Saturday, October 2, 2010

Forgetting Who We Work For

Before I retired, I worked for Lockheed Martin and its predecessor companies for over 40 years.  Like most large conglomerates, Lockheed Martin has established a corporate slogan to instantly summarize its values and goals.  Several years ago, it chose the grammatically-challenged slogan “We never forget who we are working for.”  Part of the reason for this choice was to remind employees as well as customers that their ultimate customer is the American taxpayer, who foots the bill for a vast majority of the corporation’s military and civil programs.

It would be a good idea if Governor Christie, Senate President Sweeney, and the other leaders of the State of New Jersey could adopt a similar attitude.  Their most recent egregious example of forgetting why they are employed happened this weekend when the state transportation commissioner halted all roadwork due to the failure of the governor and legislature to come to agreement on funding.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even a civil engineer, to realize that these projects are not only expensive, but that to start and stop a major construction effort in the middle of its execution adds cost that is borne by taxpayers.  Whenever a large project is stopped in the middle of its tracks, whether it is the Hudson River tunnel or the road improvements to I-295, there is work to be done to make the site safe, inventory work in progress, and bring things to an orderly shutdown.  There’s the added inconvenience and safety issue to the taxpayer due to the need to drive through an incomplete road with temporary barriers and interim signs.  And when the project re-starts, there’s the inefficiency of re-hiring, re-training, and re-orienting the workers whose momentum was lost during the shutdown.  These costs add up, and guess who pays?  Also, laying off hundreds of construction workers does not exactly help our struggling economy.

There’s enough blame to pass around for this latest fiasco.  I don’t really care if it’s Governor Christie’s bullish attitude in refusing to provide long-term plans regarding the Transportation Trust Fund, or the legislature’s attempt to mirror the governor’s popular intransigent attitude by not taking up the issue until the last minute.  Mr. Christie and Mr. Sweeney, don’t forget that you are working for me.  As far as I’m concerned, your squandering of my money is grounds for termination.  Maybe this issue is not front page news, but I will be reminded of your disdain for my tax dollars every day when I drive up and down I-295.

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