Satisfied she will follow-up on Booker administration audit, Rice affirms Grifa

After initially fretting over her background as a big firm attorney, state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark) today signed off on Lori Grifa of Montclair, Gov. Chris Christie’s choice to run the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

Rice said he is convinced Grifa would aggressively follow-thorough with a DCA audit of of the City of Newark. 

“The taxpayers, voters, legislature and the media have been very much concerned about the hiring practices in the City and the awarding of contracts for professional services as regularly depicted in the news media,” said Rice in a statement.  “While the original audit was a good starting point to begin discussing improprieties in Newark, we need the State’s law enforcement organizations to take a deeper look and ensure that no laws were broken in the awarding of contracts and lucrative jobs to campaign donors.”

Rice had written a letter to former Commissioners Joseph V. Doria, Jr., questioning the city’s termination of employees “under the auspices of fiscal problems, (while) friends and political supporters of the mayor from out of town and within were being hired at high salaries and given pay raises on top of salaries that were already over $100,000.”

“The residents are also very much concerned about the awarding of lucrative consultant contracts at the taxpayers’ expense without any accountability for performance and the abuse of executive orders to increase salaries for politically-connected employees,” said Rice. “Having spoken to her about the concerns of local residents, I believe that Ms. Grifa understands the problems and will address them in her tenure as Community Affairs Commissioner.  I look forward to working with her to make Newark a better place to live for all City residents, not just the ones who happen to be close to the mayor.”