N.J. rejects Newark mayor's picks to replace Booker staff

By David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger 

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Newark Mayor Luis Quintana is facing blowback form the state over his hiring decisions.

NEWARK — The state has rejected Newark Mayor Luis Quintana's appointment to the police department as well as a host of other appointments based on lack of information and qualifications, according to three officials with knowledge of the move.

Hector Corchado, a former councilman who recently retired from the city's Taxi division was slated to be a deputy police director — a new position in the city government. The city did not provide adequate reasoning for why the position was necessary and until they do, the state said they would not approve the hire, officials said.

The officials who spoke to The Star-Ledger requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly about the moves.

Officials at the Department of Community Affairs declined to comment on specific cases.

"The DCA cannot and will not discuss individuals under consideration," said spokeswoman Tammori Petty in a statement. "However, we can verify that we have not received information from the City as to why an added administrative Deputy Police Director position is necessary when boots are needed on the ground. Until we receive information supporting that the position is needed, no requests to fill the position will be approved."

Because Newark took roughly $32 million in emergency aid from the state in 2011 and 2012, the city is operating under a memorandum of understanding with Local Government Services, a division of the state Department of Community Affairs. The memorandum, approved by the Newark City Council while Quintana was a member, requires the city to get approval for virtually any hire in city government.

Just weeks after Quintana took over from former Mayor Cory Booker he axed a host of Booker's directors, including Susan Jacobucci, the director of finance. Her proposed replacement, Danielle Smith, was also conditionally rejected the officials said.

If the state receives more information, they may eventually approve the hires, but for now they have been scuttled.

State officials met with Quintana Friday to discuss the moves. Quintana said today he had not heard about the rejections. He said he stressed the need to make the appointments during the Friday meeting.

"We just told them we had a lot of things we're doing," Quintana said. "We want to be prepared. We also want to get good government to the people of Newark."

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