Tag Archive: Thomas Kean

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.

What’s Happening Today 12/10/2013

ON THE PORTFRONT (Continued…)

As with most investigations, including those of political corruption, the culprits do not make it easy to unearth the truth. Typically they act slowly or not at all in response to requests for public information. They select an individual lower down the chain of command to be fired in hopes of saving the scalps of those higher up who also were at fault.

Were laws violated?: It appears that the failure to notify local and State authorities was a violation of the law. There appear to be other inappropriate actions in play.

Who did it? Not clear: David Wildstein ordered the lane closures, but did he act alone? He reported to Bill Baroni (who tried to defend the action as a “traffic study” and bears direct responsibility), and both individuals were appointed to their positions by Governor Christie.

Why? Not clear: As others testified, a traffic study could have been conducted without closing the lanes and causing the ensued chaos. Was Wildstein ignorant of the procedures to carry out a study or did he (and possibly Baroni) have other intentions, such as retribution against the Fort Lee mayor?

How:  It appears Wildstein ordered the closure against the recommendation of other staffers and he falsely told them he would inform the Authority’s Executive Director and other officials of what was happening.

What punishment is appropriate? It would seem that rather than accepting Wildstein’s resignation, they should have fired him and possibly subjected him to criminal charges. (By Baroni not firing him, assuring his silence, and possibly offering him a job when the uproar subsides other potentially guilty parties could escape punishment.)

What will prevent it from happening again? The Port Authority is too big for its own britches. It acts in defiance of others by ignoring freedom of information requests and doing as it pleases. Such should be stopped. The importance of its work and the amount of money it collects should not allow it to act outside legal norms and escape scrutiny. While each governor should continue to appoint individuals to the Board, there should be independent members who are not aligned with a governor and who understand the broader mission of the authority. Furthermore, governors should be severely restricted in the number of political appointees they can make. The authority needs professionals on its staff not political hacks.

Congratulations to Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewski who have vigorously pursued this matter. Unfortunately, there is still more to learn.

EVENTS TODAY

Clergy women, religious activists and community members brave the weather today to say “Not One More person in detention or deportation.” Join them at the Elizabeth Detention Center starting at 7 am For more info on this event already in progress go here.

NJ Business & Industry Association Forum: 8;45am – 2:00pm, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is the keynote speaker, and receives an award. Other speakers include former U.S. Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa, Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Sen. Paul Sarlo, at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin.