Author Archive: the_promised_land

Time to Find a New Doctor?

It didn’t take long for a suspect group called “NJ Physicians” to sue over the new health care reform bill. http://www.nj.com/news/index.s…

I tried to poke around their website for a list of their 1,600 members. If any of my doctors are part of the group, I don’t want them to have any of my money.

Of course, there is no such list available. If these people really believed in the free market, they wouldn’t hide behind this group – they’d want us to be able to choose whether we want to use their services, based on the best available information.

Does anyone know anything more about them?

Christie: It’s Good to Be the King

Promoted from the diaries by Rosi

Did Chris Christie just take the position that he can shut down any of the state’s administrative agency, and ignore any state regulation, if he so chooses?

Looks that way. In an Executive Order issued today about COAH, Gov. Christie ordered the agency to cease operating while an appointed task force comes up with a set of new housing policies. There doesn’t seem to be any legal justification for doing so other than saying that he is exercising the New Jersey Constitution’s requirement that he “faithfully execute the laws” of the State. http://www.state.nj.us/infoban…

COAH is an independent government agency that the Legislature created to implement state housing policy, with a board that has required bipartisan balance and is subject to Gubernatorial appointment and Senate confirmation. That agency has adopted regulations subject to the normal public process of notice and comment.

Instead, (a) the agency is now being entirely shut down (or at least put on hold) and the Governor is in effect refusing to enforce its regulations; and (b) new policies are being created by a group of people different from the board required by the Legislature – a group that is not likely to be so bipartisan, that the Governor may appoint and remove at will, and that they might try to claim are not subject to the normal requirements for public meetings, etc.

Sounds like Gov. Christie is borrowing a page from the Bush playbook – remember the Cheney energy task force? Other assertions of “executive power”? At least we don’t have a State Department (ok, we kind of do, but you know what I mean).

Christie’s reasoning in today’s Executive Order could apply equally to any agency. Perhaps this is Christie’s opening salvo for other areas of government. Perhaps the regulatory red tape task force will recommend that the Governor shut down parts of DEP by fiat, or cut pesky health and safety or civil rights requirements without dealing with the normal legal processes.

Asbury Park Press Nails Lesniak Housing Bill

The Asbury Park Press doesn’t usually find common ground with progressives, but this morning’s editorial on Sens. Lesniak and Bateman’s “bipartisan” destruction of the state’s housing policies nails the issue.  http://www.app.com/article/201…

I can only guess at the reasons for the Press’ position. But if you’re a real conservative and not just a dittohead, you should support the general goals of the Mount Laurel decisions. It isn’t so conservative to stop private property owners and, as is rather incredibly happening in Summit, Habitat for Humanity from building starter homes on their own land. http://www.nj.com/news/local/i…

Whatever the reasons, the Press’ editorial nails what is going on better than anything I’ve seen so far, and should be required reading for everyone on this site.

First, as the Press reports, nobody seems to know what the bill actually would do. The sponsors may have some idea, but they aren’t telling the public:

Exactly what the bill would mean for the future of affordable housing is anyone’s guess. Many of the details about the ongoing role of the Planning Commission and how the program would be administered and monitored are unclear. The blanks will eventually be filled in, its sponsors and supporters say.

That in itself is troubling. But what the sponsors can tell the Press is that, whatever happens, it will actually REDUCE the number of homes built in NJ:

Bateman, responding to a question by the Press, said the bill would “probably” result in fewer affordable housing units in the state than are required under COAH. That can’t be allowed to happen.

It also appears to create a bureaucratic morass that could be even more complex than COAH. This is a theme that Steve Lonergan is running with – as usual with looney tunes overtones. But on the substance he’s actually right (ok, it’s hard to admit that he’s right on anything, but…) As the Press describes:

The bill, S-1, would transfer ill-defined authority for affordable housing to the State Planning Commission and allow towns to determine for themselves, through their master plans and zoning, whether they were meeting their constitutional obligation to provide housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents.

So the State Planning Commission – which is itself a mess – determines part of what’s going on, and then towns also determine part of it for themselves. There is also some role for the Economic Development Authority in the bill. And another role for courts. And, no doubt, lots of work for lawyers.

The Asbury Park Press also gets the goals right:

Whatever form it finally takes, the overriding goal of reform should be developing a plan that increases the amount of affordable housing in this state. Every municipality should be required to provide its fair share, and a mechanism should be in place to ensure compliance. The plan also must be clear about funding sources.

Why is a Democratic Senator sponsoring a bill that, as his Republican co-sponsor admits, actually goes against these basic progressive goals, creating a huge new bureaucracy along the way? Why is all of this being hammered out in secret? And how do we get to the goals that the Asbury Park Press, of all places, has articulated so well? I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts…

On Day One, Christie Ditches Transparency

Any other lurkers out there? — Promoted from the diaries by Rosi

Hi, everyone,

I have been lurking for about a year and have finally decided to try my hand at blogging in response to the new administration and the debacle of the marriage equality bill. I have been constantly educated and frequently amused by the reporting of this great site and hope I can contribute something.

A much quoted section of Christie’s inauguration speech said:

Today, a new era of accountability and transparency is here. Today, I will sign executive orders that will make our finances, our budgeting, and our processes more transparent for all citizens to see.

Based on the executive orders themselves, he’s not off to a good start. The very executive orders that are supposed to make the process “more transparent” are not themselves available to the public. They are not available, as of 6:45 this morning, on the state’s web site – http://www.state.nj.us/infoban… The signed orders exist – I know because I have a sneaked copy of one (which I hope to blog about the horrific details of later) and I have heard of copies of others floating out there – but are not available to the public.

In fact, not even the news media seems to have been allowed a peek – Tom Hester at New Jersey Newsroom notes that the text of at least half of the executive orders “was not immediately available.” http://www.newjerseynewsroom.c…

That note is buried far down in the story, and I haven’t seen other references to the lack of transparency in the media, who seem to be content with what they were spoon-fed by the Administration.

One way to try to stifle dissent is to only let the outside world see what you want them to see – a kind of wax paper transparency. Amazing that Christie would, within one day of promising a new era of transparency, abandon that promise.

Looking forward to many more posts ahead and to helping rebuild the promised land that our state has been, and should be once again…

–TPL

UPDATE: As of 8:30 AM on Thursday the Executive Orders are now up at http://www.state.nj.us/infoban… Just in time for the news reporting on them to be over. I will try to post an analysis of what’s in there in the next few days.