Home > Uncategorized > After AG Imposed Gag Order, Pinelands Commission Now Limits Public To 3 Minutes

After AG Imposed Gag Order, Pinelands Commission Now Limits Public To 3 Minutes

Obvious Attempt to Limit Public Discussion Of Controversial Emails

A Credibility Crisis

Pinelands Commission Hunkers Down – Digs Hole Deeper

The Pinelands Commission will hold their regularly scheduled monthly meeting tomorrow, February 13 at 9:30 am.

But something highly unusual – if not unprecedented –  is on the agenda: a new 3 minute limit on public testimony:

General Public Comment (to ensure adequate time for all members of the public to comment, we will respectfully limit comments to three (3) minutes. Questions raised during this period may not be responded to at this time but where feasible, will be followed up by the Commission and its staff.)

In theory, the 3 minute limit possibly legally could be justified in certain limited circumstances – despite being inappropriate.

For example, the Commission could impose a 3 minute limit if the Commission had a controversial issue on the agenda where hundreds of people were likely to want to speak, like during last year’s debate over the South Jersey Gas Co. pipeline, where the Commission limited public testimony to 3 minutes at the public hearing (see: You get 3 minutes, then sit down and shut up).

But there is NOTHING substantive on the Commission’s agenda tomorrow that could remotely justify the 3 minute limit.

What the Commission fears is public testimony objecting to what’s NOT on the agenda: that is, a robust discussion of the improper review process revealed by a trove of internal emails that showed improper involvement of South Jersey Gas and the Governor’s Office (for the details of all that, see:

The highly unusual move to impose a 3 minute limit on public testimony follows last month’s unprecedented imposition of a gag order on Commissioners, see:

At the end of last month’s Planning & Implementation Committee meeting, Chairman Lohbauer stated that, in light of the emails, he would conduct an informal poll of all Commissioners to gauge support for his proposal to establish an independent ad hoc Committee, with public representative, to reform the Commission’s regulations regarding Memoranda of Agreement (MOA).

The outcome of that poll should be on the agenda and publicly discussed.

Concerning the troubling review process and relationships disclosed in those emails, Chairman Lohbauer told the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“There was a degree of closeness between the applicant and staff that went beyond the neutrality appropriate to a review process,” said [Pinelands Commission Chairman] Lohbauer, a lawyer. ~~~ Philadelphia Inquirer (1/26/15)

I have no doubt that gag and the 3 minute limit  are blatant attempts by the Governor’s Office to do damage control and prevent public discussion of totally improper involvement by South Jersey Gas and the Governor’s Office in manipulating Executive Director Wittenberg and Counselor Roth.

Do they think we are stupid?

Do they think we will stand for this?

Do they think the media won’t see it for exactly what it is?

Tomorrow, we take no prisoners.

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