ORANGE, NJ — Despite being recently tabled, resolutions creating three new government positions are back on Orange City Council’s agenda.
According to the Orange City Clerk’s Office, resolutions to create a chief of staff, an aide to the mayor and a deputy business administrator were on the council’s agenda and scheduled to be voted on at the governing body’s meeting on Tuesday, June 21, as the Record-Transcript was going to press. All three had been tabled by the council at its June 7 meeting.
Additionally, the chief of staff and deputy business administrator positions were part of Superior Court Judge Christine Farrington’s recent ruling regarding Willis Edwards, the mayor’s former acting business administrator, former chief of staff and former deputy business administrator.
On Thursday, Feb. 18, Farrington ruled Edwards must repay the city the $268,750 he earned while working for Mayor Dwayne Warren illegally as the deputy business administrator. City officials said Edwards is currently appealing that decision.
Meanwhile, something Farrington said in her ruling on the Edwards also seems to have direct bearing on the Warren administration’s latest attempt to legitimize the positions of chief of staff position and the deputy business administrator.
“The position of deputy business administrator could lawfully exist within the city of Orange Township with the condition precedent of a properly appointed director of administration,” said Farrington in her ruling. “The mayor has absolutely no authority to appoint a deputy business administrator, with or without a director. The power of appointment is reserved to the director.”
According to outgoing City Council President and current Orange Democratic Committee Vice Chairwoman April Gaunt-Butler, “Marty Mayes is still the current acting business administrator. That means Orange doesn’t have a regular full-time business administrator that is needed to lawfully appoint a deputy business administrator.”
Although the Warren administration is trying to get the council to create the position of deputy business administrator, Gaunt-Butler said the council would be sticking to the letter of the law as long as she’s still on the city’s governing body and serving as its president.
“The chief of staff position could also exist within the city of Orange Township,” said Farrington. “Unlike the deputy position, the appointment does not require the prior appointment of a director with the advice and consent of the council. It does, however, require an ordinance creating the position and authorization for a salary.”
The position of chief of staff, held by both Edwards and East Orange 4th Ward Councilwoman Tyshammie Cooper at different points, appears to currently be in existence.
But Farrington said the “willful and unlawful acts of Mayor Warren and defendant Edwards” were such that she was forced to order him to repay the salary he earned while illegally working as the deputy business administrator. She said because the chief of staff post he had could be easily created, she might have been inclined not to include the money he earned working for the Warren administration in that capacity from her ruling.
But Farrington said Warren and Edwards’ willful and unlawful acts made that impossible.
“We are still adhering to Judge Farrington’s judgment,” said Gant-Butler on Monday, June 13. “That has not changed.”
But on Friday, July 1, the Orange City Council will change when its newest members are sworn in at the governing body’s reorganization meeting.
Requests to the Warren administration for comment about these three resolutions were not responded to by press time this week.