Those members of Jersey City’s municipal council demanding an investigation into how autonomous agencies handle director’s compensation are doing too little to address the problem. The good news is, however, that it is not too late.
The latest incident of an autonomous agency director receiving a 5 percent pay hike would never have happened if the demand for an investigation had been made just four months ago when the Jersey Journal published the article “Jersey City parking agency signs off on 12 percent pay hike for executive director.” The silence then by city officials set a precedent that other autonomous agencies are following. Jersey City Parking Authority commissioners and CEO Mary Paretti should be told to resign first for signing off on a generous five year director contract in defiance of calls to fold the agency into municipal government within the next year. The public is now left to wonder why a demand for an investigation over pay hikes and guaranteed contracts ignores one agency while scrutinizing another. The public has a right to know why the demand for an investigation is four months late.
Despite being railroaded into a $7 million deficit by the city, at least the Jersey City Incinerator Authority has maintained their commitment to public service by avoiding any major disruption in garbage collection. The JCPA, on the other hand, hurts city residents with the parking pay station fiasco on Central Avenue that is expected to expand into other parts of the city.
After being picketed last September 2011, JCPA Commissioners received a petition signed by residents, shoppers, visitors, and nearly every business on Central Avenue to remove the faulty machines and they have done nothing to address it. The commissioners easily found money to grant a pay hike even Mayor Healy describes as “overly generous” yet they cannot find the funds to replace the dysfunctional parking system that entraps seniors and the disabled.
Jersey City residents should also not forget that JCPA commissioners allowed senior agency employees to remain on staff after their alleged involvement in multiple sexual harassment lawsuits that so far resulted in a $300,000 settlement. Moreover, they endorse the city’s overly aggressive parking enforcement reputation, and fail to protect the interest of the general public. It is clear that any investigation must begin with the Parking Authority.
Mayor Healy, the chief executive of the city, claims that he was not aware of either the JCIA or the JCPA director contracts prior to their approval. Jersey City is in trouble if, by his own admission, Mayor Healy is out of touch with the city administration. Kevin Lyons, Assistant Chief of Staff to the Mayor, sits on the JCIA board that unanimously approved the contract. What else is city staff keeping Mayor Healy in the dark about? As a taxpayer, I would like to remind Mayor Healy that the people voted for a mayor, not a glorified ribbon cutter.
Candidate for Public Office, May 2013