Gov. Paterson continued his losing streak, appointing a 29-year-old with no managerial experience and no workers’ comp experience to oversee the $210 million budget of the Workers’ Compensation Board. Jeffrey R. Fenster, the agency’s new executive director, is a lawyer who chose the vocation in order to “help people” and worked briefly in litigation to pay off student loans. What qualifies him for the board’s highest-paying position remains unclear.
“When I had a chance to look at Mr. Fenster’s background, I noticed he has absolutely no administrative experience,” Michael Berns, a former commissioner on the Workers’ Compensation Board told the NY Times. “And he has no experience in workers’ comp or labor law. I’m totally at a loss as to what he brings to this job. It makes no sense whatsoever.” Fenster, who worked as a fifth-grade school aide for disabled children before entering law school, seems equally bewildered. Last summer he sent out resumes as part of his search for a job in the public sector. He doesn’t know how one of them found its way to the governor’s desk.
The decision is especially troubling since the board has a history of hiring administrators without relevant experience or training. “My feeling was I was an attempt at getting fresh blood in here,” said Mr. Fenster, whose law firm did handle some worker’s compensation cases. “The same sort of retread in the executive director’s position was not the way they wanted to go.” If that’s the case, maybe Paterson should have hired his recently-arrested 15-year-old son.