No, Metuchen is not hiring ex-cons for public works

Metuchen is not looking to hire ex-cons for the public works department.

Apparently a rumor has spread through the borough that Jennifer Maier, borough administrator, planned to hire people just out of jail to supplement full-time public works employees.

Maier tried to dispel the notion at the borough council meeting Monday, Sept. 21, saying she was not going to hire ex-cons, ex-drug addicts or any other ex’s to work in Metuchen.

“This was intended as a way to supplement our staff,” Maier said, stressing the Public Works Department has decided not to move forward with the program.

The program is offered under Workforce Development and places unemployed people like former corporate executives, or even ex-drug addicts and ex-convicts, into jobs. The borough would have control over who it hired through the program, Maier said.

As best as this reporter can tell, the rumor sprang from Maier’s announcement at a meeting earlier this month that she was researching the program. Two council members — Reed Liebfried and Jay Muldoon — at Monday’s meeting loudly proclaimed their ignorance of the program or the idea that ex-cons might work in Metuchen. Muldoon demanded Maier cease working on the program until Council received more information, while Liebfried described the program as “quite controversial.”

Mayor Thomas Vahalla requested borough staff provide more information to Council, which would then make an informed decision at the next meeting. This seemed superfluous, as did Liebfried’s and Muldoon’s outbursts, being that Maier already said the idea was dead in the water.

Interesting to note, Maier only started as borough administrator in January, so could be she is adjusting to working with Council and vice versa. Whatever the reason, she should have provided full disclosure to Council — and the public — about what she was looking into and why. Residents deserve to know, and this reporter (and resident) is glad the borough is not going to be used as a staging ground for newly released convicts to get back on their feet.

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