Thursday, February 4, 2010

The New Jersey Assembly Finally Gets It

Thank you Assemblyman Jon Bramnick!

This week the New Jersey Assembly held bi-partisan hearings to hear from the public about the problems facing us. Over 125 people showed up to testify. Finally, the state’s “peoples house”, truly engaged the people in the governing process by actually asking their opinion about how to address the states ills.


Why I thank Assemblyman Bramnick is because he has been clamoring for a long time to get the public engaged with the legislators to help fix what ails us.

Back in the summer and fall he held public hearings to solicit the public’s ideas on how to combat the corruption in the state. Yours truly actually testified at one of them.

Cudo’s also must go to new Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce.

Both of whom have been longtime advocates for public participation in the legislative process, and surely must be pleased to see this bipartisan activity actually take place.

What is amazing, however, is that there are some politicians who are grousing about the hearings and didn’t want them to happen in the first place!

Let’s get this straight-the people elect the politicians; the politicians propose and adopt the laws; and the people must abide by and follow those laws. Apparently, some politicians would rather come up with all the solutions to the states’problems themselves (with the “help” of special interest groups) rather than solicit the opinions of the folks who put them in office in the first place!

Now obviously, I said all the above with “tongue in cheek” to make a point.

What is the harm in allowing the public a voice in the process? As a former government administrator, I can tell you the only problem is that it takes time and you have to listen to some not quite so good ideas to get to some really good ones.

What is wrong with that? I have found that when you allow folks to express themselves and feel part of the solution to the problem, they actually are more understanding of the difficulties in providing or implementing the remedies.

I hope this era of bi-partisanship really does become something that is the norm rather than the exception in state government. People are tired of the partisan bickering and juvenile behavior of some of our elected officials. They want real solutions to very real problems and they really don’t give a damn who is in power so long as the problems are resolved.

Thankfully, this new era of leadership in Trenton seems to “get” it. Hopefully, this is not just window dressing. Our quality of life and fiscal health depend on it.

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