Streams

Christie's Biggest Sandy Contractor Fired

Homeowners, Legislators Had Bitter Complaints About Firm

Thursday, January 23, 2014

WNYC
Gov. Christie has denied haveing any knowledge of the lane closures. (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

The Christie administration has quietly cut its ties to an embattled company that had New Jersey's biggest contract for getting Sandy victims back in their homes. Homeowners and legislators had widely criticized the company's performance, taking some of the gloss off Governor Chris Christie's signature project: Sandy recovery. 

Christie officials - who as recently as two weeks ago gave legislators in Trenton no hint that the contract had been cancelled - wouldn't say on Thursday why the deal with Hammerman and Gainer, or HGI, was terminated more than two years before completion. Last week, Gov. Christie touted the successes of the Sandy recovery at an event on the Jersey Shore.

HGI won its contract last May shortly after its New Jersey law firm, Capehart Scatchard, made a $25,000 donation to the Republican Governors Association, which is now headed by Christie. The RGA contributed $1.7 million to Christie's re-election campaign.

The state was to pay HGI $68 million in fees to administer a $780 million Sandy program. But the Christie administration terminated that contract in December, and the termination took effect - unannounced - on Monday. Documents posted on a state website say the company was to be paid $10.5 million as an "unpaid balance" — and for work performing during a "transition period" following termination.

Among the various programs implemented after Sandy, HGI's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) grant program, which provided up to $150,000 per home for reconstruction, was widely panned. Homeowners complained of long wait-lists, lack of transparency, stonewalling, and lost paperwork. Much of this criticism surfaced during legislative hearings over the last several months.

HGI was also criticized for how it implemented a home reconstruction program in Louisiana after Katrina, according to the Wall Street Journal. Company officials have said they were improving operations.

At a hearing in Trenton earlier this month, Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable III was asked about the performance of HGI in New Jersey. But his answers did not indicate that the company was no longer operating in the state.

On Thursday, Lisa M. Ryan, a spokeswoman for Constable, said: "We've recently concluded our relationship with HGI as New Jersey transitions to the next phase of disaster recovery." Ryan did not answer a question about what company, if any, is now running HGI's programs for Sandy victims. Nor did she say why the contract was terminated.

Likewise, Cherie A. Pinac, the chief of operating officer of HGI, would not disclose the reasons for the termination of the contract, but said it was by mutual agreement. "Under the terms of the contract, I'm not authorized to make a statement," Pinac said in a phone interview from her office in Louisiana.

Christie made an announcement about a new after-school program at an elementary school in Camden on Thursday afternoon, but he did not take questions from reporters.

The termination of the state's biggest Sandy contract comes as two major scandals loom over Christie's political career: the charge that Christie officials threatened to cut Sandy relief funds to the town of Hoboken unless its mayor supported a redevelopment deal - a charge the administration adamantly denies; and investigations into Christie's aides ordering George Washington Bridge lane closures to exact political revenge - something the governor says he knew nothing about.

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Comments [13]

bob from nj from nj

The 2013 Disaster Relief bill for Sandy was $50-60 billion admittedly divided among several states but plenty for New Jersey. When cities like Hoboken can't get chump change amounts like $100 million, the question is raised where all the money went. Does anybody know?

Jan. 27 2014 07:12 AM
Irony from IA

Allegedly Quadel's take and HGI or the take on HGI and Quadel are a thin blue LIE. As they say follow the money. Follow the Money, tunnel and the bridge not to mention the port authority. All roads lead to the alleged comments regarding the Cash Cow and Big Fat Bully. Just as SAMSON and DELILAH were linked together,could there be another connection, a allegedly modern Hairy LIE...

Jan. 26 2014 07:48 PM
Sally G from Bergen County

Thanks for this story, and the comments; yes, NJ 211 has taken over applications for RREM; I think other programs as well? I have been working with Occupy Sandy N.J.; glad some of the problems are coming out. If we can help in any way, contact us at occupysandynj at interoccupy dot net.

Jan. 25 2014 08:21 PM


I think a lot of people in New Jersey are having " voter remorse " .

Jan. 25 2014 01:38 AM
Regina Matteson from New York

Vincent responded I am taken by surprise that some one can profit $9022 in four weeks on the computer . more information>>> TEC80.COM

Jan. 24 2014 05:39 PM
Ben Hamilton from Fair Haven, NJ

I held one of the senior jobs at renewjerseystronger.org's Ocean County Housing Recovery Center. I was canned when I took issue with the organization's objectionable treatment of clients and suggested better customer service practices. I have been hoping the media would take a closer look not only at HGI, but at the other principal contractor, Quadel Consulting based in Washington, DC. Stuff went on under their stewardship that is just unforgivable, given what the people seeking their help had already endured. No one has even scratched the surface. I believe that Joan Greer, Quadel's senior operations officer for the program in NJ, has also been quietly dismissed. Google her name. She also came under considerable criticism for her ineptitude in LA. At this point, less than $350 million of the $780 million budgeted for the program has been distributed. That makes HGI's cut 20 % of the entire program so far. Not to mention Quadel's take. Please, please, please sharpen up your pencils and take a thorough look at the disservices these two organizations have provided our state.

Jan. 24 2014 05:26 PM
Steve James from fl.

Amid scandal, it is over, Impeachment. Bullies can not stand the pressure.The inauguration is to understand this alleged rhino psychopath. they are nice to get their way, then Bully because they can not help themselves, their nature, a victim when caught, are never normal.Fools never learn anything. This allegedly is a pattern, now LT. the thing which hides behind the old thin blue LIE, is representative of their past and both of their characters. Has been done several times, use the action to blame someone else,pretend you did not know when the truth was, that was in plain sight, use your ego to bully, in the end play the victim role, remember either bully or victim, supposedly nothing ever gets through, all knowing, all powerful, yet someone lied and must be fired, since you never lie to the wizard of all, even though you told the truth all along. Run tight ship, yet not tight ship, want it both ways. Alleged Psychopath, egomaniac, victim. To his Cronies Cash Cow, to his enemies Big Fat Bully. 47% Bully, 53% Coward. The joke are those who are stupid and think this is a left wing conspiracy. When something happens to those on the left they blame themselves, when it happens to someone on the right they blame others... Key word TOAST.Bye, Bye.

Jan. 24 2014 05:25 PM
Fred

Anyone see a pattern here?

Jan. 24 2014 10:07 AM
Tom from Port Washington

Hammerman and Gainer took over the huge "Road Home" contract in Louisiana and Mississippi from ICF International of Fairfax, VA. ICF had done such a poor job that it was under investigation by LA and the Feds, and there was a lot of investigative reporting on their poor performance in the Louisiana press. Now, Hammerman gets the New Jersey contract to do similar work, and whom do they hire as their main subcontractor? ICF International of Fairfax, VA. The same company, same managers that screwed up the Road Home, have been working on the NJ contract.

Jan. 24 2014 09:57 AM
Judy Schneider from Hewlett,N.Y.

Even a person suffering with Anosmia (loss of smell) would be able to
smell the stink coming from this story.
Christie could not have paid enough money to receive all the publicity he
has received in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, it is all negative.
He must be taking Anger Management courses, because he suddenly is at a
loss of bluster and anger.

Good reporting.

Jan. 24 2014 08:40 AM
segsig

The phone calls about RREM are being taken over by nj211.

Jan. 24 2014 05:56 AM
cycle3man

There were so many close to and over the line deals made during his first four years in office and they are now surfacing.

Chris Christie's head is gonna' explode trying to keep the truth and fiction stories straight in his mind.

He could have foregone the gastric constriction surgery because the weight is gonna' come flying off his jelly belly from of loss of appetite from the worry over keeping the stories straight!

Jan. 23 2014 10:42 PM
Bill Wolfe from Bordentown, NJ

Matt - good story

FYI, this is exactly the kind of political abuse we requested that the HUD Inspector General investigate.

See our press release and complaint here:

http://www.peer.org/news/news-releases/2014/01/15/probe-of-christie-sandy-spending-should-extend-beyond-tv-ads/

Jan. 23 2014 05:29 PM

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