Christie Concludes: If I Can’t Abolish or Bypass Them, I’ll Appoint Them!
The Hunterdon County Democrat reports today that Governor Christie has proposed to replace the entire membership of the D&R Canal Commission:
Christie nominates new members of Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission
Gov. Chris Christie has nominated eight people for the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission. They would replace four current members and fill four vacancies for public members on the group, which is charged with preserving the canal’s resources and its historical integrity.
In making the nominations, the governor did not give any reasons for the changes. The current commissioners are “serving in a hold-over capacity until Governor Christie named commissioners,” said Sean Conner, a spokesman. The current public members are David Knights, John Loos, Phyllis Marchand and Alison Mitchell.
[The Gov. could have filled the 4 vacancies and retained the current 4 Commissioners.]
The Governor gave no reason because the reason is obvious: he is retaliating against the Commission for their independence and for embarrassing him and opposing his DEP Commissioner.
This is what happens when you take on the Governor – he cuts your head off.
Gov. Christie was embarrassed because he and DEP Commissioner Martin tried – and failed – to abolish the Commission outright, see:
- Christie Plan To Abolish D&R Canal Commission Draws Fire
- D&R Canal Commission Doesn’t Plan to Go Quietly — or at All. Low-profile state agency resolves to fight administration’s recommendation to abolish it
We’re very frustrated, but also very determined that this commission has to remain independent,” said John Loos, one of the five commissioners who voted for the resolution standing up to the administration’s plans.
Martin was embarrassed by his mis-steps and overreaction to propose a clearcut at Bull’s Island. See:
- NEW JERSEY DECLARES STEALTH WAR ON “KILLER TREES” — DEP Plans Emergency Clear-Cut of Bull’s Island State Park on Delaware River
- NEW JERSEY WAR ON “KILLER TREES” VIOLATES FEDERAL LAW — Bull’s Island Is Habitat for Endangered Bat and Protected Migratory Birds
The Bull’s Island controversy was escalating, receiving increasing public scrutiny, and had received significant media coverage, see:
The Governor is proposing to remove Canal Commissioner John Loos and well respected conservationist, Alison Mitchell, of the NJ Conservation Foundation.
In addition to opposing the Gov. plan to abolish the Commission, Loos repeatedly criticized DEP’s failure to approve the paperwork required to hire staff and the governor’s failure to fill the vacancies on the Commission, which recently made it impossible to form a quorum and take official action on projects. That problem also received embarrassing news coverage see: Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission in need of members
Mitchell raised similar concerns, and had recused herself on Bull’s Island and was working with NJCF staff to oppose the DEP tree cutting plans.
It was becoming clear that the Commission was going to oppose controversial – and expanding -DEP plans to cut lots of trees on the Island.
At their last meeting, they even planned to consider revising the Park Master Plan to block DEP the cuts.
What is abundantly clear is that the Commission was becoming increasingly independent, outspoken, and hostile to DEP’s plans for Bull’s Island. As a result of that, they are gone.
Those interested in the details of all that should see these posts:
Given the Democrat’s failure in the Legislature to block Senate confirmation of Governor Christie’s Highlands appointments, the Gov.’s Canal Commission nominees are virtually guaranteed to be confirmed.
The first issue for the new Commissioner members will be Bull’s Island – the most controversial in the history of the Commission.
How likely are new Commissioners to over-ride and reject DEP’s tree cutting plans?
I know nothing about the qualifications, views, and competence of the Gov.’s nominees so will not comment on them individually – but as a Commission, they sure will have their hands full.
Far worse, however is the loss of 4 current members – under these conditions – which has caused severe damage to the Commission’s independence and institutional credibility.