Fulop allies say freeholder playing politics with new aide

A Jersey City freeholder who recently had a very public battle with Mayor Steve Fulop is raising eyebrows by hiring an aide who lives in Bergen County and works for the East Orange mayor.

The mayor’s allies say Freeholder Gerard Balmir, whose wife works for Senate President Stephen Sweeney, hired his new aide with one eye on the next gubernatorial race. Both Fulop and Sweeney are expected to seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2017.

Read more at NJ.com.

Critics allege pay-to-play violation after Fulop donor’s firm gets contract

A law firm with a managing partner who contributed $600 to Mayor Steve Fulop’s re-election campaign in June won a no-bid city contract last month, leading critics to allege the mayor is violating the “pay to play” ban he played an integral role in enacting when he was a councilman.

The City Council unanimously approved giving the McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter law firm a contract worth $50,000 at its Dec. 16 meeting. The Morristown-based firm, where Corporation Counsel Jeremy Farrell worked before becoming the city’s top attorney in July 2013, was hired to represent the city in contract negotiations with a Jersey City firefighters union.

Read more at NJ.com.

Nearly $600K in pay raises to Jersey City workers in 2015

Mayor Steve Fulop’s No. 2 guy and the sister of one of Fulop’s political operatives were awarded big pay hikes this year.

Mark Albiez, the chief of staff, is now making $19,384 more, for a total salary of $119,394, thanks to a pay raise he received in May. Allison Solowsky — whose brother, Jason, is a Fulop political operative — received a salary bump of $18,750 in June, bringing her pay to $70,000. She is a management assistant in Fulop’s office.

The salary boosts were among $583,441 in pay raises awarded this year, according to a document obtained by The Jersey Journal after a public-records request. Over 100 city employees received pay hikes this year, for an average increase of $5,310. At least 14 of the pay raises appear to have been contractual. Three people received pay decreases.

Read more at NJ.com.

Fulop needs to tackle problems of living in Wards A and F | Morgan

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has been at the forefront of several progressive initiatives during his two years in office, including an increase in the minimum wage, protection for tips paid to restaurant workers and construction of veterans housing.

All are much needed. But he and his administration have stumbled and now face the wrath of city residents in high-crime neighborhoods who feel their fears and anxieties are, at best, on the periphery of the City Hall agenda.

Read more at NJ.com.

DWIs, double dippers & revals: 2015 in Jersey City politics

City Hall’s revolving door

To recap: Carly Baldwin, the public-safety spokeswoman hired in October 2014, was gone by July; Ryan Strother was fired as the recreation director in August; and Ryan Jacobs, Mayor Steve Fulop’s new mouthpiece, quit last week after about five months on the job. Fulop is known in City Hall for being a demanding boss with a hot temper. One person who left the city payroll this year, when asked how it felt, told The Jersey Journal, “Like being let out of jail.”

Read more at NJ.com.

PARCC results: How it went in N.J.’s 2nd largest district

Even though most New Jersey students didn’t meet grade-level expectations on the controversial PARCC tests, Jersey City students overall fared even worse on the tests, according to the district.

Superintendent Marcia Lyles, who recently learned that she will be getting a contract renewal in the new year, published an op-ed about the results Dec. 14, before she released them at the board meeting Thursday night.

She urged parents to “remember the PARCC test remains just one of the many indicators used and because this is the first year, we cannot yet speak to ‘progress’ or gains.”

Read more at NJ.com.

How the battle for north Jersey casinos is being hampered by 2017 gubernatorial race

New Jersey’s top legislators agree on at least this much: Opening casinos in the northern part of the state is crucial.

It’s needed, they say, for the Garden State’s gaming industry to survive against ever-increasing competition from gambling halls in neighboring states. And it would provide money to revitalize and reimagine financially ailing Atlantic City.

But the plan has stalled recently amid a standoff between the top two leaders of the state Legislature — one from the north, the other from the south.

Read more at NJ.com.

Fulop critic wants state audit of Jersey City tax office

A rival of Mayor Steve Fulop is asking state officials to audit Jersey City’s tax program, saying the city’s recent move to halt new assessments of renovated homes was outside of Fulop’s legal authority.

Bill Matsikoudis — a Fulop critic when he was top city attorney under ex-Mayor Jerramiah Healy — alleges in a letter sent today to state tax officials that “political concerns” appear to have been behind the city’s request to stop the added assessments, which would have given over 450 homeowners a tax break. Hudson County’s taxation board denied the city’s request on Monday.

Read more at NJ.com.