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Council rejects resolution to investigate separation agreement between city and former employee

City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski will try again

City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski (left) wants Mayor James Davis (right) to authorize an investigation into the separation agreement between Mark Bonamo and the Law Department.

A resolution that would investigate the separation agreement between former Assistant Business Administrator Mark Bonamo and the city of Bayonne has failed before the Bayonne City Council.

Bonamo was hired in October of 2019 and resigned in January of this year. According to the separation agreement obtained by the Bayonne Community News, he was paid for unused sick, vacation and personal time he would have accrued in 2021, receiving said compensation from the city until early April.

The resolution to investigate the agreement was proposed by City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski at the council’s caucus meeting on Aug. 11.

“This council has been told repeatedly that we don’t have the authority to investigate things, we don’t have the authority on personnel issues, and we don’t have the authority on the operations of the city.” Ashe-Nadrowski said.

According to Ashe-Nadrowski, that power falls within the realm of Mayor James Davis and the city administration. As a result, she introduced a resolution requesting “the mayor authorize an investigation into the legalities of the separation agreement between Mark Bonamo and the city, and if the agreement violates policies and procedures.”

Citing past policies

Per the resolution, the city “has developed and adopted policies and procedures regarding the payout of sick, vacation, and personal time to individuals upon their separation from the city.”

The resolution cites a resolution adopted by the Bayonne City Council in November of 2016, “disallowing further accrual of sick time after July 1, 2017 by employees of the city.” According to that resolution, “any employees who did not have 100 days of sick time on July 1, 2017, should not be eligible for reimbursement of sick time, regardless of how many sick days said employee has accrued at the time of separation.”

According to Ashe-Nadrowski’s resolution, Bonamo was employed after July 1, 2017, and the Law Department entered into a separation agreement, which compensated him for unused sick time. Ashe-Nadrowski said this is “in violation of city policy as stated in the [2016] resolution.”

The resolution states that “the separation agreement further compensated Bonamo for sick and vacation time not yet accrued or earned for the calendar year 2021, in violation of established policies.”

Because the council is “limited in its authority to conduct an investigation or oversight of the administration of the city,” the resolution asks Mayor Davis to do so because he “is vested with the power, authority, and obligation to investigate the matter.” The investigation would look into the “terms and conditions of the separation agreement” between the Law Department and Bonamo and “whether such agreement violated the city’s policies and procedures, as set forth in the resolution dated November 9, 2016, and the city’s adopted employee handbook, and past practices of the city.”

The resolution directs findings of the investigation be provided in a report to the council.

Not seconded

The resolution was moved by Ashe-Nadrowski but failed to get a second motion by any other members of the five-person council.

“Full disclosure, I will be reintroducing it at next Wednesday’s meeting and every meeting going forward until we get answers,” Ashe-Nadrowski said.

Said Councilman At-Large Juan Perez, “This is the first time I’m seeing this. I’d like to review this.”

In a statement after the meeting, Ashe-Nadrowski continued: “The agreement entered between Mark Bonamo and the Bayonne Law Department was a violation of city policy, plain and simple. I still feel that the residents of Bayonne, who live and pay taxes here, have a right to know what happened, how it happened, and why it happened.”

The next council meeting is Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org and click on the event on the calendar webpage.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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