Last May, the State Senate reached an agreement to launch a bipartisan committee to investigate New Jersey’s response on a range of coronavirus-related issues.
The deal, completed by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., would form a “Review and Recovery Committee” to examine how Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration responded to a swath of problems caused by the pandemic across New Jersey.
Lawmakers would investigate at the decisions Murphy and key members of his administration made and take a critical look to see what could have been done differently, focused on if the large number of deaths could have been avoided at the state’s long-term care facilities, the breakdown of the aging unemployment system, the disproportionate impact on minorities, the fiscal hurdles faced by small businesses and other issues the state has faced during the pandemic.
So frustrated by repeated delays from their colleagues across the aisle, GOP State Senators and Assembly members have forged ahead with their own hearings, the first March 5 centered on long-term care facilities and the latest this past Friday on the economy.
Murphy has repeatedly stated that there will be a post mortem done to assess the actions of he and his administrations. We will credit the governor for holding comprehensive press briefings multiple times a week during the pandemic, giving residents of New Jersey an opportunity to understand the actions the administration has taken.
But what really rings hollow is when Gov. Murphy claims his administration has been transparent in explaining their decisions as well as the excuse that officials are too busy to appear before lawmakers because they are “still trying to land the plane.” Explaining a decision is not being transparent. Fulfilling journalists requests for public documents in a timely fashion that are not heavily redacted and going before lawmakers, including those from the opposing party, is.
The governor has increasingly started to make more and more public appearances around the state multiple times a week. Most appearances are held to promote his agenda in regards to the state’s response to the coronavirus—with state officials accompanying him, including the woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli.
So officials aren’t too busy for photo ops across the state but they do not have enough time to answer the questions about their response to a pandemic that has killed over 24,000 of our fellow New Jerseyans?
We aren’t knuckleheads, Governor. You do have time but you are choosing not to face questions that the people of the state are asking and deserve answers to.
We hold no illusions that politics are not in play with Republicans. Their hearings are in part an attempt to damage a popular politician looking to be re-elected in November. But voters deserve to know as much information about the dominant issue of Murphy’s first term before deciding if he is worthy of leading the state over the next four years.
It is shameful while having the time to traverse the state for numerous photo ops, Gov. Murphy keeps saying he and state officials are too busy to cooperate with state lawmakers. The time has come for the Governor and Democratic leaders enabling him to end this charade and schedule hearings.