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.