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Why “Nobody Raised Their Hand”

We’re Still Living On Chris Christie’s NJ Waterfront 

"On the Waterfront" - Crime Commission testimony scene

You just dug your own grave.

You’re dead on this waterfront, and every waterfront from Boston to New Orleans.

You don’t drive a truck, or a cab – you don’t push a bag of dreck.

You don’t work noplace! You’re dead! ~~~ “On the Waterfront” – (watch the Crime Commission scene)

 

I was stunned by a revealing and absolutely chilling quote by the DEP press Office in Mike Powell’s superb NY Times story yesterday:

In Plan to Dump Contaminated Soil, Classic New Jersey Politics Emerge

[…]

In a 2010 email, an [DEP] agency scientist noted that this project was “not sustainable” and that “developer/business profit driven motivation” fueled it.

In 2013, another agency expert offered that the proposal was “technically questionable.” Yet another scientist noted that if a flood washed through, the soil mound could collapse and “pose a threat to the environment or to the public health.” […]

Larry Hagna, (sic) a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, said that the agency’s staff is no longer worried. The staff’s old emails — some written as recently as eight months ago — are yesterday’s news, he said. “We recently had said to the staff: ‘You’ve raised concerns. Does anyone remain in opposition?

Nobody,” he noted, “raised their hands.”

Indeed, nobody raised their hand.

And that, my friend, is the point.

But does anyone ever wonder why the many professionals on the inside of government who know about wrongdoing, corruption, and betrayal of the public interest rarely speak up?

Because dissent or disagreement is not tolerated in the Christie Administration.

Because DEP Commissioner Bob Martin – although slightly more sophisticated than Johnny  Friendly – is an intolerant, intimidating, vindictive bully – just like his boss.

Because the issues are complex, rarely black and white, and the press and the public have no appetite for complexity.

Because, in many quarters, there is a scientific and narrow technical culture at DEP that is loyal or deferential to management, discourages consideration of legitimate public policy discussion as “not my job”, and disrespects colleagues who are “advocates” who get labeled “troublemakers” or “difficult to work with”.

Because “the golden handcuffs” of a DEP career are sweet indeed – interesting and rewarding work, good salary and benefits, and job security.

Because if vindictive DEP managers want to make your life at work miserable, or destroy your career, or smear your character, they can do so with virtual impunity.

Because – as I learned in my own case – that while the whistleblower laws might look good on paper, they provide little to no effective protection for whistleblowers.

Because, like the scene above from “On the Waterfront”, when DEP managers do retaliate, they have Civil Service laws and time on their side.

If they trump up a criminal charge, like Official Misconduct, and convict on that charge, then the person convicted is blackballed – prohibited from working in the public sector in NJ for life. Put that on your resume.

The law and politics still work just like Johnny Friendly’s threat –  the current reality is that you don’t work no place – you’re dead.

And noplace is a tough place to be, particularly with a mortgage or a family to support – or a career or reputation to preserve.

So, the scumbags know that they have all the leverage and they use it with impunity, knowing that they incur little risk from the professionals in the know.

None of whom will raise their hands.

And its not just Gov. Christie and his minions who play this game in NJ – just look at the Obama Administration’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers and the media.

Even the Vatican is in on the game – a Frontline investigative piece last night Secrets of the Vatican, disclosed the fact that dossiers were kept on officials for blackmail to keep them quiet.

[and if they’re doing this stuff in the Vatican, can you imagine what’s going on behind the scenes in Wall Street, corporate america, or oil and gas energy companies?]

This is the corrupt institutional world we live in – from dirty deals on NJ dirt, to Kill List drones, to Vatican sex scandals.

Johnny Friendly and his corporate and political pals have won.

Once we admit that – and not until we admit that ugly reality – can we can begin to effectively struggle and fight back.

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