Christie Hiding Behind the Fleece Coat

Shorter Christie: A noun, a verb, and Hurricane Sandy.

The fleece coat New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wore during Hurricane Sandy was a nice touch, but in the past few months and in his State of the State address on Tuesday, Christie has failed to enunciate a vision and specific plans that might move New Jersey forward.

In the past two months Christie thanked Obama, alternately pleaded and denounced Congress, walked on beaches, attended fund raising events, appointed a Sandy Czar from whom nothing has been heard, and spoke out loudly about the plight of those affected. A review of his statements issued through his press office include an announcement of FEMA releasing funds, but there is almost nothing in the way of policy recommendations or action plans. The fact is that we are relying on FEMA, other federal aid funds, insurance pay-outs and individual efforts to rebuild our damaged state.

Although Christie is limited in what he can do about Sandy, he could have staked out positions -  suggesting policy recommendations, new regulations, priorities, and deadlines regarding infrastructure improvement, transportation rebuilding, flood area management, communication networks, and more. More importantly, he could have spoken out about his plans for dealing with a host of other problems which confront our state.

The coat was nice, but hiding behind it is pointless. Today we listened to recent New Jersey history according to Christie. The first 10 of 12 pages of his speech revisited the past, primarily Sandy. There was much that was missing. In the speech these are some of the words that were not mentioned: revenue projection, energy, mortgage, foreclosure, housing, fire arm, gun, Atlantic City, safety net, homelessness, minimum wage, marriage equality, Medicaid expansion, health exchange, the poor, middle class, women's health, halfway house, and highways. He mentioned jobs and the economy in terms of past accomplishments. Also missing was the discarded "Jersey Comeback."

In terms of his goals for the future he spoke in generalities: "Rebuilding from Sandy," "Restoring our economy," and "Reclaiming the promise of New Jersey for future generations." In a nutshell, he told us nothing. He did say, "Adults are now in charge," but adults one would hope have a plan. He does not seem to have one or he just wants to assuage us with his vision of the past.

New Jersey needs a more substantial response from Christie. He claims Sandy as his top priority, but his control over what happens is limited. In his speech he failed to convey a vision of New Jersey post-Sandy and lacked the guts to address tough, controversial reconstruction issues. Furthermore he was using Sandy to evade New Jersey's crisis in jobs, the economy, property tax, private business, safety net, foreclosures, and more.

Governor Christie holds a commanding presence on the New Jersey stage. However, we should not be fleeced by fleece. 

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Bill Orr
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