The state Legislature’s top elected official, and a critic of the New Jersey agency dubbed a “patronage pit,” said he had “no doubt” the alleged “patronage” hiring Lizette Delgado-Polanco was in charge of at the Schools Development Authority went on behind Gov. Phil Murphy’s back, as questions loom over the future of the agency.
“There was no doubt in my mind that the governor was not aware of all the moves that were made,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, told NJBIZ on Tuesday of the chief executive officer’s planned Friday departure as head of the Schools Development Authority.
Delgado-Polcano’s resignation came in the wake of numerous NorthJersey.com reports which found that under her watch dozens of longtime workers were let go as part of a “restructuring,” only for their posts to be filled by friends and family of Delgado-Polanco who made six-figure salaries and often lacked many relevant qualifications.
“I don’t think all of the moves that were made were made with his knowledge, because it wasn’t benefiting him, and really when you’re an executive director of an authority or board, you’re supposed to get up and think ‘how can I help the governor today,’ especially when he’s appointing you, and I just think she failed,” Sweeney added.
Delgado-Polanco is also a close ally of Murphy and vice chair of the New Jersey State Democratic Committee.
The governor’s office could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Sweeney and other key members of the state Legislature are looking at folding the functions of the SDA into the Economic Development Authority, rather than authorize the agency to issue more bonds, since the agency has run out money except for its rainy day fund.
The SDA provides financing for the construction of school facilities in the state’s 31 neediest, poorest school districts, called Abbott Districts.