Mayor Andre Sayegh administration’s controversially hired personnel director, Michele Ralph-Rawls, has resigned, officials revealed on Wednesday.
Ralph-Rawls resigned last week, said business administrator Kathleen Long. She was hired to run the personnel office that has been in disarray for a decade or more in September 2018. She has been out on workers compensation since late last year.
Ralph-Rawls allegedly fell in City Hall and suffered “severe injuries.” Officials said she will continue to remain on workers compensation until she recovers.
Long said Ralph-Rawls will retire next month.
Ralph-Rawls found herself in repeated controversies after arriving in Paterson. She was among a group of top-ranking officials in the Sayegh administration who were bypassing the city’s biometric system used to track employees’ work hours. She had been working remotely when no municipal policy existed allowing employees to work from home.
Ralph-Rawls also tried to collect a six-percent longevity increase. State officials barred Paterson from giving out longevity pay increases to employees years ago. After reporting in the Paterson Times, the Sayegh administration scrapped the longevity increase.
Debra Hannibal has been serving as acting personnel director, said officials.
Sayegh had an opportunity to reform and modernize the broken personnel office. Right before the mayor came into office the former personnel director, who had been criticized by interim mayor Jane Williams-Warren for working from home, resigned. The mayor allowed the chance to slip away, officials said.
Ralph-Rawls was one of a series of the mayor’s ill-conceived hires from East Orange. After Ralph-Rawls began working in Paterson, she hired, amid a budget crisis, a personnel officer, Jerrell Antley.
A municipal ordinance bars the government from hiring non-residents, but successive administrations have ignored the local law.
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