This piece by Bob Ingle of Gannett was published in the newspaper company’s publications Sunday:
“CORZINE IS LOSING SUPPORT”
TRENTON – It took them a while, but the enviros finally discovered what the rest of us have known for a long time, that New Jersey government kowtows to developers. At the bottom of almost every scandal there is some kind of development deal.
“We strongly believe that we’re never going to have clean air or clean water without clean government,” said Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club, an outfit that fell all over itself endorsing Corzine for governor.
Environmental groups came together in a news conference to call for an independent investigation of the state Department of Environmental Protection, an arrogant bunch known for harassing the little guys and turning the other cheek to the well-connected.
After the FBI rounded up the gang of 44, we found that (now former) Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith allegedly called Corzine’s DEP commissioner, Mark Mauriello, to secure a clean-up approval to allow a day care center and affordable housing to be built on a chromium-contaminated site in Jersey City. (Also now former) Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt allegedly accepted a bribe to speed up approval of coastal development and wetlands permits.
There have been other environmental connections to corruption. Former state Sen. John Lynch tried to get a wetlands permit for a quarry and Joseph Ferriero was trying to obtain open-space funds for a contaminated site that couldn’t be developed.
“It’s not a few bad apples. We’ve got an orchard out there,” said Tittel.
Gannett State House bureau chief Michael Symons called the DEP to get its side. Mauriello wasn’t there so a deputy, John Watson, got on the horn. “I’m completely offended by their accusations,” said Watson, whose sister is Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Decades of journalism has taught me a few things to watch out for. One is someone in government who gets offended at questions or accusations. Taxpayers aren’t paying them to be offended. It’s usually a dodge to avoid answering.
Corzine probably thinks the latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll is offensive. Among likely voters, GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie leads 50 percent to 36 percent, with independent Chris Daggett getting 4 percentage points.
Christie’s unfavorable ratings have grown by 6 percent since July to 30 percent. Pollster Patrick Murray attributes that to Corzine’s extremely negative campaigning. That would include the ad that made it look like Christie walked out of a congressional hearing when, in fact, he told them in advance when he had to leave. It was staged by congressional hacks.
After that ad got Corzine so much bad publicity and his poll numbers kept falling, he did a positive one where people like state Sens. Dick Codey and Ray Lesniak endorsed the governor. It was short-lived. Corzine right away came out with another negative one.
It ties Christie to former President George W. Bush and says politics entered into Christie’s selection as U.S. attorney. No kidding, Mr. Corzine? And how did Anne Milgram get appointed your attorney general? Was it because she worked for you in Washington?
And if Christie were such a bad choice for U.S. attorney, why did you vote to confirm him and why did you name one of his top people, Stu Rabner, to be your chief counsel, then attorney general, then name him chief justice of the state Supreme Court?
Bob Ingle is Trenton bureau chief for Gannett New Jersey newspapers. He can be reached via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and heard on New Jersey 101.5 FM radio at 5 p.m. Fridays. Join his blog at www.app.com/state.