State law says city employees cannot serve on Paterson Parking Authority board. One was appointed anyway. | Paterson Times Paterson Times

State law says city employees cannot serve on Paterson Parking Authority board. One was appointed anyway.

By Jayed Rahman
Published: January 22, 2021

city-hall

David Gilmore, community activist who ended up being hired as the director of Community Improvement several years ago, was unanimously appointed to the Paterson Parking Authority on Tuesday night.

Gilmore’s appointment though does not conform with state law. A state statute says, “No commissioner of any authority may be an officer or employee of the municipality or county for which the authority is created.” The law makes an exception for the appointment of the city’s traffic engineer or chief of police to the authority board.

Corporation counsel Farrah Irving signed off on the “legality” of the appointing resolution.

Irving, who was reprimanded by the New Jersey Supreme Court for misconduct before mayor Andre Sayegh hired her for the $122,000 job, did not respond to multiple requests for comments.

The Paterson Times sent her an email on Wednesday citing the law that forbids employees from serving on authorities. She also did not respond to a message left at the law department on Thursday morning.

Council president Flavio Rivera said he was told by the corporation counsel it was an “oversight.” He said the City Council, which approved Gilmore’s appointment in a 9-0 vote, will have to rescind the appointment.

Councilman Michael Jackson, who submitted the appointment, said he was aware of the law that barred employees from serving on authority boards.

“I read the legislation a long time ago. Other people who are tasked to know don’t,” said Jackson.

Sayegh’s law director is tasked to ensure the legality of every ordinance and resolution that is presented to the City Council.

Jackson said he submitted the appointment to prove Sayegh and his administration are wholly incompetent. Jackson tested the administration and they failed, he acknowledged.

“Why would he do that?” said Sayegh speaking of Jackson knowingly submitting a measure that was in violation of state statute. “It’s almost like what he did with the vote-by-mail ballots.”

Sayegh claimed Jackson is trying to “deflect attention” from his “serious” criminal charges. Jackson face voter fraud charges stemming from last year’s municipal election.

Jackson did ask Irving whether a city employee could serve on the authority’s board the week before the appointment was voted on and approved.

“I’m going to have a conversation with her to see what the circumstances were,” said Sayegh.

Gilmore said he was disappointed. He was looking forward to serving on the Paterson Parking Authority board, he said.

Sayegh administration officials committed a similar blunder late last year. His administration submitted to the City Council a temporary budget measure in late December. The measure was to appropriate funding for the new financial year.

Council members said the temporary appropriation could not be approved before the start of the new financial year. It was approved by the City Council on December 29, 2020. State law says, “The governing body may and, if any contracts, commitments or payments are to be made prior to the adoption of the budget, shall, by resolution adopted within the first 30 days of the beginning of the fiscal year, make appropriations to provide for the period between the beginning of the fiscal year and the adoption of the budget.”

State law makes exception for debt and interest payments.

The late December temporary appropriation resolution was signed off by one of Irving’s subordinates in the legal department. Sayegh’s snafu was quietly corrected in an emergency meeting of the council on January 12.

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