Jersey City Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill needs to start answering emails for the sake of Fulop Administration
While Real Jersey City is less than a week old, Jersey City Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill’s inability to answer my emails – minus automated out-of-office replies – has been a long-term issue that must stop now.
I’d rather not call someone out so publically, it’s really not a good look, but unfortunately Jersey City Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill has given me no choice.
After nine months of not returning my emails seeking comment on a variety of stories, my only option is to bring my grievance to the public before I’m accused of not trying to get both sides of the story.
As a reference point, below are three Hudson County View articles, issues never covered by any other media, which really needed a response:
1. It was never the 1990′s era hate speech of Muhammed Akil, former Chief of Staff to Mayor Steven Fulop, that raised my eyebrows – it was his business enterprise, which dates back to his radical days, located across the street from city hall, and a non-profit with a revoked 501(c)(3) status, that raised serious pay-to-play questions that remain unanswered.
2. According to documents obtained by Hudson County View, Jersey City Recreation Director Ryan Strother made conflicting statements on police and disciplinary action reports regarding an altercation that occurred between two city employees in his office.
3. Abbey’s Pub & Grill, a popular dive bar and hookah lounge in Downtown Jersey City, faced an uncertain future after Chief Health Inspector Happy Boor pulled their food license for allegedly violating the Smoke-Free Air Act.
Before I reflect on stories #1 & #2, didn’t Mr. Boor deserve to have the city provide a statement in his defense? It’s annoying when people accuse you of being one-sided, when in fact you tried to be fair and get both sides.
As far as story #1, I guess most people only care that some former militant black activist, with a Nation of Islam upbringing, turned political crony for a Jewish politician, said twenty years ago “all white people have a little Hitler in them” and spewed a few homophobic slurs, including one regarding an image of Jesus Christ.
I’m only concerned with the ethical and pay-to-play questions raised by donations to Akil’s supposed 501(c)(3) non-profit, and who the clients are of Lost Link Enterprises.
Story number #2 is much more serious because it deals with the Fulop Administration providing a safe work environment for public employees and a director producing conflicting statements that negatively impacted a city worker’s employment.
That’s a very serious issue, and the Fulop Administration’s overall silence on multiple problems surrounding the recreation department show a profound lack of leadership.
Maybe it could be argued that Hudson County View, and now Real Jersey City, are media outlets that are too little for an administration more concerned with turning the mayor into the governor.
It could certainly be argued that I’ve never been a fan of the mayor, starting from a time before he was elected, but most Jersey City politicians could argue the same about me – or any other local journalist for that matter – and they somehow deal with it.
In short, it is what it is.
The problem is that all three stories are based on documented evidence, and deserve some sort of comment instead of being swept underneath the rug.
I may be a lot of things, one thing I’m not is delusional.
While Real Jersey City is in its infancy, and “the heat” on a scale of 0 to 100 is around 1 right now, things can go from 0 to 100 real quick.
In my possession at this time are numerous stories and documents, most of which I will release in due time, of an extremely sensitive nature.
It’s imperative that Jersey City Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill provides a statement when immediately contacted on those stories, because I will not wait for another media outlet to scoop me with a Fulop-approved story likely missing vital details.
For those who think I’m being too aggressive, the reality is I’m doing my job. The media is supposed to be the fourth branch of government, a watchdog of the powerful for the people, not an extension of the executive branch.
The problem for local media is that when you do your job you lose access to the social aspect of politics (parties and stuff), not to mention puff pieces. I wouldn’t mind producing puff pieces for the administration, but I don’t care about access – I’ll get my stories one way or another.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, I would rather avoid awkward incidents like when I questioned Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea at a recent NAACP meeting regarding the active duty status of Kenneth Bowes – something Morrill answered for the Jersey Journal in their recent story regarding the fatal shooting of Lavon King, yet the city was unable to comment on to me.