Wow. What a political football this BPU thing is fast becoming.
As you now know there is a plan to move the Board of Public Utilities to Trenton ( see earlier post…”Hey, Remember the BPU?” ).
The Christie Administration’s aim is save money. The Gateway Center in Newark ( where the BPU is currently housed ) is prime real estate. And by “prime” I mean…you guessed it – “expensive.”
In addition Republicans have approached me and pointed out that Democrats increased the staff by roughly 50 employees a few years ago during the McGreevey Administration ( you guys remember McGreevey, right??? Because I think by now the good people of Alpha Centauri know who he is ). Anyway, as it was told to me, the new hires were mostly “political hacks” from the McGreevey campaign who needed patronage jobs. Moreover the ( high rent ) office space was expanded to accommodate 350 employees. And as we now know , obviously all those folks were not needed to make the BPU run right since there are 100 fewer people there today. Here is that authentic 2003 memo asking for the increase in Full Time Employees.
Democrats from that era counter that the McGreevey transition reports spelled out a need to hire more people since the drop-off rate on customer service lines was 40% – people were waiting too long to get to an operator, and more workers were needed to build the clean energy program which had been spelled out in state mandates.
Anyway, what is even more interesting is the political intrigue. Last time there was an attempt to move the BPU outta Newark, Mayor Sharpe James and Dick Codey jumped all over it and said ‘no way.’ The union leaders in this latest round reached out to Mayor Cory Booker this Spring and were told he is a bit tied up with the election. Fair enough, although Booker did seem to have time right after the election to fly to LA and do Bill Maher’s show…I’m just sayin’.
Anyway, the Mayor ( who was recently criticized for refusing to speak out against Christie cuts and the Wallace flap ) did issue the following statement through his spokeswoman:
“Newark has long been the BPU’s home and the headquarters location for key New Jersey utilities. During these tough economic times, we understand that the BPU’s goal is to reduce costs. We’re hoping that the BPU will consider more affordable office space options right here in Newark before they move to another town in search of savings. We look forward to exploring the Newark-based options with the BPU and the state.”
So, with that…I pose this hypothetical question: If cost savings can be found within the city, does the board really need to move out of Newark?