My friend Michele ( btw – it’s pronounced ‘mik-kelly’ – he’s Italian. Just like Michael Corleone was called ‘Michele’ in Godfather while he hid out in Italy after shooting the police captain in the Bronx. “Try the veal, it’s the best in the city” ) had this great series of observations about the movie Star Wars. And since I began my blog posts about the DRPA with a Star Wars theme, it seems only appropriate that I bring it back to that.
So, Michele ( who was once introduced to someone actually named ‘Mick Kelly’…I wasn’t around for that college-era encounter but I hear it was pretty memorable ) theorizes that despite dressing up the movie characters in space garb, they are more or less wearing 70’s fashions. This despite the fact that the great adventure took place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” After all, Han Solo is wearing a vest. The haircuts on he and Luke Skywalker are pure 70’s ‘let it be’ look. And if you slow down the video you will notice that Chewbacca’s furry legs are actually shaped into bell bottoms. Swear to God. Check it out.
Anyway, no matter how hard you strive to achieve authenticity, what we do reflects who we are. What our culture is, what are values may be and even ( in the case of George Lucas’ 1977 film classic ) what we are wearing.
When NJN News first reported on a troubling culture within the DRPA back on June 30th, the agency’s first instinct was denial. They sent out a 6-page missive to every Senator in the state of New Jersey basically denying everything. They put the same report on their website where it laughably remained until just a couple of weeks ago. We all know what has happened since. There has been a complete about face. Just like alcoholics go through stages such as denial, anger and ultimately acceptance…so too has the top management at the DRPA. Although I was slightly baffled by John Matheussen’s comments before the cameras last week when he said “you guys know me as someone who never shies away from the media. Really?? Don’t we have you on camera in that first report refusing to speak with us?? Oh, right. We do.
And that brings me back the True Up – which is the way insurance commissions were split evenly between the two states ( see earlier posts ). I have enclosed this email exchange amongst the DRPA and Graham and Willis – the two companies involved in the McGreevey-era True Up arrangement. As you can see, as late as August 10 the Willis group is still demanding that they make the arrangement so that the company can get it’s share of commissions. This was long after Governor Christie and others questioned the practices of the DRPA. Documents are below, the exchange began on July 8 ( just click on them to enlarge ). And by the way, why on earth is former Public Safety Director Mike Joyce cc-ed here??? He’s the guy who was forced out for misusing an EZ-pass. Joyce also served as Solicitor for Pennsauken, and as Vice Chair Jeff Nash’s Assistant.
So, to tie in the movie metaphor ( Alright, alright…so I might be reaching a bit on this one ), no matter how much you try and change the appearance, ultimately who we are shines through. The actors and costume designers of the 70’s made a product that reflected their time despite efforts to overcome it. And as late as one month ago the current DRPA leadership team seemed incapable of breaking from the practices of the past. Can they be trusted to transform the agency now? The force is not with them.