New York Times: Booker Losing 2 Key Officers in Newark

New York Times: Booker Losing 2 Key Officers in Newark

Mr. Kemp’s work in paring back spending and orchestrating the elimination of 500 city jobs made him one of the more unpopular bureaucrats in Newark. The invective from many municipal employees became so ugly that the bodyguard, a plainclothes police officer, was assigned to look after him while he is working.

“Let’s just say there are a lot of people who don’t like me right now,” said Mr. Kemp, 38, a burly, straight-talking man who used to be an executive at Vanguarde Media, a publishing company that is now defunct. He can often be seen walking around City Hall with a broad, no-fade smile. “Everyone in town knows what I look like,” he said.

Mr. Kemp’s and Ms. Chandy’s decisions to return to private business were reported on Thursday by The Star-Ledger of Newark. Their departure is a blow to Mr. Booker, who has relied heavily on their business experience and no-nonsense advice to guide him through the first turbulent months of his young administration. “I’m sorry to see him go, but I’m happy he helped right the ship and get us on the road to excellence,” Mr. Booker said.

Sorry to see Mr. Kemp go as his participation in the administration was crucial to the city’s climbing out of our budget crisis. As hard-nosed as it sounds, City Hall had to pare down positions in order to cover this gap — tax hikes on the already financially-strapped city were just not an option.

It will be interesting to see how the Booker administration will handle the next $40 million gap, expected to hit once the Port Authority payout for the Newark airport land is completed.

Click below for City Hall’s full press release.

MAYOR CORY A. BOOKER ANNOUNCES ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES

Business Administrator Bo Kemp and Corporation Counsel Aney Chandy

Step down from their municipal positions;

The Mayor thanks both for their service and achievements

Newark, NJ – January 4, 2008 – Mayor Cory A. Booker announced today that Bo Kemp, the Business Administrator for the City, will be leaving his post to return to the private sector on January 18th of this year. Mr. Kemp has served the Mayor as his business administrator since the inauguration in July 2006. Prior to inauguration, Mr. Kemp served as executive director of the Mayor’s transition team in spring 2006, and as Executive Director of the Institute for Urban Excellence since 2005. Michelle Thomas, a member of the Business Administration management team, pending council approval, will replace Mr. Kemp.

In addition, Corporation Counsel Aney Chandy, who also joined the Newark team in July 2006 from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, where she was an Assistant Attorney General, is leaving her post as Corporation Counsel to become Special Counsel to the Mayor. Municipal Court Chief Judge Julien X. Neals will be appointed to assume the position of Corporation Counsel. Both positions have to be confirmed by the council.

“Bo Kemp and Aney Chandy have made personal sacrifices to join my team and lead our city through some of its most challenging days of reform and transformation. Under the most demanding of circumstances they were two top leaders who ensured that our city would be set on the right track towards true success. They have laid the foundation for greatness and we owe them our deepest gratitude. I thank them both for their dedication, commitment, and service to the residents of Newark,” Mayor Booker said.

Mr. Kemp will continue to work closely with the Mayor and Ms. Thomas as an advisor on the adoption of the City budget, union contract negotiations, some arena-related activities and other critical matters. In addition, Mr. Kemp will continue to serve on the board of the Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corporation on behalf of the Mayor. Ms. Chandy will also continue to serve as Special Counsel to the Mayor in his office where she will counsel the Mayor on a range of projects and policy initiatives.

“We are very pleased that we are not losing Bo Kemp’s and Aney Chandy’s wise counsel and vast knowledge of Newark and the challenges as we move forward,” Mayor Booker said. “They will continue to be critical members of the Newark team.”

As Newark’s Business Administrator, Mr. Kemp and his office led the administration in more than $100 million in spending reductions over three budgets resulting in an almost 50 percent projected reduction in the city’s structural deficit in 2008. The City’s increased financial planning and stability has been recognized by the state, national rating agencies, and by the Government Finance Officers’ Association in a budget excellence award recognition in 2007.

Mr. Kemp also spearheaded several initiatives that have resulted in more than $60 million of additional revenue to the city from increased collections of payroll, parking and hotel taxes as well as from additional state and federal funding. His efforts have resulted in new legislation at state and city levels to enhance Newark’s ability to collect taxes.

Mr. Kemp has played a pivotal role in both the negotiations and implementation of development plans to open the 18,000-seat Prudential Center in October.

Mr. Kemp has also initiated several employee and public forums in all five wards of the city, to outline the administration’s initiatives and enhance government transparency to citizens, the state, corporate, and non-profit community.

These efforts have led to several partnerships that have included more than half a dozen executives from major Newark-based organizations “on loan” working full time in City Hall at no cost to taxpayers.

Mr. Kemp stated: “I want to thank the Mayor and the Municipal Council for the support and partnership. Although I will be moving on, I will remain close to the Mayor and the City of Newark. I am proud of what we have achieved to date and recognize that there is much work left to do. The city will be in able hands with Michelle Thomas leading the Business Administrator’s Office.”

Michelle Thomas has served as Director of Innovation and Performance Management for the City of Newark since August 2006. Working closely with the Business Administrator and the municipal council, Thomas provided oversight to forensic audits that revealed areas in need of improvement within municipal government; developed a performance management system to improve departmental performance; provided oversight to the development of a five-year strategic technology plan to prioritize the City’s technology needs; created a balanced scorecard or strategic plan to define municipal priorities and objectives; and has given leadership to organizational restructure efforts.

“I am excited by the opportunity and humbled by the trust being offered by the City of Newark, to become the city’s Business Administrator,” Ms. Thomas said. “Bo Kemp has done a magnificent job. Pending confirmation by the municipal council, I look forward to meeting the challenge of building upon his work and both leading and working with our great Municipal team to serve our residents.”

Ms. Chandy managed the Law Department’s 45 in-house attorneys and 30 support staff, as well as coordinated and directed 17 outside law firms who handle more complex or specialized matters on behalf of the City.

“It has been a great privilege to serve the residents of Newark and help lead this great city in creating an ethical, honest, and efficient municipal administration,” Ms. Chandy said. “I am grateful to Mayor Booker and the Municipal Council for their faith in and support of me, and wish them continued success.”

During her tenure as Corporation Counsel, Ms. Chandy resolved numerous pending litigations that saved the City millions of dollars; spearheaded the drafting of the City’s trailblazing ethics legislation; implemented a complete re-organization of the Law Department; orchestrated the audit and investigation of the Prudential Arena deal and other matters resulting in the recovery of significant assets and revenue to the City; negotiated a deal with a corporate partner to provide $1M in scholarships to Newark youth; directed the undeveloped properties initiative seeking the return of City properties that buyers failed to develop; and created a Law Department Summer Intern Program which enabled 30 youth participants to learn about public service and legal careers.

Under her leadership, the Law Department also revised and created many of the City’s Quality of Life Ordinances to ensure the safety of the City’s residents and worked to streamline government operations and increase transparency. Some of these efforts include facilitating the submission and response to Open Public Record Act requests, cutting the backlog of tax appeals and abatements, resolving numerous outstanding workers’ compensation matters, and collecting on outstanding municipal judgments.

Ms. Chandy’s successor, Judge Neals, left a partnership at a prominent law firm in September 2006 to preside over the Newark Municipal Court, the state’s largest municipal court.

Judge Neals employed a “hands-on” management style, which enhanced court efficiency and technology, cut long lines, improved staff morale, and created more effective case management. Judge Neals worked with national agencies to assess overall court performance and to launch a community court model to address social challenges that litigants face.

“I am honored to be the administration’s choice in serving as Newark’s Corporation Counsel,” Judge Neals said. “Aney Chandy has built a sophisticated legal department rooted in professionalism, competency and the highest ethical standards. I look forward to working with our great legal team and municipal council to continue to build upon her exceptional work.” Replacing Neals as Chief Judge of the Municipal Court is Richard E.A. Nunes, who is currently serving on the Newark Municipal Bench.

Judge Neals called Nunes, “An outstanding advocate and crusader for justice and equality in Hackensack. He has brought that passion for justice to our bench, and we know that passion and commitment will make him a truly outstanding leader for the Municipal Court.” Nunes holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. and gained his Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall Law School in Newark in 1995. After graduation, Nunes served as Judicial Clerk to Judge Rudolph N. Hawkins Jr., of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey for a year. From October 1996 to August 1997, he worked at law firms in the private sector, before joining the Office of the Public Defender, Bergen Region, as an Assistant Deputy Public Defender.

There he handled criminal cases, participated in the implementation of the county’s Drug Court, and helped found and supervise the office’s internship program. He lectured on the Drug Court to community organizations and attended trainings for drug court around the United States. He was sworn in for a three-year term as a Newark Municipal Court judge in December 2006.

In addition to these moves, Acting Director of Neighborhood and Recreational Services Melvin Waldrop and Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Darlene Tate are being confirmed as permanent in their positions, again pending council approval.

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Newarker, PCA Elder, Business Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.

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