Members of the City Council last week accused mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration of failing to use federal Cares Act money to provide computer devices to municipal employees to let them work from home.
Council members raised the issue when the Sayegh administration sought their approval to donate $3.8 million worth of equipment, including hundreds of Chromebooks, to the school district.
“I want to make sure that we have also taken care of the city of Paterson and its employees,” said councilwoman Maritza Davila last Tuesday. She wanted to make sure municipal government employees, who need devices, had them to do their jobs remotely.
“We are simultaneously working to get enough computers and various resources for our staff,” said business administrator Kathleen Long. She said obtaining devices for employees has been a “real challenge.”
“The supplies that we really need are the ones that everyone is trying to get at the same time,” said Long referring to laptops.
Long said the city has spent $400,000 on orders. She did not provide information at the meeting what exactly was ordered.
“So, the answer is?” asked council president Flavio Rivera trying to isolate an answer from Long’s remarks.
“No,” suggested Davila.
“The answer is yes,” interjected Long. “I think it would be one thing to say we weren’t trying to do it and that it was out of our control. We are trying to do it.”
The pandemic started in March. It’s expected to come to an end in six months with the widespread availability of vaccines.
Rivera said the city failed to provide devices to municipal court employees and various boards that have been meeting virtually.
Sayegh administration officials told employees to appear in virtual court using their cellphones.
“How come we didn’t buy our boards laptops? They are not supposed to be handling city business on their personal computers,” said Rivera. “That we should have done.”
“Where were the priorities?” asked Davila.
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