Paterson council members settle long-running dispute over appointments | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Paterson council members settle long-running dispute over appointments

By Jayed Rahman
Published: February 24, 2020

city-hall

Members of the City Council settled a long-running dispute — which at times resulted in open hostilities among council members — over appointments to various boards.

Council members Flavio Rivera, Shahin Khalique, and Luis Velez introduced a measure last Tuesday that fixes appointments to the Paterson Parking Authority, Board of Adjustment, Rent Leveling Board, Paterson Housing Authority, and the Paterson Task Force for each member of the governing body.

“It’s not to take away someone’s appointment just because. It’s to bring all council members to equal appointments specifically the wards,” said council president Maritza Davila.

Except, council members William McKoy and Ruby Cotton each will lose one appointment. Unlike the rest of their colleagues, McKoy and Cotton each had appointments to both the Paterson Parking Authority and the Paterson Housing Authority. Other council members had appointments to just one of the authorities.

“Everybody else has one appointment to either. There’s two council members that don’t have an appointment to either the Parking Authority or the Housing Authority,” added Rivera. He said the 2nd and 5th Wards do not have appointment to either boards. “By doing this here, it will actually make it fair. Every ward and every council member will have at least one appointment to either parking or housing.”

Rivera pointed out appointments under the new proposal is tied to the seat rather than the person. Each ward is assigned a certain number of appointments. Each ward council person receives four appointments; each at-large council person receives three appointments, according to the measure.

Appointments taken from McKoy and Cotton will be given to the 2nd and 5th wards which restores parity among all council members.

McKoy expressed his displeasure at the move to re-arrange appointments.

“I’m very unsatisfied with the approach we’re taking. It seems as if, because we can count to five there’s an attitude that we don’t have to talk to anybody. We get together; we decide what we want. We come; and we vote it up or down,” said McKoy. “This affects the 4th and the 3rd. No one had the common decency of talking to me. I don’t like it. I don’t like how I’m feeling. I don’t like how I’m being treated.”

Councilman Michael Jackson took exception to McKoy’s comments. He called McKoy’s characterization of counting five votes as an “unfair depiction”

“The reality is it’s an unfair process that has been taking place, where two council members were cheated out of appointments,” said Jackson.

McKoy said appointments were always discussed openly amongst council members. The new measure is “cementing” the process, he said. However, the open process, where council members negotiated appointments amongst themselves, often presented difficulties. For example, five years ago, Davila and now-former councilman Alex Mendez engaged in a bitter fight over who gets a Paterson Parking Authority appointment.

McKoy opposed some council members’ move to conduct an audit of the Paterson Parking Authority earlier in the month. He suggested his opposition led to his appointment to the Paterson Parking Authority being stripped. Davila said the measure had been in the works for months. The measure was drafted at the beginning of January, said law director Farrah Irving.

Velez, who is receiving the Paterson Parking Authority appointment, said he is willing to trade his parking for McKoy’s housing appointment.

“Why wasn’t she given housing?” asked councilwoman Lilisa Mimms of Cotton’s appointment. Cotton is assigned a parking appointment under the new measure.

“This is not written in stone,” answered Davila. She suggested council members can trade appointments with each other.

Cotton complained she had to wait two years after coming into office to receive an appointment to any boards. She did not oppose the proposed measure.

McKoy ultimately agreed to the appointment changes.

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