The city’s two newest council members Alex Mendez and Maritza Davila continued their squabble over who gets to fill a vacancy at the Paterson Parking Authority.
Mendez and Davila have been fighting tooth and nail over a volunteer board position that was left vacant by the death of Juan Jimenez. Council members devised a solution to end the impasse by putting the appointment to vote.
Two resolutions were prepared: one for Mendez and one for Davila. If the council adopted the resolution bearing Mendez’s name he would get the appointment; if the council adopted the resolution bearing Davila’s name she would get the appointment.
Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, moved the resolution bearing Davila’s name for a vote on Tuesday evening. Mendez quickly cried foul play.
“What you’re telling me with this is that for all major appointments if you have five votes at the council you can take all the main appointments,” protested Mendez. “For me that was a backroom deal.”
Council members usually receive appointments based on seniority, but in this case both Mendez and Davila entered the council at the same time.
“It’s interesting how statements are made about backroom deals,” retorted Davila. She said Mendez has been holding conversations with the authority and admitted he already had someone in mind to fill the vacancy.
“What I find disturbing is the fact that you [Mendez] started meeting with the parking authority about the appointment, had a conversation with the director, before the council even decided who gets the appointment – it was extremely presumptuous,” added Morris.
Mendez also protested that a resolution containing his name was added to the agenda without his permission. “I didn’t request that resolution. No resolution should be drafted with my name on it without my authorization.” said Mendez. “I’m very upset. I’d not do this to any of my colleagues.”
Morris said the resolutions were put there to resolve the intractable conflict between Mendez and Davila. “His name was used because you had to identify the purpose of the resolution. You could not put on John Doe B gets the appointment and John Doe C gets the appointment,” said Morris. Morris said it’s not uncommon to see resolutions even stating sponsored by a council person without their permission.
Morris said the councilman can remove the resolution from the agenda by requesting it so in which case the resolution left on the agenda, that of Davila’s would be considered. Seeing discussions are moving in circles Morris called the question, a parliamentary procedure to end discussion, and move to voting.
Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilman, suggested the resolutions be sent back to the workshop. She said last time around the council did not get to discuss the two resolutions because the meeting ran to 1:30 a.m. leaving little time for discussion.
Tavarez asked Morris if he wished to take back his motion so the resolutions could be sent back to workshop.
“We’re actually going to end up right back here because there’s no reasonable way to decide this,” said Morris. He said neither would flip a coin.
An easy way to resolve the impasse would be for one of the council member to give up claim on this appointment and simply wait take the Paterson Housing Authority appointment; however, neither Mendez nor Davila showed a willingness to back down.
Davila urged a vote. “You said come up with a process,” said Davila to Mendez. “This is fair.”
Mendez did not think the process fair.
“We have to find a better process, not only for us, but for future council members,” said Mendez.
Council members opted to send the resolutions back to workshop for further discussion.