Home > Uncategorized > Critical Time To Stand In Support Of The Pinelands – Tell Governor Murphy To Withdraw His Entire Slate Of Corporate Crony Nominations

Critical Time To Stand In Support Of The Pinelands – Tell Governor Murphy To Withdraw His Entire Slate Of Corporate Crony Nominations

Don’t Be Duped By Diversity Or Deals

Make no mistake, this is a corporate power grab

The Pinelands Commission is not some East German State Owned Enterprise For Sale

A True Howard Beale Moment


It’s crunch time for the Pinelands. Please immediately contact Gov. Murphy’ Office and demand that he withdraw his slate of 3 corporate cronies for the Pinelands Commission. Do everything you can to convince the Gov. to abandon his horrible proposal. Nothing else will work.

The only leverage we have to stop this is strong public opposition that embarrasses the Gov. Private, quiet, negotiated deals – especially from a position of weakness – are a fools errand.

The Gov.’s concession to withdraw the worst of his 3 horrible nominees is totally unacceptable.

By nominating these individuals, the Gov. is leaving the final decision of whom to confirm in the hands of Senate President Sweeney, a longtime force hostile to Pinelands protection. The Gov. can not  guarantee the outcome of any “negotiated deal” and dictate the Senate’s choices of whom or what slate to confirm or replace at the Commission. Trying to lobby the Sweeney Senate is a fools errand.

What we have here is a true Howard Beale moment: like he said, go to your window (your keyboard, your public square, library, pub, supermarket, community group, or the streets, etc) and yell: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”. Let me explain.

Perhaps the only thing more odious than Gov. Murphy’s cynical attempt to stealth 3 corporate cronies through a lame duck Senate into seats on the Pinelands Commission – justified as promoting “diversity” and “environmental justice” – is the complete collapse of leading conservationists, after their initial efforts to generate public oppostion to block that move.

Think about it:

The Governor of New Jersey – by far THE most toxic state in the country – just nominated a lobbyist for the CHEMISTRY COUNCIL to serve on the Pinelands Commission! WTF!

The Pinelands are not only a NJ ecological jewel and the largest block of forested land on the east coast, it is a National Biosphere Reserve  and designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Gov. Murphy made his Goldman Sachs Wall Street multi-million dollar fortune by monetizing, privatizing, and selling off former State Owned Enterprises (SOE) in East Germany. He needs to be told that the Pinelands Commission is not some SOE for sale to corporations! 

Governor Murphy’s other 2 nominees are also corporate lobbyists for major corporations with huge economic interests in the Pinelands, including off shore wind developer Orsted, a foreign corporation to boot. Orsted wind development is also linked to their major investor PSE&G.

Carleton Montgomery, head of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, who was blindsided by the Gov.’s corrupt stealth move – in his reserved and rational way – did a great job of explaining why the Governor’s nominees were totally inappropriate and unacceptable.

In a Friday afternoon alert to thousands of his members, Montgomery wrote:

In a truly shocking move, Governor Murphy today nominated three corporate lobbyists for the Pinelands Commission. They would replace three seasoned environmental leaders with years of service for the Pinelands.

All three of the new nominees appear to have fundamental conflicts of interest due to their employment as lobbyists for industry.  Only one of the three appears to have any prior interest at all in environmental protection. …

The new nominees would replace Ed Lloyd, New Jersey’s most prominent environmental lawyer with decades of experience in the Pinelands, Rick Prickett, a retired science teacher who has worked his whole life to protect the Pinelands, and D’Arcy Rohan Green, a long-time advocate for Barnegat Bay and the Pinelands.

I respect Carleton Montgomery’s intelligence and commitment to the Pines, but not his leadership, judgement, and courage.

Montgomery has since run away from his initial strong criticism and strategy to urge his members and those who love the Pines to demand – publicly and loudly – that the Gov. withdraw his entire corporate slate of nominees. Instead, he is negotiating – in private – some kind of deal.

Sadly, as I wrote, after taking a firm and principled stand in opposition to the Governor’s slate of corporate cronies, urging people to contact the Gov. and demand he withdraw it, and scheduling a Monday morning press conference in Trenton to blast the Gov., Montgomery abruptly cancelled the Monday press conference on Sunday and agreed to a private meeting with the Governor’s appointments team.

What followed was a complete collapse.

Compounding the error of calling off the press conference and asking his members to stand down while he privately negotiated with the Governor’s office, Montgomery apparently not only backed off his original absolute opposition, it seems Montgomery cut a truly horrible and corrupt deal.

The Gov.’s Office agreed to withdraw the Chemistry Council nominee and retain strong environmental Commissioner Ed Lloyd. But the Gov. is sticking with 2 other cronies and replacing good pro-conservation Commissioners Rick Prickett and D’Arcy Rohan Green.

Adding 2 corporate cronies and removing 2 conservationists is a massive 4 vote shift in power at the Pinelands Commission and would undermine the Comprehensive Management Plan and subvert the public interest to corporate interests.

Montgomery seems desperately trying to appease the Governor – apparently in a naive and delusional hope of securing the confirmation of Murphy’s prior pro-conservation nominees, retired DRBC planner Jessica Sanchez and former PPA staffer Theresa Lettman (and retaining Prickett and Rohan Green). Delusional.

Yesterday, Montgomery put out a lame “update” statement to his members defending this collapse and capitulation.

In that statement, he did not brief his members about what went on in the private Monday meeting or reveal anything he agreed to. He declared victory for killing the Chemistry Council nominee.

Most importantly, while he urged his members to continue to pressure the Senate, Montgomery made no mention of and therefore completely surrendered a public campaign to target and pressure the Governor to withdraw the entire slate of corporate nominees.

Montgomery is targeting only the Senate. But that is a seriously flawed stagey for several reasons:

First, by submitting the nominations to the Senate, the Gov. surrenders control of the final outcome to the Senate and therefore Senate President Sweeney, a longtime hostile force to Pinelands protections. The Senate will decide which nominees to confirm of those submitted by the Governor, not Gov. Murphy.

Second, the Senate is a hopeless cause, because this is important to outgoing Senate President Sweeney, a longtime opponent of strong Pinelands protections.

Third, the Gov. can fix the problem he created by simply withdrawing his nominees. The Gov. must be the target of activists.

Montgomery seems to be under some kind of delusion that this is about making the Pinelands Commission “stronger”.

The only thing that will get stronger is corporate access, influence and control of the Pinelands Commission. That is the Gov.’s objective: to make corporate and his own political influence stronger. He hates independent and pro-conservation Commissioners and wants power and control  just as much as Gov. Christie did!

Montgomery wrote:(under a giant font headline taking credit for the chemistry council kill – emphasis in original)

Events continue to unfold and we will not know the true outcome until the end of the current Senate session in early January. Our goal is to achieve a Pinelands Commission that is stronger than it is today. …

So the current plan would weaken the Pinelands Commission by losing two proven guardians of the Pinelands unless the Governor ensures his other pending nominees are also approved by the Senate. That complete slate would give us a stronger Pinelands Commission.

“Unless”? Are you kidding me? That complete slate is never going to happen and even if it did, it still would not make the Commission stronger because corporate influence and power would be injected, with deep conflicts of interest to boot. 2 Conservationists do not offset 2 powerful corporate lobbyists. It doesn’t work that way. Orsted and PSE&G and very other corporate client represented by the other lobbyist would be in the room.

Remarkably, after getting blinded sided and screwed by the Governor, Montgomery actually THANKED the Gov.:

We thank Governor Murphy and his team for hearing our corners and starting to repair a bad situation. But it is only a start, and the process is ongoing – we need to see the Governor and the Senate advance a full slate of nominees that makes the Pinelands Commission strong.

Another case of battered wife syndrome – and revealing total political weakness and personal spinelessness.

Just as bizarre and Orwellian – if not unexpected – is NJ Spotlight’s description of this collapse as a “significant win for the environmental lobby”.

What planet are reporter Jon Hurdle and NJ Spotlight editors on?

For 4 years, Gov. Murphy has ignored the Pinelands. He retained controversial Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg (recently deceased). He refused to fight for confirmation of his original conservation oriented nominees. And he appointed a corporate lawyer as head of DEP and had done virtually nothing on environmental protection.

These all are losses for the environmental lobby and show how how weak it is. To think this is a “win” or about making the Pinelands Commission “stronger” in terms of being more pro-conservation is delusional.

Forcing the Gov. to withdraw a truly obscene Chemistry Council lobbyists nominee in a lame duck session is not a win – if that now defines victory, we are surely through the looking glass.

Everything about this situation is corrupt, absurd, and cowardly.

The only sane voice of integrity I’ve heard is from my friend Georgina Shanley, Pinelands activist and with Citizens United for Renewable Energy (CURE). In a widely distributed email, Georgina wrote:

Dear NJ Environmental Leaders,

Don’t betray your positions as protectors of our environment, and especially DO NOT BETRAY the Pinelands!! Not only are your reputations, and that of your organizations at stake but also the most vulnerable Pines.

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