The same week mayor Jose “Joey” Torres made known his intention to appoint former city finance director Margaret Cherone to head the city’s finance department, her daughter was hired as a paralegal in the city’s legal department, according to city records.
Rachel Parada, the daughter, was hired on January 5th, 2015 at a salary of $35,000, according to business administrator Nellie Pou.
Parada’s resume shows she most recently worked as a law clerk and legal marketing associate at the law firm of Scarinci Hollenbeck, a Lyndhurst-based practice. She coordinated events and issued press releases from spring 2014 until being hired at the city, according to her resume.
Before that she served as an intern at the same law firm from fall 2013 to spring 2014, according to her resume. The resume further reads Parada worked as a paralegal assistant at the Oradell-based law firm of Giblin & Giblin in summer 2007, summer 2009, fall 2012, and fall 2013.
The job for which she was hired called for three years of paralegal experience with at least one-year public sector experience. Parada’s resume shows she worked in Caldwell’s tax office from summer 2009 to summer 2010.
Torres would not comment on the hire on Friday afternoon. He said Cherone has yet to be hired, but would not take any questions about Parada.
“I don’t have a strong reaction to that if she meets the qualifications that’s fine,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman. McKoy said so long as Parada is qualified who her mother is should not disqualify her from the position.
McKoy said young people like Parada who graduated from Montclair University in spring of 2014 need opportunities to start their careers.
Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, echoed the same sentiment. “If there’s no conflict of interest, I have no objections,” said Akhtaruzzaman.
“It certainly seems coincidental,” said McKoy.
“Was the job advertised?” asked Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large. City officials have provided a job posting as proof the position was advertised.
It’s not clear how many individuals applied for the position.
Morris said the city is lacking a competent human resource director.
“The human resource department is the gatekeeper for hires in the City of Paterson and it’s their responsibility to vet those potential candidates to ensure we’re getting the greatest value for the taxpayer dollar,” said Morris.
Morris said hiring comes completely under the control of the administration. He said save for the department heads the administration does not have to consult the city council.
“I don’t think someone’s last name or relationship should prohibit them from applying for a job,” said Morris. “If they have the requisite skills and are the best candidate [they should be hired].”
Morris said only when a direct relative is doing the hiring should a candidate he barred.