You gotta love the irony of this one. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been on a crusade against public employees since the day he came to office. Faced with a serious state deficit, he places the blame squarely on the working people of his state. In spite of the national recession and the lingering foreclosure crisis, Christie has focused solely on state workers, city employees, and public school teachers, accusing them of creating the budget problem. He has slashed funding to local governments and even turned down school funding because it depended on reaching an agreement with teachers.
Now, Christie is taking heat because while his constituents have been hit by massive snowstorms, he and his Lieutenant Governor are both vacationing out of state. Even when it became clear that the storms had created chaos throughout the state, Governor Christie chose not to return from Disneyworld.
Clearly Governor Christie is not clear on the concept of what it means to be a public employee. Public workers are charged with keeping our communities going, regardless of the weather. In fact, public employees are the ones who must brave storms, floods, fires, and other disasters to keep everyone else safe.
When I represented city and county workers, it was our roads crew that faced down any storm to clear mud and debris from the rural roads in and out of town. It was the city's street crew who cleaned up broken trees, unclogged drains, and maintained clean streets.
Cal-Trans workers are state employees who do the very dangerous work of keeping our highways safe in all kinds of weather. They do their important work, clearing accidents and eliminating hazardous conditions, as drivers speed by through rain, fog, sleet, and snow.
Teachers and classified school employees have the essential job of caring for our children during emergencies. Whether natural disasters or incidents at school, school employees are also first responders when things go wrong.
We all know police and fire crews are always on call. But that obligation doesn't stop at the city limits. When forest fires rage in Southern California, firefighters from across the state have to kiss their families goodbye and head straight into the most dangerous conditions.
These are the very workers Governor Christie has made a name for himself by attacking. Now, when duty calls, he is too busy vacationing in the Florida sun to respond.