Christie Junta Again Defies Legislative Oversight of Sandy Recovery
Junta: noun. A council or committee for political or governmental purposes; especially: a group of persons controlling a government especially after a revolutionary seizure of power.
[See End notes]
I use the word carefully and with precision, because the Christie Administration has earned it in every respect with regard to the issues surrounding Sandy recovery.
Last night, that became apparent, as Gov. Christie’s again defied legislative oversight and used legislative surrogates to attack critics.
At a prior legislative hearing, it was Senator Beck (R-Monmouth), who shamelessly attacked affordable hosting advocate Staci Berger (I wrote about that here).
Prior to that, it was Assemblywoman Schepisi (R-Bergen/Passaic) who attacked affordable housing advocates, shamelessly demanding “Just how much do you want? (see this)
Last night, it was Assemblyman McGuckin’s turn (R-Ocean) [and McGuckin isn't even on the Environment Committee - he sat in the hearing as a legislative courtesy because the hearing was held in his district county.]
McGuckin was so disgusting in his McCarthyite bullying attacks on Christie critic Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club that the audience booed and shouted him down: (Asubry Park Press):
Tensions bubbled over a couple of times.
When Smith criticized Gov. Chris Christie’s administration for not sharing information requested in letters or emails, or attending the hearings, Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, said Smith never once called the Department of Community Affairs commissioner. When Beck said the state will have spent $8 million by month’s end from the $600 million program to help people elevate their homes, an audience member shouted, “That is shameful!”
“You’ve got to tell the governor the program’s broken!” one yelled later, as audience members forcefully rejected Beck’s assertion that information is readily available by making a phone call.
After Sierra Club state director Jeff Tittel criticized the Christie administration on various issues, including the wisdom of rebuilding in flood-prone area, Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin, R-Ocean, repeatedly questioned whether his group supported letting all Ocean County residents rebuild their homes on the homes’ old footprints. Some audience members began calling McGuckin a bully.
Senator Beck also again carried the Gov.’s water, but she too was so transparently partisan she too was shouted down by the crowd (see Star Ledger story)
But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Let’s do a little thought experiment:
What would the US press corps call the Executive Branch leader of a hypothetical Central American Country who did the following:
- appointed a personal crony as Czar to control spending of $30 billion in taxpayer money;
- seized billions of dollars in taxpayer money and used it according to his own plan, with no public input or legislative, judicial or media oversight;
- vetoed legislation that would provide transparency in how money was spent;
- use his minority party apparatus in the legislative branch to block legislative efforts to plan and program public funds;
- spent millions of those public funds in television commercials promoting himself;
- spent millions of those public funds to reward his personal cronies and political contributors;
- distributed millions of those public funds via no bid contracts to political insiders;
- bought off the machine leaders of the oppositional political party;
- grossly mismanaged millions of dollars, including providing millions of dollars in grants to wealthy business elites while poor and middle class people were homeless and rendered destitute;
- used public funds to hold numerous self promotional media stunts and ribbon cutting ceremonies for publicly funded projects
- stacked public “Town Hall” meetings with political supporters who asked softball questions and intimidated and attacked critics and inquiring media;
- refused to submit to public oversight and appear before the Legislature to explain his policies and defend his performance
- refused to appear before newspaper editorial boards to explain and defend his record;
- used political surrogates to attack and smear critics
- denied science as an “esoteric” issue he had no time to consider;
- bribed quisling environmental “advocates” with state funds and other perks to silence them;
- was flown around in a helicopter and driven in black SUV caravan’s, surrounded by military armored security; and
- regularly attacked critics and intellectuals.
What would the US call that Chief Executive of that hypothetical central american country?
An authoritarian? a dictator? a Junta?
NJ Gov. Christie has done all this and more.
[End note: oops, I almost forgot this one – how about using State Police to eject me from a public meeting in the DEP public hearing room – I rely on Deputy Attorney General George Schlosser – who I was talking to at the time and witnessed the entirety of this sordid episode – as my witness!
And this was unprecedented and fairly extreme as well: State Officials Block Open Testimony by DEP Nuclear Whistleblower