Just five days after the election, Gov.-elect Phil Murphy released the names of his transition team‘s various co-chairs. It was a list of more than 80 names comprising policy areas from healthcare to housing, agriculture to budget, labor to workforce development, military and veteran affiairs to transportation and infrastructure.
It also contained some promising progressively-themed policy areas, including a team for a “stronger and fairer economy” and immigration and social justice subcommittees of the “law and justice” committee, signaling the incoming administration would take seriously important reforms in our justice system as it considers sanctuary state polices and marijuana legalization.
Then, four days later the incoming administration released another list, supplementing that first list with a whopping 600 (yes, I counted) more policy wonks, politicaly-connected wonks, and miscellaneous wonks whose expertise is unclear (at least to me).
I have a tough time making sense of it all, but that’s a whole heckuva lot of people for six weeks’ worth of work. The “team” shows a very broad breadth of perspective from the entire policy spectrum, so it doesn’t necessary offer a glimpse on which policy direction Gov-elect Murphy is going. His Education team, for example, features representation from the state’s school board association, the NJEA, local boards of education, colleges and universities, and even public school advocates like Save Our Schools on one end, and charter advocates like JerseyCAN on the other hand.
The 60-plus-member Environment and Energy Committee boasts former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (?) and many environmental advocacy groups like the League of Conservation Voters, the NY/NJ Baykeepers, and Environment New Jersey. It also features the usual suspects like New Jersey American Water and PSE&G.
What are we to make of this behemoth list of eager, traditionally Democratic bodies ready to storm back to the State House? Will they help to develop policy or will the real work be done elsewhere? Are we looking for consensus among these often disparate groups? Just like the sharp policy focus that was a hallmark of his campaign, we should be looking for policy conviction and focus and not policy tofu that absorbs the flavor of everything around it.