Tuesday, March 24, 2009


(3/24/09) Phillipsburg resident Tom Bruno was the sole member of the public to actually testify at yesterday's “public” Assembly Budget Committee hearing. He was the only person who wasn’t officially tied to an, agency association, alliance, coalition, committee, commission, council, institute, network or organization. Bruno does work for the state, but says he took the day off to testify as a citizen only.

Bruno waited just under six hours before finally getting his chance to testify. One other member of the general public was on the schedule, but she wasn’t called to testify until 5 hours and 40 minutes into the hearing at which time she was long gone. Was it worth the wait for Bruno? He says, “I don’t think that it really made a whole lot of difference. It did for me because I feel that I can’t complain about my legislators if I don’t take an active role in trying to convince them where I think they’re going wrong.”

Railing against wasteful government spending was the gist of Bruno’s testimony, but only six of the ten budget panel members were still there to hear him. He says, “That’s why you don’t see a lot of people here because nobody wants to spend the day sitting here and then be disrespected…….I think that’s disrespectful to the people that have put the time in to come here. I had to take mine own time from work to be here.” This should come as now surprise. Please check my blog from yesterday (3/23/09). I pasted it below.

(3/23/09) Public hearings on budget proposals literally go on for hours and hours and usually the usual suspects get preferential treatment. The same lobbyists and special interests who roam the State House halls every day are typically the ones given the opportunity to testify first as the “public” sits in the gallery waiting. One thing you should know going in; no matter how patient you are or how great a waiter you think you may be, these committees will test you. You could wait for hours, step out to use the restroom and come back to find your name was called while you were gone. You’ll get another shot, just not right away.

I’ve been attending these budget committee hearings for 8 years and I cannot tell you how many times a member of the “public” is called to testify 5 or 6 hours into a meeting. Many simply leave because they’re bored or convinced their name will never be called. If you are a member of the “public” and you plan to speak at one of these public hearings, bring a book, but leave your watch at home.

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