Five Paterson council members may have violated open meetings law in meeting to discuss controversial noise ordinance | Paterson Times

Five Paterson council members may have violated open meetings law in meeting to discuss controversial noise ordinance


Five members of the City Council were part of a meeting at a church in downtown Paterson on Wednesday morning, where they discussed a controversial noise ordinance that allows mosques to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer, potentially violating Open Public Meetings Act.

Council members Michael Jackson, William McKoy, Luis Velez, Ruby Cotton, and Lilisa Mimms were part of the meeting at the Agape church on Ward Street.

“I had no idea what this gathering was about. I got a phone call from one of the members of my constituency in the 1st Ward. Once I saw that there was too many council people there, I got up and left,” said Jackson, vice president of the City Council.

Council members said prominent religious leaders, including pastors and two imams, hosted the meeting to discuss the ordinance. Pastors John Algera and James Kuykendall were key organizers. The meeting was hosted at Kuykendall’s church.

Kuykendall did not respond to a call for comment. Algera declined to discuss what transpired at the meeting.

Some of Jackson’s colleagues disputed his assertion that he left early. When asked how many minutes into the meeting did he leave, Jackson said, “I don’t know. I wasn’t keeping track of time.”

“Who told you that?” asked Mimms when questioned about the meeting.

Mimms was mentioned as a coordinator at the meeting. She said she was not one of the organizers.

“There was no secret meeting,” said Mimms. When asked where did the meeting take place and who called for it, she said, “I’m not going to comment on that.”

Mimms repeatedly said she had no comments.

Cotton did not respond to a call for comment.

“I don’t have a comment on this,” said McKoy. When pushed for answers he repeatedly said he did not have a comment. McKoy is the longest serving member of the City Council. He has been in office for 20 years.

Velez said he received a call from Kuykendall to attend the meeting. He was the first council member to show up for the meeting, he said. He said the last council member to attend should have left the meeting to avoid having quorum.

Five council members in attendance constitutes quorum.

“If that was a quorum, they violated the OPMA. There is no Paterson/pastor exception to the OPMA,” said Walter M. Luers, attorney for the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government.

Under the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) five council members cannot get together, without notifying the public, in a closed meeting to discuss city business.

Aggrieved members of the public have several options to take action against the council members. They can file a lawsuit to seek a declaration council members violated the sunshine law, seek injunctive relief, or an order that tells them not to violate the law in the future.

The public can also complain to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office or the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to enforce the open meetings law and seek civil penalties and other relief.

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  • John Brown

    these council members and the Mayor are always in violation of something.
    or someones rights! a F**king Den of thieves

  • Plumber

    Secret meeting to vote this bullshit in behind the people's back and against the people's will with no say on their part that's paterson government for you

  • Paterson Pulse Paterson Pulse

    Done, I'll use this story to file the complaint with the AG myself since the Passaic County Prosecutor and Administrative Judge Ernest Caposela is in bed with them. Let's see what happens.

  • Victoria Tahhan

    McKoy has been a councilman for 20 years. He should know better than to break the law. It's time to vote him and his so called "sound experience" off the Council!

  • Miss jamaica

    Here is one strong example why I believe in separation of church and state.

    See no one wants to talk, how can we continue to vote for the cronies.

  • John

    This Mayor along with other Muslim elected officials are doing everything in the power to impose their religious beliefs in Paterson. From firing to hiring to changing the ordinance. Dont be surprised. Wake up Americans and vote all bigots out.

    • pokaher

      If they want to live like back at home, then go the fcuk back! people need weave out the fcuking liberals out!

  • John

    Problem is any complaints in New Jersey will fall in Democrat ears. You need to file complaints in the federal government.

  • John

    And the Mayor said.he has no opinion on it. Yea right you lier.

  • pokaher

    Why do the rest of Paterson who are not muslims need to hear that shit. Trump said it best; Go back to your homeland, there are many beautiful muslim countries!

  • pokaher

    5 members of the council…. None are qualified and obviously don’t love this country to try and pass this into law! Wonder how much money is being put in their pockets! Paterson hispanics and blacks must wake up! Stop voting for morons!

  • PCS

    What happened to NOISE POLLUTION LAWS ?????????????