Monday, March 28, 2011

Dereliction of Duty

In a little more than a year in office, Governor Chris Christie has demonstrated that he is less interested in governing the state than he is in establishing a power base for some future ambitions. Maybe these ambitions lead to the White House, maybe they are simply to enrich his friends. His motives are less important than the fact that our governor is derelict in the duties he signed up for when he was elected.

Governor Christie operates in the shadows. We should have gotten an hint at Christie’s modus operandi when he initially delayed the release of his tax return, breaking with a long standing tradition of governors of both parties. Perhaps this was due to the fact that he only paid 6.2% of his income in taxes, a far smaller chunk than most New Jerseyans with significantly smaller income do. His administration stonewalls even the most basic of OPRA requests such as disclosing how rental for church space for his political town hall meetings are paid for. His travel vouchers are also difficult to obtain, probably because those that have surfaced show that Christie’s co-mingling of personal and official government payments are, if not illegal, at a minimum ethically dubious.

Christie’s penchant for bullying, especially with respect to the represented workforce, show that the governor is unquestionably lazy. Otherwise, why would he refuse to negotiate instead of pontificate? Why would he cancel a much-needed tunnel project outright instead of sitting down, rolling up his sleeves, and working to come to a better solution?

Rather than do the hard work of governing New Jersey, Christie prefers to hobnob with the Republican Tea Party glitterati and grace the viewers of Fox “News.”

This weekend, he raised the sleaze another notch by spending the entire day Sunday working as the shadow twelfth member of the Legislative Redistricting Commission, either because he wants to bully the independent Dr. Rosenthal into seeing things the Republican way or because he doesn’t trust his hand-picked co-chair Jay Webber to bully the Democratic commissioners.

Governor Christie makes good television and YouTube sound bites. His popularity is on the rise because he comes across as sincere and tough at the same time - something that has been missing in American politics. Compared to the rest of the Republican presidential field, he even presents a modicum of sanity. But none of these qualities indicate that he is a good governor. It’s time that he drop his extra-curricular activities, embrace transparency, and start serving all the people of New Jersey, not just his cronies.

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