Home > Uncategorized > Pinelands Executive Director Defends Gov. Christie and Again Sandbags the Commission on Soccer Controversy

Pinelands Executive Director Defends Gov. Christie and Again Sandbags the Commission on Soccer Controversy

I began writing this as a post on the resolution of the Pinelands soccer fields land use dispute, the DEP Motorized Access Plan (MAP), and the kickoff of the Pinelands Commission’s 2016 as a year in preview, but it got way too long.

So I am breaking it up into 3 separate posts, starting now with the least significant issue about soccer fields. Next I will do the DEP MAP and last the 2016 year in preview.

I did not follow the soccer controversy. My initial take on it was that it was being used as a diversion to deflect focus and criticism from Executive Director Wittenberg’s approval of another Certificate of Filing for the NJ Natural Gas pipeline.

While the soccer fields dispute may seem a minor issue, it highlights, at best poor communication, or more likely a continuing pattern of unilateral acts of insubordination and sabotage by Executive Director Wittenberg.

Once again, Wittenberg is following the direction of Governor Christie and not the Pinelands Commission.

This time, unlike the South Jersey Gas pipeline controversy, the Commission’s policy position was unanimous, was made clear publicly, and was communicated to Wittenberg, so the defiance has no justification in any ambiguity or a divided Commission.

So, what’s up with this?

During Friday January 15, 2016 Commission meeting, Chairman Lohbauer summarized the Commission’s position in strong opposition to the soccer fields legislation, to Gov. Christie’s Conditional Veto of the bill passed by the Legislature, and to the Legislature’s concurrence with the Gov.’s CV: (verbatim quotes):

Staff worked hard to put together a strong position as to why the bill should not be passed.

The Commissioners joined unanimously in taking a stand against the passage of that bill. We communicated that to Trenton.

When the bill was passed, the Governor’s Office did conditionally veto it. …..

So once again, we lobbied to encourage the Legislature NOT to pass the Conditional veto  ….I’m sad to say that it did pass. (watch, at time 34:00) (emphases mine)

[To reiterate and make clear: Lohbauer opposed 3 discrete things that occurred in discrete timeframes: 1) the proposed legislation; 2) the Gov.’s conditional veto; and 3) the legislature’s concurrence with the Gv. CV.]

But just 4 days prior to Chairman Lohbauer’s explanation and during a critical period, Executive Director Wittenberg took the OPPOSITE position in the press, in support of the Governor and the CV .

Worse, Wittenberg stated this position BEFORE the legislature had concurred with the Governor’s CV, thereby sending a green light from the Commission that contradicted the Commission’s publicly stated position:

“Pinelands Commission Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg said the governor has narrowed the focus of the bill even tighter than its original, with only field sports added to the list of allowable low-intensity recreational activities.

“We are pleased the governor heard our concerns and is limiting this as tightly as he has,” said Wittenberg. “We can live with this.” ~~~ see Press of Atlantic City story

WTF? Who does Wittenberg work for?

Earlier in her career, Wittenberg was a lobbyist for the NJ Builders Association, so she knows exactly how the Trenton game is played.

Why does the Commission continue to get hoodwinked?

What does it take to get fired?

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