My former boss, Dena Mottola Jaborska, sends this report from a meeting of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities:
NJBPU Give Industry Lobbyists the Floor, Few Advocates Speak, Many Concerns With Gov’s Energy Plan
Environmental and clean energy advocates were out in full force at today’s public hearing on Governor Christie’s energy master plan. But only a few got called to speak. Mottola Jaborska of ENJ spoke, saying the Governor’s plan created more problems then it solved.
NJBPU and the Governor should call another hearing or two to accommodate everyone and all the concerns. How about one at night that regular folks can actually get to?
Gas drillers, utilities, and other industry lobbyists were sitting pretty, on the job clock, parking paid, a welcome reception, more than 12 spoke.
As Jaborska Mottola notes, all you need to know to see who the governor cares about, who has power in the state, is to see who was allowed to speak and when the meeting was held. When I worked for Mottola Jaborska at NJPIRG, NJTransit was going to cut service due to budget cuts. It held its public meetings in the evening, throughout the state, and kept the mike open to let people talk. That’s what you do when you want citizens to create the public record.
By holding it during working hours, the BPU was making it hard for ordinary people to come. I mean, how does that conversation go: Hey boss, I have to leave work for a few hours, I care a lot about the governor’s energy plan and there’s a public meeting I need to go to. Yeah, I know we’re busy, but it’s the public hearing, and I want to be heard…” But despite the difficult to make time, advocates successfully organized and turned out enough people to make an impact. And that’s when the industry-lobbyist bias became more blatant, because most of them spoke while few of the members of the public were allowed to weigh in.
These are the kinds of details that tell you who matters to your government, and in Chris Christie’s New Jersey, it looks like the priority is corporations via their lobbyists.