NJ Gov. Christie Slams Door Shut on Coastal and Climate Change Reforms In Wake of Sandy
Appoints Corporate Crony As Czar to Oversee Redevelopment
No Lessons Learned – Business As Usual
Will The Legislature Allow Christie To Control The Whole Game?
(Is there a “Heck of a job Marc” in NJ’s future?)
The “debate” of whether and how to rebuild the shore is over before any real debate actually occured.
Let this be confirmation of the trite slogan: politics abhors a vacuum.
In the vacuum created by the absence of Legislative leadership and while the planning and environmental advocates were hiding under their desks (or worse: having secret meetings with their friends at DEP) and making no public demands on the Administration, Governor Christie just unilaterally acted.
According to the Bergen Record, in another vast executive over-reach, Christie has centralized control and appointed a corporate crony as Czar to oversee redevelopment:
Christie also announced the appointment of Marc Ferzan of Lawrenceville and the hiring of Witt Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based public safety and crisis management consulting firm, to work with him.
Ferzan will be responsible for overseeing and coordinating the state’s long-term recovery, while working with local governments and public and private partners, including Witt Associates.
“I’m naming Marc to this position because of the importance and urgency of the effort and my commitment to getting it done efficiently and effectively for the people of our state,” the governor said. [...]
Ferzan said he planned to assemble a “core team” and would work with federal, state and local officials, charities, private industry, community organizations, volunteers and impacted community members to rebuild and develop mitigation strategies.
I have been writing here and working behind the scenes urging my colleagues to back a “strategic retreat” from the shore and to call for the formation of a Coastal Commission to oversee the public planning process.
As another “extreme weather” event, Sandy illustrated the need to demand aggressive new climate change policies, including things like a phase out of in-state fossil power and imports; a moratorium on new pipeline and powerline construction; a carbon tax; accelerated wind and solar renewables; expansion of Clean Energy Funds; and massive public transportation and infrastructure investments.
None of that is likely to happen now -
(all of it was improbable, but it is certainly impossible without a demand, which is something that never emerged, despite numerous entreaties.
And I blame timid and visionless leaders of NJ ENGO’s (I’m willing to name names), a tabloid press corps, virtually no effort by the somnolent professional planning community, and a passive legislature.
The only question that remains is will Sweeney and Norcross sit back and take it?
(maybe Sweeney would get a burr under his saddle if US House Republicans proposed to eliminate prevailing wage and unions from the multi-billion $ federal bailout appropriation bill – something that is not beyond the pale, given the Katrina “Shock Doctrine” rollbacks and current “fiscal cliff” austerity politics. )