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TRENTON-Like the lame-duck mayor of New York City, who has earned plaudits for his handling of the World Trade Center crisis, acting governor Donald DiFrancesco of New Jersey has been forging quite a legacy in his short stay (10 months when he steps down in January) in the statehouse. In his latest effort, DiFrancesco yesterday signed an executive order creating the Office of Recovery and Victim Assistance.

While the new agency is a direct result of the World Trade Center disaster, it will be in place for this and any future disasters impacting the Garden State. For its part, New Jersey has a hefty role in the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey’s activities and holdings (including partial ownership of the World Trade Center), shares equal power with New York in what the P.A. can and can’t do and suffered very heavy casualties in the attack a week ago today. DiFrancesco has also named former P.A. executive Lillian Borrone to head the new state agency, a position that will have cabinet-level status, reporting directly to the governor. She has been involved in numerous development activities, including the redevelopment of the Hoboken and Queens West waterfronts in Hudson County.

“New Jersey will do all it can to help the victims and families affected by the attack,” DiFrancesco says. “We can’t lose sight of tomorrow. We will endure. The fallout from last Tuesday’s events will be felt in almost every sector of the state. The magnitude of what we are dealing with is like nothing we–or any other government–has dealt with before.”

The new agency will do several things, including coordinate with the national Office of Emergency Management, FEMA and other government agencies. It will help access capital and services and coordinate resources, according to DiFrancesco, and work with the American Red Cross and Salvation Army on a number of projects and services.

“We will recover, and we will do what needs to be done,” according to Mitchell Hersh, CEO of Cranford, NJ-based Mack-Cali Realty of Cranford, NJ, whose company is developing the Harborside Financial Center across the river from where the World Trade Center once stood. “We will overcome any economic hurdle.”

“We will do what needs to be done,” DiFrancesco says simply.

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