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The Star Ledger 2002

Date: 2002/06/30 Sunday Page: 031 Section: ESSEX Edition: WEST Size: 1253 words

For his fifth term, James shakes up his administration

By JEFFERY C. MAYS
STAR-LEDGER STAFF

Fresh off what he calls a "clean sweep," Newark Mayor Sharpe James will use his record fifth inaugural address tomorrow to announce major personnel shifts in his administration aimed at making the delivery of services to city residents a priority.

"I'm a student of government," James said. "Government in the city of Newark is going to prove that government works."

Coordinating Newark's new push to better serve residents will be a familiar face. Richard Monteilh, who is expected to be approved as the new business administrator, served in the role from 1987 to 1991.

Since then, Monteilh (pronounced Mon-tay) served as executive director of the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority, the agency responsible for overseeing the 1996 Olympic Games and, most recently, as executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Monteilh is described as a strict manager who has had success at every administrative level.

"He will be the quarterback getting the maximum delivery of services from the directors that citizens expect," James said.

Current Business Administrator Harold Lucas has returned to his former job as executive director of the Newark Housing Authority. James said that Lucas, former undersecretary for Public Housing and Indian Affairs at the Department for Housing and Urban Development, will be able to use his expertise and contacts in the housing arena to administer the $35 million Hope VI grant program that will remake the Central Ward.

The person who will oversee the city's delivery of police services is still up in the air. James said that he has interviewed 10 candidates for police director but has yet to make a decision.

Acting Director Anthony Ambrose is still in the running for the position, according to the mayor, and James said he would fulfill his promise to the council that a candidate will be in place for their approval by tomorrow. James said the selection is taking so long because former director Joseph Santiago, now superintendent of the State Police, left big shoes to fill.

West Ward Councilwoman Mamie Bridgeforth said she is concerned that the mayor has not yet selected a candidate for police director. Bridgeforth said that most of the calls she receives from residents are about police protection. Whomever the mayor chooses needs to be the permanent, not acting, director, and "someone willing to do whatever it takes to get control of these areas," Bridgeforth said.

Other departmental changes also will see familiar faces returning to City Hall.

Edward Dunham, a former fire chief, is nominated to return as fire director.

Dunham was the subject of controversy in 1998 when the fire unions took him to court after he was named chief, saying he wasn't experienced enough to hold the position. Dunham, who joined the department in 1970, had been promoted from captain to chief.

In 2000, a U.S. District judge ruled that Dunham could remain a chief and that the state had to create a promotional exam for chief. Dunham decided to retire shortly after the ruling.

James said the lawsuit was based on a technicality "that had nothing to do with (Dunham's) competence."

Dunham is an affirmative-action specialist with the fire department. James said that his expertise in that area will be helpful as fire director since the city is under court order to improve the level and number of minorities in the fire department.

"I think he's been around and knows the inner workings of the department," said John Sandella, president of the Newark Fire Officers Union, whose membership took Dunham to court.

The nominee for director of housing and economic development is Niathan Allen, current program executive for the Community Development and Technical Assistance Program at the Congress of National Black Churches in Washington, D.C. Allen is a Newark native.

Deputy Mayor Alfred Faiella, who was forced to resign from the now defunct Newark Economic Development Corporation after almost three decades, left to pursue his private-sector interests.

"Any man who can put all the churches in one room and meet their needs is a miracle-worker," James said of his nominee for housing and economic development. Allen's background meshes with the mayor's plan to utilize faith-based groups to initiate neighborhood development projects.

Colleen Walton, a longtime community activist and sometimes critic of the mayor, has been nominated to lead the Department of Neighborhood Services.

Former director Marshall Cooper has been "reassigned" and will have other, as yet unspecified, "administrative duties," James said.

Walton, a podiatrist and coordinator of Newark's Victim/Witness Advocacy Program, ran against James for mayor in 1995. She founded a group named Every Newark Resident Against Government Excess and Dishonesty and held rallies around the city to argue against council spending. She also previously worked for the city as a special assistant in the Department of Health and Human Services.

"I'm excited to see what she can do in a leadership position," James said.

Bridgeforth said Walton's background as a community advocate will help her now. "She will be able to get into the neighborhoods and hear what they have to say," she said.

The contract of Charles Blumeling, the city's engineering director, has not been extended, James said. A national search is under way for a new director and James criticized the department as one of the city's weakest and most disorganized.

"That whole department has been in disarray," James said. "We are going to end the abuses in engineering."

The mayor said he wants "a day's work for a day's pay" and that reforming the engineering department will be a top priority of the new business administrator.

James also wants a few department heads to remain in place. James has nominated JoAnne Watson for reappointment at Corporation Counsel; Catherine Cuomo-Cecere as health and human services director and Philip LiVecchi as director of water and sewer utilities. Finance director Ronald Jean will remain in an acting capacity.

The Division of Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the Division of Social Services will now fall under the office of the mayor. The Department of Health and Human Services will have several new divisions, including medical services, planning and surveillance and prevention. The Division of Planning will move from the Department of Economic and Housing Development under the supervision of the business administrator.

As expected, state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex), who served as James' campaign chairman, will be a deputy mayor with "administrative oversight duties."

In terms of the city's schools, James, who has had a strained relationship with the district, says he supports Superintendent Marion Bolden. "The system has shown stability under her leadership," James said.

Education Commissioner William Librera had announced the state would begin the process of returning local control to three state-run school districts, including Newark. As part of the plan, a nationwide search for superintendent would be conducted with Bolden as a finalist.

But, James said, as local control is returned, school board members should have a voice in who runs the district.

PHOTO CAPTION: MONTEILH

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