New York Governor David A. Paterson has made a controversial selection for one of the new Workers’ Compensation Board positions. Paterson recently named Jeffrey R. Fenster as the board’s new executive director, a position that has been vacant since last October when Joseph Pennisi resigned to become the Senate finance secretary.
The choice of Fenster is controversial because critics contend that he has no management or workers’ compensation experience at all, and is only 29 years old, having graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2006. As the executive director of the board, Fenster is in charge of the board’s daily operations and will be paid $141,730 (a significant pay cut from his previous job, according to Fenster).
The New York Workers’ Compensation Board has a tough job. With a budget of $210 million, they must make decisions about compensation for injured workers across the state while at the same time trying to ensure that employers and insurance companies are not defrauded.
Fenster will apparently begin his new job with limited responsibilities, as the board provided him with a list of 10 duties that were assigned by the chairman. The duties – ranging from various committee memberships to deciding appeals – are narrower than those enjoyed by his predecessors.
The limits on Fenster’s job duties are seen as a sign by some that the chairman of the board, Robert E. Beloten, does not agree with the decision to hire Fenster as executive director.