NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Opposes Eliminating SDA

Governor Phil Murphy speaks at Cory Booker's "Justice For All" Kickoff Tour in Newark, N.J. on April, 13, 2019.

Governor Phil Murphy. Jason Bergman

The state Schools Development Agency is without a leader after its head, Lizette Delgado-Polanco, resigned amid allegations that she turned the agency into a “patronage pit” by awarding high-paying jobs to family members and friends who lacked the necessary qualifications.

And while state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and other Democratic leaders are considering eliminating the SDA and folding its operations into the state Economic Development Authority, Gov. Phil Murphy is balking, according to a report by NJBiz.

On Monday, Murphy said he was “not a supporter of the idea,” according to the report. The governor said the state agency, which has run out of money, has a “unique” and “vitally important mission,” NJBiz reported.

Delgado-Polanco, a former union official who was also vice chair of the state Democratic Committee, was a key Murphy ally. Even as reports pointed out how she allegedly fired experienced longtime staff and replaced them with those close to her, Murphy did not call for her resignation. Al Alvarez, who was the Murphy campaign’s head of Hispanic and Muslim outreach, also had a post at the SDA until he resigned amid allegations that he sexually assaulted a volunteer on the Murphy campaign. Alvarez, who said the encounter was consensual and was never criminally charged, told a legislative committee he did not know who hired him for the lucrative state job.

The SDA is charged with financing construction of school facilities in 31 of the state’s neediest school districts, according to the NJBiz report. Murphy named SDA veteran Manuel Da Silva acting head of the agency following Delgado-Polanco’s resignation.

Quote of the Day: “A lot of the items in your statement are not cheap. How much is this going to cost us?” — Sen. Bob Smith, questioning the cost of the mandates proposed for Gov. Phil Murphy’s clean energy program.

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NJ Politics Digest: Murphy Opposes Eliminating SDA