Distinguished panels to advise transition leadership on implementing Corzine Agenda


TRENTON – Governor-elect Jon S. Corzine today announced the formation of nine Policy Groups that will give recommendations on how best to implement the detailed agenda he outlined during the campaign.

The announced Policy Groups will address Agriculture, Corrections, Energy, Higher Education, Homeland Security, Housing, Human Services, Military and Veterans Affairs and Transportation. The groups announced today round out the Policy Groups Governor-elect Corzine has assembled to assist him in the transition.

Throughout the course of the transition these groups will map out short- and long-term strategies for implementing the Governor-elect’s policy goals. Additionally, they will single out and examine critical issues that need to be addressed within the first six months of the administration.

“These are eminently qualified individuals who are the top experts in their fields,” Corzine said. “I am honored by their service and their commitment to the state of New Jersey.”

Members of the groups will provide factual information and honest assessments and will be tasked with compiling a written report of recommendations to be delivered to the Governor-elect prior to his inauguration.

The co-chairs of each Policy Group are listed below.

Agriculture: The Agriculture Policy Group will be examining current Department of Agriculture objectives. Specifically, the group will analyze current programs that provide funding for agriculture and open space preservation. In addition, the Policy Group will work towards identifying ways to ensure that current economic development programs within the Department of Agriculture have the necessary components to promote and support a thriving agriculture industry in the State.
Co-chairs: John Rigolizzo, Treasurer, Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey; Joanne Powell, livestock farmer in Somerset County; Art Brown, Director of Outreach for the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University and former New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture.

Corrections: The Corrections Policy Group will advise the Governor-elect on matters pertaining to corrections and rehabilitation. Among the advisory group’s responsibilities will be to analyze and address increases in gang recruitment and gang-related violence particularly in prisons, preparing state prisoners for successful reentry into the community and workforce and combating recidivism.
Co-chairs: Ralph Rivera, former State Police Major; Kenneth Zimmerman, Director, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; Dr. Renee Walker, Mercer County Community College professor and Director of “Project Inside.”

Energy: The Energy Policy Group will consider proposals to increase New Jersey’s generation of energy from renewable sources, improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Co-chairs: Richard Wright, former Chief of Staff to Governor Florio and former Assistant United States Secretary of Energy for Legislative Affairs; Dena Mottola, Executive Director of New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.

Higher Education: The Higher Education Policy Group will examine many of the proposals offered during Governor-elect Corzine’s gubernatorial campaign. Primarily, the group will discuss and propose initiatives that extend access to eligible students while making higher education more affordable and measures to stem the “brain drain” and encourage students to attend New Jersey institutions.
Co-chairs: Larry Downes, CEO of NJ Resources; George Pruitt, Chair, New Jersey President’s Council and President of Thomas Edison College; Rev. William Howard, Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church in Newark; Judith L. Johnston, President, New Jersey State Conference of American Association of University Professors and Professor of English at Rider University.

Homeland Security: The Homeland Security and Public Safety Policy Group will focus on the critical issues surrounding homeland security in New Jersey. This policy group will address the creation of a Director of Homeland Security within the Governor’s Office; the formation of a Commission on Homeland Security; transparency and clearly established criteria for distribution of state homeland security funding; issues surrounding New Jersey’s chemical plants, nuclear plants, ports, airports, and other critical infrastructure; coordination between public and private entities; and hometown security issues.
Co-chairs: Jon Goldstein, former United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey; Dr. Elin Gursky, Principal Deputy for Biodefense in the National Strategies Support Directorate of ANSER/ Analytic Services, Inc.; Alberto Rivas, former Assistant United States Attorney and current federal monitor for New Jersey racial profiling consent decree; James Johnson, attorney in private practice and former Under-secretary of the United States Treasury for Enforcement.

Housing: The Housing Policy Group will discuss and develop recommendations for increasing access to homeownership for low- and middle-income families, expanding housing rental assistance and constructing more affordable housing, as well as preventing homelessness for families at risk and providing expanded housing opportunities for special needs populations. As part of this discussion, the Policy Group will also examine ways in which to maximize and refocus existing state housing resources and to leverage additional private funding.
Co-chairs: Maria Yglesias, Co-founder, M & M Development; Rev. Bruce Davidson, Chair, New Jersey Anti-Poverty Network; Michelle Richardson, Deputy Executive Director, Jersey City Housing Authority.

Human Services: Millions of New Jersey residents face daily struggles associated with poverty, mental health disorders, physical disabilities, or addiction. The Human Services Policy Group is charged with the task of examining these myriad issues. The group will also examine the delivery of services, including through Medicaid and will advise Governor-elect Corzine on how best to serve the state’s most vulnerable residents. Co-chairs: Bill Waldman, former Human Services Commissioner for Governors Florio and Whitman; Daniel Santo Pietro, Executive Director, Hispanic Directors Association; Velvet Miller, former New Jersey Medicaid Director and former Deputy Health Commissioner.

Military and Veterans Affairs: The Military and Veterans Affairs Policy Group will examine the current operations and objectives of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The group will focus on areas that include: the New Jersey National Guard and Reserves; New Jersey’s Military Installations, their missions and economic value to the state; Veterans and Family Support Services; and the relationship of the department with the Homeland Security/Homeland defense structure.
Co-chairs: Vice Admiral Paul Gaffney, President, Monmouth University and former Chair of the Governor’s Commission to Support and Enhance New Jersey’s Military Installations; Ben Choi, attorney in private practice and retired Army Captain; Elisa Westfield, attorney, retired Army Captain and West Point graduate.

Transportation: The Transportation policy group will examine ways to address the financial problems facing New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund. The policy group will also identify key highway and mass transit projects.
Co-chairs: Ajay Singh, Chief of Sustainability and Environmental Management for New York Metro Transportation Authority; Pamela Fischer, Vice President, AAA of New Jersey; Ray Pocino, Vice President and Regional Manager of the Laborers International Union of North America; Lou Gambaccini, former Commissioner of Transportation and former General Manager of SEPTA.

Corzine previously announced the following Policy Groups: Ethics; Budget and Reengineering Government; Property Tax Reform; Economic Development; Labor and Workforce Development; Child Welfare; Public Education; Healthcare and Senior Issues; Environment; and Revitalizing and Investing in Communities.