As reported in the Star Ledger on November 10, 2010, hundreds of Newark city police officers, firefighters, and civilian employees, barring a last-minute reprieve, will be laid off on Friday, November 12, 2010 after a judge dismissed a lawsuit aimed at blocking the city’s cost-cutting measures.
Superior Court Judge Patricia Costello told lawyers for the unions filing suit that she did not have the authority to issue a temporary stay to prevent 167 city police officers, 24 firefighters, and several hundred civilian employees from losing their jobs. While the Judge appeared sympathetic to the plaintiff’s claim that layoffs might adversely affect public safety and that the city had not engaged in meaningful negotiations, she said only the state Civil Service Commission can hear such a request.
Judge Costello also voiced frustration that the Commission, which had earlier approved the city’s layoff plan, is now one member short of the minimum needed to hold another hearing. “While the case law is completely clear, it’s hollow if the CSC is not meeting,” she said of the Commission, which is a defendant in the lawsuit along with Newark Mayor Cory Booker. The Appellate Division, however, can rule on the request for a temporary stay, Judge Costello said, and can issue a decision itself or return the case to her with that authority.
Facing an $83 million deficit, the Newark City Council approved the mayor’s budget last month, which includes a total of 866 layoffs and a 16 percent property tax hike. The Commission had earlier approved the city’s layoff plan and deemed an earlier appeal “not ripe” until the layoffs occur.
It is expected the unions will be filing a similar request for a temporary injunction with the Appellate Division. Therefore, please continue to check this blog periodically to ascertain any updates that become available.