Home > Uncategorized > NJ Gov. Murphy’s Corporate Pinelands Nominees Are A Betrayal And NJ LCV Support Of Them Is A Sellout, Not A Compromise

NJ Gov. Murphy’s Corporate Pinelands Nominees Are A Betrayal And NJ LCV Support Of Them Is A Sellout, Not A Compromise

NJ Spotlight Misleads Readers And Provides Cover For Gov. Murphy & Economic Interests

Were Conservationists Cowed Or Duped By Diversity?


[Update 1/6/22 – The Senate votes to confirm the Murphy nominees today.

I publicly call on Theresa Lettman to withdraw her own nomination and decline to serve is she is confirmed. She is better than this and doesn’t deserve to be tainted by the historic stench and dirt of this deal.

I just sent this email to Carleton Montgomery of PPA – I knew Potosnak was corrupt, but I thought Carleton had some integrity and courage. I was wrong:

Carleton – I just wanted to express – to you personally – my deep disappointment and disgust with how you have responded to the Gov. nominees.

You began on the right foot, but totally capitulated. Unforgivable. Beyond words.

BTW, I’ve gotten multiple emails from people – including members of PPA – who thanked me and share my view but have the tact not to express it.

Bill Wolfe. ~~~ end update]

Gov. Murphy has not withdrawn his nominations to install corporate lobbyists on the Pinelands Commission.

Even the the Star Ledger editorial board excoriated the Gov.’s move as “a craven power play”, a “brazen” attempt to “gut the Commission during lame duck”, and a “scheme” that was similar to the “bullying” by Gov. Christie.

Worse, the conservation groups that are supposed to be watchdogs for the Pinelands have sold out completely, and now support the Gov.’s disgusting scheme.

NJ Spotlight reported today that the Senate will confirm the Gov.’s nominees tomorrow, on the last day of a lame duck session.

In the course of that “reporting”, Spotlight intentionally got the core problems with the Gov.’s scheme completely wrong. Spotlight also failed to report the Gov.’s very cynical justification for the nominees. Given these major flaws, Spotlight therefore misled readers.

It doesn’t get any more disgraceful than all that.

So let me begin to correct the record (again).

1. Although NJ Spotlight failed to report it, incredibly, here’s how Gov. Murphy’s press office cynically justified and defended the Gov.’s nominations (source: Michael Zhadanovsky, Deputy Press Secretary – check out his bio – campaign for Hillary, to intern at corporate KPMG,  to Phil’s campaign)

After collaborative talks this afternoon with Pinelands advocates, we are moving forward with two nominees to the Pinelands Commission. The Governor is committed to diversifying the Commission and ensuring that its actions promote environmental justice and accountability to those most impacted by its decisions.

We are not duped by diversity. A diverse group of corporate lobbyists still promote private corporate economic interests, not the public interest or the conservation goals of the Pinelands Act and CMP. Period.

Second, NJ Spotlight intentionally tried to mask the grounds for opposition to the Gov.’s nominees, which was a result of the fact that they were corporate lobbyist with economic conflicts of interests and lacked qualifications.

The Spotlight reporting did that by:

a) whitewashing the personal background and conflicting corporate economic interests of Laura Matos and Kivvit; (we can’t wait to see her ethics disclosure and recusal forms – identifying all Kivvit’s clients and all her prior corporate work)

b) ignoring the corporate conflicts of interest of McCurry and Orsted, (he’ll be forced to recuse as well, including on matters related to PSE&G, who owns a 25% interest in Orsted)); and

c) claiming that the opposition to the Chemistry Council lobbyist was due to his “industrial” background, not the corporate lobbyist background and conflicts he shared with the 2 other Murphy nominees:

The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the nominations of Laura Matos, an executive with the national communications firm Kivvit; Davon McCurry, an official with the Danish offshore wind giant Ørsted; and Theresa Lettman, a former policy advocate for the nonprofit Pinelands Preservation Alliance.

Lettman was tapped by Murphy several years ago but her nomination and three others stalled in the Senate. Now, she will replace Elvin Montero, an executive with the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, whose nomination last month prompted outrage from environmentalists who said it would be totally wrong for an industrial lobbyist to sit on a panel that is designed to protect the environment.

NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle did this to justify his prior embarrassing and disgraceful mis-reporting, where he called the withdrawal of the Chemistry Council nominee as a “significant win for the environmental lobby”.

The Gov.’s nominees are a betrayal of the Pinelands, a violation of the public interest and public trust, and abuse of his Green Mafia sycophants. Period.

2. Ed Potosnak is a corrupt political hack and liar. (NJ Spotlight)

The new nominations, posted in a committee agenda on Tuesday, were welcomed by the League of Conservation Voters, a nonprofit that led opposition to the original slate. “These nominees will bring vitality and expertise to the task of protecting one of New Jersey’s most valuable environmental treasures,” said the group’s executive director, Ed Potosnak.

That is a total sellout and a lie.

I don’t know what “vitality” means, but the two corporate nominees will not bring “expertise”. Neither has any expertise in conservation or experience in the Pinelands.

It gets worse.

Potosnak called the remade slate of nominees a “compromise” that would help bring the commission back to “full strength” after years in which several vacancies were unfilled.

Potosnak knows this was no “compromise”. You don’t compromise on principle. This was a sellout, pure and simple.

“Full strength” is a lie as well, because the Commission will continue to have a vacancy and the Gov. abandoned his other conservation oriented nominee.

Replacing 2 current solid conservation oriented Commissioners with 2 corporate cronies is a 4 vote shift on the already weak Pinelands Commission. Theresa Lettman reduces that to 3. The Gov. makes the current situation far worse.

3. Carleton Montgomery of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance is a coward.

Initially, he correctly criticized the Governor’s corporate nominees as totally inappropriate. On December 3, 2021, he initially 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.

In a cowardly move, Montgomery walked back that “shocking move” criticism about “corporate lobbyists” and  “fundamental conflicts on interest”, and sought a new goal:

PPA’s goal is to make the Pinelands Commission stronger than it is today.

But even that new goal is undermined because the 2 corporate nominees will not only represent corporate economic interests on the Commission, they replace 2 strong conservation votes.

If approved by the panel and later in a Jan. 10 session of the full Senate, Matos will replace Rick Prickett, the current commission chairman, who is a reliable environmental vote. McCurry will replace D’Arcy Rohan Green, another environmental advocate, and Lettman will take a seat occupied by the late Candace Ashmun, a veteran commissioner whose dying wish was that Lettman would take her place, Potosnak said.

For Ed Potosnak, – who knows jack shit about the Pinelands and is now selling it out – to deploy a disgusting “death wish” claim to try to justify his sellout is so reprehensible as to be beyond words.

And NJ Spotlight reporter Jon Hurdle just confirms what a total asshole he is by reporting that.

Montgomery’s spin is transparently false:

Given Murphy’s withdrawal of Montero, and the Senate’s failure to decide on the earlier nominations, Montgomery said he was less confident than the League that Murphy’s latest picks will finally take their seats on the commission.

“I am less so because we have had so much shenanigans to say with confidence it’s going to go the way the governor has set,” he said.

He is trying to create the false impression that Gov. Murphy has set some positive policy direction, when exactly the opposite is the case.

Gov Murphy is installing corporate economic interests on the Pinelands Commission. He is not doing that to promote conservation or diversity goals. He is doing that to promote economic development, corporate interests, and political cronyism.

Or worse, some kind of deal with outgoing Senate President Sweeney.

It’s Chinatown, Jake.

[End Note: Carleton – and Tom Gilbert, another Murphy hack – is on the Board of NJ LCV. So, Carleton is more than a coward, because he failed to exert policy direction at NJ LCV and control the corrupt Potosnak.

Also, where is the rest of the NJ Conservation and environmental community? They are cowards and corrupt as well for failing to speak out – Doug O’Malley at Environment NJ; Amy Goldsmith at Clean Water Action; Eric Stiles at NJ Audubon; Mike Catania (retired?) Tim Dillingham ALS; Michele Byers, NJCF, Dave Pringle, Empower NJ, all the Watershed groups, ANJEC, EJ Allies, et al..

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