Tag Archive: Christie Whitman

What’s Happening Today Thu. 12/19/2013

  Four former governors say “No” to a gas pipeline through the Pinelands: Two Democrats, Brendan Byrne and Jim Florio, and two Republicans, Thomas Kean and Christie Whitman, sent a letter this month to the chairman of the state Pinelands Commission saying the proposal would compromise the integrity of Pinelands. The administration, however, supports building the gas line, but has had no assurance the commission would approve it. In a surprising turn of events last week Philly.com reported, Pinelands Commission member Edward Lloyd, who had raised concerns about the approval process, announced that the state Attorney General’s Office had instructed him to recuse himself from further deliberations because of a possible conflict of interest. Lloyd, a professor of environmental law at Columbia University, responded, “I don’t  think I have a conflict.” Sierra Club Executive Director Jeff Tittle says, “This feels shady. It just looks like bullying and strong-arm tactics from the governor.” The mission of the commission is straightforward: “Protect the Pine Lands.” Like the four Governors, the Commission should just say “No.”

Help for the Uninsured: The enrollment deadline under the Affordable Care Act is Monday, December 23, for people to obtain insurance coverage effective January 1, 2014. To get health insurance marketplace enrollment assistance in New Jersey go here.  NJ for Health Care reminds us that the last opportunity to enroll in coverage on the New Jersey Marketplace will be March 31st, but consumers eligible for the NJ Family care expansion can enroll anytime.

The State Senate and Assembly will hold voting sessions this afternoon starting around 1:00pm. They have a lot on their plate. The Senate bills are listed here. The Assembly bills are listed here.

The “Dream Act” (S2479) which allows both in-state tuition rates and financial aid to students who grew up in New Jersey but whose parents brought them to the country illegally will likely pass the Assembly today and be sent to the Governor who will likely conditionally or even absolutely veto it. Chris Christie some time ago signaled his support for tuition equality knowing the Senate bill included State financial aid. Our equivocating governor more recently explained he is opposed to the State financial aid component. Chris “Have It Both Ways” Christie (appealing to moderates and the base simultaneously) agrees that Dreamers are worthy of tuition equality rates but not the financial aid which they need and which others receive.

Whitman Gets Fact Wrong, PolitiFact Calls It Mostly True

PolitiFact’s organizing principles are indeed, sometimes a mystery. Promoted by Rosi.

PolitiFact usually likes to nuance their “fact checks” to make whatever point they feel is the one they want to make, giving “half true” to Buono ads they say are factually correct and the same “half true” rating to Governor Christie ads that are mostly not factually correct.

But today they went all in.  Christie Todd Whitman, former Republican Governor of New Jersey, said the following:

“We haven’t had a Republican senator in Washington for … why, I think Clifford Case was our last Republican senator.”

This is, very simply, incorrect.  That’s no slight on Governor Whitman, who clearly was trying to recall a fact and got it wrong, something we all do.  But the last Republican to serve in the US Senate was Nicholas Brady.  He was appointed by Governor Tom Kean, Sr. to replace the disgraced Harrison Williams Jr. who got caught in the ABSCAM sting by the FBI.  Clifford Case left the Senate in January 1979, Williams in December 1982.

Here’s PolitiFact’s rating:

Since Whitman referred to the ‘last’ Republican senator to represent New Jersey, that title goes to Brady. We therefore rate the former governor’s claim Mostly True.

What?  Huh? I can’t read that any way other than, “Whitman asserted one fact which was demonstrably wrong, but we’ll call it Mostly True because … SQUIRREL!”

Chris Christie’s Crossroads Conundrum

Chris Christie is at a crossroad in his career.

The candidate that he so vociferously supported for President was overwhelmingly defeated. Christie, who has angered the Democrats and a few moderate Republicans with his words and deeds, has been the target of similar vitriol from the mainstream GOP for embracing President Obama and big government in the hurricane relief effort.

His brusque style, while endearing to some, diverts attention from his agenda.

He embraces right-wing extremism by drinking from the teat of the Koch Brothers and supporting wacko candidates like Steve King in Iowa. Yet he pisses off those same extremists by appointing a Muslim judge, walking hand-in-hand with a black president, and extoling the big-government virtues of FEMA. He preaches bipartisanship while holding a lock on most of his GOP legislators.

Unlike those who only espouse family values, he actually practices them. I don’t think you’ll see Chris Christie join the litany of many GOP powerful politicians who hold back false tears while confessing to an extra-marital affair. Yet his ethical behavior leaves many questions unanswered, such as his friend’s dealing with the lucrative halfway house privatization business or his questionable “charity” to help hurricane victims.

He claims he’s a friend of the environment while simultaneously and unilaterally waiving environmental regulations. He vows to rebuild the Jersey Shore while ignoring the root cause of the magnitude of the destruction – man-made global climate change.

Unlike Mitt Romney, who had multiple and changing positions on just about everything, Christie invariably stands firm on the issues. Once he makes up his mind, he rarely changes it. And that, in a nutshell, is Christie’s problem.

There’s a difference between flip-flopping and evolving on one’s position. President Obama and New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney evolved on their position on gay rights and marriage equality. They weren’t for it one day and against it the next. They moved slowly along the continuum toward the side of tolerance and then equality.

Chris Christie can leverage his popularity to fill the post-election void in Republican party leadership. If he does, how will he use that power? Will he continue to allow the party to slide down the abyss created by the extreme right wing? Or will he lead the charge to form a neo-moderate power base within the party? Will he embrace the thoughts of Michelle Bachman and Steve King, or will he move the party toward the more moderate positions of former Governor Christine Todd Whitman and State Senator Diane Allen?

His actions over the next few weeks and months should provide us with a hint. Now that Obamacare has been affirmed by the Supreme Court and the popular electorate, will Christie finally sign the health exchange bill? Now that the influence peddling of the Koch Brothers has been neutered, will Christie evolve into a friend of the environment? Now that both polls and referenda have shown that marriage equality has the overwhelming support of the population, will Christie release the lock he has on GOP legislators and allow them to vote their conscience? All of this will play out over the next twelve months as New Jersey elects its Governor and legislature in what we hope is the post-Tea Party era.

Make no mistake about it – Christie is governed not by ideology, but by his supersized ego. He craves power and attention. The question is, will he achieve his goal by creating a winnable scenario as a neo-moderate, or will he continue down the destructive path of allying himself with Tea Party and corporate extremism?

Cross-posted from deciminyan.org

Whitman Quits the Republican Party

She wrote a book a few years ago called, “It’s My Party, Too,” but it appears things have changed.  Christie Todd Whitman, the former savior of the Republican Party, is urging Republicans to run for President as independents.

Former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman (R), who is leading a group to draft a third-party presidential candidate, is encouraging Jon Huntsman to make an independent bid for the White House, Politico reports.

Said Whitman: “I would hope he would do it, frankly. He’s someone that I would support.”

It’s amazing to me that the Republican Party can continue to win elections, to take Drumthwacket, to win the House and have a shot at winning the Senate when they drive solid conservatives like Christie Todd Whitman and Jon Huntsman out of the party.

It’s My Christmas, and I’ll Cry If I Want To

So, the Republicans in the Senate are terrified that they may have to work up to and including Christmas, to settle some unresolved legislation, including ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and the $1.1 trillion omnibus funding resolution, that the Democrats want to complete before the end of the lame duck session.

According to Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ):

It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without doing — frankly, without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff

How many recesses and breaks does Congress get, including practically the entire month of August? Certainly more than people in these professions, many of whom must work, not only Christmas, but other holidays as well:

  • Members of the military, especially those stationed overseas
  • Police, firefighters, EMTs – yes, those same ones who came to the World Trade Center site to help and were told by our own Christie Whitman that the air was safe, and are now being denied health benefits for illnesses contracted from breathing the “safe” air.
  • Health workers: doctors, nurses, orderlies, maintenance crews. Hospitals have no days off.
  • Pilots, flights attendants, air traffic controllers, other airport crew members (how many are flying members of Congress home for Christmas?)
  • Food service workers, cooks, waitstaff, caterers (how many are working on Christmas to feed members of Congress who can afford paid help for their holiday meals?)
  • Workers at 24/7 convenience stores, who help us out when we forgot to pick up a container of egg nog or whipped cream for our desserts.
  • Workers at 24/7 gas stations, who, here in New Jersey, stand out in the cold because we don't pump our own gas.

Are there more? You bet. Let's not forget members of the press, who are charged with keeping these public servants honest.

If these pious Senators are so concerned about their holy holiday, especially one whose motto includes “Peace On Earth, Good Will Towards Men”, why can't they take the time to work out a peace treaty before Christmas?

Stop whining and get to work.


Privatization Done Right

Cross-posted from deciminyan.org

New Jersey’s experience with privatization has been unblemished by success.  Nevertheless, the state is in serious financial difficulty, and any potential solutions to provide state services more efficiently and at a lower cost should be seriously considered.

Unfortunately, Governor Christie is approaching privatization initiatives in a way that will not help, and will probably harm, the taxpayers.  He is repeating many of the mistakes that plagued the privatization of New Jersey’s 1998 motor vehicle emission inspection initiative, and he probably is inventing some new mistakes of his own.  Of course, his politically-driven Privatization Task Force report emphasizes the “success” stories and gives, at best,  lip service to the failures, both in New Jersey and elsewhere.

Privatization of some state services can save money if done right.  But doing it “right” does not mean firing state workers and employing a private company to do the same job with lower-paid  (and most likely less qualified) employees while the politically-connected contractor skims off a handsome profit at the taxpayers’ expense.  Since the contractor is accountable to shareholders and not voters, steps must be taken to ensure that the taxpayers’ interests are being addressed appropriately.  This requires oversight and insight by qualified and empowered state employees.  That cost must be included in the equation when considering privatization.

An important consideration is what services should be considered for privatization.  Services that are provided as commodities in the private sector are prime candidates if their implementation in the public sector is essentially identical.  An example would be payroll services where several vendors compete across a broad range of customers to provide compensation to a client’s employees.  There must be adequate competition for these services in order to be considered for privatization.  After all, the ultimate goal is to provide more service for fewer dollars, and if the economies of scale and the pricing pressure of real competition in the private sector can be leveraged, then there’s a potential for a benefit to the taxpayer.  Privatization of critical infrastructure initiatives (like Governor Whitman’s failed Motor Vehicle Emissions contract) should receive extra scrutiny and non-partisan expert oversight, if done at all.

Even more important is how privatization initiatives are conducted.  Requests for Proposal (RFPs) should be carefully written and reviewed by independent, knowledgeable experts, not politicians or bureaucrats.  RFPs should be complete, down to the draft Service Level Agreements that will become part of the contract.  Incentives for exemplary performance, and penalties for poor performance, provide the State with leverage to ensure that our needs are met.  And of course, one of the most difficult but important aspects of choosing a potential private partner is the absence of political influence over that selection.

While ISO:9001 Quality Management System certification does not guarantee that a contractor will meet expectations, lack of such certification should also indicate that the potential supplier does not give quality  management adequate attention.  Thus, only potential contractors with a current ISO:9001 certification should be allowed to bid on major contracts.  Similarly, outsourcing of any programs that are IT or software-intensive should require at least a Level 3 (and preference should be given to Level 5) certification against the appropriate Capability Maturity Model Integrated process standard.

Industry-standard Risk and Opportunity Management processes should be implemented and rigorously followed even before the RFP is developed.  Properly implemented, Opportunity Management coupled with Six-Sigma initiatives can help improve cost, schedule, and technical performance of the outsourced services.    Coupled with this, frequent and in-depth technical and programmatic reviews by independent experts should be conducted for the larger initiatives.  The reports from these reviews for the largest initiatives (e.g. for those valued over $100 million) should be provided directly to the Governor, unfiltered by intermediate bureaucrats.

Is all of this oversight and insight expensive?  Sure – and it needs to be factored into the privatization equation.  But as Christie Whitman’s Motor Vehicle inspection initiative has proven, lack of such standard project management practices is even more expensive.

So if privatization is to work for the New Jersey taxpayer, the process must be robust and transparent.   Realistic cost estimates must include those for effective oversight.  Unfortunately, oversight and transparency are not in the current vocabulary of the state’s executive branch.  So before the taxpayer is asked to support significantly more privatization, there needs to be a culture change in Trenton.

Quote of the Day: “Reality sometimes gets up and smacks you in the face”

Talking about Chris Christie’s speech before the League of Municipalities in Atlantic City, Former Governor Christie Whitman offered this observation in Charles Stile’s column:

“He’s sending a message that he’s willing to take on some of the sacred cows. And he needs to,” former Republican Gov. Christie Whitman said. “But we’ll see. Reality sometimes gets up and smacks you in the face.”

That’s right, we will see what reality does to Christie’s promises. While she’s talking about Christie and his tough rhetoric about taking on just about everyone, that statement applies on so many different levels beyond just Chris Christie and what he has said.