CDC,’’ Lowe said. “Legal has it right now and we will be responding to that. It's just an inquiry in to the process and procedure."
A copy of the letter obtained by PatersonPress.com shows that Davis had asked for a response from Lowe by no later than May 4.
"The Municipal Council is questioning the reason for the absence of notification to other non-profit Organizations in the City of Paterson," Davis wrote.
Davis also asked Lowe to clarify the process for applying for MUA grants and for Lowe to provide supporting documentation for any grants awarded in 2011 and 2012.
The May 14 meeting was scheduled for 6 pm, but the board did not have enough members to start the session. The agency’s commissioners cannot conduct business without at least three of its five members in attendance. As of Monday, one of those seats was still held by Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, but the board accepted her resignation once the meeting finally got underway.
"We have received a resignation letter from Commissioner Sumter. The mayor has received a copy and he's in the process of screening a replacement for her," said Lowe.
That left Lowe and Commissioner Kenneth Simmons waiting for a third member to show up. Lowe indicated that he had expected Commissioner Charles Pettiford, the mayor’s chief of staff, to be there. Lowe placed numerous phone calls trying to contact Pettiford, but was unsuccessful. Instead he was able to reach the board's other member, Obed Rodriguez.
Rodriguez hurried to Paterson from a medical appointment in Leonia, arriving shortly after 7:30pm. Rodriguez had previously informed the board he would have to miss the 6pm meeting.
Lowe and the board's attorney said that they were anxious to hold the meeting in order to approve an insurance contract with Atlantic Insurance and to submit a proposed budget to the state government.
Both of those items were approved by 3-0 votes.
The board also approved spending $8,700 to repair a fence that was damaged in a February 8 car accident. Lowe said he would work with the city police to reclaim the funds from the owner of the automobile involved.
During his report to the committee, Lowe said he wants the MUA to hold jazz events at the Great Falls, just as it did last year. "I would like to, but not at the larger scale we did last year,’’ Lowe said. “I'm thinking maybe three concerts in July. But I need to reach out to parking authority, as well as the library and housing authority, if that's something they're willing to help out with this year."