At the beginning of a new four-year term, Mayor Steven Fulop has made recommendations for several key departments, including the reappointment of Public Safety Director James Shea, Health Director Stacey Flanagan, and Department of Public Works Director Patrick Stamato. Some of the new appointments and reappointments to city departments could signal a shift in city priorities.
And the appointment of Deputy Mayor Marcos D. Vigil as director of the department of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce is considered somewhat controversial, because it comes at a time when previous director Anthony Cruz is the target of a lawsuit filed for alleged hostile working conditions, and his alleged participation in an alleged effort to steer an energy consulting contract to a particular vendor three years ago.
Last year, testimony given by two high level city employees in the lawsuit uncovered the alleged attempt to steer the energy consultant contract to a particular vendor, who also turned out to be a top political fundraiser for Fulop and other officials in Hudson County.
Cruz’s departure appears to be part of an effort by the mayor to clear away problematic issues.
With council approval, he recently appointed a new police chief, after an investigation by federal authorities led to a guilty plea by the former chief for a no-show off duty job.
The city has also recently appointed a new fire chief as well, although no scandal appears to have tarnished the fire department recently.
Shea’s reappointment as a public safety director has raised some eyebrows since the police department is reeling not only from the guilty plea by the former chief, but also the indictment and conviction of nine other officers over similar off-duty scams.
On top of this, four officers are still facing charges resulting from a car chase last June and the beating of an innocent bystander.
The City Council approved the changes at the Jan. 10 meeting after a reviewing the candidates at their Jan. 8 caucus.
James Shea looks ahead for police and fire departments
Shea, a retired deputy chief of the New York Police Department, was hired originally in August 2013 as a civilian director overseeing the Jersey City police and fire departments. He oversaw the controversial consolidation of the police and fire departments into a Department of Public Safety a short time later.
The ordinance that formed the Department of Public Safety also created the Division of Sanitation under the Department of Public Works, to perform demolitions, street sweeping, snow and ice removal, solid waste collection, and recycling and graffiti removal.
Some of the initiatives Shea has proposed going into 2018 include technology improvements, the second phase of police surveillance cameras throughout the city, as well as fire safety proposals. He said some of the operations will enlist the Department of Public Works to help reduce electrical fire risks in part of the city.
When questioned about the proposed county police academy, Shea said he has reservations about it.
In regards to ongoing police issues, he said he and the police Department of Internal Affairs are working with the FBI to investigate issues of corruption.
“We have zero tolerance for corruption,” he said.
On the agenda for the future will be expansion of parking enforcement in the city, he said, which will provide 24 hour seven day a week parking enforcement to help reduce parking congestion throughout the city.
“We have zero tolerance for corruption.” – James Shea
Vigil will keep both jobs
Deputy Mayor Marcos D. Vigil will also serve as director of the city’s Housing, Economic Development and Commerce.
“I will not be collecting two salaries,” he said.
Fulop praised Vigil for having a proven commitment to Jersey City and said he has already helped bring development to other parts of Jersey City beyond the waterfront.
Vigil replaces Cruz in the position. And according to several sources, Cruz is no longer employed in any capacity in the city.
Before being named as deputy mayor in 2013, Vigil was employed as deputy secretary of state of New York under Governor Andrew Cuomo. He oversaw licensing, corporations, consumer protection and other aspects of state government.
Vigil said he was pleased with the confidence Fulop has in him and said he intended to have a lot more interaction with the public, and will work on getting his staff to interact more with the public as well.
He said he would look at increasing the city’s ability to enforce ordinances, and he would be looking at particular people for skills and to provide them with the technology they need.
Continue programs the city has started
Stacey Lee Flanagan was reappointed as director of the city’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Before being appointed as director in Jersey City, Flanagan ran the largest nutrition program in New York City. Estimates of show her department can service as many as 20,000 people throughout Jersey City.
Prior to her work in New York, she served as deputy director of nonprofit Public Health Programs, Flanagan in the Women, Infants and Children supplemental food program (WIC).
Over the last four years in Jersey City, she has been instrumental in expanding access to fresh foods and reducing areas of the city known as “food deserts,” areas lacking supermarkets or other such food retail stores.
In her review before the city council, Flanagan said she would continue many of the programs that she started during her first tenure, focusing on health issues, and how to leverage more resources through partnerships to provide more programs.
She said the new City Hall Annex near the HUB would allow her department to address many needs closer to where people live.
Stamato reappointed as DPW
In an appointment that has largely has gone under the political radar, Patrick G. Stamato, husband to Barbara Stamato (Democratic Party Chairwoman in Jersey City) was reappointed as director of the Department of Public Works.
Stamato, a former inspector of solid waste the Hudson County Improvement Authority, replaced Mark Redfield, who retired in 2016.
Stamato previously worked on some of Hudson County’s premier projects, such as the construction of the Lincoln Park golf course in Jersey City and the redevelopment of Kopper’s Koke property in Kearny.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.