“The system worked.”
Those words by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano raised more than a few eyebrows shortly after a Nigerian man tried to take down an airplane over Detroit on Christmas day.
Dick Codey took it upon himself to call for the Secretary’s resignation. He did so with a letter that he signed “Acting Governor, Dick Codey” since he was serving in that capacity last week while Governor Corzine was away.
Let me begin by saying he may very well be right. “The system worked,” is not exactly what a frightened public wanted to hear from the President’s Cabinet Officer charged with our safety so soon after an incident. But when Codey said what he said as Acting Governor it rubbed some people the wrong way.
Governor Corzine was said to be “appalled.” He was trying to contact Napolitano by phone ( although I hear she is a tad busy ), so now the office of the actual Governor is drafting a letter of apology. Napolitano’s staff was blindsided by the letter, and immediately reached out to their contacts in New Jersey to ask about it.
Another person who was reportedly “livid” was Richard Canas who heads the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. He too knew nothing about Codey’s letter, described as a “breach”, until he heard from the Secretary’s office.
Canas and Napolitano go back 20 years. He was the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge for Arizona while The Secretary served as Attorney General there and then Governor. So a letter like that on behalf of the Governor of New Jersey which by extension represents the cabinet level offices and the people of New Jersey, probably didn’t sit well with the local leaders here. Especially someone like Canas who goes way back with the Secretary.
Morever, critics say there are practical considerations. New Jersey shared in nearly $80 million worth of federal homeland security grants this year. Money that is very much needed ( because as we saw on Christmas day…the threat is still out there ). Why offend the Secretary? She is certainly not going to step down because the Acting Governor of New Jersey told her to.
Finally, should New Jersey’s Acting Governor be piling on a Democratic President’s Administration? Most people I spoke with said no. Sure, Obama took a black eye on this one…but he doesn’t need an additional kick in the face from a state that voted overwhelmingly for him in 2008. And the same logic applies here: NJ is going to need the Federal Government these next few years when it comes time to dole out resources.
Hence the letter.