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Jersey City Council approves division reshuffling and cannabinoid regulations

Council also appointed Carmen Gandulla as permanent finance director

The Jersey City Council at their April 27 meeting. Photo by Mark Koosau.

The Jersey City Council has approved a number of legislative items, including shuffling some city divisions, approving new cannabinoid and smoke shop regulations, and appointing the acting finance director to a permanent capacity.

City division reshuffling

The council voted to reshuffle a number of divisions within the city government. It moved the Division of Human Resources into the Department of Administration, created a new Department of Infrastructure, and established a Division of Traffic and Parking.

Most of the discussion at the last council meeting focused on the reshuffling of the Division of Park Maintenance, which was moved over to the Department of Recreation, and the creation of the Division of Forestry under the Department of Public Works.

The Division of Forestry would be responsible “for the regular maintenance of street trees and trees within city parks as well as ensuring compliance with city forestry standards.”

Santo Della Monica, the president of the Jersey City Public Employees Union Local 245, asked the council to table the ordinance enacting the shuffle, saying that there wasn’t any structure or manpower coming out of Park Maintenance and Forestry.

“You want to create new divisions and spend thousands of dollars on deputy directors when we need manpower,” he said with many union members sitting in the audience. “I have my traffic guards here today and they need a contract; they’ve been out of [one] for seven years.”

Local 245 President Santo Della Monica said that the city departments need more manpower rather than being reorganized. Photo by Mark Koosau.

When asked by Councilwoman Denise Ridley about the impact on Parks and Forestry manpower, Business Administrator John Metro said there wouldn’t be any layoffs or loss of manpower, and that all employees will remain with the permanent civil service titles.

“We’re gonna transfer right now with our current manpower split amongst the respective divisions, we’ll start our respective budget process within the next two or three weeks, and the directors of those departments will be requesting additional employees and resources for tools and equipment,” he said.

Councilman Frank Gilmore, who used to work in the city’s recreational department, was skeptical of the ordinance, and argued that the problem was less because of the division they’re working on, but more from a lack of individual productivity.

“I don’t think restructuring is going to provide better quality service seeing that you’re gonna have the same people there anyway,” he said.

The council voted 7-1 to adopt the ordinance, with Gilmore voting no, and Councilman Rich Boggiano absent from the meeting that night.

Cannabinoid and smoke shop regulations

The council then unanimously approved new cannabinoid and smoke shop regulations in the city intended to protect minors from cannabinoid products.

Under the new regulations, the city will make it illegal to distribute or sell cannabinoids, which are products that contain 0.5 milligrams or more of THC or adult-use cannabinoids, to those 21 or younger. It will also only permit face-to-face sales of cannabinoid products, and will suspend or revoke licenses for those that are caught violating the new rules.

The regulations also stipulate that smoke shops and tobacco stores in the city will have to register with the Department of Public Safety within 60 days from opening their store or qualifying as a shop, and will need to renew their registration every year.

All current smoke and tobacco stores currently operating will also have to register as one before receiving a permit by the city administration.

Natasha Athab, an employee of the Partners in Prevention of Hudson County, spoke on behalf of a statement by Executive Director Doug Bratton supporting the ordinance.

“With changing laws regarding cannabis and related cannabinoid products and legislation, it is more important than ever for us to ensure that young people are safe, healthy and substance free during their developing years,” she said

Other legislation

The council unanimously voted to appoint acting Department of Finance Director Carmen Gandulla into a permanent capacity. She was previously the Director of Community Development.

They also unanimously voted to adopt three ordinances that will allow the city to acquire or condemn, via eminent domain, three properties to create two new police precincts in the Heights at 117 Hutton Street and 18 Sherman Place, and in Greenville at 1 West Side Avenue.

The council also passed two resolutions for police equipment. One resolution approved unanimously green lights a $2.28 million purchase of FocusX1 body worn cameras and software maintenance. Another resolution approves a $515,200 purchase Blauer Flex Uniforms from Tomahawk Strategic Solutions, which was voted on 7-1 with Councilman James Solomon voting no.

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.

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