Former Assembly candidate Bruce Alston says that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop “conceded to political pressure” when he fired Recreation Director Ryan Strother, who came under fire afterÂ not terminating a registered sex offender in his department.Â
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I’ve heard whispers that within 2 months of Ryan [Strother’s] tenure of director, there were people trying to get rid of him. Fulop insiders and [ex-Mayor Jerramiah] Healy people weren’t happy with him, but at the same time, he went above and beyond his duties,” Alston told Hudson County View over the phone.
“I think Steve has conceded to political pressure. I think this was to appease some political allies by letting Ryan go at this time. This is a leverage move.”
The Jersey Journal first reported on Monday that Strother had been issued a notice of termination from the city as a result of refusing to terminate a registered sex offender working as a seasonal employee in the rec department.
Alston acknowledged that Strother deserves to be disciplined, but says termination isn’t fair and other employees need to be held accountable as well.
“Where is the director of personnel in all of this, Nancy Ramos? It’s within her duties to not just to contact the director of the department who processed the application, but there should be an alert going out informing the mayor, chief and staff and even the director of public safety stating what’s going on,” he questioned.
“It should be a city policy that no one goes to work before a background check, period. Is this the norm? The city council should implement legislation that says no city employee should be hired without their background check being completed.”
Furthermore, Alston said that while Strother could benefit from an Olivia Pope or Marty Kaan type of advisor to get his through this, he still believes he already has four votes on the city council to keep his job: Joyce Watterman, Diane Coleman, Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal and Michael Yun.
It’s up to Strother to lobby one more vote against his termination, Alston says, adding that Fulop has been inconsistent with which city officials have to step down during his administration.
“He didn’t dismiss Muhammed Akil the first, second or third time. Mike Razzolli, the head of DPW, misused taxpayer funds by rerouting a gas line into his office and he was reassigned. Robert “Bubba” Cowan wasn’t fired, he was demoted. Why is it that for Ryan, there is no recourse other than firing him?”
Additionally, Alston, who exclusively told Hudson County View that he was done running for public office after getting crushed in the June 2 Democratic primary, confirmed he has since moved to Ward F and would consider a council bid under the right circumstances.
“I moved to Ward F because I spend more time in the ward than any other ward in the city. If the right candidate doesn’t step up, I’d have to consider it,” he revealed.
“I’d like to see an independent mind that stays in touch with the issues run, but it’s early. There’s no reason Diane Coleman can’t change her mind (and seek re-election). The problems that exist in Ward F have existed longer than the past two years (she’s been in office) and she doesn’t deserve to be blamed for that.”
A city spokesman did not return an email seeking comment.