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Worker fired over letter critical of Schundler

Originally appeared in the Trenton Times on 10/12/01
By TRACEY L. REGAN
Staff Writer

TRENTON -- The state official who infuriated Republicans by writing a letter suggesting Republican gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler left Jersey City a more than $50 million deficit was fired yesterday.

The letter, written by Marvin Corwick on Oct. 9 to Democratic Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, was leaked to reporters that day, prompting a swift and angry response from Schundler's campaign.

In a written comment on her decision to fire the official, Jane Kenny, state Department of Community Affairs commissioner, said "the release of the information, done against the advice of staff and without the authorization of his superiors, showed a lack of good judgment and undermined the hard-earned faith and trust in the division as an impartial assistant to local governments."

Corwick, who once worked for Schundler's opponent, Democratic candidate Jim McGreevey, had directed the DCA's local government services division for just more than a week before he sent Cunningham the letter discussing an internal agency report written a year ago.

In that report, agency staff said "the current administration of the City of Jersey City has repeatedly utilized creative accounting practices and the shifting of costs to other City agencies to create the illusion of stable levels of appropriations in its annual operating budgets."

The Schundler campaign, which on Wednesday called on acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco to fire Corwick, called the action "appropriate."

"We think that was the appropriate step to take," said Schundler spokesman Bill Guhl. "We believe the issuance of that letter was done for political purposes."

The Schundler campaign has called the report inaccurate.

Corwick said his letter was correct, his dismissal was unfair and that Kenny was being bullied by the Schundler campaign, which had demanded his ouster.

"Today I was fired for simply telling a mayor the truth about his municipality's precarious financial condition," he said in a news statement. "I am deeply disturbed that state officials would bow to the political demands of a political candidate."

Kenny did not comment on its accuracy in her statement yesterday.

Her spokesman, E.J. Miranda, said Kenny's decision to fire Corwick was "not based on whether the information was accurate but whether its release was appropriate."

"This was an internal report developed for the director of local government services to help him develop (the appropriate) level of aid to a distressed city," Miranda said. "The information contained in the report was obtained through our review of documents submitted by Jersey City."

Miranda said he did not know if the information was ever shared with Schundler when he was mayor.

Corwick was named interim business administrator in Hamilton by Democratic Mayor Glen Gilmore in January 2000.

The township council, in the course of a dispute with Gilmore, fired Corwick three months later.

NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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