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Star-Ledger: ‘Christie’s veto weakens oversight of billions in Sandy aid’

The Star-Ledger published the following regarding Gov. Christie’s veto of the Assembly Democratic bill to increase public transparency and oversight of Sandy relief funding:

Today marks six months since Hurricane Sandy came roaring through the state, tearing up trees and utility poles, flooding basements, destroying homes and upending households and communities from Moonachie to Mantoloking. Reconstruction and restoration have been painfully slow, in part because billions in federal aid were delayed as a result of the political polarization in the nation’s capital.

If ever New Jersey residents needed reassurance that rebuilding will be done, and done right, it is now.

Yet Gov. Chris Christie last week vetoed a bill that promised efficient and transparent oversight of how Sandy billions are spent. It required the state treasurer to set up a website to track contracts by county and municipality, issue quarterly reports on recovery dollars and report out quickly on any problems the administration bumps up against. Christie would have none of it, calling the bill’s goals redundant with his administration’s ongoing oversight of Sandy spending.

In essence, he’s asking us to just trust him and his administration to do the right thing. That’s not good enough. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) said the bill would have written oversight into state law, rather than taking the governor at his word, a word that “can be broken or rescinded without the power of law.”

Republican legislators have yet to override a Christie veto, so this is all on them.
Here’s a thought for those possum-like pols: Christie does not walk on water.

Federal delays may have hampered a quick jump on rebuilding, but the state has stumbled, too, most notably with the awarding of a no-bid contract to the Florida-based AshBritt company for debris removal, even though other towns such as Point Pleasant Borough got better deals using local contractors.

Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi governor, is a lobbyist for AshBritt. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Barbour directed $7.5 million in spending for Christie’s campaign for governor in 2009. A happy coincidence? “If you say so, Governor,” is what Christie would like everyone to say, and stop asking those annoying questions.

That’s not going to happen. We need both the appearance and substance of above-board transactions, and laws that enable us to hold government officials accountable for transparency and efficiency. Leaving it to the whim of the governor is simply not good enough.”