Montclair Council puts Stafford on temporary paid administrative leave
On a night of raw emotions, the Montclair Township Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to place Township Manager Timothy Stafford on temporary paid administrative leave.
The vote came after an executive session that lasted for more than two and a half hours. Councilor-at-Large Bob Russo cast the only no vote. Councilor-at-Large Peter Yacobellis recused himself from the vote.
With Stafford on leave, Deputy Township Manager Brian Scantlebury becomes acting township manager.
The action came at the end of a combative night with residents flocking to the Municipal Building with protest signs and the seven-member council openly warring with one another. Stafford was not in attendance.
With virtually all other business set aside, Mayor Sean Spiller sought to advance a resolution to place Stafford on administrative leave, an action he had called for last week. But the resolution did not go far enough for Yacobellis and Russo, who called for Stafford's ouster.
The action came a week after the chief financial officer, Padmaja Rao, filed a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Stafford, accusing him of a pattern of "bullying, verbal abuse and threatening behavior."
In August, an internal investigation by Montclair's Affirmative Action officer concluded that Stafford had created a hostile work environment for the CFO.
The investigation, conducted by Bruce Morgan, the Affirmative Action officer, was obtained by Montclair Local from a confidential source.
The report details a series of fraught meetings where, Rao said, Stafford screamed or pounded his desk as the CFO raised concerns about fiscal issues affecting the town.