Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres returned to city hall after a five-day “emergency leave” from the city that began last Thursday and ended on Monday.
Torres reported back to work on Tuesday morning. He did not return messages to provide details about the “emergency leave.”
Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, holds that Torres visited Cartagena in Colombia. The mayor promised a group of local Colombians in a July flag raising that he intends to make a trip to that city in October, said Sayegh.
Torres may have visited the South American city with his deputy mayor Robert Vannoy. When asked whether he was with the mayor during the weekend, Vannoy hung up the phone on Tuesday afternoon.
“It wouldn’t be an issue. He can go to a bachelor’s party, but just don’t tell the city council it’s an emergency,” said Sayegh. Torres’ memo to the council state the mayor was going on an “emergency leave.”
Torres gave a cagey response to the Paterson Press yesterday without confirming whether he was outside of the country during the leave. He cited privacy when avoiding to provide information about his “emergency leave.”
City residents, faced with increased tax bills, criticized Torres for being out of town when tax bills went out. Torres attended the New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association convention in Las Vegas, Nevada which ran from September 19th to 25th, 2015.
Council members faced the brunt of public anger that resulted from the retroactive tax increases on properties whose assessments remained the same or increased under the new revaluation.
Business administrator Nellie Pou served as acting mayor from October 1st through 5th, 2015 in Torres’ absence.