By Keith Brown
The state’s biggest contractor implementing Superstorm Sandy recovery programs was fired by the Christie administration, reports say.
The contract with Hammerman and Gainer, or HGI, which was overseeing a $780 million Sandy recovery program, was abruptly fired in December, two years before the contract had expired, according to WNYC.
The public radio station says that the company won its contract last may not long after its New Jersey law firm, Capehard Scatchard, made a $25,000 donation to the Republican Governors Association, which is now headed by Christie.
HGI was to make $68 million administering the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) grant program, which provided up to $150,000 to homeowners for post-Sandy reconstruction. The program has been plagued by long wait-lists, lack of transparency, stonewalling, and lost paperwork.
But according to documents on the state Treasury’s website, HGI will be paid $10.5 million as an "unpaid balance" — and for work performing during a "transition period" following termination, which went into effect Monday.
HGI worked under the Department of Community affairs. Lisa Ryan, department spokeswoman, said the business of helping homeowners recover from storm damage goes on. She did not say why the contract with HGI was terminated.
"We’ve recently concluded our relationship with HGI as New Jersey transitions to the next phase of disaster recovery,'' Ryan said. "The daily work of helping New Jersey families get back in their homes and communities as quickly as possible is occurring as normal. Additionally, homeowners who have been preliminarily awarded a RREM grant and are moving through the RREM process are continuing to work with their existing housing advisor."