However, despite recommendations on both sides to sign off on the final agreement, which was in place by January, only Stack agreed. Everett refused, and as a result will be going back to face disciplinary hearings on seven complaints with multiple charges for a total of 67, which were brought by Stack.
"We reached an agreement on all terms to solve all the issues, the litigation was dropped, and we worked out a format to handle future disputes," said Gerald Dorf, the attorney representing Stack and Union City. "I urged Mayor Stack to sign, he accepted, and Chief Everett did not."
In addition, Everett, who is currently seeking new counsel, also has a pending civil rights law suit, which was filed on Oct. 17, against the mayor and the city of Union City, and will be represented on that matter by attorney Louis Zayas.
"The reason we filed the suit was because after [Everett] told the mayor he was not going to let him run the department as he wants, the chief was hit with 67 bogus disciplinary charges and ordered by the mayor to undergo a psychiatric exam, which he passed," said Zayas.
Last April, Everett issued a statement on cable TV saying that Stack asked him to resign, and that he refused. In response, Stack issued his own televised statement claiming he never asked Everett to resign, and that it was the chief's idea.
Stack had also claimed that there was an "ongoing turf war" within the department.
"Maybe I should have been more heavy-handed in not letting them mediate it themselves, but I tried to let him work it out," Stack told the Reporter last April.
However, the basis for the civil suit is that Stack, who is also director of Public Safety, was allegedly asserting himself too much, and Everett felt that Stack was interfering with his day-to-day operations of the police department.
"This is unusual even for Hudson County standards," said Zayas. "This really is a clear battle."
Allegedly, the initial discussion that took place between Everett and Stack was to request the chief take an early retirement. After considering the option he refused, which allegedly angered Stack.
The mayor on the other hand stated that Everett requested to leave, but changed his mind after Stack said it was not possible to give him his $350,000 severance pay in one lump sum. The lump sum amount includes accumulated sick days and vacation days that were not used by Everett.
The chief maintains that he never made that payment request. Everett, who joined the department in 1976, earns about $180,000 a year as the chief of police.
What will happen now?
Although the full terms of the agreement were not disclosed, it dismissed all pending litigation, and a procedure was developed to have a methodology for resolving problems.
Everett refused to sign the agreement, and as a result the disciplinary charges have been reinstated, and in-house departmental hearings, which originally began in October, are scheduled to begin in February.
"The entire time our efforts were to try to resolve this without allowing this to spill over to the public arena," said Zayas. "The two parties just don't see eye to eye on a number of major issues and that is why we have a court of law and juries to resolve these misunderstandings."
The disciplinary hearings were scheduled to commence on Jan. 25. However, since Everett is in the process of changing attorneys, the dates were pushed to Jan. 29 with additional dates in early February.
However, this past week Everett has requested more time, and Dorf has sent out a letter scheduling new hearing dates for later in February.
"I have a letter going out to the chief scheduling new hearing dates in February, and these are not going to be changed," said Dorf.
The charges call for Everett's possible termination or demotion.
"If the city prevails he would be demoted to captain, and I feel the charges are substantial," said Dorf.
Everett can request to have these meetings open to the public.
Disciplinary charges and court time
During the spring months of last year, the rift seemed to have died down. However in August, Stack began writing up disciplinary actions against the chief for various reasons, alleging disobedience of the rules and regulations to charges of insubordination, and some even called for his termination.
Some of the charges began after Everett hesitated in implementing new regulations from Stack because he felt they interfered with his daily operations in the department. However, the changes were eventually implemented.
Then on Sept. 25, attorneys went before Judge Maurice Gallipoli in Hudson County Superior Court to discuss the legality of the new rules and regulations, as well as a postponement of in-house departmental hearings pending the court's decision.
Among the rules that Everett was protesting barred him from entering headquarters when he is on vacation or on sick leave, and also put him under a "gag order" meaning he can't talk to the media.
However, both parties agreed to move ahead with the disciplinary hearings on certain charges not related to the new regulations, but postponing the remaining charges.
Hearings were scheduled to begin on Oct. 24, but were then rescheduled, and finally halted indefinitely pending the negotiations that began in November. Now that negotiations have fallen through the hearings will resume as of February.
"This has been going on much too long, and if we prevail the chief is subject to be demoted to captain," said Dorf.
"Not only is this a matter of public concern, but of public safety, and it is unfortunate that the matter has gone to this point because the residents of Union City do not benefit from this infighting, but we feel we will prevail," said Zayas.
Civil suit and hearings
Zayas, or another member of his firm, may represent Everett during the hearings, but no final decisions have been made.
"We intend to show that the mayor has violated Chief Everett's constitutional rights in order to advance his own political agenda, and we intend through [this suit] to stop the mayor and also prevent him from firing the chief," said Zayas.
Dorf has been representing Stack and Union City in the civil suit, but at this point is not sure if he will continue to do so. The suit is pending a court date before federal Judge Dennis Cavanaugh.
In addition, Zayas has expressed some concerns over the hearing officer, who will be overseeing proceedings because he is appointed by Stack, and worries he will not act as a fair and impartial judge.
"We are concerned about the impartially and fairness of the hearing officer that may have ties with the mayor and his administration," said Zayas. "We do believe that the charges against the chief of police are utterly baseless."
"This is an attorney who is well respected and conducted the hearings before," said Dorf. "His [credibility] is unquestioned, and for someone to make that remark is absolutely unfounded."
Regardless, Zayas feels that the disciplinary hearings will prove challenging for the chief.
"I certainly don't have confidence that the result would be free of any interest or bias," said Zayas. "We believe that the decision at this level goes against the chief, but he has the right to appeal for an administrative law judge in state court to hear the same evidence over again and make a fresh new ruling, and we're confident in that proceeding we will prevail at the end of the day."
In the meantime, the situation continues to affect those surrounding the conflict including the local police union.
According to a source, some members of the police union recently called for a vote of no confidence against the chief, but it has not been ratified. According to an individual from within the Police Benevolent Association, who chose to remain anonymous, the motion may not even pass. And they won't know until next month's meeting if the motion will pass.
"The chief has the courage and conviction to see this through, however long, extensive or burdensome it is, so that he rights his wrong," said Zayas. "He is one of the best chief of police in the state, and the first African American to be hired for that position in a major municipality of New Jersey." Jessica Rosero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.