Prominent city developer Charles Florio said he will provide $18,000 to allow city youngsters to have their “Day in the Sun” event which was cancelled in late July by mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration.
Florio said he read the story about the event’s cancellation and was struck at the manner in which the city communicated the cancellation in the eleventh hour.
“I figured I would chip in and do my part,” said the Florio when asked why he was contributing to save the event. “I think it’s crazy how they let them know at the 11th hour. I don’t think it should be that way in the city.” He said he has spoken to recreation coordinator Benjie Wimberly to allow the event occur on August 11th, 2016.
Wimberly told Florio he has to check to ensure the vendors were not double booked and can still make it on that date. Indeed, the cancellation came to light when a staff member from the city’s recreation division sought approval for vendor requisition from the business office.
Assistant budget officer Lydia Robles told the division the city did not have money for the Day in the Sun event.
Wimberly said the city would save $19,000 by cancelling the event which is attended by 1,800 young people. He could not be reached for comments on Thursday morning.
The day in the sun event features rides, dance performances, and a dinner for the youngsters. It’s also the venue where young people present their arts and crafts projects completed in the summer, according to Wimberly, who also represents Paterson in the New Jersey Assembly.
The other $1,000 for the event is coming from Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman. “Our children deserve a day in the sun. Thanks to the generosity of Charles Florio they’ll get it,” he said.
Torres has come under criticism for cancelling more than 30 summer camps two weeks early to generate small savings from an already underfunded recreation division. His reductions in recreation will result in 400 young people being out of summer jobs.
The mayor also attempted to close down two municipal pools. The protests forced him to shift $140,000 in federal grant money from a yet to be launched heating program for low-income families to keep the pools open until Labor Day.
Florio also criticized the embattled mayor whose administration has been rocked by small scandals since he returned to office for a nonconsecutive third term in July 2014.
“You got a mayor, who has people working at his house, you have it proven they received overtime, how is it that this guy is not at least suspended with pay? People would say without pay, but I say with pay so that he can’t steal from the city anymore except for his salary,” said Florio.
“He should be suspended with pay because he has not been proven guilty,” he said.
The mayor is being investigated by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for allegations that he used public works employees to handle work at his Arlington Avenue home and his brother’s liquor business.