New Newark mayor axes many of Cory Booker's top staffers

By David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger 


Newark Mayor Luis Quintana has ordered the layoffs of several top officials from former Mayor Cory Booker's administration. (Kaitlin McGuinness/Newark Press Information Office)

NEWARK — Newark Mayor Luis Quintana delivered a surprise Thanksgiving greeting to at least eight high-level City Hall staffers today: You’re fired.

Four people with knowledge of the departures told The Star-Ledger that Quintana sent out pink slips to at least four department directors from former Mayor Cory Booker’s administration, as well as four high-ranking Booker staffers.

Neighborhood Services Director Tharien Arnold, Finance Director Susan Jacobucci, Fire Director Fateen Ziyad, Communications Director James Allen, operations director Michele Ralph Rawls and senior advisers Claudia Granados, Anthony Santiago and Sharon Macklin were told they’re being removed from their posts, effective Monday, the four officials said.

The four requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak about the moves.

Quintana, who took office earlier this month, would not confirm the departures but said changes were afoot in City Hall and he would make an official announcement next week.

“I have to make some changes so I can move the city forward,” Quintana said in a phone interview. “This is not a campaign office, this is the city government.”

When pressed on his meaning, Quintana repeated he would make a full announcement next week.

Some of the staffers reached last night declined comment. Others did not return calls or emails.

Quintana has been in talks with many of the staffers to determine the best way to transition into his administration, the four sources said. Many of those let go were Booker political appointees and not subject to civil service regulations.

Arnold, who ran the neighborhood services department, will take a managerial role in the water department, officials said. Ziyad will no longer be fire director but will return to his post as a deputy fire chief.

Since Newark operates under a memorandum of understanding with the state, all hiring decisions have to be approved by the Division of Local Government Services.

It is unclear who will replace all of those losing their jobs, but the officials said James Stewart, a retired fire department captain, is likely to take over for Ziyad. And Amos Crudup, a long-time city employee, may take over as the Neighborhood Services director, the officials said.

Three of the sources said local union leader Rahaman Muhammad will take over for Rawls, who oversees day to day operations of City Hall.

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