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CNB Archives: Gloucester City’s Municipal Clerk Is Fired; A Turbulent Three Years Comes to an End

CNB Archives posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 6a00d8341bf7d953ef01bb07cd860f970d-800wi

By William E. Cleary Sr. |

Category City of Gloucester City 

Gloucester City Mayor and Council passed a resolution at its December 7th work session to terminate the employment of Municipal Clerk Paul Kain. Kain has been absent from his position since July 10, 2009. He is no longer being paid his annual salary of $65, 000 however he continues to receive his health benefits until the end of the year.

John Kearney city solicitor said because Kain has job tenure the matter now goes to the State Department of Community Affairs for a ruling. Kearney said, “A hearing will be held, and it could take as long as 30 to 60 days before a date is set. The City hired a special counsel to represent it since I could possibility be called to testify. Mr. Kain gave us no other option. He couldn’t tell us when he was going to return. The City has a number of projects going on, and we need a Municipal Clerk.

The City’s Special Counsel is Christine P. O’Hearn of the Brown and Connery Law Firm, Westmont. O'Hearn is a partner with the firm and concentrates her practice in labor  and employment, personal injury, and complex civil litigation. Ms. O'Hearn received her designation as a Certified Civil Trial Attorney by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2007.

Kain, who has been working for the City since 1991, began his employment as assistant clerk. Approximately 12 years ago he was promoted to Municipal Clerk. In 2006 he was named City Administrator by former Mayor Thomas Kilcourse. With that new title Kain’s salary was increased from $65,000 to $95,000. He also worked as a part-time Township Clerk for Washington Township, Burlington County, at a salary of $13,000. 

When the James administration took over in 2007 they found that the City lost several million dollars in state and federal grants during the time Kain was administrator because the applications were not filed on time. In December 2008 Kain was removed from his duties as City Administrator and replaced by the present administrator, Jack Lipsett. And his salary was reduced to $65,000.

Earlier this year Mayor James filed charges against Kain for insubordination, failure to perform duties and deliberate delay or restriction of work effort against him. Although personnel matters are usually held in executive session Kain asked for a public hearing. 

At the April 23 council meeting Kain, who was represented by attorney Cy Eastlack, denied the charges and said he acted properly. One of the allegations pertained to the mayor’s request to Kain for documents. Kain told the mayor to file an OPRA.

He stated, “As an officer of the OPRA act (Open Public Records Act), I have to follow the rules and cannot give out certain information without documentation,” Kain said in answer to charges that he did not want to give certain records and information to Mayor James.

The mayor had asked for records regarding requests made for information in certain e-mails by interested parties.

Kain explained that the information could be given after fees are paid, and that he felt that the mayor was asking as a private citizen.

The fees were paid and then the information was turned over.

“There was no insubordination from the ‘keeper of records,’ Kain and his attorney said.

According to Eastlack, the clerk acted in a statuary manner.

A vote was called for on the guilt or innocence of the charges against Mr. Kain.

Councilman John Hutchinson made a motion that Mr. Kain be found guilty of the charges.

The motion was seconded by Councilman Nick Marchese. The motion passed, 5-0, with Councilwoman Kellie Ferry abstaining.

The appropriate punishment was the forthcoming issuance of a letter of reprimand against the clerk.

And then there was “Emailgate”. In the summer of 2008 Kain sent a series of emails about the construction of Freedom Pier to Councilman Nick Marchese, finance chairman. After reading one page of the memo it was evident to this reporter that two important people involved in the everyday workings of City government were at odds with one another. And had different notions on how the City should be operated.

Kain told Marchese in one email that he no longer wanted to talk with him and wrote Please direct any further questions to me through another representative of the city or the city solicitor.”

Since Kain has been absent assistant municipal clerk Kathy Jentsch has been performing his duties.


Related: Mayor James Initial Response 

Related: Councilman Marchese Response to 'Emailgate' 

Related: OPRA Articles


Not Surprised said...

It certainly appears that Paul Kain is getting some of what he has been dishing out for years. It also appears he was not as good at taking it as he was at dishing it out.

He had acted as the political hatchet man for the democrat club for many years when his family controlled the club.

It just goes to show all of us, "What goes around comes around."

Good Luck said...

We all know that getting a job with the city or the county is probably one of the best employment opportunities you can get.

For most employees it means little or no commuting expenses or travel time lost, excellent pay for comparable work, unbeatable health benefits and leave & vacation policies that can't be matched in private industry.

Although the system provides for these wonderful circumstances they are often times taken for granted or considered an entitlement with little or no regard for the relationship to private sector counterparts.

And because these jobs are considered to be so secure there is little serious consideration given to the possibility of radical change for individuals or groups.

Mr. Kain is now entitled to State review of the circumstances surrounding his dismissal. Since the State system is quite detailed it will expect the city to meet the same standards it must meet in similar circumstances.

If you have ever asked the city for information regarding job descriptions or organizational charts/plans you will find that none are available that accurately reflect the actual working conditions/expectations of the Gloucester City Government or its Taxpayers.

Therein lies the problem with trying to execute disciplinary and adverse personnel actions. Does the City conduct semiannual performance reviews that are documented and held for future reference and review? Does the City have quantifiable performance standards that it actually uses to measure employee or departmental performance?

I have asked for such information and have been told "None exists". So it appears to me that the City is not prepared for the battle it has created. It should be relatively easy to paint a defense picture that the action is both subjective and politically motivated.

I think it is time to set about the business of getting our administrative house in order so that both employees and taxpayers are treated fairly. Good Luck to both sides, may the smarter side win.

Interested said...

Paul Kain has previously asked to have his issues heard in public. Is the public entitled to view the coming proceedings if it is agreeable to Paul?

It might be beneficial to him and the taxpayers to see/show just how the Governing Body conducts itself in such matters.

Hood Neighbor said...

Another embarrassment to our city. I'm wondering how much this will cost the tax payers. Does anyone care that these people are fighting a case with our money not theirs? Disgrace!

Hoping said in reply to Hood Neighbor...

Let's hope Kearney has all his ducks in a row.
What do you think of hiring a newly appointed special counsel?
Remember, the lawyers get paid even if they lose.
Wasn't it Kearney that talked the club into keeping Paul three years ago?
Let's hope the taxpayers win because if Paul wins we lose BIG TIME!!!!

cost to high said in reply to Hoping...

more lawsuits thanks to the james gang, the police department,housing authority.when does it end they are all jokes!

stressed said...

People like Paul will walk away from this clean and still have a city job. This city needs to stop hiring their friends and relatives and start hiring qualified people no matter where they live. Our little town is spending money like it has a grove of money trees in the back yard. We have 12,000 people here and we spend like we are taking care of 1,000,000. 
We have a UEZ zone in our town that no one knows the rules to so they spend the money on whatever they want. They have loans to give out to low income families but most of the people in town have never heard of them. You can get discounts on your taxes for being a veteran and/or senior citizen but most people don't know about that either. It’s because the people running our town don't know about these things or don't want to tell anyone. 
Which is worse not knowing about something or not telling them about it?
Like it was said in the other thread, our ducks better be in a row for this fight or we will lose more then just money in this lawsuit. We'll have Paul back in his old job and he won't have to show up for work because of the stress he feels from the current administration. As for the comment about more lawsuits from the James gang, well when Bobby was in office we were going to court every other week and Maley was making enough money off this city to buy a couple new vacation homes. Seems like no one ever cared about that then. Must be because he was a good club member?
The James gang may have to step it up this Christmas at the club so people will stop harping about his lawsuits.
Good Luck guys you are going to need it.

Choices said in reply to stressed...

When you said, "Must be because he was a good club member?", you said a mouth full.

The Democrat Club would have been a paper tiger without Paul Kain. Bobby Gorman would have been a 90 pound weakling without Paul Kain.

It is unfortunate Paul couldn't focus on being a good public servant to all the taxpayers of Gloucester City instead of the Democrat Club. It is often said that we can't serve two masters. We must live with our choices and be responsible for our actions.

If you read that exchange between Paul and Nick and you put it in its proper perspective, that of employer and employee, you could not expect a different outcome.

The Family Medical Leave Act has served Paul well but even that has limits. I hope you are wrong about your assessment of his ability to abuse it.

reader said...

I've lived here for over 25 years, and since the day I moved in ,I've heard people complain about taxes, absentee landlords,crime, Chatham square apartments, the decaying infastructure,a place for the senor citizens to meet,how to get anything going on the waterfront,and on and on and on. I'm not saying the current administration is perfect, far from it ,but I am seeing things begining to happen on the waterfront, including the boat, it has drawn people in to see it, I've been seeing the streets slowly being rebuilt ,although I've been waiting ten years or so fo our street to be done,our senors do now have a place to meet, it may not be perfect but for the amount of money allowed and the time restraints I think the gloucester heights fire house is pretty good, Chatham square is comming under city control with the possibility of a potencially bright future, with the help of mayor and council we have a small cultural arts society that has taken root here and hopefully will grow over time to become a big draw for the city, the sins of our past are being cleaned up( the thorium sites) all these things are happening in Gloucester City now, but everyone is complaining about the steady rise in property taxes you can't have it both ways,you can't demand the city do all these things and then expect it for free, we all know it doesn't work that way, my question is , would you rather pay higher taxes and see the results happening or would you rather have higher taxes and have them spent on more studies, either way we will pay higher taxes. I consider these legal battles with city employee's who were hired under former city governments and contracts hashed out by former city governments to be much like cleaning up the sins of the past, And I am sure there will be sins of the present that will plague us in the future, but what we save on more studies should be more than enough to offset those costs. Sometimes in life you must see the glass as half full instead of half empty, the mayor and council can't do it all and those of us who volunteer to help our city with events and clean up know this to be true but if more people pitched in instead of bitched in, Gloucester City could reach it's full potential and could continue to be a great place to live and raise a family. Thats why I moved here.

THE DONALD said...

This man has cost the city millions of dollars in loss federal and state grants because he didn’t know what he was doing. If he had worked for my corporation he would have been fired long ago.

To those who write that Kain will file a lawsuit against the city and win. On what grounds? Didn’t u read Clearys article? He hasn’t reported to work since July. That is six months ago. How long should the city wait for him to show up at work? 

Again if he worked for my corporation he would have been fired long ago.

Reading what you wrote said in reply to reader...

If you moved here 25 years ago to help Gloucester City improve itself you have got to be one very confused or frustrated person.


Reading what you wrote said in reply to THE DONALD...

You asked " Didn’t u read Clearys article?".

Question, did you?

Cleary wrote, "At the April 23 council meeting Kain, who was represented by attorney Cy Eastlack, denied the charges and said he acted properly.".

If you watched that meeting on TV19 you would have seen Kearney and the James Gang floundering around. Ferry wasn't even paying attention well enough to keep up with her own crew and had to abstain.

That suit will most likely be amended to include this latest action. The James Gang does not appear to pay enough attention to detail in these matters.

Judge Judy said...

So you think the court will rule in favor of Mr. Kain on what grounds. Harassment, be specific. 

He hasn't reported to his job in six months. The city was given no date when he would return. What other choice did the city have but to let him go.

I guess that was asking too much.

He apparently made the decision not to return to his job. A foolish move in my opinion.

Defense said in reply to Judge Judy...

Our City Administrator has an obligation to see that all subordinate employees are meeting their obligations with respect to requested leave and usage.

If Paul never notified his supervisor of his need to be absent then this action is very late on the part of his supervisor. Lack of immediate/timely corrective action to a violation of the leave policy can constitute tacit approval.

If a new request for additional leave was made the supervisor needed to ask that the request be submitted in writing along with medical certification sufficient to justify an additional absence.

The use of justified/justifiable medical leave is separate and apart from the issue of filling a vacant seat at a desk. The departmental supervisor has the authority to fill the vacant seat as soon as the vacancy occurs or can choose not to fill the seat if the workload does not warrant filling the seat.

In either case the departmental supervisor can not blame the SICK EMPLOYEE for things that the supervisor should be doing or should have done.

reader said in reply to Reading what you wrote...

reading what you wrote, I can see your not one of the many who pitches it.

Reading what you wrote said in reply to reader...

What makes you think I have not shown up with my own gloves and tools?

Hoping said in reply to reader...

You can't expect people who see no direct benefit or responses from their Governing Body to be ETERNAL OPTIMISTS.

You say, "Sometimes in life you must see the glass as half full instead of half empty". That cliche' is a double edged sword.

Consider this. Many of your readers who have also been here for more than 25 years have FILLED the glass every year at tax time. The city collects its taxes in advance. So we realists who can do math have to think of the James Gang as having started their political carrers with a FULL glass.

And what have they done for us the taxpayers to ease that burden? The previous administration was one of TAX & SPEND. The James administration promised to change that policy and to "clean house" by doing away with the Democrat Club control.

Am I wrong in saying they have done neither.
Am I wrong in saying they are a TAX & SPEND operation like their predessors?
Am I wrong in saying the James Gang is conducting business from the Democrat Club instead of City Hall?
Am I wrong in saying the James Gang is doing and acting just like their predessors?
Is it wrong to speak out against what you believe is wrong in hopes of stimulating positive change.

A Insider Tired of the Lies said in reply to Hoping...

The questions you ask have been ask for at least 30 years that I know of and will be ignored by the party for another 30. They do what they want and what the county Dems tell them to do. The James Gang closely resembles the lies that Obama told us during his campaign, you notice he don't care how the people feel.


Truant Officer said...

Why has Kain has been absent from his position for five months? It sounds more like a quit than a termination?

Is he sick or something?

Dumb and dumber, which are you? said in reply to A Insider Tired of the Lies...

so says the illiterate "insider". I'm hoping your inside the streets department.

CONFUSED said...

If Mr. Kain has been out since July, he is no longer covered under the FMLA. FMLA only provides 12 weeks of coverage in a 12 month period also his health benefits should terminated at the end of those 12 weeks there is no law in place stating the City has to continue them at the end of the 12 weeks. He may continue them on his own under COBRA. 

Insider Still Tired of the Lies said in reply to Dumb and dumber, which are you?...

I must agree, after all these years my attention to these lying politicians must stop, I must be dumb, thank you for awakening me, you are so intelligent and your are right, politicians don't lie, I'm sorry.

Truant Officer said...

Can anyone answer my question? Why was Paul Kain home from work since July? Was he sick or what?

Dumb and Dumber, thanks for confirming said in reply to Insider Still Tired of the Lies...


Thanks for continuing to murder politicians AND the English language!

The Real Deal said in reply to Truant Officer...

What is your problem Shirley?

Are YOU sick or something?

Oh, that's right you got canned for a different reason.

This makes you wonder how many Cleary's post messages on this site!

JR said...

Maybe his wife was pregnant I saw her around that time and it is a possibility.

Mary Morningstar said in reply to reader...

I agree. I went out to the clean-up day in the rain and I'd only been living here for a couple weeks. There should have been a lot more people pitching in because there are a lot of people complaining. So lets try to be good neighbors and help each other; it can only get better, right??

JR said...

Yea it is pretty tough getting up everyday and being perfect. Going to work everyday is tough too, but at lest my family didn’t hand me a cake job making great money and doing little work. I earn my money every week and when my company asked us to take a pay cut I wasn’t happy but I still showed up everyday. Oh yea and my wife went out and got a part time job to make up for lost wages, and our kids are still young. Looks like Paul’s wife may need to look for a full time job now!!!!

criticism is easy from behind a keyboard said in reply to JR...

you seem to know a lot about Paul and his wife and family. Have you ever voiced your opinion to his face, or do you just like to hide behind your computer and talk about people behind their backs?

HsWkr said in reply to JR...

It's not necessary to talk about Paul's wife and children.

Paul is being held accountable for his performance and his actions. He will have his hands full just trying to justify those things.

Hopefully he will accept the fact that what goes around comes around and move on. There are many other communities that can benefit from the investment in training we have provided Paul.

The Democrat Machine may also find his political talents useful. He has served them well in the past.

JR said in reply to criticism is easy from behind a keyboard...

Don't really know Paul or his wife, just know he was given a job, cost the city a ton in grant money because he is lazy, and that his wife ran for council and made a fool of her self. Other then those basics don't know much else. To answer your question I haven't ever had the chance to tell Paul or his wife my opinions.However it doesn't look like they will have the means to go out anytime soon so that might have to wait. Next time I see them I will be sure to let them know how I feel, whats Paul going to do beat me up, I would be more afraid of his wife. I hope he realizes how him being such a baby cost him a great job, 

Enquiring Minds said...

But why has he been out of work? was it FMLA or did Paul quit?

Enquiring MIMES said...

why do you care? why can't you just be quiet?

Trashman said...

Ya, who cares, I'm just GLAD that Paul Kain is GONE!
Now the taxpayers of G-City can get some mutual respectful conversations w/ the City Clerk. Thanks to the James Gang for getting rid of the dead weight, things are looking up for G-City, it looks like we're going to have a real white Christmas now ;o)
-The Trashman

Be nice said...

If Kain was out on FMLA i don't think they can fire him. He'll get his job back plus back pay.

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