Fired township manager doesn't want public hearing
BY JOSEPH AX
TEANECK — Former Township Manager Helene Fall has withdrawn her request for a public hearing Tuesday, calling it “futile” in a letter received by the Township Council on Friday.
Fall’s letter said the hearing would not afford her a “meaningful opportunity” to address her termination, because council members are not obligated to answer her questions.
The letter, which The Record obtained from an anonymous source, also accused the council of acting in a contradictory manner when it fired her three weeks ago. According to Fall’s letter, the council found her performance to be “above satisfactory” in her annual evaluation in November and awarded her a 4 percent raise retroactive to the beginning of the year.
Fall unexpectedly was let go after a late-night, closed-door session on Jan. 13. She would not comment on the contents of the letter Saturday, saying only that it is “self-explanatory.”
Mayor Kevie Feit, an observant Orthodox Jew, was unavailable for comment Saturday because it was the Sabbath.
Deputy Mayor Lizette Parker would not comment specifically on the evaluation issue, saying it was a personnel matter, but did say that she disagreed with Fall’s criticism.
Councilman Adam Gussen, one of the council members who voted against the firing, nevertheless said the termination was not necessarily a contradictory move.
“By definition, the manager serves at the pleasure of council,” he said. “Once that becomes displeasure, it doesn’t matter if that came theday before, the week before or the month before.”
The resolution firing Fall, which was supported by five of the council’s seven members, cited four reasons: that she was “unwilling” to try new ideas, that she would not listen to others, that she did not motivate others to do their best work and that she failed to help the council create long-term plans.
“Only vague generalizations have been cited in Resolution No. 18-09 as the ‘reasons’ assigned for my removal, which I am unable to refute without being able to question council members as to the factual basis for their determination,” the letter reads.
The letter also asserts that the legal notice informing Fall that the council would be discussing her performance on Jan. 13 was “deficient.”
The notice stated that the purpose of the meeting “was to continue the review of my 2008 annual performance evaluation, which commenced on Dec. 16, 2008,” the letter says.
Parker and Gussen said that all similar employment-related notices — known as Rice notices after a well known court case — include a disclaimer stating that the council is considering an action that can affect the individual’s “terms and conditions of employment.”
“The notice was clearly sufficient,” Parker said.
Township Attorney Stanley Turitz was also unavailable for comment Saturday because of religious observance.
I don't know why they fired this woman Helene Fall. Seems like she did a competent job. Does someone on the council have a cousin who wants the job? Stay tuned.