With the impending shutdown of recreation programs, city activists renewed their call for a no confidence vote on mayor Jose “Joey” Torres.
“It’s time to send a clear message to the mayor. He has picked on our children and it has got to stop. He has no respect for taxpayers,” said activist Brent Nation referring to the closure of recreation programs next month on Tuesday night. “This is no way to run a city. To continue to operate this way you’re making Paterson the laughing stock of this state.”
More than a hundred people protested the mayor’s move to close more than 30 summer programs two weeks early leaving 400 or so young people without summer jobs that allow them to purchase school clothing and supplies.
“Do you have confidence in the mayor?” asked activist Ernest Rucker to city council members. He has repeatedly called for a vote of no confidence on the mayor’s leadership. In late June, council president William McKoy suggested the council will discuss a measure to take a no confidence vote on the mayor. However, those talks died down in the subsequent weeks.
“He attacked recreation, the smallest budget in the city of Paterson. He’s pitting taxpayers against citizens,” said Rucker expanding his list of grievances against the mayor. The initial call for a no confidence vote against the mayor stemmed from a NBC New York investigation that showed public works employees working on the mayor’s home and his brother’s business while allegedly billing taxpayers.
Torres ordered the early shutdown of the programs and two municipal pools in a tax levy battle with the council. Council members rejected his tax levy twice. The closures are designed to pressure the council into approving the mayor’s tax levy, said council members. The council is expected to vote on the mayor’s tax levy for a third time on Wednesday night.
Torres has backtracked to keep the two municipal pools open until Labor Day.
“He’s not to be trusted anymore,” said city resident Margaret Knudsen of the mayor. She said the council should force the mayor to pay back the money the municipality paid out in overtime to public works employees to work on his Arlington Avenue home.
“We want the city to invest in our children and in black futures not police or the mayor’s home,” said Zellie Imani, an activist with the Black Lives Matter movement. “Joey Torres and Nellie Pou has got to go,” he said.
Pou, who serves as the business administrator, was not present during Tuesday’s meeting. She was attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
“We’re calling for the immediate removal of Joey Torres,” said Corey Teague, activist and school board candidate. “Joey has to get out of here. How much abuse do we have to take for us to stand up and chase this man out of this city?”
Torres on Wednesday did not return a call for comment.