Fulop taps controversial ex-NYPD/NYFD commish to lead search for Jersey City public safety director
In one of several announcements made last week by Steven Fulop, the mayor-elect said that former New York City Police Department and Fire Department Commissioner Howard Safir and his company Vigilant Resources International have been retained to conduct a search for a public safety director for Jersey City. The company will also conduct an audit of the Jersey City Police Department structure.
Fulop said Vigilant Resources International will be paid through private donations raised by himself and “Building an Empire,” a Jersey City nonprofit headed by Ward F City Councilwoman Diane Coleman. Money for the audit and search will be raised through local corporate businesses. No tax dollars will be used.
“We’re making a break from the way it has been done in the past because I’m committed to providing the best public safety services possible. Jersey City deserves the best and brightest to oversee public safety,” Fulop said in a press release last Thursday.
Safir was appointed fire commissioner in New York City under the administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1994. Two years later, Giuliani appointed him police commissioner, a position he held until 2000.
Safir is the only person to serve as both fire and police commissioner in New York City. During his tenure as police commissioner, major crimes decreased by 38 percent, while homicides fell 44 percent to their lowest level in three decades, according to Fulop’s office. But his tenure as police commissioner was also marked by criticism from New York’s African American and Latino communities that he was slow to address allegations of police misconduct and brutality. Two of the city’s most infamous cases took place during his watch.
In 1997, Abner Louima was forcibly sodomized in the 70th Precinct with a broomstick handle by NYPD officer Justin Volpe while another officer held Louima down. (Volpe eventually pleaded guilty and is currently serving a 30-year sentence for the incident. A second former NYPD cop, Charles Schwarz, was sentenced to 5 years behind bars for his role in the assault.)
In 1999, Amadou Diallo was killed in a hail of 41 gunshots by four plainclothes NYPD officers after he took his wallet out of his pocket.
Despite this history, Fulop said, “Howard Safir has the knowledge, experience and contacts to help ensure that our director of public safety has the leadership, management, technical and interpersonal skills to be a productive member of my administration. I am confident we will attract new leadership for our world-class police and fire departments, resulting in less crime, better response times, and fewer citizen complaints.”
Ferris High Class of ’63 to hold 50th reunion
The Ferris High School graduating class of 1963 will hold its 50th reunion on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. La Reggia in Secaucus. The cost to attend is $80 per person. A bloc of rooms has been set aside for the reunion at Meadowlands Plaza for a discounted rate. For further information, contact Gary Romano at (201) 384-3172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Capital Realty negotiates $23 million Jersey City portfolio sale
Last week it was reported that Capital Realty Associates has negotiated the purchase of 10 buildings in Jersey City for $23.2 million. The 10 buildings include a total of 304 units. The current monthly rental price for these units ranges from $620 to $1,300. The buildings are about 98 percent occupied.
An evening of performance art at Fish with Braids
On Tuesday, June 25 Uta Brauser will host an evening of performance art at her downtown gallery, Fish with Braids. The evening will get underway at 8:30 p.m. with a performance by interdisciplinary artist Hector Canonge titled “Twirling Sacra.” Erin Parsch will perform her piece “We Lost So Much Time.” Later in the evening Wyme from the Audiobodies willdo a spoken word performance, followed by a “Spirit Waker,” a sound installation by Caridad Rivera at 10:45 p.m.
Doors open at 8 p.m. A $10 donation is requested. Fish with Braids Gallery is located at 190 Columbus Dr.
Lafayette Rising/Morris Canal street festival
On Saturday, June 29, Lafayette Rising will team up with the Morris Canal Community Development Corporation for an art and music street festival. The free festival will take place at Communipaw Avenue and Pacific Avenue from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be food and art vendors, in addition to a DJ and live entertainment. The roster of local musical acts scheduled to perform includes Steve Royster, Kevin Osha, Zeitzan, Em-et, the Audiobodies, Dutch, Vinylicious, and Cloy. Musical acts will perform from noon until 6 p.m.
Nimbus, Jersey City Children’s Theater collaborate on JC Summer Arts
Jersey City Children’s Theater and the Jersey City-based Nimbus Dance Works have launched a new collaborative performing arts program, JC Summer Arts, geared toward providing children with high-quality dance, theater, and music instruction in a fun, creative, and educationally enriching environment. The program draws on the expertise of Jersey City Children’s Theater and Nimbus Dance Works in their respective fields in designing a program that immerses students in the performing arts.
JC Summer Arts consists of a morning program, Bard Party: Shakespeare, Dance and Song, for students 4 to 9 years of age, and a separate program, the Summer Dance and Acting Intensive, for older youth ages 10 to 17.
Bard Party: Shakespeare, Dance and Song is a six-week program, although students can sign up for individual weeks, if their families wish. The Summer Dance and Acting Intensive is a three-week program and can also be taken for a single week. Tuition for Bard Party: Shakespeare, Dance and Song is $280 for one week; $252/week for two-to-five weeks of instruction; or $1,296 for all six weeks. Tuition for the Summer Dance and Acting Intensive is $300 for one week and $750 for all three weeks.
Need-based scholarships will be made available on a first come-first served basis. Additionally, in partnership with the Jersey City Board of Education, the program will offer eight full scholarships to students from the Jersey City Public Schools who have demonstrated excellence and determination in their dance and theater studies. Contact Rachel Oakes at email@example.com regarding information on scholarships.
Fulop to end take-home car perk for non-emergency workers
In a letter dated June 19 and addressed to Jersey City employees and department heads, Mayor-Elect Steven Fulop announced that, effective Aug. 1, only emergency workers will be allowed to take home city-owned vehicles.
The new directive ends a perk Fulop has for years tried to scale back and end as Ward E city councilman. During his eight years on the City Council, however, Fulop was unable to garner enough votes to end the practice – in part because City Council representatives were among those given municipal cars.
As a councilman, Fulop refused the city owned car that would have been assigned to him, arguing it was a waste of taxpayer dollars.
According to Fulop, who was elected mayor on May 14 and who will be sworn in on July 1, there are currently 58 city employees with municipal-issued vehicles with no restrictions. According to Fulop’s office, the mayor-elect’s June 19 letter was sent to the 58 employees, explaining the new policy and requesting they turn in their keys by August 1.
After that date, any city employee who needs a city-issued vehicle for work will have to sign a care out from the city motor pool at the beginning of the work day and return it by the end of the work day.
Any city-owned car that leaves the boundaries of Jersey City without prior approval will be considered theft of property and will be pursued as such, according to the new policy.
“For too long, Jersey City had a wasteful practice of allowing city employees as well as City Council members to take home city-owned cars with no justifiable reason,” Fulop said in a release Wednesday. “The days of wasteful perks are over in Jersey City.”
According to the letter to city employees, which is being shared with media outlets, Fulop anticipates that “the new policy will reduce the need for such a large fleet [of city-owned cars], so that some vehicles [can] be sold at auction. That revenue, coupled with the savings in gasoline, insurance, maintenance, and repairs that will result from the reduction in fleet and the restricted use, can provide the city with significant savings that can be put to use in a more productive manner.”
Fulop said the city will continue to reimburse employees who use their personal vehicles for work-related travel at the standard Internal Revenue Service rates.
In addition, Fulop has requested that directors of autonomous city agencies adhere to the directive as well.
“I am strongly suggesting that the autonomous agencies change their policies immediately to eliminate this unnecessary perk,” Fulop said. “It’s the right thing to do on behalf of the citizens of Jersey City. Hopefully we won’t have to escalate this request to autonomous agencies, in which we need to exert pressure for them to do the right thing.”
The mayor-elect’s office did not give an estimate of how much savings the city might realize from ending the take-home car perk.