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Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Newark)

Lawmakers grow frustrated with Alvarez hiring mystery

By Nikita Biryukov, February 05 2019 6:43 pm

Lawmakers on the Select Committee on oversight grew more frustrated after Tuesday ended as yet another day of testimony without the committee learning who hired former Schools Development Authority chief of staff Al Alvarez.

Lynn Haynes, who was director of personnel for Gov. Phil Murphy’s transition, testified Tuesday that former Murphy chief of staff Pete Cammarano, Murphy chief counsel Matt Platkin and transition executive director Jose Lozano were the few that had the authority to hire Alvarez.

All three have denied doing so and said they do not know who hired him.

That was partly what led committee co-chair Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin to call the mystery around Alvarez’s hiring “unbelievable.”

“It’s just such a simple question, so I don’t understand why the administration doesn’t just answer it,” State Sen. Kristin Corrado, a committee vice chair, said. “It’s not a big deal. You’re allowed to hire people.”

The other alternative, one broached Tuesday by State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, is that Murphy himself hired Alvarez.

Haynes declined to answer Cunningham’s question, saying that she did not know and any answer she gave would be purely speculative.

Murphy said yesterday that he did not know who gave Alvarez the SDA job.

But, without answers, the committee is becoming more animated in its search, even if they remain skeptical of the possibility that Alvarez hired himself somehow.

“It certainly seems like he had the ability to pick the job he wanted, pick the salary he wanted. Somebody signed off on it,” Corrado said. “Who was that person who signed off? Did it come from the top, or was it just presumed that he could do what he wanted because he was protected from the top?”

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