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Dear Chairman Gusciora

An Open Letter to the Chair of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee

Tolerance is not an absolute and Respect must be earned

Facts matter

Dear Assemblyman Gusciora:

I want to expand upon and explain my revulsion to your exercise of the power of the Chairman of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee at the May 12, 2016 hearing.

There was only one bill on the agenda and one Resolution. As far as I know, there were no conflicting Legislative activity or competing commitments of the members of the Committee.

So no one should have been in any hurry, particularly on an issue as important as pipelines.

At the outset of the hearing, you noted “a plethora” of people signed up to testify and used that as a justification for a strict 2 minute time limit on testimony.

There were 10 people who testified. None of them were lobbyists for commercial for profit interests.

I’ve never experienced a 2 minute time limit on legislative testimony in my 31 year Trenton career – even DEP regulatory hearings allow a minimum of 3 minutes, and a person can provide a second round if they are unable to finish their testimony in the 3 minute period.

I would think that such a severe restriction would require extraordinary circumstances.

In my view, objectively, there were no extraordinary circumstances and there was not a “plethora” of people seeking to be heard.

I find the 2 minute limit you imposed arbitrary, contrary to democracy and the public interest,  and an abuse of the power of the Chair.

I am copying Speaker Prieto on this to request that he look into this matter and provide guidance about whether there is Assembly policy or rules of procedure that govern and constrain a Committee Chairman’s discretion in this regard.

Furthermore, I want to object to the inappropriate manner in which you introduced my testimony. Your voice clearly paused and your inflection and tone changed when you introduced me as “a citizen”.  I signed in to testify as “citizen” – with no quotes or no need for the way you handled it.

I am sure you are very familiar with how subtle behaviors – like inflection and tone of voice – can convey disrespect.

Finally, and most importantly, I must object to how you managed the testimony and questions posed by Assemblyman Auth.

Assemblyman Auth made repeated factually false and misleading statements on air pollution, climate change science, energy economics, and the Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

You can find detailed analysis, with verbatim quotes, in these three essays:




But you went way beyond a mere passive tolerance.

In the extended silent confusion following Auth’s “ventilator” comment, you even felt the need to explain Auth’s outrageous remark about turning off the hospital ventilators.

Perhaps worst of all, you abandoned a passive approach and silenced the only witness before the Committee with the capability and desire to rebut Auth’s ugly and false remarks.

In this pattern of conduct as Chairman, you effectively legitimized Auth’s remarks.

How would you have felt if the Assemblyman engaged in a series of lies, smears, and homophobic attacks?

Would you have sat back and let them go unchallenged?

Would you have explained them?

Would you have silenced testimony of a witness that would challenge them?

Would you have said “all views are respected” in their wake?

Assemblyman Auth acted like a jackal in targeting his inquisitions to weak members of the herd – note that he did not cross examine Assemblywoman Muoio, who had the capability to effectively rebut his false statements and defend her position.

You let all that go, which you may find a noble exercise of liberal tolerance, but that I find contemptible and cowardly.

Bill Wolfe, Bordentown

ps – I respected and reached out to you via email well before the hearing, but was not provided the respect or courtesy of a reply. In contrast, Assemblywoman Muoio’s Chief of Staff replied almost immediately.

c: Assembly Speaker Prieto
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