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Defense of Chief Kearns

Guest Harrisonian

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Guest Harrisonian

From the report of the State Commission of Investigations:

A Local Reform Undone

If strict terms delineating benefits and compensation for local public employees were formally memorialized in state law it would prevent local entities from engaging in the type of questionable activity the Commission discovered in the Hudson County Town of Harrison where officials – to the benefit of an employee – selectively reversed a municipal policy prohibiting payments for unused sick leave.

In its 2009 report, the Commission reported that in Harrison – which had a long history of awarding large payouts for unused leave to retiring employees – municipal officials had reached an arbitration agreement with the local police union that gave officers unlimited annual sick time in exchange for eliminating lump-sum payments for accumulated time at retirement. Under the arrangement, all unused sick leave accumulated by police prior to January 1, 2005 would be held in a “bank” against the future option that the Town could once again permit municipal personnel to cash in the unused leave.




The Commission’s follow-up review of Harrison’s benefit practices and employment contracts revealed that local officials, in fact, did revive its old policy – at least for the former police chief. Nine months before the chief’s planned retirement, Harrison agreed to renegotiate the terms of his contract to include payment for unused sick time. While the bulk of the $90,183 terminal leave payment the chief received was for unused vacation time, it also included $15,000 for unused sick time.

The prohibition against cashing out unused leave time at retirement, meanwhile, remains in force in the contracts for Harrison’s rank-and-file officers.

This example raises questions as to how meaningful a reform can be if it is so easily subverted through a contract re-negotiation. If limits for leave and for the cashing-in of any accumulated time were established by statute statewide, local governments likely would be unable to unilaterally upend such a restriction. 


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Guest Harrisonian

Affdavit submitted in defense of Chief Kearns to SCI.  Sounds plausible it was all legit.  What the SCI should have investigated in Paul Zarbetski Town Clerk and Town Attorney a double dipping not allowed but being committed by Zarbetski.  Not to mention him working on Mayor Fife's election campaign while he was both campaign attorney and helper and the Town Clerk rejecting the Petitions of opponents of Mayor Fife.  Now that's blatant corruption. Chief Kearns with 100K in sick days got 15k because they changed the law about accumulating sick days. Doesn't sound fair to me that what once was the agreement is no longer the agreement to save money to taxpayers.  15k sounds fair to resolve all issues as to entitlement.



I, Derek J. Kearns, of full age, being duly sworn according to law, upon my oath depose and say:

1.            This affidavit is submitted in response to the letter from the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation dated January 23, 2020 concerning the proposed report to be issued relative to the investigation involving public employment benefits. A copy of that letter is annexed hereto as Exhibit "A".

2.            Based on the excerpt included with your letter, it is my understanding that the Commission intends to issue a report criticizing my conduct in receiving a public employment benefit of $15,000.00 in connection with my retirement as Police Chief for the Town of Harrison.

3.            I believe that any criticism directed toward me in receiving the aforementioned public employment benefit is misguided and unwarranted for the reasons hereinafter set forth below.

4.            The $15,000.00 paid to me by the Town of Harrison was part of contract negotiations with the Town over several years, in consultation with the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), to provide compensation for unused sick time.

5.            The proposed report to be issued by the Commission of Investigation fails to mention that I had accumulated a total of 199.5 sick days prior to my retirement, with a monetary value of more than $100,000.00, that were stored in Town's sick time "bank" since 1999.

6.            I was also advised by Paul Zarbetski, the Town Attorney, that the DCA would only approve a cap of $15,000.00 for my "banked" sick time as this was the acceptable past practice for all state workers.


7.              Criticizing me for receiving a public employment benefit of $15,000.00 for earned and accumulated sick time is unwarranted when that benefit was properly negotiated, an acceptable practice, and duly approved by the Town's attorney and the DCA.

8.              Instead of criticizing my conduct in accepting this negotiated public employment benefit of $15,000.00, I believe it is more appropriate to praise my conduct for accepting considerably less than the $100,000.00 that I earned in banked sick time during my long and exemplary career as a Police Officer with the Town of Harrison.

9.              If the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation is really interested in conducting investigations and publishing reports in an effort to correct costly abuses in the public employment and save the taxpayers money, the Commission may want to review unlimited sick time policies for police officers negotiated as part of the collective bargaining process in Harrison and other municipalities as those policies are far more costly and prone to abuse. During my twelve (12) year tenure as Police Chief, I had submitted numerous reports to both state and local officials outlining the exorbitant annual cost associated with excessive absenteeism related to Harrison's adoption of their unlimited sick leave policy.

10.           I hereby certify that the foregoing statements made by me are true.




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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Guest

Typical Kearns response written by his brother. Long exemplary career that ***** ** ********. Bravo Derek Bravo !!!!!

Edited by KOTW
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Guest Rocketman

They made a deal because the Police Chairman wanted to pick the next Chief. He made ********* acting Chief, but was thrarted when the PBA was against his choice and a test was called for Police Chief. Dave Strumolo came out first and was backed by the PBA. ********* had to go back to his old rank. Lieutenant, and then retired a short time after. If the state law was broken, then the officials who broke the law should be investigated and made to pay the money back. 

Edited by KOTW
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