By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
We got our hands on details of New Jersey’s Exxon settlement this week, Save Jerseyans, and despite plenty of mouth-breathing from the usual suspects, nothing I’m seeing has changed my opinion that this is a faux controversy driven by partisan hacks and bad reporting.
The hyperbole-prone Sierra Club says the settlement represents an “abuse of power” and Ray Lesniak (the thin-skinned legislator who blocked us on Twitter for calling him out) wants another decade (?) of litigation. I spoke my piece weeks ago when all of these clowns were prejudging the settlement. I won’t repeat myself now; take advantage of the 60-day public comment period and draw your own conclusions.
Let’s look at this whole thing from a fresh perspective:
Tittle, Lesniak & Co. are pining and garment-rending over a forfeited $8.9 billion dream judgment that even the Democrats’ own former DEP chieftain-turned-Exxon critic never thought was realistic.
What’s real? New Jersey’s nausea-inducing $90 billion unfunded pension liability lovingly cultivated over the course of Senator Lensiak’s Trenton tenure.
A plan is firmly in place to clean up whatever Exxon allegedly did. The new settlement (which exceeds all prior such Garden State settlements combined) merely supplements a preexisting 1990s consent agreement governing ongoing cleanup efforts for Bayonne and Bayway. We bought it with a 8-figure attorney fee expenditure. Democrats and their allies, on the other hand, refuse to confront the 10-times bigger (and growing) pension mess expense because any real reform would burn bridges with their self-interested union financiers. We don’t have a pension plan; the pension system is still in free-fall.
Offensive? Yes, and stupid in equal measure. Trenton’s decades-old failure to address the pension debacle, school funding formula, and other key drivers of New Jersey’s worst-in-the-nation tax climate literally killing our state SHOULD demand our legislators’ full attention. Without an as-of-yet achieved level of seriousness where these topics are concerned, Save Jerseyans, pretty soon no one will be left to scrub turtle shells and collect discarded bottles.
Perspective makes mincemeat out of this story’s prevailing narrative, and we all know the media’s #1 problem is too many journalists choosing a premise and then working backwards, selecting facts to fit the narrative. I’m not going to apologize for having my eyes open! Nor should you. The truth: if New Jersey had its fiscal house in order, we could probably pay for any environmental damage, real or alleged, out-of-pocket without spending the legal fees required to shake-down Exxon.