Asbury Park Press Publishes Untouchables Editorial on Brad Campbell: Enemy of New Jersey's Environment.
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 12/15/05 BY CARL J. MAYER
The first tests of Gov.-elect Jon S. Corzine's leadership will begin before he takes office. One of the keys will be who Corzine appoints to lead the state Department of Environmental Protection.
New Jersey has more environmental problems than any other state, thus this position is vitally important. The current commissioner, Bradley M. Campbell, has failed to safeguard New Jersey's environment and wildlife. He needs to be replaced by someone who will actually protect the environment of the state rather than do the bidding of developers and special-interest groups.
Here are five reasons Corzine ought not to reappoint Campbell:
Campbell recently approved New Jersey's first bear hunt in almost 35 years. You can't be an environmental leader and work to destroy wildlife. Yosemite Park has thousands of people and bears in close proximity; they routinely manage by using nonlethal methods.
Campbell not only approved the slaughter of deer in New Jersey in 2001, but he approved a vicious method called "net and bolt" that is condemned by the Humane Society and virtually every other animal welfare organization in the country. Under "net and bolt," animals are wrestled to the ground after being trapped under a net and then an 8-inch steel rod is exploded into their heads, causing a gruesome death.
Campbell is controlled by the bosses who have corrupted New Jersey politics for decades. The best example of this is the proposed development of Petty's Island off Pennsauken in Camden County. News outlets reported earlier this year that Campbell opposed preserving this island — home to nesting bald eagles — in favor of developing it after he was lobbied by South Jersey political boss George E. Norcross III. The development will be done by Cherokee Partners, a firm that has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Norcross and Campbell's Democratic Party.
Campbell is an appointee of former Gov. James E. McGreevey. Outside his office, Campbell had a framed picture of McGreevey, addressed to Campbell, that said: "Thanks Brad." Corzine cannot call himself a reformer if he reappoints McGreevey holdovers.
Campbell approved the worst environmental law in New Jersey and maybe the country — the so-called "fast-track" bill. It allows developers to bypass the legal and environmental protections afforded land in New Jersey and continue to build uncontrollably. The Sierra Club and the entire environmental community opposed this measure because it endangers the remaining 20 percent of New Jersey that is open space. It was passed in a backroom deal, written behind closed doors, with the exclusive input of industry and without the environmental community.
I have witnessed Campbell's management style. In 2001 I represented, as a lawyer, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and various groups in New Jersey that wanted to stop the "net and bolt" torture of animals. We had a meeting in Campbell's office. Rather than listen to any of the facts or evidence regarding the costliness and ineffectiveness of killing deer, Campbell spent the entire meeting arguing how "net and bolt" was actually humane.
When McGreevey was on a statewide radio call-in show, I called to point out that McGreevey had called the "net and bolt" procedure "heinous." He agreed that it was. Minutes later, I received a call from Campbell critical of my call and threatening to cancel a previously arranged meeting.
You can't run a government agency by berating environmental advocates. You can't be an environmental leader and favor torturing wildlife and loosening controls on developers. Campbell tried this. It didn't work. He must go. Corzine should find a new leader to protect the environment of New Jersey.
Carl J. Mayer is lawyer in Princeton.
Copyright © 2005 Asbury Park Press.