Home > Uncategorized > Gov. Christie’s Parks Privatization Policy Behind Liberty State Park Scheme

Gov. Christie’s Parks Privatization Policy Behind Liberty State Park Scheme

Contradicting Speaker Prieto’s Denial, Senator Sarlo Outs DEP Maneuver

Sarlo Confirms that Administration Requested LSP Amendment to Meadowlands Bill

When the Liberty State Park stealth legislative scheme was exposed, there were denials, flat out lies, or no comment by those directly involved and responsible. The Bergen Record reported:

It is unclear who added the paragraph. A spokes­man for Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, the bill’s primary sponsor, would not say.

A DEP spokesman said the agency is aware of the legislation change and declined to comment.

“The new commission will not have any control over Liberty State Park and any suggestion to the contrary is false,” said Phil Swibinski, spokesman for Prieto, a Democrat from Secaucus. ~~~ Record, 12/31/14

But, prior to the denials and lies, I always knew we didn’t have a ghost amendment and that it was Gov. Christie’s policy that was responsible – the press just refused to report that:

My sources tell me that the LSP amendment was put in the bill at the request of the Governor’s Office. Prieto cut the deal instead of jeopardizing a Gov. veto of his bill.

That seems consistent with Gov. Christie’s parks privatization policy.  ~~~ Wolfenotes 12/29/14

And now, the Star Ledger last night confirmed just that, with a statement by Senate co-sponsor Paul Sarlo:

TRENTON — A last-minute addition to a bill critics say could open Liberty State Park to private development was inserted at the insistence of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, according to one of the bill’s sponsors.

“I was advised by the Christie administration that this was important to the Department of Environmental Protection,” said state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), the bill’s sponsor in the upper house. “As the Senate sponsor, I was opposed to having that language inserted into the bill… But in an effort to move a piece of legislation together that would get rid of the tax sharing and create a better redevelopment agency in the region, it was made clear that this was an important part, the DEP needed this, and I relented.”

I can’t recall a more outrageous legislative gambit or more embarrassing legislative faux pas by legislative leaders.

Senator Sarlo is part of Senate leadership.

Sarlo’s honest remarks expose the denials, falsehoods and spin by Assembly Speaker Prieto, Prieto’s staffer, and the DEP press office.

Prieto and his staffer knew damn well that the amendment was made at the request of the Governor’s Office and the DEP and he flat out lied.

Same thing with DEP – the DEP knew that they were involved in requesting the amendment and that it was a significant and substantive policy change. Yet, when asked point blank by the Bergen Record about it, the DEP press office refused to comment.

How the hell can DEP be seeking stealth changes in law to promote a policy and then when called out on it, refuse to comment and defend that policy?

That is just completely intolerable behavior by a bureaucracy, and DEP Commissioner Bob Martin should be called on the carpet and held responsible for that abuse.

I really don’t know what’s worse:

  • Governor Christie’s privatization policy and commercialization scheme for State Parks, or
  • Speaker Prieto’s lies, or
  • DEP irresponsible no comment on their stealth gambit, or
  • the fact that the Democrats were willing to sacrifice Liberty State Park to get their Meadowlands bill, or
  • the Legislature as a whole rams through major policy bills in a week before Christmas.

The Liberty State Park scheme is the logical progression and outcome of a series of moves, ongoing for 5 years now, so it should surprise no one.

The LSP scheme began when Gov. Christie first adopted a privatization policy via Executive Order.

To implement Gov. Christie’s policy, DEP adopted the “Sustainable Parks” funding plan.

The DEP plan called for privatization, commercialization, and all forms of absurd revenue schemes – everything to make the little guy pay more to enjoy public parks, but nothing to make big oil, gas, and utility  corporations pay their fair share for destroying State lands in the name of making multi-billion dollar profits.

DEP began quietly implementing that Sustainable Parks plan with steps like imposing new user fees, and privatizing and expanding commercialization at Liberty State Park.

The open space ballot diversion of the entire parks $32 million/year capital budget and at least $3.8 million in fees that support parks operations severely compounded the fiscal woes of the state parks system, causing DEP State Parks Director  Texel to say:

As the Director of the NJ State Park Service now coping with the reality that our entire Parks capital budget will be completely eliminated beginning July 1, 2015 as a result of the YES vote I can say this is the darkest day I have faced in my professional career. Worse than Superstorm Sandy. 

So, here we are.

The Governor must soon decide the fate of Liberty State Park – call him at 609-292-6000 and demand that the entire Liberty State Park amendment be Conditionally Vetoed from the Meadowlands bill.

And the Legislature is grappling with the Statewide parks funding disaster created by the open space diversion.

Parks supporters should contact Senator Smith and Assemblywoman Spencer to urge that they fully restore parks capital and operating revenues diverted by voter approval of ballot question #2. Here is Contact info:

  • senbsmith@njleg.org
  • aswspencer@njleg.org
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. hisy
    January 8th, 2015 at 16:05 | #1

    Christie wants to tale away OUR LIBERTY !

  1. May 17th, 2015 at 13:57 | #1
  2. June 4th, 2015 at 08:55 | #2
  3. June 4th, 2015 at 10:59 | #3
  4. June 5th, 2015 at 14:06 | #4
  5. July 2nd, 2015 at 06:19 | #5
  6. July 12th, 2015 at 07:54 | #6
  7. August 31st, 2015 at 11:20 | #7
  8. September 8th, 2015 at 11:49 | #8
  9. February 25th, 2016 at 09:53 | #9
You must be logged in to post a comment.