The ways of this administration and its City Council enablers could turn Pollyanna into the most ardent cynic.
The latest cause for eye-rolling is the council’s adoption last week of an ordinance creating a “Women’s Advisory Board” for Jersey City. The board was created to recommend policies and guidelines on such women’s issues as equal pay and childcare. Its biggest booster, Council President Joyce Watterman, said it was an “important first step” toward achieving equity for women in Jersey City.
But Watterman and the leader of her “team,” Mayor Steven Fulop, have skipped a step. The first step should be to release a report on Jersey City’s pay equity record commissioned by the City Council two years ago and which is sitting in the mayor’s email inbox.
The report, drafted by the law firm Apruzzese, McDermott, Mastro & Murphy, P.C., was commissioned by the council in 2019 at a cost of $100 thousand. It was prompted by the Diane B. Allen Equity Act, which makes it unlawful for employers to pay employees a lesser rate of pay than other employees who perform “substantially similar work” unless the differential is based on a legitimate business justification.
It is unknown who besides the mayor has seen it. Ward E Councilman James Solomon, the only remaining independent on the council who voted in favor of the study, said he has not.
In October, The Jersey City Times asked for the report under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). On January 10, the administration said no, it will not release the report. It is, they said, protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Given that the administration is refusing to release the report, one can assume that it’s less than flattering. This is not an administration that passes up an opportunity to crow about its accomplishments when they exist.
More likely is that the report revealed that some women who work for the city have been underpaid relative to their male counterparts. But only the mayor and those in his circle who may have read it, which may include Watterman, know for sure.
Certainly, Jersey City taxpayers, who paid for the report, and the people who will spend their valuable time on the new Women’s Advisory Board, should know what Jersey City’s record on pay equity is.
Said Solomon yesterday, “It should be released.” We agree.