Curtains for property maintenance program

Bayonne laying off three managers, transferring duties to other city employees

What had been heralded as an innovative zone management program by the previous city administration has been deemed not to be the case by the current administration; the three managers hired for it have been issued notices that they are expected to be laid off as of July 17, a city official said.
Business Administrator Joseph DeMarco said on June 7 that a “last notice” had been given to three employees in the zone management program. Michael Mulcahy, property maintenance code official, confirmed on June 12 that he and his two coworkers had received the notices. Multiple sources identified Michael Smith and Gary Parlatti as the other two zone managers who also received the notices.
Mulcahy said he created the program in Bayonne in 2011 during the administration of Mayor Mark Smith. He had worked in a similar type system in Jersey City prior to that.
The initiative was implemented to address property management and code violations such as lack of proper disposal of garbage and broken stairs, according to Mulcahy. Complaints come from various sources: building tenants, neighbors, patrons, and those who wish to remain anonymous.
“They were housing-type inspectors,” DeMarco said.
The state’s Civil Service division was also notified of the impending layoffs, as required, according to DeMarco, and the city was awaiting its response.
“Three are getting notice, and we advised Civil Service of the date of July 17, the expected date of the layoffs,” DeMarco said. “Civil Service will then report back to the city to say it’s okay or not.”
Word of the notices had spread quickly around city hall on June 2 and June 3 because 80 other employees in the Municipal Services Department had also received them.
DeMarco said that the other employees receiving the notices was more of a procedural exercise, since the notices must also go to all other employees in the same working group as those being let go.
The other 80 were not in danger of losing their jobs, according to DeMarco. However, the three layoffs could conceivably affect others’ positions within that larger area. The three zone managers receiving the layoff notices could opt to take another post if they had experience in another department.
“There’s such a thing as bumping rights,” he said. “If people have any other rights say for another position, they can come back and say they previously served as clerk, so they can retain their position as clerk. That’s what we’ll get back from Civil Services.”
The three positions will be eliminated and their duties will be absorbed by others already employed by the city who can perform the functions, or those who have in the past.
“I think the concept of the whole zone management program didn’t really play out as intended, in terms of housing maintenance and quality of life issues,” DeMarco said. “This was somewhat of a new program or concept that was rolled out that really didn’t change anything. It doesn’t appear that the program had its intended effect.”

Differences of opinion

Mulcahy disagreed.
“I’m floored by this; this is something I take pride in,” Mulcahy said. “This was a department that I founded. This was yanked from us for no apparent reason.”
Mulcahy recounted fines levied by the city for the four full years he headed the program; $90,000 in 2011, $265,000 in 2012, $219,000 in 2013, and $103,000 in 2014.
“We made a difference,” he said. “Over the past four and a half years we have written up more than 10,000 violations.”
More than 75 illegal apartments were uncovered and vacated, according to Mulcahy.
Mayor James Davis said the three inspectors’ responsibilities can and are being done by others.
Chief of Staff Andrew Casais said there will be no impact on resident services.
“We don’t need a convoluted system to make sure city code is enforced,” Casais said.
Mulcahy disagreed.


“I think the concept of the whole zone management program didn’t really play out as intended, in terms of housing maintenance and quality of life issues.” – Joseph DeMarco


“I do not believe we have been treated fair,” he said. “I’ve always had the best interests of the city in mind.”

Conjecture on departure

Mulcahy suggested that his likely departure is more political than pragmatic.
“I obviously know they were coming for me. I was brought in by the previous administration,” he said. “And it’s common knowledge that Jason O’Donnell is my best friend.”
O’Donnell was the public safety director under Smith and a strong supporter of the ex-mayor, and lost his post after Davis upset Smith in the mayoral election last year. O’Donnell, a sitting New Jersey Assemblyman, also lost his spot on the Hudson County Democratic Organization line in the June 2 primary election after Davis opted to go with his own candidate Nicholas Chiaravalloti. O’Donnell decided not to run for reelection.
No other layoffs are being planned or being reviewed at this time, DeMarco said.

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