New Jersey's Sandy czar steps down

Marc Ferzan steps down as head of N.J.'s Sandy recovery, which has faced scrutiny.
Marc Ferzan steps down as head of N.J.'s Sandy recovery, which has faced scrutiny. (AP)
Posted: July 10, 2014

New Jersey's little-known Hurricane Sandy czar, who oversaw the distribution of billions of dollars in federal aid during a challenged recovery effort, stepped down Tuesday and will be replaced by his deputy, Gov. Christie's office said.

Marc Ferzan, who ran the Governor's Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, left "to support a career opportunity for his wife," according to a statement issued Tuesday by Christie's office.

Kimberly Ferzan, a former Rutgers-Camden law professor, recently joined the law faculty at the University of Virginia, where Marc Ferzan will teach at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

He will be replaced by Terrence Brody, who has served as deputy executive director of the recovery and rebuilding office since its creation in 2012, Christie's office said.

A former federal prosecutor who worked under Christie at the U.S. Attorney's Office and later as a managing director in consulting services at accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ferzan was tasked with managing the state's response to Sandy, helping create programs to funnel aid from the federal government.

Ferzan performed his work "with great professionalism, effectiveness, and with the needs of Sandy survivors always in the front of his mind," Christie said in the statement. "The people of New Jersey are better off for Marc's leadership, and I thank him for his commitment and his service."

The state's handling of Sandy recovery has faced scrutiny, including the quiet firing in December of the contractor overseeing the main homeowner assistance program - a termination that state officials later chalked up to performance issues.

Storm-affected residents, meanwhile, have continued to complain about the slow pace of receiving aid, and critics have accused Christie's administration of a failure in transparency.

Though Ferzan helped manage the efforts that have come under fire, he stayed largely out of the public eye. He repeatedly declined to attend legislative hearings on the recovery process, though he was present for public-comment sessions the federal government required New Jersey to hold on its plans for distributing the aid.

"The person in charge wasn't a public figure," said Adam Gordon of the Fair Share Housing Center, a Cherry Hill nonprofit that has battled the state to address problems in the recovery process, including homeowners the center says were wrongly denied aid by now-fired contractor Hammerman & Gainer Inc. "To what degree him leaving will make any difference, it's really hard to know."

The state's distribution of Sandy aid also was the subject of allegations by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who claimed that top Christie officials - including Ferzan - conditioned federal dollars on her support for a private redevelopment deal.

Ferzan told lawyers for Christie that Sandy aid had not been awarded to or withheld from any municipality for political reasons. Other Christie officials have denied pressuring Zimmer.

Brody, Ferzan's successor, served as chief of staff to the state attorney general before joining the governor's office. He worked with Ferzan, Christie's office said, to launch the recovery office, assess need, and develop programs.


mhanna@phillynews.com

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@maddiehanna

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