Jersey Journal

Jersey City Council Appoints Public Safety Director, Reshapes Many Departments, Introduces Sick Leave Measure

The Jersey Journal — Wednesday, September 11, 2013

By Michaelangelo Conte / The Jersey Journal

Jersey City saw a major shakeup of city government tonight with consolidation of the police and fire departments into a Department of Public Safety, appointment of a public safety director and a reshuffling of many other city departments.

"Confirmation by the Council tonight of Jim Shea as Public Safety Director is an important step as we move Jersey City forward," said Mayor Steven Fulop after Shea's appointment by the city council tonight. "His knowledge and experience will lead Jersey City toward becoming one of the safest and best mid-size cities in America."

Shea gave a brief address saying that as a new Jersey City resident it is a great city with a great police department and fire department.

"It's an honor to be chosen to work with them, so I thank you for your confidence," said Shea, who also made a reference to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks saying, "It's a day that we all lost friends 12 years ago and I would like to offer a pray."

Shea, who will earn $190,000, most recently served as a deputy chief responsible for the NYPD's youth and gang division. For two years, he served as commanding officer of an NYPD joint terrorism task force. He also formerly ran the city's police academy.

The ordinance that formed the Department of Public Safety also creates the Division of Sanitation under the Department of Public Works, to perform the services of demolitions, street sweeping, snow and ice removal, solid waste collection, and recycling and graffiti removal.

Fulop's initiatives also renamed the Mayor's Action Bureau the Resident Resource Center, making it "one-stop-shopping" for constituent services.

The city Division of Cultural Affairs, Senior Affairs and Veterans Affairs was moved from the city Department of Health and Human Services and incorporated into the RRC.

The administration also combined the Division of Architecture, and the Division of Engineering, Traffic and Transportation into a single division within the Department of Public Works.

Fulop said tonight that "This consolidation will result in taxpayer savings and more efficiency for residents."

Finally, tonight's meeting saw the first reading of Fulop's proposed "earned sick day" ordinance. If passed after a public hearing, the ordinance would require all businesses with 10 or more workers to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick time to employees annually. The measure has been panned by members of the business community.

Groups supporting the ordinance include NJ Working Families Alliance, the state NAACP and its Jersey City chapter, New Jersey Citizen Action and the Service Employee International Union. There were scores of supporters at tonight's meeting, many holding placards.

If passed, the ordinance would make Jersey City the first city in the state to guarantee workers earned sick days, according to NJ Working Families Alliance.

"Introduction tonight of this legislation is an important step toward supporting our working families and ensuring they have both job security and the ability to care for themselves and their families in the event of illness," said Fulop tonight. "This is a basic human dignity issue that I was glad to advance and am hopeful the Council will adopt this measure on second reading in two weeks."

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