JERSEY CITY AND BEYOND – The fourth time was indeed the charm for Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop and a series of reforms that seek to limit patronage perks given to city officials.
Last night the City Council approved the introduction of three ordinances that the council majority had previously blocked on three other occasions.
If formally adopted by the council when it meets again later this month, two of the Fulop-backed ordinances will eliminate healthcare benefits for part-time political appointees of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority (JCIA) and the Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA). The third ordinance places restrictions on the use of municipal vehicles that are assigned to city employees.
This is the fourth time the Ward E councilman is trying to get these ordinances passed. Up until now, Fulop’s reforms have proven unpopular with his peers on the council.
The last time the downtown councilman introduced these measures was at the beginning of the year, when he received the support of Councilwoman Viola Richardson (Ward F), Councilwoman Nidia Lopez (Ward C), and Councilman David Donnelly (Ward B).
Due to a policy passed by the council majority last year, council members are barred from bringing forward measures that were previously defeated until six months have elapsed. The policy was passed to keep Fulop from reintroducing his anti-patronage ordinances, he has said on several occasions.
However, members of the council may feel unique pressure to address the use of city vehicles now.
Many, perhaps even most, city residents will be affected by the toll and PATH fare increases being proposed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Even if the size of the increases is cut, residents who attended the City Council meeting last night said the increases would still be a hardship on them.
Against the backdrop of the fare hikes, it’s possible that the council majority doesn’t want to be seen as protecting taxpayer-funded cars for political appointees.
A public hearing on the three ordinances will be scheduled for the next City Council meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. at City Hall, 280 Grove St. – E. Assata Wright