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Why Did Gov. Christie Kill the State Planning Commission?

What Ever Happened To Sprawl, “Sustainable Development” and The New Urbanism?

Where Are the Professional Planning Advocates?

Due to the lack of agenda items, the State Planning Commission  will not be meeting on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. ~~~ Source: email from Office for Planning Advocacy (3/12/13)

[Update below – a reader answers my closing question]

At a time when NJ faces multiple simultaneously occurring crises that cry out for a rational, transparent, participatory, planning based public policy response, NJ’s state-wide planning institution, the NJ State Planning Commission, has been effectively dismantled by Governor Christie.

The Commission joins the Council on Affordable Housing on Governor Christie’s shit list.

[* Note – In addition to his “Kill List“, Obama has his own shit list, see here.]

The Commission’s main focus and mission, implementing the 1985 State Planning Act and overseeing the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, have been subordinated to and diverted by Gov. Christie’s “Business Action Center“, while the State (land use) Plan has been replaced by a corporate  economic development strategy.

Bob Kull virtually begs Christie Administration to allow professional planners to play a role in Sandy recovery (2/21/14)

So, after receiving another email notice yesterday that the Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting was again cancelled due to “lack of agenda items“, this morning I called SPC Director Gerry Scharfenberger to ask him when the Commission last met and why meetings keep getting cancelled.

Poor Gerry, I could almost sense in his voice that the last thing he wants is to become involved in the “What’s Wrong with Christie’s Government” story – and to be dragged into that by me, of all people!

In response to my questions, Gerry said he thought the Commission met in December, but he could not recall how many times they met last year.  He called my question on that a “pop quiz” he could “not answer off the top of my head” (those are direct quotes folks!).

  • No Need for Commission When You’ve Got Czars

I can only assume that Governor Christie thinks he does not need a Planning Commission and all those pointed headed socialist planners when he’s got:

But these Christie folks are doing nothing in response to multiple crises, such as developing:

  • plans to implement the Global Warming Response Act and deeply cut current emissions
  • plans to adapt to climate change
  • plans to recover and redevelop from Sandy devastation
  • plans to manage our increasingly vulnerable water supplies
  • plans to restore our crumbling infrastructure
  • plans to expand public transit and promote bicycling alternatives to cars
  • plans to stop home foreclosures and develop affordable housing
  • plans to put thousands of unemployed and under-employed residents back to work
  • plans to redevelop abandoned shopping malls, commercial properties, and big box retail outlets in declining older suburbs
  • plans to develop alternative energy, local distributed power, and “smart energy” micro-grids
  • plans to revitalize our blighted cities
  • plans to expand production of local and healthy foods
  • plans to fund open space, parks, and recreational facilities
  • plans to build and refurbish our public schools
  • plans to strengthen protections for natural resources and the Highlands and Pinelands regions
  • plans to preserve the spectacular and highly vulnerable Delaware Bayshore
  • plans to promote environmental justice
  • plans to cleanup thousands of toxic waste sites

No, instead of addressing these concerns, the Christie Administration says there are “no agenda items” for the State Planning Commission.

Just another day in Governor Christie’s failed government.

But, where are all the well funded professional planning advocates, like NJ Future, PlanSmart NJ, the Regional Plan Association,  NJ SEED and the Dodge Foundation?

I’ve not heard one peep of criticism of the Governor  from them for this abdication and hostility towards planning.

[Update: An informed  reader responds:

Saw your query in today’s Wolfenotes, and that’s an easy one to answer….

“But, where are all the well funded professional planning advocates, like NJ Future, PlanSmart NJ, the Regional Plan Association,  NJ SEED and the Dodge Foundation?”

They are all a bunch of fucking cowards is the simple answer. However the more precise answer is that, while it is true that they certainly are world-class chicken shits of the highest order, the driving force at work here is that the economic imperative for them to actually practice what they preach just is not there. They all continue to prosper like flies on the back of an elephant regardless of who is in charge.

There are other reasons as well, but I think that is a very big one. –

I completely agree and couldn’t have said it better myself.

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