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Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. Photo courtesy of the Assembly Majority Office.

Houghtaling, Downey back SDA hiring investigation

By Nikita Biryukov, February 28 2019 5:42 pm

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Joann Downey on Thursday said they supported an investigation into possibly nepotistic hiring practices at the Schools Development Authority.

“We want to look into and find out what’s going on, and if there’s a problem there, we’re going to fix it,” Houghtaling said.

The Bergen Record on Monday reported that a slew of people close to SDA CEO Lizette Delgado-Polanco were hired to jobs at the SDA. Room was made for those employees by cutting other jobs.

Delgado-Polanco is also vice chair of the state Democratic Committee.

So far, there has been little reaction from lawmakers into the Record’s report. Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday said his office was looking into issues at the authority.

The Assembly Republican cohort of the Select Committee on Oversight investigating the hiring of former SDA chief of staff Al Alvarez have called for the hires Delgado-Polanco made to also be looked at by the committee, but with budget season fast approaching, the panel is unlikely to expand the scope of its inquiry.

Still, Republicans aren’t the only one that have been made uneasy by hiring practices at the SDA under Delgado-Polanco.

“I’d like to get more of the facts before I come to any conclusion. It doesn’t make me feel good to hear some of the things written in the paper,” Downey said. “It really does create, obviously, some deep concerns about what’s been going on in the state in terms of hiring, and we’re hoping that things are going to now change.”

Downey and Houghtaling are sponsors of a bill that would impose anti-nepotism rules on schools in the state.

The measure passed the Assembly 75-0-5 on Monday and is awaiting a vote before the Senate.

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