>Just a thought, but after the last two posts about the critical editorial and column that appear in today’s edition of the Asbury Park Press, maybe it isn’t such a stretch to be thinking of recalling Scharfengerger from the Middletown Township Committee.
Daily Archives: November 10, 2010
Here are a few excerpts from the article, but make sure that you read follow-up and the article in it’s entirety to get the full impact of what was written:
“Digging up rocks doesn’t make you a planner,” remarked Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The only science being conducted in this office is political science, not real science.”
...Just like former Gov. Jim McGreevey and Gov. Jon S. Corzine before him, Gov. Chris Christie hired a politician who lacks state accreditation as a licensed planner to direct what is now the Office of Planning Advocacy, said Charles Latini, president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Planners Association…
…”The administration seems to be moving slowly and deliberatively in specific areas,”… “The planning community doesn’t have a clue where they’re going.”…
Shawn Crisafulli, a spokesman for the Department of State… did not answer how many candidates were considered for Scharfenberger’s position, whether he had to undergo an application and interview process or was simply appointed, and whether the state advertised the open position….
…That a politician, rather than a planner, was chosen to head the agency that coordinates planning for New Jersey demonstrates what anyone looking at the Office of Planning Advocacy needs to know about its future priorities, said the Sierra Club’s Tittel….
…”It’s disgraceful,” said Tittel, who is concerned the Office of Planning Advocacy may become further politicized under the Department of State. “They really want to play politics and not do planning, which is supposed to be their jobs.”…
…Carlos Rodrigues, who worked in the Office of Smart Growth from 1994 to 2004, said when the state needed a director for the agency in the past, it conducted national searches, seeking experienced professionals with planning backgrounds.
“It was taken seriously,” said Rodrigues, a senior fellow with the Regional Planning Association. “Now we have a mayor as the head of the office? That’s a really, really bad idea. It’s ridiculous.”…
…Latini said he does not understand how the state permits anyone without a planning accreditation to be able to head the Office of Planning Advocacy…
…Rodrigues said the Christie administration needs to decide whether it is taking the Office of Planning Advocacy, and its cost to taxpayers, seriously.
“If you’re not going to fix it, then get rid of it,” Rodrigues said. “It’s an embarrassment the way it is, a complete sham.”…
Middletown Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger was disingenuous at best and downright dishonest at worst when he kept mum about a state job he took while running for re-election. It seems that politicians only keep their mouths shut when they’ve got something to hide.
That seems to be the case with Scharfenberger, who started working as the executive director of the state Office of Planning Advocacy in mid-August while running for a third term on the Township Committee. The full-time state job, which pays $95,000 a year, is not so much a case of double-dipping — Scharfenberger doesn’t take a salary as mayor — as it is mendacity. It’s a lie of omission.
Scharfenberger’s hiring also again raises the question of whether a double standard exists in the Christie administration regarding people holding two public positions. And whether hiring decisions are based on qualifications or politics.
In September, Christie unveiled a package of ethics reforms that proposed a ban on elected officials holding more than one public job — regardless of whether they were drawing a paycheck. That same month, Jackson Mayor Mike Reina, a Christie loyalist who had been working as a security guard at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, was appointed to a $78,000-a-year position at the state Department of Transportation, which, according to its website, was in the midst of a hiring freeze. Reina was hired as a “confidential aide” in the Office of Emeergency Managment.
Two weeks ago, an Asbury Park Press reporter working on a Middletown election preview story asked Scharfenberger what he did for a living. He said he was an archaeologist and a Monmouth University professor. (He is an adjunct faculty member.) Did his new day job just slip his mind? Well, no. Last week, asked why he didn’t mention the state job at the time, Scharfenberger said, “I just assumed that everyone knew.”
As head of what used to be called the Office of Smart Growth, Scharfenberger is responsible for guiding economic growth and land use through state planning, said Shawn Crisafulli, a spokesman for the Department of State, which oversees the office.
“The administration hired him because of his public experience,” Crisafulli said. “Dr. Scharfenberger has vast expertise in land use, zoning, planning and open space.”
Did the Christie administration settle on the archaeologist after an extensive nationwide search? The state isn’t saying.
“Out of fairness to both Dr. Scharfenberger and any other candidates we interviewed and considered, we do not discuss this process publicly,” Crisafulli said.
It seems one of Scharfenberger’s chief qualifications was his sycophantic boosterism of the governor, calling him a “rock star” during Township Committee meetings and at political events, and shilling for him at every opportunity.
Scharfenberger has had a few months to settle into his new position, and according to some knowledgeable observers, it is disconcerting that a politician and not an accredited planner has been appointed to this pivotal job. Qualified or not, Scharfenberger should heed Christie’s words about the problems inherent in one person holding two public jobs — even if Christie doesn’t hold members of his own party to that standard.
Scharfenberger should resign from one of his positions. If he doesn’t, Christie should either insist on it or explain why he has changed his thinking on public servants holding more than one public job.