Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration’s appointment of Jennifer Hirschmanner as assistant business administrator is being challenged by another employee through the New Jersey Civil Service Commission.
Lydia Rosario, who has filed the challenge with the state, alleges Hirschmanner lacks a bachelor’s degree and is not a Paterson resident.
“In order to be qualified for this position you have to have a college degree. If you don’t have a college degree you have to have experience. She doesn’t have any of that experience,” said Rosario’s attorney John Segreto referring to Hirschmanner.
Hirschmanner was hired in 2009. She worked as an executive assistant until her appointment as acting assistant business administrator on May 8, 2018 for $56,143. She filled in for assistant business administrator Terry Reidy. State officials raised questions about the acting appointment on basis of education and experience, according to documents Rosario filed with the state.
Segreto said when the city submitted a title change for Hirschmanner from executive assistant to assistant business administrator, the state rejected the request by stating duties of an executive assistant does not meet the criteria for assistant business administrator position. He states therefore her experience as an executive assistant “cannot be used as work experience in lieu of educational requirements.”
Hirschmanner argues she has worked as executive assistant to the chief executive officer for Janco Limited in Wayne from 2002-2009. There she performed a variety of management tasks that qualifies her for the assistant business administrator post.
On Jan. 8, 2019, Sayegh’s business administrator Vaughn McKoy appointed Hirschmanner as assistant business administrator for $80,111. Rosario’s complaint states the appointment was done in “secret” and seven days before she, Rosario, received a notification of certification stating she was certified for the position.
Three candidates — Antoinette Brevard, Hirschmanner, and Rosario — had been vying for the assistant business administrator post since 2017. All three were ranked number one in the civil service examination.
The position was open only to Paterson residents. Rosario’s complaint alleges Hirschmanner misrepresented her address and claimed to reside in Paterson.
Rosario referred a request for comment to her attorney.
Hirschmanner declined to publicly respond to the allegations on Thursday.
Hirschmanner in a certification submitted to the state by the city’s outside law firm, O’Toole Scrivo, says she has lived at 807 11th Avenue in Paterson from Jun. 2012 through Jul. 4, 2017. She and her husband purchased a house on Starmond Avenue in Clifton in 2016, but the house, purchased from a bank, was not habitable.
But her voter registration says something different. Hirschmanner changed her voting address from Paterson to Clifton in Nov. 2016, according to Rosario’s filings. In that address change form, she had to declare “under penalty of perjury” she lives at the Clifton address.
“Those two sworn statements by Ms. Hirschmanner cannot be reconciled,” says Rosario’s attorney’s filings. Hirschmanner could not have been domiciled in Paterson and Clifton at the same time.
Renovation was not complete until Jul. 4, 2017, Hirschmanner says, when she and her family moved into the property. She presumed she would be eligible for a residency waiver from the city. Instead of trying to obtain a waiver, she moved to a house on Caldwell Avenue in Paterson.
Hirschmanner changed her voting address to the Caldwell Avenue property two weeks after Rosario filed her appeal with the state on Apr. 3, 2019. She changed her Motor Vehicle Commission address on Jun. 24, 2019, three weeks after Rosario submitted a supplemental appeal letter.
Rosario’s attorney points out Hirschmanner’s husband did not change his voting address. Hirschmanner does not provide a lease, utility bills, or other evidence to support the claim she lives at the Caldwell Avenue address.
Hirschmanner was in a car accident in Sept. 2016. Her driver’s license listed a Clifton address. In Jun. 2019, she was involved in a cat attack while she and her husband were walking their dog near the Clifton house, according to Rosario’s filings.
Rosario, who owns a house in Paterson, works as an assistant budget officer for $75,000. She was hired by the city in 2014. Earlier that year, she ran an abortive campaign for mayor.
The city’s outside attorney accuses Rosario of invasion of Hirschmanner’s privacy for collecting large amount of evidence to make her case. Rosario collected the evidence through a series of documented public record requests over many months. She dismissed the city’s allegation as false.
Some council members said the city needs to do a better job enforcing the residency ordinance.
“You need people in government to enforce it,” said councilman Flavio Rivera, chairman of the personnel committee. “You can’t be partial.”
Sayegh did not respond to a call for comment for this story.
Council members Lilisa Mimms and Luis Velez called on Rivera’s committee to look into the issue.
“That’s where the personnel committee needs to do its job,” said Velez.
The New Jersey Civil Service Commission will have to decide the case.