Mayor Andre Sayegh vetoed the City Council’s ordinance barring marijuana businesses in Paterson late Friday afternoon.
Sayegh issued the veto minutes before City Hall closed for business. Council members had passed the opt out ordinance ahead of the state’s August 21 deadline to act in order to buy time to devise a better plan to regulate marijuana businesses.
“Patersonians have overwhelmingly voted in favor of legal cannabis and I have a duty to honor their wishes,” read a memo issued by Sayegh in vetoing the ordinance.
Some council members denounced the mayor for his veto.
“Why didn’t he veto it yesterday? He had the document,” said councilman Luis Velez. He called the mayor’s last-minute veto “cowardly” and a display of “poor leadership.”
Velez said the mayor issued his veto at 4:28 p.m. City Hall closes for business at 4:30 p.m. He said Sayegh could have worked with the City Council to put together a plan to regulate marijuana businesses that’s acceptable to all sides.
“The consequences are going to be devastating,” said councilman Alex Mendez. He said the mayor’s veto means marijuana businesses can locate in commercial and industrial areas throughout Paterson. “It’s going to be a disaster.”
Both Velez and Mendez want council president Maritza Davila to hold an emergency meeting to take a vote on overriding the mayor’s veto.
“I am not going to call an emergency meeting,” said the council president. She had called for an emergency meeting three weeks ago to try to resolve the impasse between the mayor and council members, but some of her colleagues told her they did not view the situation as an emergency.
Davila was the sole vote against the opt out ordinance earlier in the week.
“I took a stance. I didn’t want the city to be behind the eight ball,” said the council president. “This will bring in revenue.”
Davila said the new industry will also create jobs for residents.
Sayegh could not immediately be reached for comments.
“All he is thinking about is the money it is going to bring into his budget to do what he has been doing — helping his friends and giving jobs to his friends. That’s not going to help us,” said Mendez speaking of Sayegh.
Updated 7:30 p.m.