Flood, who has served on the City Council since 2005, has been dogged by the controversy over the hiring of her son for two local government jobs. She spoke about it in an exclusive interview with the Jersey City Reporter ("Why did she give her son two jobs?" March 9).
Philip Flood Jr. was hired in November for the $38,000-per-year position of research analyst in the Hudson County Register's Office, and the $17,000-per-year council aide position - both under the employ of his mother.
But in 2007, Flood Jr. was arrested for allegedly selling marijuana out of his mother's car, and in 2006, state officials charged that he had allegedly collected $13,000 in unemployment insurance payments, which he had to pay back.
In February, he got into trouble yet again after he parked his mother's car in front of a fire hydrant on Martin Luther King Drive and was ticketed and towed. According to reports in the local daily newspaper, the car had temporary tags and was registered to IDI Construction, a now-defunct construction firm that was based in New York City.
Flood had no comment on the car when asked about it last week, but said the reason her son was parked in front of the hydrant was that he was picking up medication for her at a nearby drugstore.Healy doesn't see 'the big deal'
Flood said in a recent interview that she was thinking of not running for her council seat in the 2009 municipal election due to the recent controversy. If she ran, she probably would appear on Mayor Jerramiah Healy's re-election ticket with backing from the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO).
"This has been difficult on my family, and getting beat up over this makes me wonder if I should continue in politics," Flood said.
But Flood said it was a meeting with Healy that has prompted her to keep her options open.
"He's a wonderful man and was very understanding, and he never hesitated to show his support for me," Flood said. Mayor Healy, when interviewed last week about Flood, said he would have no problem with Flood running on his mayoral ticket.
"I respect Willie and I don't know why she would not run for council again," Healy said.
Healy also said he didn't see "the big deal" with Flood hiring her son as a council aide and working in the county's register's office.
When asked whether the city should have a policy that would prevent relatives of current city employees from being hired for a city job, Healy said he would look into implementing such a policy. The state's ethics rules do not allow state legislators to hire relatives, but do not apply to city officials. Council colleagues with different views
City Councilman Steven Fulop was one of Flood's biggest critics for hiring her son for the two jobs, speaking out in local newspapers and featured in a January report by Fox News investigative reporter Arnold Diaz about Flood hiring her son.
Fulop responded last week to comments made by Flood in the Jersey City Reporter.
"Willie could have not said it any clearer in her own words," Fulop said. "I think when Willie comments that the council 'looks out for each other,' I say they shouldn't be looking out for each other, but looking out for the taxpaying citizen."
Fulop said he tried to understand why Flood hired her son, but could not really sympathize.
"Hiring her son has nothing to do with being a parent - [the statement] is a cop-out," Fulop said.
In a recent interview, City Council President Mariano Vega was critical of Fulop's criticism of Flood, saying it fits into Fulop's pattern of working against, rather than with, his fellow council colleagues.
"Fulop has worked consistently to make himself the solo, 'anti-' for everything, and hasn't learned the lesson of how to work with others to get things done," Vega said.
Vega also said he had no qualms about approving the hire of the councilwoman's son, nor did other members of the City Council, in a council meeting in late November.
"A council person should be able to pick who they feel comfortable to work with," Vega said. "And who could look out better for you than your own family."
Vega also said the "right decision" was made by Flood Jr. in stepping down from his council aide post. Comments on this story can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.