NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Andrea Eato-White, a longtime manager at the city's Housing Authority, was appointed to the powerful New Brunswick Parking Authority (NBPA) Board of Commissioners.
Eato-White is the first woman to serve on the NBPA board since Anne Marie Bonnane left her seat in 2000, according to NBPA Executive Director Mitch Karon.
The new member replaces Anthony Barber, a former Trenton police sergeant who left the NBPA board to take a civilian position in the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD), allowing him to become a "double-dipper," a public employee who also collects a pension at the same time.
The appointment of Eato-White was made by Mayor James Cahill and approved by the City Council. It comes just two months after New Brunswick Today called out the Cahill administration for having an all-male cabinet and an all-white, all-male NBPA Board.
"Do you have any plans to change that, to get more women, more people of color, in these positions of power?" asked the author of this article during a sit-down interview with the Mayor on April 16.
"We always do," answered Cahill, who has led the city government since 1991.
"Would I like more diversity? The answer is yes," said Cahill. "And it's a goal that we strive for. But right now I think I've got the best people I could possibly have or else they wouldn't be there."
"But it is a goal that we would hope to achieve as people, through the attrition process should it occur, that we'll do our our best to make sure we try to achieve a mix that reflects the diversity of the city, but at the same time making sure we always hire the most capable person who's available to serve."
Eato-White will be one of five voting members on the board, which controls the powerful agency that has grown into the state's largest parking authority.
While there is no pay for board members, there is at least one valuable perk: free parking .
"There is no compensation. Statutorily, it's prohibited," said Leonard Bier when asked what benefits were associated with the position. "Commissioners are only entitled to direct reimbursement for attendance at conferences and seminars related to the duties of the board."
But New Brunswick Today asked two more times before actually getting an answer about whether or not the commissioners get free parking.
"I don't know if they have [access cards to enter and exit parking decks for free]," said Bier after we asked the board for the second time. "But if they do, there's nothing inappropriate about a Parking Authority commissioner having an access card to Parking Authority facilities."
Karon and Board Chair Kevin McTernan eventually confirmed the commissioners do indeed get free parking in the city's nine structure parking facilities.
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.