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Bob Martin’s Escort Service

Taking Care of Business – “what goes on at DEP, stays at DEP”

How “The Art of Anonymous Activism” Pamphlet Created DEP Escort Service 

A Snarky But True Story

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob. …. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred   ~~~ FDR (1936 speech – listen)

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin takes pride in customer service.

So much so, that he personally created a “DEP Transformation Plan” to change DEP culture  to include a new focus and priority on customer service. Martin required that every DEP employee undergo customer service training.


Lastly, we have already begun to invite managers and staff to participate in customer service training. As we roll out our formal comprehensive customer training series this month, Commissioner Martin will hold Assistant Commissioners personally accountable to ensure that they, their managers and their staff participate. The training will be multifaceted with the focus on ensuring continued improvements in providing excellent customer service by all staff. All staff will attend a one day interactive workshop focusing on understanding the basics of internal and external customer service, determining caller’s needs, implementing conflict resolution, handling irate customers, learning key steps to a positive attitude, brainstorming on application of best practices and role-playing exercises demonstrating bad and good customer service. Additionally, managers will be required to participate in continuing education courses to be completed over an eight month period. Monthly meetings will be required for participants to discuss application of the online learning courses, share best practices and problem-solve implementation issues with peers.

I)  A Brief Tale of Customer Service – Taking Care of Business at DEP

As a former businessman himself, Martin measures metrics, takes care of his customers and appreciates the special needs of his customers.

Despite Governor Christie’s Inaugural speech commitment that “Today, a new era of accountability and transparency is here” Martin quickly affirmed a Corzine DEP secrecy policy, enabling lobbyists and lawyers for his customers to meet off the record with his management team privately to discuss sensitive matters and negotiate permit conditions and enforcement terms, and not have to worry that the meeting might wind up in the newspapers or on the radar screens of those pesky environmental groups.

That’s why Martin denied my OPRA request to disclose the sign in book for the DEP building. I made that request so that the public could see who is meeting with DEP policymakers. Martin’s biggest pesky nuisance – NJ PEER – wanted to know who Martin’s customers were meeting with at DEP and what they were discussing.

Imagine the nerve! How dare PEER harass Martin’s customers!

Recognizing the needs of his customers, Martin provides regulatory relief.

To do so, he  abandoned the enforcement stick in favor of  compliance assistance, and restored the Whitman Administration’s “Open for Business” DEP alternate dispute resolution program (AKA “Let’s Make a Deal”).

Martin has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for his customers, by providing across the board regulatory relief, including: fewer inspections, reductions in enforcement fines, lower permit fees, less oversight of compliance with standards, relaxed standards, avoidance of  promulgation of new standards, lower cleanup costs, below market rate state land easements, sweetheart leases and concessions, failure to collect money owed, and little or no compensation for natural resource damages (and more, including advanced notice and pre-proprosal review of any new regulations, which amounts to a “red tape” veto power) for his special customers.

Given his business background, Martin appreciates the benefits of more customers and therefore revised DEP Vision and Priorities mission statement to require that DEP no longer act as a barrier to economic development but instead must now promote economic development so as to create even more customers (economic development is mentioned 16 times in that document).

Being a savvy businessman who knows how to push the envelope and cut corners, Martin has ignored financial audits of how he treats his customers and three consecutive negative OLS audits – including negative program audits and bureaucratic EPA bean counting audits.

[Martin is steeped in corrupt corporate culture and values – he spent his career at Accenture, a spinoff  firm created when Arthur Andersen was dissolved due to their role in the Enron scandal.]

Martin understands that discrete discussions are the key to good policy, so he not only provides secrecy for the participants in those “Stakeholder” discussions, but he personally hand picks the “by invitation only” attendees and requires secrecy pledges, to assure that, like Atlantic City –  “what goes on at DEP, stays at DEP”.

Martin showed his customer loyalty, using State Police to eject troublemakers.

Oh, but all these facets of Martin’s customer service program are old news and have been reported favorably by sycophants in the media.

But, one important feature of Martin’s complete customer service program has been ignored – Martin’s special escort service!

II)  The Inside Story On What Prompted Martin’s Escort Service

Dear readers, I’ve let you down – I now must confess that I caused the creation of the escort service! Here’s how:

No, its not the Eliot Spitzer kind of escort service!

Visitors to the DEP building have noted the difference under Martin’s leadership.

Imagine their surprise when they learned that visitors are personally escorted by a DEP employee from their arrival to their destination point.

When their secret meeting is done, then they are provided an escort back to the DEP lobby!

So, in addition to making my readers aware of this wonderful escort service, I thought I’d explain – seriously – why it was created.

During the Corzine/Jackson DEP days, I had a tendency to make DEP customers uncomfortable – for example, I had a bad habit and would take their pictures as they signed into the DEP building.

I even broke a taboo and took pictures of the DEP sign in book and the closed doors of the DEP Commissioner’s office behind which they met.

Folks knew I had no respect for customer privacy or decorum, and had a tendency to wander in my DEP mission.

So, one fine day in the first year of the Christie/Martin junta, while visiting DEP for one of those pesky nuisance file reviews, I thought I might make DEP employees aware of federal and NJ’s State whistleblower laws and of the service NJ PEER provides to promote scientific integrity and help enforce environmental laws, including confidential disclosures and whistleblower protections.

Those services are laid out in a pamphlet called “The Art of Anonymous Activism  – Serving the Public While Surviving Public Service” (with an introduction by Frank Serpico).

PEER jointly developed that pamphlet with our colleagues from the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and The Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

It is a guide not only to whistleblower laws and protections, but also a “how to” manual for engaging in anonymous activism and survive the retaliation that managers embark on in the wake of embarrassing disclosures of how they tend to suppress science, cover up political intervention in decision-making, and fail to enforce environmental laws.

So, to educate DEP employees, I felt it important to distribute the pamphlet throughout the building – in the cafeteria and all the mens rooms – so that DEP employees could be made aware and then engage in anonymous activism, especially to expose the mismanagement and rollbacks then underway at DEP.

No surprise, this covert mission of mine did not make Commissioner Martin happy.

Let’s just say it did not comport with his customer service program.

So there you have it – that’s how and why the DEP escort service was created.

The sad part is that, for many years, DEP staffers had raised personal safety and security concerns to DEP managers.

In fact, there had been incidents including thefts of sensitive DEP records, robberies, assaults, and vandalism within the DEP building, in the DEP parking lot, and near the DEP building.

But those legitimate security needs were ignored.

It took the distribution of  a pamphlet advising employees of their rights – The Art of Anonymous Activism – to create the escort service.

And that speaks volumes about the warped values and priorities of a guy like Bob Martin.

What’s even more warped, is that Martin and friends actually are now using this story to try to smear me – as if Martin’s own bizarre over-reaction to my attempt to educate his employees – subversion in his view – and Martin’s “customer service” were not the real problem.

These fools know nothing but to attack the messengers and smear the critics.

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