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Why Are NJ Democrats Trying to Privatize Public Drinking Water & Sewer Systems?

Giveaway of Public Assets To Corporate Control & Profiteering

A Formula for higher rates, lower quality service, layoffs, & loss of local control

Dems Provide The Next Christie “Bi-Partisan” Achievement on the Campaign Trail

[Updates below]

I thought corporate giveaways by privatization of public assets – like tax cuts and deregulation  – was the ideological policy mantra of the right wing republican party.

I also thought that measures to restrict public involvement in public policy decisions was a republican tendency as well.

greenwaldSo, why are NJ Democrats fast tracking legislation that would promote the privatization of NJ’s local public drinking water and sewer systems, while reducing the public’s ability to participate in those critical decisions?

The legislation has the support of Democratic leadership – the Assembly bill is sponsored by South Jersey Norcross Machine puppet Lou Greenwald (A3628)while the Senate version is sponsored by Paul Sarlo (S2412 2R]).

The Republican leadership is on board as well as co-sponsors, so the skids are greased for another “bi-partisan” ripoff.

It is likely that cash strapped local governments, in fiscal crisis and seeking to control rising property taxes, will be desperately pressured to give away critical public assets like water and sewer systems – worth billions of dollars – for pennies on the dollar to corporate vultures.

But homeowners will face far higher water rates to pay for this one shot fiscal gimmick, as corporations extract profits from the system, i.e. “return on investment”.

Keep in mind that the Christie BPU already revised – and gutted – BPU review of water rate increase to pay for infrastructure investments, allowing private corporations to increase rates and earn profits on investments prior to BPU approval. This is another formula for ripoffs.

No doubt that the private corporations will continue the current pattern of underinvestment and deferred maintenance, while increasing rates to homeowners and business alike.

And there is no doubt the bill has the behind the scenes support of and will be signed by Gov. Christie as a key feature in the Governor’s Privatization policy initiative (see:

And there is equally no doubt that water privatization is a key gift to powerful corporate interests that will fund the Gov.’s 2016 Presidential campaign.

Just like his recent support for the Keystone XL pipeline, water privatization will become not only a campaign fundraising tool, but will be marketed as another key illustration of the Gov.’s “bipartisan” ability to impose right wing policies on a lame Democratic party and be used as another notch in the belt of Gov. Christie.

sarlo-sandy1The bill has been fast tracked – it already was amended on the Senate floor and Senate leaders (led by fellow Norcross Machine puppet Senate President Sweeney) have indicated that they will wait for the Assembly to approve the bill.

The bill is up tomorrow before the Assembly State and Local Government Committee:

State and Local Government   (GroupD)
Standing Reference
View Schedule 
Stender, Linda – Chair    View Votes 
Conaway, Herb – Vice-Chair    View Votes 
Auth, Robert    View Votes 
Carroll, Michael Patrick    View Votes 
Eustace, Timothy J.    View Votes 

Folks should call Assemblyman Greenwald and ask him why he’s promoting Governor Christie’s corporate agenda at the expense of NJ water resources and ratepayers.

We thought that was the Christie campaign’s job.

[Update #1: My good friend Bill Neil, former head of Conservation at NJ Audubon before they went corporate and entreprenurial, just sent me a note asking “where are Senator Smith, Assemblyman Gusciora, Senator Buono and the progressive Dems on this?

Here is my reply:

Bill – The Senate version of the bill was originally referred to Smith’s environmental Committee.

After he failed to post it, it was transferred to Sarlo’s Budget and appropriations Committee (Sarlo is sponsor) and quickly released.

Buono is no longer there – she gave up her Senate seat to run for Gov.

Reid is seeking a Christie judicial nomination and probably won’t say squat.

It will be interesting to see how the State and local gov’t Committee Chair, Linda Stender, a liberal pro-enviromment legislator, will handle all this tomorrow.

My guess is that she will follow orders of leadership.

She has her own meaningless symbolic resolution up to oppose the Pilgrim Pipeline – that will get her press and enviro group cover. 

We are living in remarkably corrupt times.

[Update#2 – a Trenton source just called to advise that, in an extraordinary strong armed tactic, Committee members Assemblyman Eustace and Conaway will be replaced (subbed out) for tomorrow’s hearing by YES votes either because they were opposed to the bill or not relaible YES votes. That move would have to come from Speaker Prieto, but likely at the request of Greenwald.

I called Conaway’s Office and emailed his Chief of Staff to confirm or deny this – will keep you posted. – end update]

[Update #3 – here is Assemblyman Conaway’s reply – looks like my source’s rumor was not correct – live and learn:

Assemblyman Conaway is in Washington, DC attending the NCSL Fall Forum, a conference that was scheduled long before the fall committee agenda was set. Because of his involvement with NCSL as a member of the Executive Committee, he will not be able to attend tomorrow’s Assembly State and Local Gov meeting.

[Update #4 – Assemblyman Eustace’s District office said he will not be in Trenton tomorrow, but would offer no explanation as to why. They oppose the bill.]

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