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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—City Council President Kevin Egan said that no one told him about the hiring of a politically-connected former police officer to a new, unadvertised job within the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD).
And Egan has no problem with it.
As we reported, Anthony Barber, a close ally of Mayor James Cahill, left the Board of Commissioners at the New Brunswick Parking Authority (NBPA) last month to take a job at the police department.
Barber was apparently hired to the job by fellow NBPA board member Anthony Caputo, who also serves as the Police Director in New Brunswick.
All three men–Cahill, Caputo, and Barber–are now so-called "double-dippers," public employees who collect both a salary and a pension at the same time.
Barber's wife Claribel Azcona-Barber has worked in the Mayor's Office as an aide to Cahill, and serves on the powerful Planning and Ethics Boards. Anthony Barber was once the driver for former Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer.
"Does the city support this, you know, having the Police Director hire his friends without telling you and without advertising it?" this reporter asked during the June 17 City Council meeting.
"We don't have any participation on who the Police Director wants to hire," answered Egan. "The police hire civilian people without our permission day in and day out."
Egan seemed to believe that the Council has no oversight of who the city government hires.
"They've been doing it for years, Mr. Kratovil," said Egan, referring to the NBPD's habit of hiring civilians without asking or telling the City Council about them.
While police officers are hired based on the civil service system that includes standardized testing intended to shield the hiring process from politics, civilian hires are often far less regulated.
Other officials confirmed that Barber was hired to the new position before its existence was ever advertised to the public.
"[Caputo] did I believe interview multiple candidates, but it was not advertised in the paper or our website," said Business Administrator Thomas Loughlin.
Councilman John Anderson asked if the position was "supposed to be advertised."
"No they don't have to be," responded Thomas Loughlin. "If you have a legitimate candidate who is a New Brunswick resident and has the skill set you're looking for, why should you not feel as if you can go forward with making an employment offer?" asked
As we reported previously, Barber was re-hired by the New Brunswick Police Department just a few months after retiring from Trenton.
According to public records, Barber is already collecting an annual pension that will net him $56,908 each year. His new NBPD job will pay him $49,000 to supervise one employee, who previously served in the same position.
The civilian position was given to Barber as part of a "restructuring" of some part of the Police Department, though officials have given conflicting statements about which part.
"Tony Barber's position came about as a result of restructuring within the NBPD's administration department," Jennifer Bradshaw, a spokesperson for Cahill, told us at first.
But police brass corrected the statement under questioning at a June 17 City Council meeting.
"The services unit where Mr. Barber is working for was restructured as far as him taking an active role in running that unit," said NBPD Capatain Vincent Sabo. "It has nothing to do with the Administration per se of the police department."
Sabo confirmed that Barber runs the unit and has just one individual working under him. That person, Scott Bannier, previously had the same title as Barber.
NBPD Captain JT Miller, the department's public information officer, declined to provide any more details about Barber's hiring or the supposed restructuring.
"The hiring of Anthony Barber by the NBPD to a civilian position is a personnel matter as is any restructuring of departments. I will not be discussing any personnel matters in a public forum."
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.