Tag Archive: Jeanne Fox

Help Wanted. $125K/year. No Experience Necessary

Well, that’s not quite true. As Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula explains, “All it takes is to be a friend of the governor.”

Ever since he took office, Governor Christie has not only established a horrible record on energy and the environment, but he has misused funds earmarked for energy improvement and job creation as a gimmick to balance the budget.

To get one of these high-paying jobs described in the headline under the Christie administration, all you need to do is to get the governor to appoint you as a commissioner on the Board of Public Utilities (BPU).

As Chivukula, chairman of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, explains in the video below, the BPU was established as an independent agency whose charter is to work for the ratepayers (that’s us), and promote programs that conserve energy and save the environment. But instead, the Board has become a patronage pit for the governor’s cronies (three out of the five commissioners were appointed by Christie) most of whom Chivukula believes do not have the background to do the work that they are being paid for. To add insult to injury, Chivukula points out that the BPU has hired some very expensive consultants to compensate for the gaps in the board members’ experience. Heck, you don’t even need to be a Christie Crony to be appointed. Being the spouse of a Christie Crony is qualification enough – as long as you’re a tennis official.

To be fair to the governor, the lack of qualification of BPU members is not entirely his fault. Commissioners are appointed by the governor but must be confirmed by the Democratically-controlled Senate. None of the current BPU commissioners have any educational qualifications in science, technology, or the environment. Only Commissioner Fox (appointed by Governor McGreevey) has had extensive relevant career experience. Yet, when Bob Hanna, now a State Supreme Court nominee, was brought to the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation as president of the BPU in December, 2011, not a single relevant question was asked. As Assemblyman Chivukula puts it, “The BPU should also not be a waiting area for gubernatorial political appointees until they get nominated for judicial positions.”

In our conversation, Chivukula also spoke about several bills that he and Assemblyman Joe Cryan are sponsoring in response to Hurricane Sandy (starting at 5:45 in the video).

What’s Happening Today Tue. 08/20/2013

Cranford Pizza Shop Owners to Congressman Lance: Time to “Deliver” on Immigration Reform: 9:30am, Ahead of Congressman Lance’s town hall meeting in Gillette this evening, shop owners will talk about the importance of immigrant workers in New Jersey’s pizza restaurants, and their support for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform, il Giardino Pizza, 103 Miln St, Cranford. Rep. Lance (R-CD 7) says, “The border fence is not nearly enough.” Perhaps it should be fully electrified, raised 60 feet and reinforced with barbed wire?

Ascendancy of the Libertarians: During the presidential election cycle Republican/Libertarian Rep. Ron Paul fared poorly, but his Republican/Libertarian son Sen. Rand Paul has emerged as a Republican “darling.”  He and Chris Christie recently got into a dust-off. Christie’s message: “Ideology doesn’t matter; winning does.” Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan also holds Libertarian positions, some of  which even Democrats might agree with: opposition to NSA surveillance on U.S. citizens, bank bail-outs, and becoming the world’s policeman. Monday night on NJToday he tried to broaden his base, appealing to Democrats. No one expects Lonegan to win but Libertarian points of view are becoming the talk of Washington and New Jersey.

Christie and Lonegan: This afternoon when Christie endorses Lonegan for Senate, we will see the rough, laser-sharp, unflinching Lonegan (“Give me Liberty or give me death.”) versus the brash, flexible (I’ll do what it takes to win) Christie. There is no love lost between them as they competed in the 2009 gubernatorial primary, and Lonegan has criticized him from the far right. For the Governor who needs the support of moderates and independents to win both the governorship and the presidency, he walks a tightrope. As Sen. Buono said last night on Chris Hayes’ MSNBS show, “he’s trying to thread the needle.” Others might say he has no  principles, but regardless Lonegan’s more extreme views are of no help to him.

Christie to accept public matching funds: An official told The Associated Press Gov. Chris Christie will make an initial filing today to accept state funds for his fall re-election bid, which will provide his campaign with more than $8 million. Candidates who accept public funds are obligated to participate in two pre-election debates.

Cory Booker: We have not seen a public schedule for him recently. However, he does pepper us daily with sophomoric wisdom on Facebook and Twitter. His most recent entry: “Strength isn’t always a physical thing but it is always a mental attitude.” OK, but how about telling us what is on your schedule?

Island Beach State Park to host “Harvest the Bay Festival”: 3:00-7:00pm, Eat fresh fish and learn about the 3,000 acre park, Ocean Bathing Area 1, free with park admission.

Public Schedules:

Governor Christie: 12:00, press conference with U.S. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan, who yesterday released the federal HURRICANE SANDY REBUILDING TASK FORCE REPORT, Little Ferry. For comments on the report from NJ Future, go here.

Governor Christie/U.S. Senate canditate Steve Lonegan: 4:15, Christie endorses Lonegan for Senate, Hunterdon County Republican Headquarters, 1 New Jersey 12,  Flemington.

Buono/Silva Gubernatorial Campaign: None

What’s Happening Today, Fri., 08/16/2013

I Will Act on Climate” Brigantine Bus Tour Stop & Press Conference: 4:00pm, Sen. Jim Whelan (NJ-2), BPU Commissioner Jeanne Fox, Stockton College Professor of Sustainability Patrick Hossay, Stockton College Professor of Biology Ron Hutchinson, and other participants will highlight the impacts of extreme weather and climate change in Brigantine, Atlantic County and throughout New Jersey, Mad Dog Morgan’s, 3004 West Brigantine Avenue, Brigantine.

NJ Gun Laws: 11:00am, Advocates for stricter gun laws to urge Christie to sign legislation banning .50 caliber rifles, Room 109, Statehouse, Trenton. This should be a no-brainer but don’t count on the governor agreeing.

Christie on Christie: Information has been dribbling out on our governor’s closed-door speech yesterday to the Republican National Committee meeting in Boston. Business Insider says attendees got this take-away: “I know how to win elections, so nominate me if you want to win back the presidency rather than just being concerned about ideology all the time.” Christie can get right to the point sometimes, can’t. he – particularly when it’s about him and what he wants.

FEC reports, just in the past week through this morning, indicate that independent funders have spent $161,087 in support of Cory Booker, $6,000 in opposition to Cory Booker, and $2,950 in support of Steve Lonegan. It appears Lonegan will get some limited support from the RNC, but will his former employer, the Koch brothers, or other big spenders throw him larger treats?

Rep. Jon Runyan (R- CD 3): to be presented  the United States Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise Award “for his support of pro-jobs and pro-growth policies.” Delco Headquarters, Wilingboro. It’s OK to support enterprise, but then there are other things he supports: abolishing Obamacare, obstructing sensible reforms to reduce gun violence, voting for the Ryan budget, helping the Tea Party and much more.

Public Schedules

Governor Christie: 11:00am, Groundbreaking Ceremony, PATH station, Harrison.

Buono/Silva campaign: Lt. gubernatorial candidate Milly Silva: 4:00pm, The Ron Kelly Show, Talk Radio, an LA independent internet radio station.  

If you have an item for this column just email it to me the evening before at Borr5@verizon.net

Judiciary to hold Fox nomination pending trial outcome

The Judiciary Committee won’t hold confirmation hearings on BPU President Jeanne Fox until the conclusion of a pending suit…

Fox, the BPU, and two other top officials are named in the suit brought by BPU fiscal chief Joe Potena, who claims retaliation for alerting state officials to an $80- to $100-million ratepayer-funded Clean Energy account set up outside state Treasury purview.

Fox for her part continues to deny the claims…

Fox’s lawyer, Angelo Genova, in Trenton on Friday for another pre-trial motion in the case, said, “Jeanne Fox continues to look forward to her day in court. We’re hoping that will be soon.”

Despite these accusations, Governor Corzine renominated Fox to the position, but committee Chair Adler isn’t in any rush to pass judgement on the case or the nomination…

“Well, we wouldn’t call it before the trial is over, some sort of whistle-blower case,” Judiciary Chairman Sen. John Adler, D-Camden, said. “I don’t want to predict what might happen. We have to go slow on nominations of this importance.”

Adler also said he’s waiting for the State Police to conclude their background check on Fox. Republicans for their part have questioned everything involving this situation so I guess we’ll have to see how it all plays out.

Petty Partisan Jennifer Beck

With years of lackluster leadership on the Republican side of the aisle, it comes as no surprise that the shiny new GOP state legislators want to make a name for themselves. And I say, good for them. Because the dinosaurs on the other side of the aisle really have done very little to resonate with the voters of this state as we’ve seen at the polls time and time again. But before lobbyist-turned-legislator Jennifer Beck shoots off her partisan and uninformed mouth in public again, she should count to ten, take a nice, deep breath and get her facts straight.

Now, let me say right off the bat that I’m not even pretending to be totally objective here. Jeanne Fox is one of my favorite people. Not just in government – but favorite people period. That being said, putting aside personal friendship, I can unabashedly say that she is one of the few people I’ve worked with who are in government for all the right reasons. Public Service. Policy. Helping people. Empowering others. You name it.

As Warner Wolf would say . . . let’s go to the videotape . . .

Earlier this week, Governor Corzine re-nominated Jeanne Fox as President of the Board of Public Utilities due to a strong record of achievement – in areas ranging from the expansion of New Jersey’s Renewable Energy Portfolio to the creation of a landmark Universal Service Fund to help low-income folks pay their bills. For a long time, the BPU had the knock of being a place that had folks at the helm who really didn’t have the requisite experience in the areas that were under the agency’s purvey (cough cough . . . Christie Whitman’s stint at the Board . . . cough cough . . .Whitman appointee Herb Tate). But, that is far from the case here -in fact, Jeanne was the very first former BPU staffer to ever go on to become a Commissioner.
She has a real wealth of experience, knows her stuff and brings a lot to the table – from her days as a Regional Director at the EPA under Clinton to her work in state gov’t at the DEP and BPU going back to the 1980’s.

Try as she might to lay down some slams to get some ink, here are some facts that Jennifer Beck might want to take note of before she starts spouting off her partisan mouth on the issue again. First, as the direct result of the Clean Energy Program – as re-incarnated and improved by the BPU – administrative expenses were drastically cut. In terms of proactive action, solar installations sky-rocketed from a mere six to some several thousand today -the second highest photovoltaics in the nation. Under Jeanne’s leadership, she helped transform our state’s solar program from a rebate-driven model to a fiscally responsible, market-based system that will foster the continued growth of even more solar energy use here in New Jersey. Moreover, new initiatives are under way for other renewable energy programs. Over the past several years, thousands upon thousands of homeowners, schools, municipalities and businesses received tens of millions of dollars by way of renewable energy grants and rebates from the BPU’s Clean Energy Program. And, ain’t that, uh, the very purpose of the program? On top of this, New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program is nationally recognized for promoting and developing innovative energy efficiency initiatives. With all the recent discussion about the fiscal state of our state, this should be noted as a shining example of how state gov’t is helping taxpayers and families save money – not to mention helping the environment and saving the earth (sorry, couldn’t solely focus on the money part without throwing in the obvious).

Also, in terms of keeping our state and its residents safe and secure, New Jersey’s critical utility infrastructure has adopted strong protocols for protection from terrorist attacks – the first state in the nation to adopt such sweeping standards. Under Jeanne Fox’s leadership, our state has become a real policy leader for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This will directly result is some serious, big-time reductions in New Jersey’s carbon footprint. I know how some Republicans still have their head in the sand on global warming, but come on here.

So, when you look at the facts, this entire line of partisan attacks we’ve seen on the matter is a sham. And it’s a real shame. But I suspect this won’t be the last we hear from the headline-thirsty Republicans looking to carve out a name for themselves. (I mean, there might be a new batch of gop-ers under the gold dome, but that doesn’t mean they’ll whine or grasp at straws any less than their predecessors). If I was one for tea leaves and palm-reading, I’d place a wager that Senator Beck will be just the first in a chorus of rapid Republicans about to unleash unfounded, false and partisan attacks on Jeanne Fox and Governor Corzine . . . not because they’re looking out for the people of New Jersey, but simply because they are looking to score cheap partisan points.

We all know that the issues in our state just aren’t on the Republican’s side. That’s why they keep losing elections time and time and time again. Facing that reality these partisans will just start making up facts and twisting reality. For example, as sexy as it might sound, no matter how many times the Republicans say there was a “secret” bank account – it just doesn’t make it true. The Clean Energy Account in question was established after a series of public hearings, and at a public meeting of the Board of Public Utilities. No rules were violated and the Wachovia contract was negotiated by the Department of Law & Public Safety.

Oh yeah, one more thing . . . could this attack by Jennifer Beck have anything to do with the fact that Jeanne Fox’s husband is the co-founder of a firm that worked for Ellen Karcher in the last election? Could she still be sour that one of the sticking charges during the campaign was that Jennifer Beck had been caught right in the eye of a lottery-lobbying scandal storm that cost taxpayers $50 million bucks? Kind of hard to burnish your fiscal-hawk, good government credentials with that albatross around your neck.

Also, while mentioning Senator Beck and her desire to grab headlines by attacking the Corzine administration, I just have to point out a big ole bit of hypocrisy here. Beck is making hay and garnering press out of her strident opposition to the Governor’s proposed toll increases. But, just a few short years ago she worked as a lobbyist fighting on the other side of the issue!

I know she wants to sprint out of the gate and make a name for herself. But, if lobbyist-turned-legislator Jennifer Beck really wants to talk about what’s “emblematic of everything that is wrong with state Government,” she should start by looking in the mirror.