After viewing video footage of public works employees allegedly working at mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ private residence, city council members on Tuesday night called for an investigation.
Council president William McKoy called for the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office or the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the allegations to “clear the air.”
“These are some very serious allegations that have been made,” said McKoy. He said the seriousness of the charges are far beyond what the council can address by itself through a series of hearings as it has done in the past.
“I don’t think this falls within the category where the municipal council can handle it. This is more serious of a charge,” said the council president.
Community activist Ernest Rucker punctured the silence over the video footages, about which, rumors have been bubbling at various intensity for past five to six months.
Those rumors reached an apogee in the last two weeks.
“We do have the ability to form a Committee of the Whole as we have done in the past to do an investigation,” said Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman. “The city council cannot stand by.”
Tavarez suggested the council form a committee to investigate the allegations while also involving the authorities in the matter. He also suggested hiring outside counsel to assist in determining what took place and who should be held responsible.
Last week, a WNBC reporter began investigating the case, based on video footage. Those who viewed the videos first hand said the mayor’s home was clearly identifiable in the footage.
Public works employees, clad in uniform, are observed moving boxes, throwing trash, according to those who watched the videos. There’s also a clip showing a public work employee entering the home with a drill purported to be doing work at the mayor’s home.
“The appearance of impropriety is there,” said McKoy.
Rucker urged council members to call on the mayor to explain the situation to the public and the governing body. He suggested public hearings similar to the hearings that were held in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene against mayor Jeffery Jones’ administration.
“The council will not stand by with the questions unanswered,” McKoy told Rucker.
“I’m just amazed this was going on in this city for this long time,” said Rucker.
Torres did not return calls for comment on the matter in the past week.
Torres was confronted by the WNBC reporter last Tuesday. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” remarked Torres when the reporter pursued him in the second floor of the City Hall building.
WNBC is running promotional clips of their investigation which is expected to air on Thursday evening.
“Moving boxes, tossing trash, delivering coolers for a party,” says a voice in the promotional clip while footage of employees working at the residence is playing. “Why are Paterson city employees working at the mayor’s house?”