By William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNews.net
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.