Newark official fires back at councilman who called for his job

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on January 28, 2016

Patrick Council

 

NEWARK – The city's top snow removal coordinator is firing back at East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador, saying the councilman's recent call for his job is motivated by a petty personal vendetta.

Neighborhood and Recreational Services Director Patrick Council accused Amador of attempting to interfere with a police order for cars to be removed from Lafayette Street in the Ironbound District to allow snow to be cleared from curb to curb.

A city ordinance requires that cars be removed from roads deemed to be commercial, but Amador took issue with requiring residents to dig out their vehicles from more than two feet of snow – which Council claims led the councilman to call for his ouster on Wednesday.

"Amador is disturbed that my department followed the law and city's snow removal plans rather than his angry orders," he said in a statement.

In an interview Wednesday night, Amador stood behind his objections to the plan, saying that it would have been unfair and next to impossible for Lafayette Street residents to move their cars and find new spots in the densely populated Ironbound.

He also offered a slightly more image-conscious defense.

"I live on Lafayette Street," he said. "I didn't want anyone to imply that it was being cleaned because I live here."

The two officials sparred over whether the thoroughfare is actually a commercial or residential street. The majority of the road is lined with clapboard houses, though it is home to various businesses including the imposing A&J Seabra Supermarket. City officials maintained that it serves as a key artery between the East Ward and downtown, and should thus take high priority during the cleanup process.

On Wednesday afternoon, traffic mostly flowed freely on the street's intersection with Route 21, though scattered cars remained buried in snow on either side of its two lanes.

Regardless of the differing opinions, Council said he felt Amador had overstepped by personalizing the dispute.

"I understand that he disagrees with the ordinance and with our snow removal plan, but that is no reason to personalize our dispute and demand my ouster," he said.

 

City officials have also appeared to question whether Amador's displeasure with post-storm operations was sincere.

Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose released a chain of emails he exchanged with Amador over the course of the weekend, in which the councilman repeatedly advocates for more plows and snow removal equipment to be allocated to the East Ward. In the final message, sent just after 10 p.m. Monday, he expressed his gratitude after being told more trucks are on the way

"Thanks for the help! A lot of people are happy in the East Ward," he wrote.

 

Council and other city officials have defended their response to the storm, saying a sharp change in the forecast just as it began has drawn out the typical cleanup of around 48 hours. On Wednesday, he said he used the same approach that proved successful on multiple occasions last winter before relinquishing control of the city's response to Ambrose and emergency management officials once it was clear a full-blown blizzard was underway.

 

"That was in anticipation for a regular snow event and is the plan we have used successfully for years," he said.

 

Amador, however, remained unimpressed.

 

"If you look at the objectives and goals of (the snow removal plan), even under normal circumstances, they didn't even come close to meeting those," he said.

 

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