Kathryn Rizzi: This begins an oral history interview with Jeanne Fox, on July 26, 2018, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Kate Rizzi. Thank you so much for being here for part two.
Jeanne Fox: My pleasure.
KR: Last time, we left off talking about your years at Douglass College. To start today, I would like to ask you, in your senior year, what were you considering for the future?
JF: I always was going to be a lawyer. I knew that since I was in high school. I wanted to run for public office, so I planned to go to Rutgers-Camden Law School, which is six miles from my hometown of Maple Shade. I applied to Rutgers-Newark, Rutgers-Camden, Cornell University and Georgetown University. I got waitlisted at Cornell. I got into Rutgers-Newark and Georgetown. It was a Rutgers graduate who was recruiting for Georgetown. He came up and did interviews in New Brunswick of Rutgers graduates. He actually got me money. I felt badly because I knew I wasn't going to go there. I wanted to go to Rutgers-Camden. I got into them, but I always was going to go to Camden because I wanted to run for office. You should run for office from your hometown area, if it's of your party. Maple Shade was definitely Democratic.
KR: Who wrote you recommendations for your law school applications?
JF: I don't remember. Probably President Bloustein, maybe the dean of students, maybe Professor Henson, who was chair of the philosophy department, but I can't remember. [Editor's Note: From 1971 to 1989, Edward Bloustein served as the president of Rutgers University.]
KR: Remind me who the dean of students was at Douglass.
JF: Actually, it would have been Nancy Richards. She was the associate dean of students, but when Eleanor Jacquinet, when she left, the associate dean of students, Nancy Richards, became the dean of students. I knew her well because as associate dean of students, she dealt with the student government. I was an officer for three years in student government. I knew her really well. It was probably Nancy Richards, but I'm not positive.
KR: What was graduation like from Douglass?
JF: It was disappointing because it poured rain. The year before, which originally was my class, the Class of '74, I was head whatever-you-call-it in charge of the graduation volunteers. I remember it was a beautiful day on Antilles Field, which is where they always do the graduation. All my friends left. I'm sitting there, literally, on the steps of Antilles Field by myself, just about crying. Nancy Richards found me. As I recall, every once in a while, while I was a student and she was there, if one of us [was] upset about something, we would go to Howard Johnson and get a hot fudge sundae, which is what we did then, which was very sweet of her. I was really devastated I wasn't graduating with my class.
My graduation the next year, I think it probably rained harder than any graduation I've been to, and I've been to all of them since 1990, at least at Douglass. We had it at The Barn because we didn't have the RAC [Rutgers Athletic Center] yet. It was at The Barn, which is a large space. They decided that morning, early that morning, that you can only have--I forget if it was four or five tickets per students because it wasn't big enough, because there were seven hundred of us or something. I had twenty relatives coming from South Jersey. I had my five, so I started making calls. Again, we didn't have computers or anything like that. I ended up getting a couple press passes. I got some passes from some other students who didn't need five. I got up to nineteen, and I needed one more. My college roommate, Ann McNeal, I think she had seven in her family, but she has a sister who was a senior in high school. So, I gave her sister my robe, my graduation robe, and she walked into the staging area with Ann. I just walked in with my hat. I was waving and saying, "Hi" to everybody because people knew me, then went in and found Ann's sister, took her in to where her folks were, and then came back with my gown. That was dishonest of me, but I had to do it because I can't leave somebody outside who came up from South Jersey.
It was wonderful in the sense of--The Barn has a tin roof, I guess. Have you ever been in there for basketball games? You have the heavy downpours and it was rebounding on this roof, so it was really weird. Typically, there's a speaker, but Dean Margery Somers Foster was leaving because she had a fight with Bloustein over giving up some of our dorms to Cook College, I think it was. So, this was her last graduation. Again, she was the dean who saved Douglass as a women's school. She was the speaker. They also decided to surprise her and they changed--there was always an award called the Senior Service Award. Back then, there were very few awards that Douglass had. Now, there's a lot of different awards. I was receiving the Senior Service Award, but they renamed it the Margery Somers Foster Senior Service Award. I was the first one to get it, which was really very sweet. She was surprised. That was really very lovely. I forget what she talked about. Obviously, she talked about women's education being necessary. She really believed that. It was really nice, except it was pouring rain for everybody. Luckily, I don't think--there's been some rainy ones on Antilles Field, but they weren't downpours. This was an absolute downpour. So, it was still fun. It was sad because you say goodbye to your friends, but I had already done that the year before. It was a good graduation.
KR: What did you do the summer before law school?
JF: Let me think. All my jobs were government jobs, except for the summer on PIRG [New Jersey Public Interest Research Group]. I carried mail in [the summer in college]. I worked at the Board of Public Utilities as a law clerk in '76.
In '75, I'm pretty sure I worked at the Fresh and Saltwater Biology Laboratory of EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] Region II on Woodbridge Avenue, Edison, which Ed Bloustein helped me get through Senator Williams' office. That was a very cool job. I was pre-law and I only had the basic biology course, but I worked there. My boss's name was Royal Nadeau, who was the head of the lab--Ph.D., really brilliant. I got to do fun things because the Clean Water Act was just passed in '72. I helped set up the new permitting system by cards, three by five cards, because there weren't computers that we were using. The permit--it's NJPDES, the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. It's the federally-required permit to pollute. At that point, EPA was still doing them. It was delegated soon thereafter to the state. I was doing that. I also ended up memorizing all the local fish that we have in New Jersey, which I can't remember at all now.
I got to do crazy things like--the best thing was going down to Sandy Hook and taking water samples under the bridge. I did that a couple of times because you're sitting under the bridge in the shade. It's just beautiful down there. You're just taking water samples. Once I went clamming with one of the scientists, which was scary because--I forget where we were, but it was low water levels out quite a distance and then you had to shovel, so I'm digging clams. A thunderstorm came up, which was very dangerous if you're in the water. He had a shovel, and I had a rake. He said, "Stick it in to the [sand] and run," which is what we did. We just left them out there because you want lightening to strike that and not you.
Another time, down Route 1, I was on my own and there was a small factory, which was probably in North Brunswick, but it might have been South Brunswick. When I pass that street, I always still think of it. There was a creek, a very small creek, probably four feet in diameter maybe, where I took upstream water samples. It was clear. It was clean. You probably could drink it. There were animals and critters and fish in it. I couldn't let the facility see me. It's hot out and there're reeds. Then, I went downstream of the facility and it was yellow-greenish and everything was dead, and I took water samples. That just reinforced my environmental beliefs and why EPA and DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] are necessary. That was a great job.
When I worked at EPA, starting under Clinton, that would have been in '94, I still knew some of the people that were there because they were career people. Out of the thousand or so people in that region, only the regional administrator is political. The rest were all really quality career people.
KR: Let us talk about your years in law school at Rutgers-Camden. Specifically, let us talk about your first year. What was your first year of law school like?
JF: It was tough. I had had the blood disease when I was in college, if you recall. I had actually mono in high school briefly, but not really badly and people didn't know about it. Then, I had hepatitis in law school. I had to stop during the first semester, and I'd already done half the first semester. They're really big classes, the first semester classes. In hindsight, this was a stupid thing to do, but I wanted to go back to school the second semester. Usually, what the law school rule was then, if you don't finish the first semester, you had to start over the next fall in the first semester, but based on who I knew and I had been doing okay, they let me do the second semester. The problem is the required writing course, which is where you learned how to do legal research--they were just starting with LexisNexis, just starting that year. I wasn't in the classes with all the students on that. That was tough. I had to learn the library by myself and all that. It was harder.
"Criminal Law" was good. Great professor--Michael Greenway. I'm afraid of exams, written exams. I like to write papers. In college, if I could, I would drop the courses that were exams and keep the paper courses. Well, in law school, they're all exams, which is why I wanted exams before Christmas. It was really unnerving. I was stressed. The first semester was bad, and I had hepatitis. The second semester, I [would] really get sick before exams, like I would beforehand in college. I did okay, but the Rutgers Law professors had a requirement of three to six-hour exams, all essays. So, you would have a four-hour exam or a five-hour exam and three essay questions that were obviously very long, very complex, not simple. I would read them and not think that I could answer them, but then you had to just start writing. I actually did okay. The criminal law professor said I had the best answer--and there were sixty or seventy of us in the class--on one of the questions--there were three questions--and that I had the second or third best answer on the second one, but I didn't get to finish. I didn't have time to finish the third question, so I think I ended up getting a "B+" or something.
"Torts" was difficult. We had good professors. One of the professors, Roger Clark, is still there. I can't believe he's still [there]. He's a world-renowned guy. I don't know if he's [teaching] "Constitutional Law" now. I think he helped write several constitutions in Africa, but he was still at graduation last year. I tend to go to those. There were really fine professors and you're all together, though a guy who was the acting dean at one point in time, who was there for a long, long time, and I just lost his name and I have it …
KR: Russell Fairbanks.
JF: Russell Fairbanks was the dean. He was the guy that I had an interesting relationship with, not him, but the guy who had been acting dean before Fairbanks was there for a long, long time. He taught "Civil Procedure," and everybody was scared to death of him because he would call on people and if they didn't know the answer, he would go on to the next person in alphabetical order. He'd start somewhere in the middle of the alphabet. That was a little tricky because you had to do your readings. If you didn't do your readings, he'd really not be good to you. Tom Foy was right before me alphabetically. He never did the readings. Somebody was called on before him and they hadn't done their reading, so they got reamed out. Well, I knew the next one was Tom and the next one was me. I hadn't done the reading because I had done something political the previous night. I thought Tom had too because he was also political. Thank God, somehow Tom had done the reading and got the answer. I think that's actually why I got the hepatitis--the stress of "Civil Procedure" because he was--I just had it and lost it--a really scary guy. He was there forever. Begins with a "K." Kepner, Donald Kepner. Anyhow, I went back second semester. I did better.
I was actually there for four years, like I was in college for five years. I didn't graduate with my law school classmates who I started with either. You have study groups. Study groups were extremely helpful. Like in Paper Chase, which was the big TV show about law students with John Houseman, where he was the professor. That one guy, Professor Kepner, was very much like John Houseman, really good at what he did. He also, I think, the year before, had flunked almost half the class. Everybody knew that. It's pretty scary. I hated the first year. After the first year, it gets better because you pick your classes.
You came up with Fairbanks. Russell Fairbanks was the dean the whole time and a very interesting guy. He's the one I think I mentioned to you. We started the Rutgers-Camden Community Women's Center. He told us we couldn't use the term "Rutgers" and I knew that we could. From the get-go, I stood out. Lou Sirico was the new and first and, at that time, only environmental professor. He's the one that Fairbanks wouldn't give tenure to because he was too, I think, liberal. He would help with the Camden Community Women's Center. He would help [Frank] Pallone and me on some of the environmental issues. He was too close to the students, I think, so he didn't get tenure, which was totally unfair. He went to, I think it was, Villanova, where he taught and got tenure. He was a great professor, but he was the only environmental one they had at all. He had been [a] Nader lawyer. He worked for Ralph Nader.
KR: You took his environmental class in law school.
JF: Yes. I think I also took a seminar with him. Now, all the law schools have tons of environmental classes.
KR: Was that class and seminar the first of their kind?
KR: What was that like?
JF: It was great. He had worked for Nader, so he really knew this area. He had litigated and he knew it well. It was really just the beginning because the EPA started in '72 and DEP soon thereafter. This was the beginning of the environmental movement. Very few students at that point were interested in it, except for Frank Pallone and me, I think. There were a couple of other people in the classes, but they weren't into it, and Frank and I both were. [Editor's Note: Frank Pallone, an alumnus of the Rutgers School of Law-Camden, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey's third district since 1993.]
KR: Tell me about your contact with Russell Fairbanks.
JF: He was a tough dean. A lot of people were afraid of him, I think rightfully so. I think he had a sense of humor. I think I told you that at graduation, when he was handing them out, he pulled back on my diploma, saying, "I don't know if I should give this to you or not," but he was joking. I knew it was a joke. It was pretty funny actually. He was a tight-control guy, as was Professor Kepner, who was the acting dean and was there for a long, long time and did "Civil Procedure." Fairbanks very well respected, I think. I don't know how well liked he was. I think everybody, including the faculty were a little nervous about him, except for the old-timer guys. He was actually a pretty good dean. He just didn't like anything new. He was getting more women, which was new. Doing stuff like a women's center, I think, probably boggled his mind. He was the provost too, but I don't recall if he was just the dean at that time. I thought he was a good dean and I did respect him. When he pulled back at the diploma, it didn't upset me at all because it was funny. He did have a sense of humor. I thought he was a pretty darn good dean. He was just not progressive, which was not all that unusual back in those days. John Houseman in Paper Chase was the role model for how people should be. [Editor's Note: Russell Fairbanks became the provost of Rutgers-Camden in 1974.]
KR: How many people were there in your law school class? Of those, give me a rough estimation of the number of women.
JF: I would guess, totally a guess, but we could probably find that out--I would guess there were two hundred-plus in the class. With women, I would guess maybe twenty percent.
KR: Tell me about your founding of the Rutgers-Camden Community Women's Center.
JF: That started when a group of us--Lorraine Gormley was one of them, and she ended up being my housemate for a while--were sitting around--and another one who went to Douglass, Mary-Beth Treuthart. Anyway, we were sitting around at the law school. The first floor, where the entrance is, there's an all-glass sitting room and it's a place where students can have meetings, with sofas and chairs. A bunch of us women were sitting there and a woman came in who had been, she said, battered by her husband and had some bruises and did not want to go home and didn't have a place to stay. I think Lorraine Gormley--I wasn't with her at the time--I think she took her home. Somebody took her home that night. Then, we got together, tried to help her out, and then decided we should try to do something.
That's when Jimmy Carter was president. He had, I think it was, CETA [Comprehensive Employment and Training Act] money. It was for community groups to do things. We applied for CETA grants. We got them for a couple years. I think what came first was a battered women's shelter. This was all CETA money. Then, we hired staff, did a childcare center. I think we also set up--I think it might have been another childcare center. That was really good. There were two undergraduates involved with that and a couple of us law students. Joanna Dunne Gray was, I think, a senior at Rutgers-Camden undergrad. She then later went to law school and became a lawyer. Then, the other one, Carla Roberts, I knew her really well, as well as her husband, Gil Medina. They later divorced. I keep in touch with him, but not with her. She was also an undergraduate. They were both very strong, committed people. We worked together pretty well. They were pretty good writers. There were a couple of us--Lorraine Gormley and me, and one or two other law students and then Joanna and Carla. I think Sirico helped us with that.
KR: Where did you live when you were in law school?
JF: First year, I lived in Maple Shade. That's where I had the hepatitis, too. I was involved in politics. I was a county committee person in Maple Shade, which was a Democratic town. I have four brothers. One was a year older. He was out of the house, but I have three that are younger. At that time, I was what? I would have been twenty-three. They would have been [in] junior high school. I had my own room. Obviously, I still had my room. My father wasn't there anymore. It was my mother and my three younger brothers.
I was doing politics, which I would advise people in law school not to do as much politics as I did, but I wanted to run for office and I liked politics, and it was my hometown. That didn't work really well. The second year, and I was in law school for four years, I got a place through one of my best friends who was at county college, who I went to high school with and I was in her bridal party, Nancy Mitchell. She had a place with two other people, a couple, in a two-bedroom apartment on Maple Avenue in Cherry Hill, just down the street from Maple Shade and actually on the way to the law school. She was moving out because she was getting married. I took her room. The two of them weren't in college. They had regular jobs. They were not kids I hung out with in high school, but I got along with them. I stayed there my second year.
The last two years I stayed in Merchantville with Lorraine Gormley, who was one of the people I knew well, at a second-floor apartment in an old Victorian house. The two of us were normal law students, but the other person there was crazy. She was just nuts. She wasn't a law student. So, I stayed there. I would drive into Camden, not far from there. In both cases you could take buses, but driving was much faster. Because I was the graduate student rep to the Board of Trustees, I got a good parking space. I got to park where the faculty parked because I was student rep to the Board of Trustees. That was nice.
KR: You figured that out very early on, the parking. [laughter]
JF: Yes. Parking is important. Mostly the students had to park under the Ben Franklin Bridge, and it was not safe. Camden is much better now than it was then, and it's not good now. Even though I had a good parking lot, my car was broken into. I had an old Rambler. It was a beautiful car. I had that old Rambler. I would leave the doors unlocked because cars were broken into and I didn't want to have any windows broken. There was nothing in my car to steal anyway. I get back and my window was broken. The freaking door is unlocked. The guy didn't even try the doors. He went through my glove compartment--there was nothing to take, but now I had to pay for a window, which was really annoying because there was nothing to take. Who was going to steal that old car?
Law school was fine. I really enjoyed the last two years because there were smart people around. You had good discussions. The teachers were really very good. It was just the first year where I got the hepatitis. That was bad because there's a lot of pressure then. You don't know how you're going to do. Remember, in the first semester of college, I blew my mind because I got three "B's" and a "C." That's the type of thing where you go into another school, like a law school, you're not sure how you're going to do. But it was fine.
KR: I am curious about you being a county committee member at a very young age.
JF: Actually, I had been--I don't know if this is embarrassing, but when I was a sophomore, Maple Shade had a golden jubilee. Is that fifty years? Yep, a golden jubilee. Anyway, they had a golden jubilee because Maple Shade was a very working-class town, next to Moorestown, had been part of--I think it was called--Chester Township, which was Moorestown, Maple Shade and I think maybe Cinnaminson. Cinnaminson broke off at some point. The municipal laws have been changed since then, but back fifty years before, Moorestown voted Maple Shade out of Moorestown because Moorestown was "upper class." A lot of farms then. It's a great downtown. I would love to live in Moorestown, a lot of beautiful homes, but also some middle class and working class. Maple Shade was all working class and it had all the bars. Moorestown didn't have bars. For some reason, when I wasn't around--it was earlier than that, but fifty years before, I think it was--they voted Maple Shade out. So, the town was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. They had a contest for "Miss Golden Jubilee." The prize was five hundred dollars, I think, which is a lot of money. Remember tuition was four hundred at the time. Five hundred dollars, plus you got to do some public speaking here and there, and I wanted to run for office. My mother submitted my name. I did not. She didn't tell me until after my name was submitted. She said, "But it's five hundred dollars." She said, "There's no bathing suit competition. It's not a beauty pageant. It's based on, get this, 'charm, grace and social-something.'" I'm like, "Charm and grace is not what I think of me," because I was a tomboy. But the five hundred dollars was a draw. I wanted to run for office there, so it made some sense. I was in the pageant. I think there were twenty-two of us. I was one of the older ones. Barbara Salvatore, who was a friend of mine from high school, was in it and somebody else our age, and then there were others a couple years younger. It was probably eighteen to twenty-two, or something like that. I ended up winning.
There are some great pictures of George Barbour, who was the Assembly member at the time and was majority leader. He's the guy who became the president of BPU [Board of Public Utilities] because he helped Brendan Byrne get the income tax passed back then. He was the one who actually took me to the BPU. That's how I got the [job] because, back then, you only got jobs at the BPU as a lawyer if you knew people. Everybody there knew somebody, and George Barbour got me that job. He was the president, so I could get a job. His wife Ronnie Barbour--both of them went to Rutgers-Camden Law--she graduated first in her class, but she was a woman, so back then, she really just had kids and raised the kids and was on the school board and all that kind of volunteerism. She's an amazing person. So, there's a picture of Ronnie Barbour and another woman, who was active in town, and George Barbour crowning me. I had this big, long, green, satin, to-the-floor cape, gold on the inside, a really pretty forest green on the outside with a beautiful gold clasp at the neck, and a crown. I still have the award trophy and the cape.
They narrowed it down to four or five of us. Barbara Salvatore was one as well. They asked us each a different question. Yes, they were all the corny questions you'll get. My questions was: "If you were to choose between living in Maple Shade fifty years ago or today, which would you choose and why?" Well, I didn't tell the truth. I actually would have preferred fifty years ago because of the environment. There were farms and things, compared to today. I basically stretched the truth and said today and said all the reasons why Maple Shade was so great, and I won. It was really pretty funny. I don't know if you know what a--I had a carbuncle under my arm. It's a big boil, sore type of thing that the doctor had to lance. He had put a stint in there and it hurt. I was on pain medication. I think being on pain medication probably helped me stay cool, calm and collected for this competition. That was actually pretty funny. That was in 1972, in the fall. Why did you ask that question? Why did I come up with that?
KR: How did that parlay into community politics?
JF: People knew me in town. In high school, I was [voted] "Most Likely to Succeed." My parents were leaders in PTA, School Board and Little League. The church we went to was in Maple Shade.
John Latwinas, who was the Democratic Municipal Chair, called me on my room phone spring of my senior year and asked me if I wanted to be on the County Committee. I said, "Sure." He actually got the petition signed for me and drove up to New Brunswick, where I signed it. Then, he took it down and filed it for me. Right out of the gate in law school, I was on the County Committee and would go to those meetings of the municipal committee. A year later, I was vice chair of the Maple Shade County Committee with John as chair. A year later, I was on the executive committee for the Burlington County Democratic Committee and was very active and got to know all the politicians. That was a lot of fun. The conventions were fun. Burlington County Democrats actually had conventions. Some of the other counties at the time, it was just the party bosses picking candidates for "the line." I was very active. In my municipal committee district, within two or three years, I doubled the number of registered voters because I had a lot of the apartments and my younger brothers, I would give each of those guys a couple bucks and they would go and do literature drops at all the apartment doors. We would do voter registrations. It was a lot of fun and got a lot of people registered, mostly Democrats.
KR: What did you learn?
KR: When you were on the County Committee.
JF: Politics. I did politics in college. I was doing university politics and college politics and was pretty successful at that. The Board of Governors, Board of Trustees, I was still doing politics. It's people. Relationships is what good politics are. The old pols, who sometimes were not really "good" policy-wise, they were still good for their people, good hearts. It was really fun because you're helping people. I was on the planning board or the zoning board--I think the planning board--in Maple Shade, which was pretty cool. I really did enjoy it because you're trying to help your hometown. Then, getting involved in some of Carter's presidential campaign. That would have been--I know I was active with the governor's choice and Senate. On the Senate candidates, when Bill Bradley was running the first time in the primary for U.S. Senate, obviously, I knew who he was. I saw him play basketball at Princeton. He was a hero of mine. But I didn't think he should go right to the Senate. A guy named Alex Menza, M-E-N-Z-A, who was from Union County, was a state senator, he was just excellent. He came to the convention. A couple of the candidates are walking around, talking to people. I was literally the only person there who knew who Alex Menza was. So, I was introduced. I said, "Oh, yes, I know you. You're a senator. I'm going to vote for you." He just about fell over because I knew politics better on a statewide level than most people did. I might have been the only vote he got at that county convention. I'm not sure. They were fun because the conventions, at least for Burlington County Democrats at the time, literally every committee member got to vote--secret ballot. Some counties do that now, but they didn't all do it then. Not all of them do it now. They might vote the way they're told to vote. In some counties, they're very open.
KR: How many women were there involved?
JF: Well, the way the New Jersey law runs is--for the County Committee, which is elected in the primary every year, you have one man and one woman for every voting district. The voting district could be a couple hundred people, two hundred up to maybe three, four, five hundred people at the most. There's a man and a woman in there. They all have to vote, typically they should, for who gets on the party line. It's important to get the party line. People fight for party line. So, you can have your own "party line" if you're not the party candidate. You still have to have freeholder candidates to get a line. Otherwise, they put you way over in the far right field of the ballot. So, it was pretty cool. You get to know some really good people, too. You get to know who are nice people and who really want to do the right thing and those who it's all about themselves.
KR: You were the graduate representative to the Rutgers Board of Trustees.
JF: Yes. I was University Senator because I was there four years. The first year not, but my second, third and fourth year, I was the law school's Student University Senator. The law school got one, so I was elected to that. Frank Pallone was the Student Bar Association (SBA) president. I went to his SBA meetings, too. Then, the University Senate voted me as the graduate student rep to the Board of Trustees. There are undergrad and graduate student reps to the Board of Trustees. There was one student the Senate voted on to the Board of Governors (BOG). I didn't have time to do that. There wasn't a lot of time back then, so I did the Trustees. I thought an undergraduate should do BOG anyway. I was three years the graduate student rep to the Board of Trustees.
KR: What sticks out in your mind from your time on the Board of Trustees?
JF: They operated well. That's when Bloustein was still president. The Open Public Meetings Act was in place. The committee systems ran well. There was a lot of discussion among the board members about issues. They actually had discussions and made decisions. It changed over the twenty, thirty years since then, where they don't have as much say, even though they could. It was good. I got to know a lot of these people pretty well. Some of them are really hardworking. Just about all of them cared about the University and the state and the students. That was good. It was a lot of work back then. It appears to be not as much work now for students or for board members.
KR: When you were in law school, did you take any clinics?
JF: No. I did work for PIRG one full year--that's the only time I didn't work for a government agency--where I ran the Equal Rights Amendment project. I had students who were kind of doing that as a clinic, but they were undergrads for the most part. I worked for a judge my last year there, Judge [David] E-Y-N-O-N, Eynon, who was a judge at the Superior Court in Camden County. I didn't do any clinics. I don't think Rutgers-Camden Law had any clinics back then.
KR: Tell me about your work when you were with New Jersey Public Interest Research Group working on the Equal Rights Amendment.
JF: It was great. The Equal Rights Amendment was a big deal back then. We had a national deadline to meet to get it passed. We were short a couple states. I proposed this to PIRG. I ended up getting paid to do that that summer. Actually, during the school year, between New Brunswick and Camden, I had fifty students that were getting credit for it--I was the faculty advisor--and fifty students who were volunteers. We basically took actions; we targeted states like Florida to boycott them because they hadn't passed it yet, write letters and that kind of thing. It was pretty cool. They learned a lot about it, which was important, as well as the politics of it. Unfortunately, it didn't happen, but that was nice. [Editor's Note: In 1972, Congress passed the constitutional amendment called the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The first of three sections stated, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." Although twenty-eight states ratified the amendment by mid-1973, the ERA failed to gain ratification by the necessary thirty-eight states in 1982.]
I love mentoring and working with young people, men and women, but especially women because there weren't many women in the areas that they needed to be in. Actually, a couple of students--Meryl Frank, who ended up being the mayor of Highland Park, she was later ambassador to the UN [United Nations] Commission on the Status of Women and is a national expert on family and medical leave for the last thirty years. [She] was a first-year student at Rutgers College. She was great. And then Ev Liebman, who now works for New Jersey AARP as their associate state director. They were my two best students. Ev was a senior at Rutgers. I hired her. I was chief of staff then, but we hired her at the Board of Public Utilities. Maybe I was a director then. Anyway, she was hired at the Board of Public Utilities and was there for quite a while, and active with the CWA [Communications Workers of America], married Rene Demuynck, who was the BPU's founding and long-time CWA Shop Steward. Brilliant guy, but a real radical, Marxist-Leninist. She then worked for the CWA and then went over and worked for Citizen Action, then went over and is now at AARP. I still have connections with those two that were students of mine. They were my best students. I really do like to mentor and organize young people, so that was a lot of fun.
KR: As you were approaching law school graduation, what were you thinking about for your future?
JF: I wanted to work in government. All my summer jobs had been government. I had worked at EPA two summers. I had worked at the Department of Higher Education one summer. I had worked at another state agency. Anyway, I applied for those type of jobs, but they weren't hiring then. I actually interviewed for the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union]. Even though I believe in what they do, if I wanted to run for office, there's no way I could work for the ACLU.
KR: Was it the New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union?
JF: Yes. I interviewed for the job and I think I removed myself from consideration. I actually wanted to work for PIRG as an attorney and interviewed for that and thought I would get the job, but for small "p" politics reasons I did not get it. I didn't have a job when I graduated. I was still looking. My husband had a job that he was going to start at the New Jersey Democratic State Committee (DSC). He got another job instead, working for Bill Hamilton, who was the state senator from New Brunswick and had been the Assembly Speaker before he went to the Senate. Steve became his chief of staff. This was in June or July. I got his job at the Democratic State Committee, which wasn't government, but it was close. I was the policy director. There was only one other woman on the staff. It was small. I reported to Frank Robinson, who is still active in Trenton--he's a top lobbyist at NJ Business and Industry Association. A guy named Dick Coffee was the chair of the state party. That was really very interesting because Brendan Byrne--the governor selects the party chair. Brendan Byrne was the governor. He was in his second term. He chooses Dick Coffee, who I think was Mercer County Democratic Chair. Jimmy Carter was up for reelection. Brendan Byrne was supporting the incumbent. Dick Coffee was friends with the Kennedys. Teddy Kennedy decided to run in the primary against the president. The state party was split, which was mind-boggling because that normally doesn't happen. Dick was supporting Kennedy. Byrne was supporting Carter.
My job was DSC policy director. I wasn't a "political" staffer, in the sense I was doing the policy work, but when there're campaigns, all hands on deck. I distinctly remember that Teddy Kennedy used my office once when he was in Trenton. It was so cool because I got to talk to him. I had the neatest office. Not saying my office was neat, but it was neater than anybody else's. That was very cool. I also got to walk Jimmy Carter--he won the primary--I got to walk Jimmy Carter into the Meadowlands Giants Stadium, where they were having a big fundraising event. This is before the more recent attempts to assassinate presidents. There wasn't as high security. His car pulled up and he had security, but I was the only one waiting for him. I was just a kid. His blue eyes were just amazing on this man. He was just so friendly, so nice and such a sweetheart. That was very cool.
The funny thing was I got an invitation from the White House for New Jersey people to go to the White House and have dinner at the White House. It is intentionally scheduled for the same night that Dick Coffee was having an event for Ted Kennedy at The Pines in Edison. So, the Democratic State Committee--with Coffee--was putting this big fundraiser together for Ted Kennedy. The governor gets people from New Jersey invited to the White House for dinner on the same night. I go into Peter Curtin, who was the DSC executive director--he was a Coffee person--and said, "I got this invitation to the White House. I really want to go." Peter says to me--and I'm stupid and didn't go--I had to work the DSC event or he was going to fire me. Peter says to me, "You'll get more invitations to the White House. It's no big deal." I figured there were a lot of people going. So, I worked The Pines, which was fun because Bill Bradley taught me that night how to walk into a place without paying--you just act like you're supposed to be there. That was very cool. I've talked to him about that since. It works, typically works. I find out later it was a sit-down dinner at the White House in their dining room. I think the president and Rosalynn Carter were there and, at one point, the Secretary of State, who was Cyrus Vance, came in and talked. It would have been a sit-down dinner at the White House dining room. Then, we had eight years of Ronald Reagan. I eventually was invited back to the White House several times--but not for a sit-down dinner--this was when Clinton was there in the '90s. I'll never forgive Peter Curtin for that. That was an interesting year. Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter lost because of what was going on in the Mideast and with the hostages. That was an interesting year. [Editor's Note: Iranian students, supporters of the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 and held over sixty Americans hostage for 444 days, until January 20, 1981.]
Then, I got a job, luckily, at the Secretary of State's office because George Lee was the Secretary of State. He was the Burlington County Democratic chair, so he knew me well. I was the attorney in the election division. I did that for two years. I was rewriting the election law, which really needed to be rewritten. I really knew it pretty well at that point.
Jim Florio was running against Tom Kean [in the New Jersey gubernatorial election of 1981]. Jim Florio was supposed to win; he was consistently ahead in all the polls. State Senator Bill Hamilton, my husband's boss, was the chair of the campaign. He ran for governor in the primary. There were over ten serious Democratic primary candidates. Bill would have been a great governor, but he refused to ask for money. He should have raised money by calling people. He didn't. Jim Florio made him the chair of his gubernatorial general election campaign. The assumption was Bill would be either attorney general, chief counsel or maybe the first commissioner of the Department of Commerce because he had sponsored the bill creating the new department. My husband wanted to be the head of the Division of Consumer Affairs. I wanted to go wherever Bill Hamilton was going, so the counsel's office or the AG's [attorney general] office.
The "victory party" was down at the Cherry Hill Inn in Cherry Hill, across from the mall. They send a helicopter up to the turnpike, Exit 9, where there was a helipad for Bill and a couple of his people [who] flew down. They sent it back for us. Steve and I and Rosemarie, who was Bill's law secretary, took the helicopter from Exit 9 down to Cherry Hill, where there was a place to land. The inn was packed. Everybody from South Jersey was there because Florio is a big South Jersey guy. Everybody knew he was going to win. Everybody was partying and having a great time. My husband and I are standing by the bar watching the TV news. Steve had run Middlesex County for Florio. That's why he's so good at this election stuff. He had done the numbers of where the votes should come from, how many votes and all of that. Middlesex is not coming in the way it should have. He's the first person in the room to notice there's a problem.
Then, it was midnight or something. This big guy that I had met, but I didn't really know him--big guy--comes down and finds me, "Are you Jeanne Fox, who's the election lawyer …?" I said, "Yes." I go upstairs with him. There was a room that they have with Florio and his top guys; right next to his room are the lawyers (all men). I go in there and they want to know what happens if there's a tie, what happens if this or that happens. Well, I've been rewriting the law, so I knew that stuff and told them. Then, I spent the next couple hours calling up the clerks from the counties and telling them they have to be in their office at seven o'clock in the morning because there's going to be a real tight [race]. I don't know who the heck took me home. Somebody drove me home to New Brunswick because my car was up here. I showered, didn't get any sleep, and drove down to Trenton. I was there at seven o'clock. That week was crazy. Wednesday, Thursday were insane.
KR: The election results were disputed.
JF: Yes. That night, the last number coming in, I think Kean was up by 1,600 votes or something like that, a small number, maybe 1,700. That's nothing. The State House--I didn't know this--has a huge vault room. I assume they still have it in the basement, huge, thick walls, big vault door. That's where we put all the stuff. There were five of us in the election division. Florio had to decide if he wanted to do a recount because he was the one that was behind. What was done on Wednesday and Thursday was they checked the numbers from the election district workers--and you have two Democrats and two Republicans in each district. On election night, they open up the back of the machines themselves and give those numbers to the county. So, now they check the numbers that they wrote down compared to what they gave to the county. The counties would check their numbers to make sure they got the right numbers and what they gave to the state, because the Secretary of State, although they're in charge of elections, they don't do the numbers. They get them from each of the twenty-one counties. That was done on Wednesday and Thursday. When I went home Thursday night, Florio was up because one of the counties had flipped. He was up a couple hundred. When I came in on Friday morning, he was back down. I got to know Jaynee LaVecchia's future husband. Did I mention Jaynee LaVecchia? She's a [New Jersey] Supreme Court justice who went to Douglass.
KR: No, you did not mention her.
JF: She's great. Her future husband, Mike [Cole], I got to know him then. He was the AAG [Assistant Attorney General] who handled the election review. I got to know him because he was the one talking to all the election officials at a big meeting on Thursday I went to about how they're supposed to do a recount. It was really pretty interesting. I felt badly for Florio. The headlines in some of the newspapers and the articles were that the Democrats were going to steal the election because the Secretary of State was in charge of the elections and he's an active Democrat, which is impossible because really, where you get stolen elections is in the counties. They don't get stolen at the state level. I think that factored in too, so he finally conceded, weeks after the recount began. Tom Kean won.
I felt badly for him because he lost that one, and then he lost to Whitman when he wasn't supposed to lose that either. I think he was probably the best governor in my life. Great guy, policy wonk, real public servant, very frugal with the dollars for the state. Really great guy. He was at Rutgers for a long time after that. I shared an office with him at the Bloustein School in '01. That was a tough night, especially for Florio. I think he probably made the right decision, but I always wish that he hadn't. [laughter] That's when we had the Ballot Security Task Force [BSTF]. Did I tell you about that? [Editor's Note: Jim Florio served as the governor of New Jersey from 1990 to 1994. He lost his reelection campaign in 1993 to Republican Christie Todd Whitman.]
KR: Please tell me.
JF: The National Ballot Security Task Force was set up by the Republican Party in that Florio/Kean election. They did a couple of different things. What we know for a fact was that they had guys at certain people of color cities--so, definitely Trenton because I interviewed some people from there, also I think probably Newark, Atlantic City, Camden, Vineland, one or two others. There were signs that we had, the signs--I don't have any, but other people had. I saw them, big signs, about this big, white with big red letters, "Warning," and then legal citations about voting. These signs were tacked up onto telephone poles in minority voting districts. Then, there were guys--because I interviewed a couple people in Trenton--there was one guy in Trenton who had a German Shepherd, big guy, had an arm band that said, "Ballot Security Task Force." He would, one would say, intimidate voters. One young woman I talked to had two little kids. She said she was going to the polls to vote and she was questioned--where they live, how long they've lived there, if you lie about this … That woman didn't vote. She said she thought he had a gun. That was the only person who told me that. I talked to a couple other people. It clearly happened. In fact, Angelo Genova, who is one of the big New Jersey lawyers now, who went to Rutgers-Newark Law School, but I knew him when we were in college, because he went to Montclair, where he was president of the student government. That's how I knew him. He was a young attorney for the state party. He went to court to get it stopped, but he didn't go in until four o'clock in the afternoon. Angelo got a restraining order against them doing it at that point in time. The resulting consent decree was against the state Republican Party and the national Republican Party. That went out of effect just, I think, for the Trump-Hillary Clinton election. In fact, Angelo actually went around--you should interview him--went around the country in a couple of places arguing for the Democratic Party against the Republican National Party for doing this type of action. They did it down in the South with one of those right-wing Republican senators, I think maybe Strom Thurmond, and a couple other places Angelo went. That, I think, had an impact for the good.
There were allegations, but because Florio decided not to contest, there were allegations that people's voter registration pages, where they had voted for years, weren't in the books when they went to vote. That was definitely in Atlantic County and in Cumberland County. There was two big towns for Cumberland County, both with big populations. Bridgeton was the county seat and twenty miles from Millville. So, allegedly pages were missing in Millville. If people couldn't vote in their district--you could vote if you went to see a judge, the county judge, but you'd have to go to court in Bridgeton to do that. Who has time to do that? That was alleged to have happened.
Then, there were allegations that some of the machines had been messed with, which is hard to do, but it's doable with the type of machines we used back then. You're not supposed to open up a back of a machine unless you have a Democrat and Republican there. There were allegations that some numbers were set back, which you could do in these machines, because I actually checked that. You could set back the numbers for, say, governor and they would have to--say, they set it back by fifty votes, the fifty-first vote would count as the first vote. That was never verified. That was alleged. I think some of the numbers--my recollection is this was a long time ago, so I might be wrong--is it happened in Middlesex because my husband knew what the numbers were. Typically, the governor gets more votes than down ballot, who gets less votes, always--president, governor, everybody--because you "know" this guy, but you don't know anything about these lower-positioned guys. In a number of districts, allegedly, the governor vote--Florio got less votes than, say, the Assembly candidate, which would be extremely unusual. There were allegations about that. It was never followed up by anybody because Florio doesn't want to take it there. He cared more about the state moving ahead.
That was really one of the most interesting weeks of my life. I don't think Tom Kean, who is a great guy, knew about the stuff going on because I've worked with him since. Somebody in the Republican Party did because--the Ballot Security Task Force, we know that was real because it was in court and they had the signs and people who had sworn affidavits. The other things were just allegations at the time that nobody followed up on.
Then, I needed a job because I was out of a job. I got the job at the BPU. Then, it was [called] the PUC, Public Utility Commission. George Barbour was then the president. I had worked there the one summer, so he got me a job as a regulatory officer, which is their in-house attorneys, and they had fifteen regulatory officers. I was the only woman there.
KR: Was that from 1981 to 1985?
JF: Yes. I started there in--the election was in November. George Barbour had me hired by the beginning of December. I started when everybody was out on vacation. I just sat there and read the law, Title 48. It was really boring.
KR: Tell me about that job as a regulatory officer.
JF: They were civil service. Unfortunately, when Florio was governor in '90, they changed that, which was a big mistake, but then they were civil service positions and they were hearing officers.
The PUC started in 1911. They used to regulate buses and cabs and boats and railroads. That was typical all over the country, but then they ended up regulating electric utilities when they were started, which was in the early 20th century. It was always located in Newark because that's where PSE&G was, which was and still is the biggest New Jersey utility. The PUC was located right downtown, 1100 Raymond Boulevard, a block from the train station. You would do hearings. We would write the orders. You would do research, work with the different divisions--the water division, solid waste division, electric division, gas division, telephone division. Cable TV division was a fairly new one. When I was a law clerk, I worked on helping to set up the cable division. So, you were the lawyers for the utility commission. There were, at the time, three commissioners. There were different divisions. My guess is, at the time, maybe there were two-hundred-and-some people there, almost all civil servants, but not all.
KR: Take me through the early part of your career. Take me through the 1980s and what you did.
JF: I was a regulatory officer from '81 until '85 because I liked policy. The commissioners want to do things based on what's in the public interest, but you have to do so within the laws and the regulations. There was one case, I think it was when the Middlesex Water Company had a developer who wanted to build houses. He put in the pipes for the water and he wanted the ratepayers to pay for it. The commissioners would prefer that the developer pay for it, and so that was an issue. What happened was--actually, that's when I was in the water division [from 1987 to 1990]. I flipped that. You do research based on history, cases and precedent. As an attorney, you make the recommendation to the commissioners about what's supposed to happen legally. In this Middlesex water case, I wasn't the attorney on it. I was working mostly on--what the heck was I working on? As an attorney, I was working mostly on water and telephone. I was there when Ma Bell was broken up, AT&T was broken up in '85 I guess it was. That was wild. I got to go to the Bell Labs twice. That was cool. That was a major loss for New Jersey and the country.
Anyway, you would write orders, you work with the staff, you would help with regulations, maybe write regulations, and you would write memos to the commissioners, to the three commissioners and/or the senior staff about what legally they should be doing with certain cases. I also volunteered and oversaw the law clerks. I also volunteered and ran the picnic committee and the holiday party committee because that's fun. Somebody had to do it; nobody really wanted to do it, so I did it. I wrote orders. I worked with the staff. I did research.
In 1985, Barbara Curran--only the second woman commissioner in the history of the utility commission and appointed by Brendan Byrne--Tom Kean had to make her president because she was the only Republican commissioner at that time. There were two Democrats and a Republican. She made me the deputy director of the Solid Waste Division in 1985, which was a brand new division. She also appointed the first woman director, which was the woman who was heading up the gas division, Nysha Weiner, and I was the second woman director. She made me director of the Water and Sewer Division in '87.
[From] '85 to '87, the two years in solid waste, were the worst two years in my career. That's when I started getting an ulcer because of organized crime elements. They controlled all solid waste collection in the State of New Jersey. I knew that from my time when [I was] active in Maple Shade politics, with the garbage removal contracts there. You have one guy bid; nobody else will bid. The guy who has that municipal contract, he bids [and] there's no other competition, even though there's supposed to be. That was two years of scary stuff because the state was trying to get them out of the business, so the legislature decided that BPU should regulate garbage collection and landfills as utilities. In hindsight, not a good idea because if you just have trucks, how do you rate base? It's not like having a generation plan or water pipes and gas pipes, but that's what they did. We were rate-base rate of returning them, which is a technical term, but treating them like utilities, even if they only had one or two trucks. The purpose was to get the organized elements out of the business. So, we had a Bureau of Enforcement. Curran hired a guy named Baron Castellano, who was hired from the investigators of the Essex County Prosecutor's office. He was our head investigator. He was born and raised in that area, and he was Italian. He hired investigators, so we had those investigators. Then, we had the typical rate people, tariff people, that you had in the other divisions.
I have tons of stories about organized crime and what we did with them, but it was really pretty interesting. Some of the stories are funny but scary too, because that's when there was supposed to be competitive bidding--if you would try to bid against somebody who had that contract for a while--when I was in Maple Shade, back in the late '70s, early '80s, that company had had that contract forever and they basically doubled the price. Nobody else bid. That's when I learned about it. It was before I was in the Solid Waste Division, although you heard about it. So, there were some things going on where a truck would be bombed, an office would be firebombed, somebody's knee caps would be broken, tires would be slashed--not of state people, but of people who were trying to compete. I remember our investigators once, in a little, cheap state car, were trying to follow a garbage truck over the George Washington Bridge, but they couldn't keep up with the truck because it was an old state vehicle. It was like a little tin can. It was ironically pretty funny.
The most fun meeting was a guy who owns this garbage company comes in with his attorney. He is your typical--it's polyester in the '80s--polyester shirt and pants, a lot of chains, rings, gold, and his lawyer was a woman [wearing] black leather pants, black spiked heels, bleach blond hair up, heavy makeup and a lot of jewelry. They were trying to convince--so, it was the director Bob Swain and me who met with them. Bob also was an attorney, so Curran put an attorney in as director and an attorney as the deputy director, which was unheard of back then--because of what we were dealing with. They were telling us why the ratepayers should pay for putting in new kitchens at their beach house and at their regular house, a racehorse that they bought, and also the one that was really funny was they had a trip to someplace in Africa--can't remember where--to see if they could barge garbage to Africa for disposal. That was really a fun meeting. Swain and I tried to keep a straight face and we had to because of who we were dealing with, but we laughed about it a lot afterwards. That was an interesting two years, and I was really happy to leave because I was really stressed and I started to get an ulcer, so I still don't drink caffeine. Swain and I had a pact that if one of us left, the other one was leaving at the same time. So, when she offered me [the position of the Division of] Water and Sewer director, Bob left for private practice. [laughter] Then, Steve Gable, who was in the economist's office became director of the Solid Waste Division. Steve was married to Meryl Frank, who was the mayor of Highland Park, who was previously one of my ERA students. I knew him from when he was a graduate student at Penn because he would see Meryl when she was at Rutgers College. He became the Solid Waste Division director. I warned him, but he did a good job. He's smart and a very good manager.
I did water and sewer from '87 to '90, and that was great. We had a whole bunch of little small water companies, maybe five hundred at the time. We eliminated a lot of them over the years and they still have some that the utility commission is trying to get rid of. Back in the day, developers would come in. They would build houses. They would build a water company, maybe septic, maybe a sewer company, but then when the houses were all sold, they wanted to get rid of it. They very nicely gave it to the homeowner's association, which didn't have the resources or the ability to keep it up. So, we had them all over the state. We had to work hard to try to get rid of those.
The legislature created a Small Water Company Takeover Act (SWCTA), which didn't work as intended. I was the first hearing officer for that law with somebody from DEP, conducting a joint PUC/DEP proceeding. Anyway, they stopped using that law about maybe ten years later. The way the law was written, DEP/PUC could jointly order a town, another water company, to take over that water system. That's the first SWCTA hearing I did. There were a couple others after that. The law wasn't effective because of bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy judges would say, "Well, how do you evaluate what the water system is worth?" Well, you evaluate it based on how much it would cost you to put it back together again so it functions. It's a negative value. The bankruptcy judges didn't do that. The bankruptcy judges did the value of the pipes and all the physical assets. So, to the judge, it was worth money. It really wasn't worth money because you couldn't do anything with the parts; you needed a functioning utility. The bankruptcy judges screwed the whole thing up, and, therefore, what we did was basically ask the big private water companies to take over these small problem systems. They've taken over a lot of them now. Rates go up substantially more though because they have shareholders that have to earn money, or sometimes towns could take them over, but usually large water companies. That was an interesting situation. There were rules, Small Water Company Takeover Act regulations, that I worked on with DEP.
We also did the first drought rules because we were having some droughts back then. We're not going to have them anymore though because of Climate Change. I worked for probably a year and a half easily with DEP, the Ratepayer Advocate and the PUC. It was our executive director, Tony Zarillo, and I who did that for the PUC, and then one of our engineers would help, and we wrote the drought rules, which have been modified since then obviously, but they were really very good and they're obviously very necessary--how you deal with a drought. That's how I got to work with DEP on both of those things.
Then, in 1990, Florio became governor, and a guy named Scott Wiener, who was his campaign treasurer and active in Bergen County politics, became his then-PUC president. When Scott came in, I wrote him a memo. I didn't know him. He knew of me. I knew of him because he was treasurer, but I really didn't know him. My husband knew him because he was working on the campaign. I wrote Scott a memo, maybe ten or twelve pages, on how to reorganize the agency--what needed to be done. So, a month later, he made me his chief of staff. So, that was my first non-civil service position, but I very smartly worked it so I kept my civil service rights. Scott was amazing. He was a great president. I learned a lot from him.
Then, he went to DEP as the commissioner in February of '91 and took me as his number two person. That's how I got to DEP. We went from an agency of not quite three hundred people to an agency of 3,500-plus people. I knew a lot of them from solid waste and from water. So, I handled all the solid waste and water issues. Scott handled the air issues. That's when we started getting a lot of air regulation matters, which was important. I was there with him as the deputy for, I guess, two years plus, and then Scott became chief counselor to Governor Florio and went over there, and I became the commissioner. I "acted" as the commissioner. Because Florio had raised the sales tax, the Republicans took control of the Senate two years after his election. The governor nominated me to be DEP Commissioner, but I was never confirmed. I didn't hire a deputy because we thought Florio would win [reelection]. I didn't hire a deputy, so I was acting as the commissioner, the deputy commissioner and the chief of staff. All at once, I was all three positions. Bill Gormley, who was the Senate Republican Judiciary Chair, who I knew and he's a great guy, from Atlantic County, he called me up the day after I was nominated [and] said, "I'll move you right away." Then, he called me two days later and said, "I can't move you. Leadership says I can't move you now. I'll move you right after the election," because everybody knew Florio was going to win. So, I never did go [to the] Judiciary [Committee], never did get confirmed. I served as commissioner from, I think it was, June or July of that year until early February 1994.
Now, Whitman became governor, was elected governor, surprising everybody. The week before she was sworn in as governor, I'm in my office packing up stuff. Debbie Poritz, who ended up being Supreme Court Chief Justice under Whitman--I knew her because she had been the AAG at the AG's office who handled the environmental arena--she was chairing Whitman's transition team for the DEP. She comes in to see me three days before Whitman gets sworn in. We sit and have a nice conversation. I asked her, "Would you please… ?" Whitman had made some announcements for cabinet but not yet DEP. People were getting very nervous about it. I said to her, "Why don't you do DEP? You know this stuff." She says, "Well, no, I can't because the governor already asked me to do something else." I said, "Well, what could be better than DEP?" She said, "Attorney General." I said, "Okay. I'm good with that, Deb. That's fine by me. Be AG." That was really great news because Debbie Poritz is just a wonderful person, was a great judge and a good role model for so many. But they still didn't have anybody there for DEP.
It's two days before the swearing in, and we don't have anybody. I'm in the office trying to pack up stuff. There was no way I was going to get it all out in time. I call up Hazel Gluck, who was the campaign chair, who in Tom Kean's cabinet, had three different positions. She had been the first woman in the legislature from Ocean County, an amazing person. I just adore Hazel. She used to tell me when she was first travel and tourism, then insurance commission, then transportation, and she didn't know any of that when she took the positions. She would tell me, "If you're a manager, you can manage anything. You don't have to know the issues beforehand." I would argue with her, "You really need to know something about it to be a better manager." I call up Hazel and I said, "Hazel, we're getting a new governor in two days. People at DEP are going crazy. They really need to know." She said, "Well, we're thinking about it. We don't know." I said, "Well, I think Bob Shinn would be good," because Bob Shinn was in the Assembly from Burlington County, chaired the environmental committee, and I dealt with him all the time for a couple of years. I said, "I think Bob Shinn would be good because he knows this stuff." She called me back five hours later and said, "Okay, I talked to the Governor-Elect." I had worked for Whitman for two years; she was president of the BPU. She was a very good commissioner and president. I was water division director then. I actually got her to join the National Women's Political Caucus and got her the endorsement from them when I was deputy commissioner of DEP. Hazel calls me back and tells me that Bob Shinn had accepted the position. Bob Shinn came in to talk with me the next day, the day before the swearing in, and we spent a long time together. He actually had to divest himself of some interests before he could be sworn in as commissioner.
Hazel and Whitman asked me to stay on as the acting commissioner until Bob could come aboard, which I agreed to do if I didn't have to do any public events with Whitman. That was good. It also gave me time to get out of the office. Bob Shinn was a good commissioner.
Then, I went to EPA because Florio and Scott Wiener had put me in for the position. I was active on the Clinton campaign in '92, very active. I was chair of the Women for Clinton in the primary and Women for Clinton/Gore in the general [election] and got to introduce them and put events together. It was really very cool. I was a New Jersey delegate and was deputy whip. The year before, Florio put me in for some Clinton federal positions, but I wanted to put it off because if Florio was reelected, which he should have been, I was going to stay at DEP and possibly run for governor in four years. That was all planned out, but it never happened, obviously.
I was put in for EPA Region II [Administrator]. I put it off as much as possible, but I wanted it as a backup. I went down to DC to be interviewed by EPA Administrator Carol Browner for Region II. There were to be three people on the Region II list sent by Browner to the White House. Anyhow, I eventually went to EPA Region II as the regional administrator, but the day after Florio lost to Whitman, I called up Tom Shea, who later on was [Jon] Corzine's chief of staff as senator and chief of staff as governor. My husband knew him from the Senate staff when Tom was at Trenton State. He actually worked as an intern with my husband and some of his friends in the State Senate. So, we've known Shea since he was in college. Shea had computerized the governor's appointments process under Florio. That was the first time it was computerized for the governor's office. He did the same thing for the White House under Bill Clinton. [It was the] first time it was computerized. I called up Shea and said, "Tom, I need my job." [laughter] He checks and he gets back to me. He said, "Bad news. There's a list of three that came in. You're not on the list." How did that happen? I had Florio's support. He checked out the three people [on the] list. It was Bobby Kennedy, Jr., who's a great guy, ended up being a friend later; Senator [Chuck] Schumer's wife, he was in Congress then, who was the head of the New York City DEP; and then a really very good African American man, a lawyer, who I think was teaching at Rutgers-Newark at the time, who I had met. I'm like, "Oh, boy." So, we worked on that and ended up getting Bill Bradley and Frank Lautenberg, who had both originally committed to support Bobby. Senator Bradley had already sent in a letter. Lautenberg had committed to it. So, Bradley sent in another letter afterward supporting me instead. They obviously talked to the family and all that, the Kennedy family, and submitted for me instead. So, Bradley and Lautenberg got me that job. That was good.
KR: When you got that job, who called you to tell you that you had gotten the job as the Region II Administrator?
JF: I was waiting and waiting because, I guess, Shinn came to DEP at the beginning of February. So, I was no longer commissioner, but, remember, I had my civil service status, so they had to find me a comparable job in state government. I was waiting and waiting to hear from the White House, and they had appointed almost every single--I think only two out of the ten regions hadn't been announced yet. I think it had just been Region III, which is Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, and Region II. Everybody else had been picked. So, I need a vacation. Steve and I finally go down to Fort Lauderdale, where my cousin worked at the Howard Johnson's on the beach, and we got a room. Literally, we walk in the door to register, and I have a message that Carol Browner called me. I'm like, "Oh, geez." I had a week's vacation and I needed a vacation and hadn't had one in over a year. After we got into our room, I called and she said I could take my vacation and then start. That was good because I needed the vacation. Actually, Carol Browner called me up, who was the boss.
KR: The only time you would not want to hear from Carol Browner.
JF: When Christie Whitman became the president of the PUC, she had been a freeholder [and] freeholder director in Somerset County. She was president of the PUC, and I was water director. I made an appointment to go in and see Whitman. I said it was personal. I had gotten her to join the Women's Political Caucus before because she was pro-choice. She was a typical Whitman/Kean/Rockefeller Republican. I went in and made an appointment to talk to her about her going to Congress because that district at that time, Somerset County, was the district's base. The awesome Millicent Fenwick was retiring. Whitman easily would have gotten it because her parents were so active and she had been active. She says, well, no, she didn't want to go to Washington. She had other plans. She was going to run against Bill Bradley. I said, "You can't beat Bill Bradley." She said, "I know that, but I want to run for governor and I need statewide name recognition. I don't want to beat [him]. I promised my son." Her son, at that point, was six or seven. "I promised him there's no way we're going to have to go to Washington." She almost had to go to Washington, so her son would have probably shot her. He's a cute kid. She actually told me that she had committed to--that's how much she trusted me--she committed to the National Republican Party to run against Bill Bradley. She told me that she wanted to run for governor. I knew her pretty well. Through the Women's Political Caucus I'd been on, I knew Hazel Gluck and Jane Burgio and I knew a couple of the other women cabinet who were Republican and they were friends. What was the question? I can't remember.
KR: Tell me about the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC) and how you got involved in that and what you did.
JF: Well, I was always active. We got married in September '79. I didn't move to New Brunswick until early '81 because my husband and I both were wanting to run for office, but you really can't see each other if you're both into politics because politics is at night and on the weekends. I decided Steve was much better than I was, in many ways, as a candidate and certainly as an elected official than I would be. I moved up to New Brunswick. He was one of the best spoken people I know, very thoughtful. He's an introvert, which is much better than my personality would be [as] an extrovert. So, I moved up here. I researched what groups did I want to get involved in, because I wanted to be the Democratic committeewoman in my district, but New Brunswick and Middlesex County weren't handled the way Burlington County was. That wasn't going to happen. We bought the New Brunswick house in November or December of '81. I had researched the League of Woman Voters, National Organization for Women, Women's Political Caucus, other ones, and I decided, for me, the most direct way--this is why I wanted to run for office--to get change is by elected office. I liked the League of Women Voters, but I really wanted to engage in getting women elected because there weren't very many. I think New Jersey was number forty-eight or forty-nine at the time. However, two of those women were from my district in Maple Shade. We had a [New Jersey] senator, Cathy Costa, and Barbara Kalik was in the Assembly. Out of our three legislators, two were women. That was not typical if we were number forty-eight in the country.
I decided on the Women's Political Caucus. I joined through national. I sent my check there. I got an invitation to come to a Middlesex County chapter meeting. I didn't know anybody [at the] meeting, which was held at [the] Labor Education Center at Rutgers at the time. I walked into this room of women--as a matter of fact, all of them, much older than me--I was probably twenty-nine maybe--Democrats and Republicans, and became active. Two years later, I was president of the Middlesex County chapter. That put me on the state board. Then, I became vice president of the state board in '86, something like that. I was vice president for a couple of years, then became the president. I was president for three years. I then ran for vice president of the National Women's Political Caucus, which back then was a very active national group; it isn't so much now. I was on the board for national. They had some officer election rules because they wanted diversity. They had some rules that there's a president and five vice presidents, but at least one had to be a Republican because, even though you had Republican members, probably only a third were Republicans. At least one had to be a Republican and three had to be people of color, something like that. The incumbent president was a white Democrat. Well, I didn't realize this, but I ended up putting in to run for vice president--ended up I was running against a friend of mine who was an incumbent Democrat, white, from California. California is a big state. California, Texas and New York were the big caucuses, hundreds and hundreds of members. They basically controlled the thing. I decided to run anyway because I had a point to make. I forget what the point was. It was a state's right point. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was a national caucus versus state caucuses policy/process issue.
The young women at the time from New Jersey who were active went down to the convention in D.C. My husband really knows how to do campaigns. You count your votes, which is what he's always done. So, they had me all over the place talking to different delegations and all that kind of stuff. They were very good at it. They even had t-shirts made up. So, the California caucus, which was the biggest one, would let me talk to them because my friend said, "Look, you should hear her." New York also let me talk. The Texas caucus, which is a big one, kept on stonewalling us. They said, "Well, maybe." Then, the vice presidential candidates are giving speeches to the convention. I'm literally up giving the speech to almost all the delegates in the room. As soon as I finish my speech, my people grab me because Texas was meeting then to decide how they were going to vote. They ran me up to the Texas meeting room--there were forty or fifty Texas delegates in the room. We walk in. I asked to speak, and they wouldn't let me. A couple of the younger Texas women said, "Let her speak. She should be allowed to speak. We should be able to hear from everybody." So, I actually did speak. My guys counted the votes based on what had been happening--they were really good. These are women who were in their early twenties. Of course, I wasn't that much older, I guess. They figured out of the couple of thousand votes that I would win or lose by ten. I lost by five-and-a-half votes. It was obviously very close. I was actually happy my friend got reelected because she deserved it. I didn't realize it was basically me against her because all the other things--you need the people of color and party requirements, only one white Democrat could be a vice president. Then, one of the other vice presidents, a couple months later, resigned, and I was appointed as the vice president. I was vice president for a couple years for the national caucus. It was a really important organization then. It put together a major effort to recommend women for Bill Clinton in '92--I was involved in going through resumes for women for cabinet [and] sub-cabinet positions for energy and environment. That's when I first saw Carol Browner's resume. That was really pretty interesting. The caucus actually put that coalition together of probably twenty-five women's organizations, national organizations. The caucus actually did that. That was really pretty cool.
When I was NWPC vice president, Ann Richards was running for governor of Texas. I got to be with a couple people that gave her the big check. I got to talk to her a couple times. Very cool lady. Her daughter [was] president of national Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, [until 2018]. Ann Richards was just such a cool person.
When I was at EPA in the '90s--Carol Browner made me get off--she didn't tell me until I was in the position for two months at EPA that I had to get off almost all of my boards. I could have gotten another federal government job and not done that. It wasn't legally required. She had given up her involvements in Florida, so she wanted all her people to do the same. I had been on the Women's Political Caucus board for New Jersey since '83. This was now '94. I had formed a Choice PAC board for New Jersey. I had to get off of that. I had to get off of--not Rutgers Trustees, I don't think--a couple others boards. I had to give up my National Women's Political Caucus vice presidency for the EPA position.
Now, I'm at EPA, and General Electric has a really bad Superfund site upriver.
KR: Up the Hudson River.
JF: The Hudson River itself. Really bad. You can't eat the fish--PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls].
JF: I was the one who was the thorn in their side early on. That's when I became friendly with Bobby Kennedy, Jr. Also, GE actually paid for Ann Richards to come up to New York and lobby me. I don't know how much they paid her, but they paid her. She wasn't governor anymore because she lost reelection, even though she was popular. She was sixty, seventy percent popular in her state, but it was a Republican state. We talked for about ten minutes and I told her how bad it was and I wasn't going to change my mind. Then, we spoke for the next hour about everything else. She's just such a cool lady. She was just so cool. I got to meet Barbara Jordan and deal with Barbara Jordan, who could have been president if she hadn't gotten sick. She was an amazing speaker as well.
Actually, I got to meet a bunch of other people. The woman who was the president of the National Caucus then, Harriet Woods, had been lieutenant governor in Missouri and ran twice for the Senate against the incumbent who won, a Republican. You know EMILY's List? It's a big national PAC--[stands for] "Early Money is like Yeast--it makes the dough rise." [Editor's Note: Emily's List is a political action committee that supports Democratic, pro-choice women in achieving election to political office.] Well, the woman who set that up, Ellen Malcolm, actually was raising money for Harriet Woods for the Senate race. It was hard to raise money. The Democratic Party, the men wouldn't give money to Harriet. Harriet Woods was an amazing person. That's why EMILY's List was set up by Malcolm because she had the experience with trying to get Harriet elected to the Senate. Harriet just narrowly lost. It was a name that you would know. That's why EMILY's List was set up, because of Harriet. Harriet was awesome. Her executive director was awesome. They had different characteristics. If one didn't have one skill, the other one did. NWPC was just really well managed and organized. One of the vice presidents, Lena Guerrero, who was a campaign manager for Ann Richards, was the first vice president for the National Caucus. I had Lena come up to do training in New Jersey twice for women running for office up here. That was a fun time.
KR: Before we get into the EPA, I want to go back to the DEP and ask you a couple follow up questions. What was it like being a commissioner at the DEP in the Florio Administration?
JF: Well, Florio is the environmental guy. Florio was the main sponsor of the Superfund law--he actually wrote the Superfund law. Most people who sponsor bills just sponsor bills; he actually wrote the Superfund law. He's just a real policy wonk. He was just such a pleasure. He was the best governor. [Jim] McGreevey was pretty good. [Jon] Corzine sometimes was good about talking to them, but he is just amazing--Florio.
I handled a lot of issues when I was a deputy commissioner [from 1991 to 1993]. I was on the Delaware River Basin Commission as the rep for Florio. There were four states and a federal government rep involved in that. They control the watershed for the Delaware River, all of it, and a bunch of other water issues. Then, the estuary programs. The EPA had estuary programs that they were setting up. I served as the New Jersey rep on five estuary programs. We got a lot of good done.
One of the first things I did because of the solid waste problem--so, the law that set up solid waste as a utility industry--DEP handled the environmental part--you have to get a DEP permit. If you want to own a garbage truck, you have to get this 901 permit. 901 was the section of the law. The application has to go through the attorney general's office, criminal justice, the solid waste people at DEP, the solid waste people at BPU. So, the application would come in, and then it would be somewhere in the system. You have a six-year backlog. It was ridiculous. A month or so at DEP, I got a meeting together in the commissioner's conference room. I had all the relevant state people there. I said, "How does this process work?" They're telling me. I'm diagramming on the white board. They've been doing this since '85, and this is now '91. Literally, people who filed in '85 had a backlog. The application comes in and it goes from office to office to office to office. Remember, we didn't have computers then. We set up the computer system at DEP at the time. I said, "Did you ever think about making five copies of the application when it comes in and everybody getting it?" "No." For six years, they've been doing it this way. So, when it would come back to the original place, they'd have to re-look at it because things have changed. I cut the backlog from literally six years, before we left, within two or three years, down to less than a year. That's the type of thing I did. Another one would be relevant for here, because people know the Raritan River--I might have mentioned this to you. There's a regulation that says you can't put a permanent barrier in a flood plain. I think I mentioned this to you. Did I?
JF: So, DEP denied it because you can't do that by the regulation, but almost every agency can give waivers if there're reasons for that. What I learned at the BPU easily enough, which is why I got promoted so quickly, was what's the public interest, what do the commissioners want to do, and what was the intention of the regulation? The intention of that floodplain regulation made sense. If you put a permanent barrier in there, be it a building or a wall or a dike or whatever you want to call what we had here, it will cause flooding elsewhere; the water has to go someplace else. I had staff come in with the Raritan maps. I said, "Okay, now here's where they want to put it. Where's the flooding downriver?" The map had the whole river. Well, it was all wetlands downriver and one park in Highland Park on the other side. So, we gave them a waiver, the point being you've got to look at why is that regulation there, does that actually apply in this situation, which is what I did through my entire career. I tried to educate people at the BPU and at DEP about that. There were things like that that I did that were good.
We also set up the computer system at DEP. A couple of divisions, we actually reorganized. The divisions were--there was a water division, there was an air division, there was a solid waste division--there were all these different divisions--land use. We just shook them up. For permits, you have to go across divisional lines. So, we created the permit division. They would have friends in the other divisions that they'd work with for a number of years. They had those relationships, but then they could move things faster. That seemed to work pretty well. We created the first enforcement division, which is really important because you've got to enforce. DEP sometimes did stupid things with enforcement. What they would do was routinely charge a permittee all these violations of permits per day or whatever--ridiculous amounts, totaling millions of dollars--but they never could fix the problem nor collect the fine. So, we created an enforcement division and we brought in a really good guy to head that up, Ed Neafsey, who ended up later being a judge and was a prosecutor. [He] headed that up and really fixed that so that we could actually start enforcing the laws. We set up the first unified DEP computer system, brought a guy named Peter Nichols in who had background in that. A couple divisions had their own computer systems. They didn't talk to each other. They were different systems. Of course, the state didn't have an IT agency yet. He got it so they could connect and talk to each other. We really did a lot at DEP. I thought I'd be there for another three years or so. I had a great team in place. They were fantastic, but unfortunately, that didn't happen.
KR: What was left undone?
JF: Oh, Jesus, well, Climate Change. We knew about Climate Change then, which is why Scott was engaged on the air issues. He helped set up a new organization of state environmental officials to coordinate on the air matters. There were a lot of things that we should have done, including lead remediation. Lead in paint lowers IQs of kids, substantially actually, and so got a law passed--I'm pretty sure it was in the early '90s--that created a paint tax. That money was at DEP and that money would be used to do remediation in the older homes, mostly in the older cities. I think we found out about the health dangers of lead in paint in the '70s. So, lead in paint was stopped, but there were a lot of houses before that with lead-based paint. You have windows that go up and down, the wooden windows, and you have little pieces of lead paint. Kids eat it. So, we did that. Asthma, we were starting to work on asthma as an air quality issue. There were a lot of [those] things that we were all ready to go on. Some of that still got done; some of that didn't get done. Then, when I went to the EPA, I followed up. Asthma and lead were two of my huge priorities at EPA.
KR: What was being discussed with Climate Change at the DEP?
JF: Well, you knew that there was a problem with carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses (GHG). That had been known by experts for a while. I didn't really know about it until I got to DEP because it wasn't a really big public issue. Scott got into it a lot and I learned some about it. I learned a lot more about it at EPA. You knew that GHG was going to change the climate. I guess they called it global warming back then. They didn't call it Climate Change because the term "Climate Change" came up when I was EPA. We at EPA came up with that. We, as a group at EPA, came up with using that term for the GHG impact to the world instead of "global warming."
KR: They called it the greenhouse effect in the 1990s. We had a huge poster in my kitchen when I was growing up.
JF: Yes, we knew about that. They were working on that, but also, particulate matter was a big issue. Acid rain in the early '90s was huge. That actually worked. The acid rain regulations, which we were at DEP when that was being done, actually worked. So, acid rain was a big thing. And those emissions were substantially reduced, and New England's forests were protected.
They were figuring out how we were going to deal with these emissions. We had a lot more coal facilities then. We put a lot of requirements on that as it continued into the future. Whitman was good at that also. Whitman and Shinn dealt with that stuff, too. Actually, Kean and Whitman were both very good environmental governors. New Jersey has always had good environmental governors up until Chris Christie. He wasn't horrible like a lot of them in the country, but he certainly--put it this way: we dropped down dramatically in the rankings of what we were doing because a lot of other states were getting better and we might have been maintaining, but we certainly weren't improving. There were a lot worse Republican environmental governors--like what [Donald] Trump is doing with eliminating important policies and regulations. Christie couldn't get away with doing that.
When Chris Christie had his first press conference, he pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative [RGGI], which I helped negotiate for New Jersey. When he was asked a question about it, and he's one of the best politicians--probably the best out of the state of New Jersey ever, in the sense of being able to be a politician in all the good and the bad senses--his response was, "Well, I'm not a scientist. I don't know this stuff," which is the typical Republican response. What we did was we sent in some of the experts to talk to him, from Princeton and from Rutgers, and I forget who else, but who were involved with this. When he pulled out of RGGI, he said he was pulling out of RGGI because it wasn't helping New Jersey. New Jersey was getting hurt. He did say all of these climate experts had come in and convinced him that humans do have an impact on changing the climate. That was because at one of his first meetings a couple months earlier, one of his first town hall meetings, he got asked about it and he gave that answer--"I'm not a scientist." In between that town hall meeting where he was asked that question and when he did the RGGI press conference, he was educated. That was pretty cool actually. So, he pulled out of RGGI, but he didn't hurt the programs as much because he really couldn't because he was technically on the record, although he never spoke about it after that.
KR: I wanted to ask you a follow-up question from our first session. At the end, you talked about how you threw your hat in the ring to be dean of Douglass College. The search committee recommended you and then Fran Lawrence went in a different direction. That would have been …
JF: I was at EPA.
KR: You were at EPA then. Was that when you were lining up your next job after DEP?
JF: No, no. I was at EPA as the Regional Administrator.
KR: You were there as Region II Administrator and the opening came at Douglass.
JF: I would have left for Douglass.
JF: It's very clear to me that women's colleges are still needed. Certainly, in the '90s, it was still needed, and I would argue today it's still needed. We have--I think I said before--subconscious sexism like subconscious racism in this country. There are young women I've come across who went to Rutgers College when it was Rutgers College, now basically the School of Arts and Sciences, who realize they would have done better at Douglass. You build your self-confidence and you have more leadership opportunities. People live up to their expectations. If your parents or your teachers don't expect a girl to do what they would expect a boy to do, that's part of you. You have to get that out of you and you can do that in a women's campus. At that point, in the '90s, our elected officials who were women were still much lower in numbers. Now, in New Jersey, we've done much better, but that's only been the last maybe eight years, ten years. It was definitely needed. Leadership at the corporate level, government level, you still really needed that. I would read a lot--I was involved with the Women's Political Caucus and I obviously left it, but I still kept in touch with a lot of people and read on it. It was pretty clear to me. To me, that was important. Basically, Rutgers and Douglass saved my life, if you look at it that way. There were others--Bobby Kennedy could have been the RA [Regional Administrator]. It wasn't as if there weren't good people who could do that EPA position, but I would have loved--because I don't have kids--I love to mentor. I would have loved to have mentored those hundreds and hundreds of young women all the time. They would have been like my family. I probably would have stayed there until I retired, whenever that would have been, unless they threw me out. I would have loved that. I would have walked around campus, the way you should do, etc. Most deans do that. Some deans don't do that.
KR: Let us take a quick break.
KR: Okay. We are back on the record. I wanted to go back and ask you about something you mentioned before. You were talking about the presidential election of 1992 and going on the campaign trail. Can you tell some stories about that?
JF: I would speak a lot, so I would work with some of the leaders because I did the "women's perspective." I did some TV--New Jersey Network a couple times, but also one or two of the New York channels, but in New Jersey, maybe News 9. You organize people. For Clinton, I had the group of women I mentioned before, the Trenton political women Democrats, and putting them together with the Clinton women who went to law school or college with Hillary, it was basically oil and water. I had to keep them together.
KR: Why were they oil and water?
JF: Well, the New Jersey political women were political. The Clinton people really weren't; they were doing it because they loved the Clintons and they were smart. Everybody was smart. They had different interests and different types of personalities, even though you had different personalities in both groups. We raised a lot of money. We raised more money for Clinton, except for one other state. I don't remember if the other state was California or Arkansas, but we really did a good job. We had women's events, small events, around the state. I mentioned getting to introduce Hillary during the primary and introduced Bill, which was a very scary thing, during the general election. It was a lot of fun. You get a little nervous when you're going on TV or doing that kind of thing. I never debated for Clinton, luckily, but it was fun and it was very active. I was still the DEP deputy commissioner, but I was at work doing that. I would just not stay until seven or eight at night, which I typically would. I went out the door by quarter of five, five. The campaign office was in New Brunswick, which is where my husband always put the offices because Rutgers students are here and they volunteer. That makes a lot of sense. It was fun, it was exciting, it was important, in my mind. We really had to get back to the right step of where we were going. George Bush the first was a nice guy, but he was following up on [Ronald] Reagan and there were a lot of things they were doing policy-wise that I didn't agree with. The environment was important, although, at that point, the Republicans were just as concerned as the Democrats about Climate Change, if they knew about it. It wasn't at all a partisan issue back then.
KR: What was it like introducing Hillary Clinton and then Bill Clinton at events?
JF: Hillary Clinton was fun because it was the primary. It was on the front State House stairs. It was almost informal. That was fun. The one with Bill Clinton was scary because it was national--dozens and dozens of cameras.
KR: Where was it?
JF: I think it was Livingston High School. It was a big North Jersey high school gym. There were basically bleachers on both sides but then a lot of chairs on the other side. There were well over a thousand people there easy. It was also the first time I was actually meeting Bill Clinton. It wasn't informal like with Hillary with a couple hundred people. Bill Clinton's was big time. New Jersey TV might have been there in Trenton; that's probably about it. It was pretty scary. I admired him so much. He was such a good politician. He's a really great candidate. Same thing with Chris Christie; he's a very good candidate. There are people who had that kind of charismatic personality. That certainly is Bill Clinton. You couldn't help but love him when you got to meet him. He just liked and loved everybody. That was scary. I pulled it off, but I was glad it was over. It was a nervous five or so minutes. I really didn't care about the advance guy. What was he going to do? He couldn't fire me.
KR: What did your job entail at the EPA when you were heading up Region II?
JF: Well, it was just about a thousand people. Main office is in New York City, lower Manhattan. We actually moved buildings when I was there. We were in the big federal building, the [Jacob K.] Javits [Federal] Building it's called now, after the senator. We moved to a brand-new building, 290 Broadway, between Duane and Reade Streets, which is where Duane Reade's first store was. Javits was just across the street. It's easy to remember where it was. It's really one block north of City Hall. It's a good location and you can get there by the PATH [Port Authority Trans-Hudson], which is nice, and the subways are all nearby.
We handled everything. Superfund was a big thing. New Jersey has the most Superfund sites in the country, even though we're a small state. It's because, I think, we are environmentally-minded, both Democrats and Republicans. We wanted to find the sites and clean them up. In a lot of other states, some politicians avoid getting them designated Superfund sites because they don't want people to know they have a problem. My guess is there are other states who probably have more sites, but they're not designated and they're just sitting there.
We also have a lot of water bodies, and a lot of our drinking water comes out of groundwater, although it's less than it used to. You have to be very careful about that. I have always told people since I worked at the BPU and the PUC in the '80s, no matter where you are in New Jersey, no matter if it's out in the middle of nowhere, you should not use groundwater for your drinking water, unless you test it all the time because the EPA and the DEP require really stringent testing for public health. That protects your family. If you're older, maybe you can retire out there, what the heck. If you're pregnant or if you have children, you really need to use "city water" to drink because people dump things. Remember, EPA, DEP started in the early '70s. Before that, people were dumping crap, chemicals, everything, all over the state. You would find them out in the Pine Barrens, everywhere. It's really pretty scary.
Superfund was important. We also have a lot of chemical industries in New Jersey, including our pharmaceutical industries, the same thing--and then the old manufacturing facilities. They're everywhere and it really does affect the public health, as well as the ecosystem health, the animals and wildlife. New Jersey has always been strong on the environment since environmental regulation was started in the '70s. Brendan Byrne was the first governor that had it, and he did a good job. He preserved the Pinelands. Part of the forest is named after him. That was one of his major achievements, although not the only one. Jim Florio actually worked with him when he was in Congress to help get that done. What was the question? [laughter]
KR: I asked what your job entailed.
JF: Superfund was huge. Then, also, we had the estuary programs that I mentioned that I was involved in when I was at DEP as a New Jersey representative. The estuary programs were set up by EPA for the national estuaries. Region II had five estuaries in the national program. In New Jersey, we had the Delaware River one, which included Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Delaware, as well as the feds. There was the Hudson River one, which is obviously mostly New York and New Jersey. Then, we also put in for the Barnegat Bay when I was at DEP--it wasn't chosen, but then I pushed for it at EPA and it was approved. There is also the San Juan Bay and Long Island's Peconic Bay.
That was important because you wanted the people to have drinkable, swimmable water bodies again, also eating the fish. The improvement, since I was a kid, before there was a DEP or EPA, [is] incredible in our water sources. A lot of the streams, like the one I grew up with behind my house or the one I mentioned when I was at EPA as a student, the water quality is much better. It's better for the critters but also for human health. That was a big thing, a major change, for this country, when that was needed. It was because of Love Canal and the Cleveland River catching fire, and all those other catastrophes. It was really bad stuff. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson wrote that book. That was the big book that started the environmental movement. It's important that we did that because we didn't even realize how bad it was for cancer causing and all that. The science has all been done--well, not all been done, but a lot of science has been done in that regard by the EPA scientists primarily, but also by others. That was a big issue.
The Superfund was huge, especially for New Jersey, but New York has them. Puerto Rico has had a few bad ones. They also have a pharmaceutical industry down there. Water quality is huge. For Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, it's a big thing just because tourism is their economy. In New Jersey, DEP would work with EPA. It always did. When Bob Shinn was at DEP, I was EPA. We had already worked together in New Jersey. We knew each other well when he was chairing the committee in the Assembly and I was at DEP. We would meet at Mastoris Diner with our top people maybe every four months and go over issues and try to resolve what we could, which was a good working relationship. What else? With Hudson River, the big thing was the General Electric Superfund site, which was really bad news. It's the longest Superfund site in the country--two hundred miles long.
KR: Yes. Tell me about that.
JF: There are major GE manufacturing facilities up river, up the Hudson. They were polluting with PCBs. You could literally not safely eat any fish in the Hudson River. GE's solution back then--and this was in the '90s--and actually before that because this site started long before I was there--between EPA and GE and New York State, GE's solution was just don't eat the fish. Well, when I was at DEP, we tried that with the Passaic River, that goes from Passaic down through Newark. We had signs we put up in Portuguese, Spanish and English along the river: "Don't eat the fish." But people are subsistence fishing. If they want to eat and there's a free meal, they're going to eat it. I found that out when I was at DEP. I'll be damned if I was going to take that excuse from GE to just tell them not to eat the fish, because people are poor and they will fish. That was a huge fight. When I came in, at that point, it was a David-and-Goliath type of thing because they had basically bought off everybody. Bobby Kennedy finally got involved, which was great because he is a strong advocate on the environmental side for people. He was helpful and then we started to work, but it was a gradual build up. It was hard to do because, I think, if Clinton hadn't won, GE would have gotten their way. I was involved with that case for my full seven years.
For Superfund remediation, you have do a plan for cleanup. You first do a draft plan. I scheduled it so that if Gore lost, which he did--I was hoping he wouldn't--that we would have a draft plan public, so that if EPA later changed that, they'd have to explain why they're changing it. I actually backtracked on the schedule to make sure that the draft plan was out before the end of the administration. I'm glad I did. So, actions have been taken. They're doing some cleanup. It's okay. I think it could have been a better plan, but it's okay.
There was also a site up along the Saint Lawrence River, right on the Canadian border between the Mohawks of the Haudenosaunee Nation (the Iroquois Nation) and the General Motors site. The General Motors Massena site had polluted the Saint Lawrence River and also some land around there. The Passaic River was dioxins. This was PCBs. So, hunting and fishing is what Native Americans do traditionally. They couldn't because of the PCBs. What General Motors had done is they had put all their waste, which included PCBs, in a big landfill that was right between the Saint Lawrence and the creek, the dividing line between their property and the Mohawks.
We went up to Massena a couple times for meetings. It was a tough environmental justice issue. That remediation agreement plan between EPA and GM had already been signed before I got there. Right after I got in there, General [Motors] came in and said, "Based on the agreement, if we can segregate certain sections of the landfill out, then we don't have to take the whole landfill out." The original agreement was they would remove the entire landfill, but if they could segregate in the landfill specific areas where they had high PCB levels and they could do that, they could just remove those sections. That's when I went out to Detroit with the head of EPA Superfund and we begged them to still remove the entire landfill. But they wouldn't do it. [I] told them it'd be an EJ [environmental justice] issue. It soon became a national environmental justice issue. Before I left EPA, they eventually came around and said they would remove it all. That was a huge issue for not just the Mohawks, the Haudenosaunee (the Iroquois), but around the country for all Native Americans, which is what I told General Motors would happen. You had some major sites like that that were "political."
There was the Ciba-Geigy site with the cancer cluster down in Toms River. Big issue. I actually went down with Senator [Robert] Torricelli to Linda Gillick's home. She was in charge of the opposition. A lot of science done on that site, the science showed that there was a cancer cluster of sorts for a certain age--it was males or females, I forget. It was all the press and all the news. That was a toughie because sometimes science and public perceptions are different. It's hard for people to understand the science.
Another huge issue was the mud dump site off of New Jersey, out about five miles off of Sandy Hook. Material dredged to keep open the New York Bight shipping lanes were historically disposed of off of the coast. It was tough. The dioxin of that site, based on the science, our scientists went out and they took samples and they took lobster and they took fish and checked them. It was not harmful to people or to the critters out there. They only found it in some lobster, the green bile of some lobster, nothing else. It was not harmful to human health. Literally, the dioxin at the site was--what I was told by a scientist--a thumbnail amount of dioxin in the two World Trade Center volumes. There wasn't much there. What really should have been done with more--what the scientists at EPA wanted to do is cap it with basically clean fill and just leave it there. Some of the environmental groups really wanted to--Cindy Ziff specifically, who was the head of Clean Ocean Action, and still is, wanted to do all kinds of other actions. That was a politically hot issue. We formed a group that worked on that with citizens on an ongoing basis over the years. Because it was so political and in the newspapers a lot, we decided not to do any more dumping out there, that that type of material should really be able to go as clean cover on landfills. You need to cover landfills because of birds and wind, etc., on a regular basis, but because of all the bad publicity, the landfill owners made the Army Corps of Engineers or whoever is doing the dredging pay, to take that dredged material to the landfills. They used it for clean cover. But, because it was viewed by the public as being contaminated, they should have just--we wanted to them to take it for free. They wouldn't take it for free; they had to be paid. That was a waste of dollars, of public dollars basically, but because of the politics of it, there was not much you could do about it.
What it comes down to is if it's in the ocean and the critters eat it and then the fish eat the critters and then we'd eat the fish, that food chain thing, that would be a problem with those materials possibly in the ocean. There is no way ever it would be a problem on land because you don't have little critters eating fish or anything else eating that and us eating them. Unfortunately, you have to deal with that kind of small "p" political thing. It's a balance of the science and the policy and hooking that up with the public perceptions.
The issue of the dredge material disposal site became extremely hot when the Clinton/Gore presidential reelection was getting underway. I ended up getting the White House involved with that, the Council on Environmental Quality. Brad Campbell was there. I worked with him on that. It ratcheted it up a level. Brad came in and helped calm things down. Then, he later ended being the Regional Administrator in Region III and we worked close together, then became the DEP commissioner under McGreevey (I had recommended him and several others to McGreevey). You have people who are very smart, very dedicated people working at EPA or DEP, but most of them don't understand the politics. What I try to teach people, being basically a civil servant at heart and a public servant, is you have to know what the politics are, so the politics don't have you make the wrong decision based on politics. You want the right science decision, policy decision, but you got to know what the politics are so you can work around that. A lot of people learn how that worked. Some of these guys, who have been there for their whole career and they're really smart and very capable, just couldn't grasp that. They thought I was being "political." Well, yes, I'm political, but I'm being political so it doesn't negatively impact a decision. You want the right decision based on the science. That was really pretty interesting. Some people get that, some people don't get it. The best job I had was that EPA job.
KR: How closely did you work with folks in the White House?
JF: Not that much. Browner was very close with them. I worked very closely with Browner and her assistant administrators. There was one for water. There was one for air, one for Superfund/solid waste, etcetera. We would work with them. Browner was good because she had us get together. We'd work annually on the budget as a group, all the regional administrators, deputy regional administrators (career people), the assistant administrators (AA) and deputy assistant administrators (DAA) in Washington. Each AA has two DAAs. For instance, there's an air assistant administrator with two DAAs, one is a career person and one is a political appointee. That group would get together with Browner in D.C. each year for a couple days to finalize the EPA budget together. There'd be a draft put out, and then if we wanted to add an item, we'd have to subtract the same amount from elsewhere. It was really a pretty interesting process, but it was a very good process.
I did deal directly with her in a couple matters. I went to present to her. I wanted to, if possible, avoid filtering the New York City water supply. This is the biggest thing I probably did at EPA. New York City's water supply comes from Upstate--big pipes built in the 1880s. It's via gravity. When EPA was formed and the Clean Water Act was passed [in] '72, their reservoirs were not filtered. They didn't need to be filtered back then. But "everybody" knew that eventually they'd have to be filtered. When I get there, I was told that we're going to have to order in a year or two New York City to filter the water supply, which means that we end up in court for ten or fifteen years because it'd be a big fight because it's going to cost them billions and billions of dollars to do that. So, they'll fight it.
I researched it myself as a lawyer. The Clean Water Act does have a section that I found that says that certain water systems don't have to be filtered if they meet certain criteria. I talked to my water guys and lawyers in my region, and I said, "Maybe we could try this." "Not going to work. That's made for these little water systems up in mountains where it's very pristine." I said, "Could it work for here?" "Well, we'd have to do …" I said, "Well, it might be worth a try." They thought I was crazy, but we put something together. Then, I went down, and I talked to the assistant administrator for water. He was very good, ended up being the deputy administrator under [President Barack] Obama, the number two guy, and almost was the administrator, but Gina McCarthy got it. Anyhow, he's Bob Perciasepe.
I then went to Browner to present to her what I wanted to try to do, which was put together New York State, New York City, EPA, and try to knock out avoiding filtration for the New York City water supply. Basically, everybody told me I was crazy, but legally it was doable. Maybe technically, it was doable. We spent a couple of years. The chief of staff for [Rudy] Giuliani, at that time, he just came in. His first chief of staff was great, Peter Powers. He was really good, but he left after three years to run the reelection campaign. His second chief of staff, Randy Mastro, was a jerk. That name is still around. Anyway, he was involved in the Bridgegate case with Chris Christie and he's a jerk. Then, the counsel for Governor [George] Pataki, Michael Finnegan, was very involved. It was Pataki's counsel, Giuliani's chief of staff and me. We each set up a team. I had five people on my team, full time, that's their job. They reported to the water director. He then reported to me. Then, we had the three of us make final decisions if there was a disagreement among the teams. These teams would work together. You also had Bobby Kennedy involved with the Upstate communities. I guess we spent two years, three years negotiating this thing. We worked it out so that, for instance, they had to do ozone treatment, which was fairly new at that time, for the water supply, for the wastewater treatment plants. You have wastewater treatment plants that would be polluting. They did setbacks for a lot of places, where you can't build within a certain distance from the reservoirs or the incoming streams. Things like fertilizers, all necessary regulations were worked out. A couple of times there were disagreements among the teams, so it'd go up to the directors. A couple times, it would come up to the three of us. We would sit down, either in Albany or New York City, and knock it out.
Anyway, we actually avoided filtration. It cost money, but it cost, instead of, I don't know, six or nine billion dollars to filter the entire system, it took them a couple of billion dollars to do all the alternative actions. It is still in effect. They had to do some filtration of one of the reservoirs (Croton) that was, literally, in the city. That's the one time I had demonstrators with bullhorns and signs outside my house in New Brunswick on a Saturday morning. The thing is, EPA had nothing to do with choosing the site. New York City chose that site.
KR: What were the demonstrators protesting?
JF: Well, what ended up being--next to the location where the city was going to locate the filtration plant was a big apartment building with retired union employees. One Saturday, they took their busses--I think it was two busses--and their signs and bullhorns and came all the way down to New Brunswick to my little Buccleuch neighborhood on a Saturday morning with bullhorns and signs, which was quite exciting for my neighbors. The EPA had nothing to do with the siting of that reservoir. That was strictly a city decision. We were making them do it, but otherwise, they would have had to filter everything. That was a huge victory that nobody thought we could do. That's what I like to do is you bring people together. You fight back and forth about the facts. You make it based on science and public health and all that. That was probably the biggest decision I ever got together. Again, I didn't do it by myself. It was people working together.
In Puerto Rico, the governor-now's father was governor, [Pedro] Rossello, and he was a pediatrician, served two terms. Good-looking family. Smart people. [He had] three sons, and one of them is now governor, [Ricardo Rossello]. I met with him two or three times a year with his relevant cabinet. I would go down there a lot because they needed a lot of help. Did I mention this to you, the six sewer treatment plants?
JF: Okay. They had six huge sewer treatment plants around the island that would go either into the Atlantic or into the Caribbean, the wastewater that gets treated, except they weren't working properly because PRASA [Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority], PREPA [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] is their electric, and the telephone company, were all government-owned and they were all patronage pits. You'd have some really good people, and you have some people that weren't. After the administration would change, they might move around the top people. All of these six facilities were not meeting requirements. Tourism is the island's major business. And he's a pediatrician. I convinced him he needed to fix those six plants. His decision on doing that--because he didn't have money--he sold the telephone company. He privatized the formerly government-owned telephone company--huge thing because [it's] a lot of jobs. This caused an island-wide strike. I was going down there for a meeting. It was the middle of summer, that's for sure. I know this strike is going on, but they said they were going to get me out of the airport somehow. Continental never announced to the people on the plane that the boycott had the airport blocked off. You couldn't get in or out of the airport by vehicle. Puerto Rico flights were always the best flights because you had families onboard, because there are a lot of Puerto Ricans in New York and New Jersey. It was like almost going to Disney World or Disneyland at the time because everybody was happy, they're going to visit their family this year. They never made an announcement. So, I get out of the airport, and my director Carl Soderberg is there. They actually had to helicopter me out of there. So, we're helicoptering out and there're all these people--old people, young people--walking, and it's quite a distance from the airport to the road, where you could get somebody to pick you up, because it was all blocked off with equipment by the demonstrators--carrying their suitcases and it was not cold out. It wasn't a pleasant January or February. I really felt badly.
The governor actually sold the phone company and used most of that money or at least half of that money to fix these six treatment plants. He also went outside and got a major international water/sewer company--it's a French company, Suez--to actually run it. All they did was bring in twelve or fifteen of their managers. What they did was they actually moved the good employees around from the smaller plants to these bigger plants. They actually fixed the plants by doing that. He took a lot of flak for selling the telephone system, but it was the right thing to do. That was another huge matter down there that nobody thought we could do, but I had the right governor. He was a doctor. He understood it. He did a gutsy move and privatized the telephone system.
They were probably the three big things, that, NYC filtration avoidance, and GE Hudson River. The dredge disposal site wasn't really--it was a big issue, but it wasn't so much a real impact issue as it was a political issue.
KR: Did you ever have to testify in front of a congressional committee?
JF: I only went down there a couple times. I think once I did say a few things. Browner wanted me down there when she was testifying in case there were questions. There were a couple things. I wrote it up and passed it up to her, but she did the talking. She had been a Senate staffer. She was Al Gore's--when he chaired the environment committee, she was his lead staffer there, which is how she got the EPA job. She really knew her stuff.
KR: Browner is the longest serving EPA administrator.
KR: What was it like working with her?
JF: She really knew her stuff. She really cared about the right things. She was not an extrovert. She was not warm and fuzzy. I respected her immensely, but when Whitman went down after that [and became administrator of the EPA], Whitman was really--I knew a lot of people at headquarters and they really liked Whitman because Whitman's a people person. Browner was not really.
I knew I had the job [as administrator of Region II], but it was between when they told me I had the job and when they announced it. They're doing the background check. Well, I know my background. I know I'm clean. I already had state background checks, but you're not supposed to talk about pending federal appointments. So, the National Women's Political Caucus--I'm a vice president--has a big reception in Washington for all the women cabinet officers, and there were, I don't know, a thousand women there. I go there, and you try to look for people you know. I run into Betsy Wright, the woman who was with Bill Clinton in Arkansas as his chief of staff and now was in the White House. We knew each other a little and I had met her. I saw her and we talked. She congratulated me about the job. She knew I had it. Then, I see Browner maybe ten or fifteen minutes later. She has her groupies around her, young women. I go over and introduce myself because I was supposed to interview with her the year before, but she got called to the White House at the last minute. This was in the first couple months. I interviewed with her chief of staff, who then three months later left. I'd literally never met Browner. I went up and introduced myself. I said, "I'm Jeanne Fox. I got the call about the EPA Region II position. I'm really happy to be able to work with you." You should see the expression. She turned her back to me and walked away. That was not how you handle something like that. Meanwhile, the top right-hand political person to the president was congratulating me about it. That was Carol.
She really cared about the right issues. Environmental justice, she was the first federal government person to make it a national issue. She was serious about that. We did a lot of work in every region and at headquarters on environmental justice. It was a big, big issue. She knew how important it was. She really cared. She just wasn't really a people person, wasn't warm and fuzzy. Whitman is that type of person, or Lisa Jackson, who was administrator under Obama the first four years. Lisa Jackson actually worked for me in EPA. She was the Superfund site manager for the General Motors Massena site, got to know her well on that and some other matters, and recommended her to be an assistant commissioner under [Governor Jim] McGreevey at DEP and then commissioner under [Governor Jon] Corzine. People loved her down there at EPA headquarters because she was a career person and had she started at EPA as an entry-level engineer. I think Browner wasn't personally well liked. She was very respected. She made the decisions based on the right thing to do. She was gutsy and she would do the right thing, but she wouldn't be a close friend.
I remember I was talking to--and she had a little clique--talking to Mary Nichols, who was the air administrator, who did all that great air work. After that, she went back to California. She's in charge of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). She's been in charge of CARB since after the Clinton Administration was over. Highly respected. She is the air queen of this country. We were talking four or five years later, during the Bush term, about something. We were joking about how we weren't part of that inner circle, even though Mary knew everything about air. Mary is just totally amazing. That's just the way Browner was.
KR: What stands out in your mind about being in the Clinton Administration?
JF: What's interesting is what I've learned in both governments is typically speaking--and it's not the case for all Republicans [or] the case for all Democrats--but more Democrats than Republicans go into government because they want to make it work--they'll stay as long as they can. Under the Clinton Administration, out of the ten regional administrators, seven of us were there both terms. That doesn't happen with Republican administrations. Under Bush with the two terms, they changed because they go out and make money. Democrats, it never happened before. We were interested in staying there. Reagan, same thing; they switched. I guess [Democrats] trust government more. My belief is government should do things that we can't do in the private sector. That's what government should be doing, and making sure the private sector is doing the right thing. One set of competitors aren't taking advantage of the system and being unfair to the other set of competitors. It's just a different view. Enforcement, Democrats will enforce. I think it's better, fairer, for the guys who actually follow the rules, the businesses that follow the rules, if they have competitors who aren't following the rules. Government is there for the good for the people. The government is supposed to protect the minorities against the majorities because that's what the Constitution is about. Government, to me, is good, but you've got to be careful and not be heavy-handed. You have to be flexible too.
I remember Browner set up--she wanted to do this thing about improving permits to make it less burdensome and more fair and understandable. She had me and the assistant administrator of Superfund--first Elliott Laws and then Tim Fields--anyway, they were the two guys I dealt with. We co-chaired this team. Carol also didn't really have a sense of humor. Jokingly, we initially came up with a name for the team. We had all these acronyms--because you always have an acronym at EPA--the Permanent Improvement Team, the "PIT." Now, that was meant to be a joke. We wrote up this whole memo about how to organize and how we were going to do it. We hired one guy full time; Lance Miller ended up being from DEP and worked full time on it. We got him from DEP on loan for two years. We paid for him. We thought she would pick up PIT as a joke; she didn't. For those four or five years we were doing it, it was the PIT, which was meant to be a joke. We actually had real potential names for it. We usually used the full term "permit improvement team." We didn't use "PIT." Actually, it was very interesting objective. We were working on how to improve permits in every area around the country for EPA. The report we came up with was good, but a lot of Democrats and I think some environmental groups didn't like because it was too streamlining of regulatory processes. In hindsight, that makes sense because I've seen since then that when bad decisions are made, like now, the court process, because of the bureaucracy in the permitting process, can slow really bad decisions down. When they actually don't follow the requirements of the process correctly, like they really don't get all the facts in there and they twist things, it can go badly really quickly. I can understand why improving the permitting process--if everybody is fair on it and they follow the process, that streamlining makes a lot of sense.
The problem is you get some administrations, like with Anne Gorsuch under Bush. She was the worst administrator we've ever had, until [Scott] Pruitt. She was doing that kind of stuff, the same thing as Pruitt. Our assumption back then--Browner's and ours--was naively thinking that people would follow the rules for the right reasons, for protecting human health and the environment. That's not always the case.
The PIT was a lot of fun. We did a lot of hearings around the country. Lance, who had been a director when Scott and I got to DEP in '91, we made an assistant commissioner for basically Superfund and hazardous waste. He was the guy that EPA borrowed for two years and he ran these hearings and events all over the country. Great work. We got a lot of information. But PIT really didn't work out. What Browner's purpose was was to actually respond to businesses always saying the rules are too complicated, tell us what the result is to be and then we'll find a way to do that. She actually made that announcement with Al Gore, the vice president. It was a big announcement. Unfortunately, companies weren't coming in [saying], "This is what we want you to do on this. However you want to get there, that's fine. We don't care how. Just show us how you're going to do it." Very few came in with solutions. They really couldn't figure out what to do to get to the same result with less money or less process. PIT was a really interesting learning process for everybody, including the vice president and Browner because companies had been saying for years, "Just give us what you want as the end result and we'll get there on our own. You don't have to tell us exactly how to do it," but they literally couldn't and didn't. I think they had maybe four or five companies who actually came in with something better in their area over a few years. Browner/EPA were expecting hundreds of companies. That didn't occur. It was embarrassing. We were trying to find companies to sign on, so the vice president doesn't look bad. It was really pretty funny. Her intention was good, but in fact, you need government to help actually set up those effective regulatory processes.
KR: How much contact did you have with Al Gore?
JF: Gore, very little. Browner, a lot. Gore, very little. She was very close with him. A couple times he came to events. He was raised to be president. He was really great. My friend Tom Shea, who was in the appointments office, knew him pretty well. The people who worked at the White House all adored Gore. There's a picture that they took when he was meeting with some of the White House staff--Tom was there; that's why I saw the picture--and Gore. Literally, somebody's doing this [bunny ears] behind Gore's head. He got along with people.
I met him when I did two events in one day for the reelection with Gore and Clinton up in North Jersey that Mary Helen Cervantes organized. She had worked for Browner and Browner got her to work for me in Region II. Then, she was under McGreevey as a DEP assistant commissioner. She actually organized this reelection event. It was a huge event. It was very cool. I got to meet both Clinton and Gore at this joint event, which didn't happen very often. We put together two environmental events--a big rally that Mary Helen put together. Then, before the rally, we did a big event at a Superfund site with both the president and vice president, which is never done. It was a huge thing. So, Air Force Two lands at Newark Airport first. There's some elected officials, but I'm there with them to greet them, which was very cool because I've never done that before. But we have to wait for Air Force One because the president has to get out before the vice president. Ten minutes later, fifteen minutes later, Air Force One lands. It was very cool. I got to shake his hand a couple other places and times, too, when he was running. The most fun thing was we got to go up to the Superfund site first. They took us from Newark Airport. The fastest way was cutting through the Meadowlands parking lots and go to Route 3. It's a major road up there with the barrier down the middle. It's got all these retail stores along it. You typically have to go twenty-five miles an hour, if you're lucky, due to the traffic. It was like Moses parting the Red Sea. There were no cars on Route 3 because the state police and whoever else works for the government--nobody was allowed on the road. So, I'm in with Harold Ickes, who was [Clinton's] chief of staff or deputy chief of staff, big guy. [Editor's Note: Harold M. Ickes served as White House Deputy Chief of Staff during the Clinton Administration.] His father was labor commissioner under Roosevelt. Very well-respected guy. I'm in with him and he's on his phone. We were talking a little bit. I'm noticing we are speeding through the Meadowlands. Then, we are speeding up Route 3. It was amazing because I had never gone faster than forty [miles per hour] on Route 3, no matter what time. Then, you see a car pull out from one of these strip malls. Two government cars were on her like that. They, basically, with their cars pushed her aside. She didn't know. She was shopping. It was really very funny. That was just totally incredible.
The Superfund site event went well. Then, we went to the big rally, which Mary Helen had been very upset and concerned that she wouldn't have enough people show up because they wanted, I don't know, five thousand, some ridiculous amount of people. Luckily, it was a nice day. I was sending the invitation/notice around for her, all these other lists that I have. There were like three times the number of people they wanted. Most of them were outside. It was so crowded. It was wild. That was fun, combining the environmental issue with the campaign hoopla because they were so good at it.
Clinton learned from Gore about the environment. He didn't know much about the environment from Arkansas. Gore knew this stuff. That was his thing. He taught him. Clinton got better and better the more he learned from Gore. Gore was a true believer and knew this stuff cold. I saw him afterwards when he set up the Climate Reality Project. I was invited up to Liberty State Park a year or two ago. He did a big event there. It was an international TV thing, but I got to go because Hal Connolly, who worked for Bob Menendez, now works for that project, he invited me up there to see that, so I got to meet Gore and see him do this whole TV thing. It was really pretty cool. He doesn't know me. I know people who know him. I know people well that he knows well, but I don't know Al Gore.
KR: What was it like working in the federal government during the election of 2000 and then the aftermath?
JF: Well, I wasn't really working on the campaign like I did in '92 because I was an employee. We had all this stuff we wanted to do. Again, just in case, I wanted to make sure that I had the plan out for the Hudson River cleanup and things like that. It was really devastating. It was just horrible. It was just horrible. First of all, because I know election law, it was stolen. The election was stolen by the U.S. Supreme Court. I followed it all very closely in Florida because, again, I know election law. The State Supreme Court in Florida was going to either do a recount in just the districts that they had targeted or the whole state; that was the decision they had to make. They ordered a manual recount of the entire state. The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 that no new recount could take place timely, effectively awarding Florida's electoral votes to Bush. I have no doubt that the Supreme Court--who voted? Who wrote the decision? I can't remember who wrote the decision. I read it like five times. It really pissed me off. They issued, in effect, a stay of the recount, which meant that the State Supreme Court in Florida couldn't order it. I believe that was strictly political. There's nobody to appeal it to. There's no Supreme Court to the Supreme Court. I think what they did was illegal, but they did it because they're the Supreme Court. I believe that the election was stolen from Gore. The hanging chads and all that was very--and then afterwards, you read stuff and you see films about what happened and read more about it, it was all organized by the people who probably did the Ballot Security Task Force and those type of things. It was very sad. [Editor's Note: The Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide manual recount. In Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, issued a per curiam decision, in which the decision was rendered collectively by the court.]
However, when Bush was running, Climate Change at that time, as I mentioned I think before, a lot of elected Republicans, everybody [felt] Climate Change was scientifically sound. John McCain, I met him once. We worked with his people and Pataki and Romney. Climate Change was a real thing. That was part of [Bush's campaign]. He wasn't anti-Climate Change. Christie Whitman was appointed the head of EPA. She wanted to be, I think, the trade rep. She didn't get that. She had some other choice. I can't remember. Maybe it was commerce, but she got EPA, which made sense because she was of that ilk. She's a New Jersey Republican. She had Shinn working on Climate Change when she was governor. She goes over to Europe to be with her peers from the EU [European Union]. While she is literally there, within the first month, month and a half of the administration, when George W. Bush is not popular at that point--in the polls, he was not popular until after 9/11--they pulled the rug out from under her on Climate Change and did a 180 degree change while she was in Europe with her peers, which is a rotten thing to do and I think it was intentional because she was more popular then within the Republican Party around the country than he was. That's my own personal take on it. Why else would you humiliate her like that in front of her peers? That probably was Dick Cheney who did that because she and Bush were friends. They were governors together. She gave him his puppy dog. His dog in the White House, Barney, Christie Whitman had given him. They were friends. All of a sudden, they embarrass her like that. That's when the change happened in the Republican Party for whatever reason. Who the hell knows? Whitman was really burned badly by it. It wasn't fair. Actually, now since she left EPA, in her consulting business, with some good people working with her that I know, they do a lot of Climate Change work.
KR: What was it like when the Clinton/Gore Administration was going out and Bush/Cheney Administration was coming in? What was that like for you?
JF: It was bad because I was expecting to be there. Believe me, I wanted to go back to state government if a Democrat won a year later. I had a lot of stuff to pack up. It was pretty bad because--and we didn't know about the Climate Change switch yet, but for instance, I wanted to make sure the Hudson River and a couple of other things were done. There were some major problem issues that the person who followed me, I didn't want them to have to deal with. So, I dealt with them because they'd be hard decisions for my successor. I might as well as deal with them as I'm going out the door. I was being very thoughtful of who was going to replace me. The president was getting sworn in at noon on Saturday, January 20th. I don't have to be gone until he actually got sworn in. Two weeks before, I'm getting all this final work done, so my successor wouldn't have to deal with what would have been horrible to deal with. I'm just making the decisions based on facts. It politically would have been tough for the next person. We get a letter. All the regional administrators get a letter that we have to submit our resignations effective the Friday before the inaugural. Well, I was going to work through my final day. I literally was sleeping in the office for a week already, illegally, because you can't sleep in commercial buildings overnight, but I needed to get rid of my stuff. I was just working and then sleeping six or seven hours. There was a shower in the office. So, I was fine.
The Wednesday before the inaugural, I get a letter that if I don't have the resignation in before Friday morning, that they are going to--I forget exactly what it was, but my assistant administrator, who was a career guy, Herb Barrack, had been in the position for years, who was the senior AA in the country at that point, they would penalize him because he's in charge of the all the bureaucratic paperwork. I did it--resigned effective that Friday morning--so it wouldn't hurt Herb, but that really pissed me off because I had to get all that stuff out of the office. I had so many papers and so much stuff after seven years. I was really angry because at that point I felt like, "Screw you. I should have left all these horrible decisions for the next guy instead of helping them out." I did that with Shinn at DEP and I thought that was the right thing to do. Shinn and I got along well. That was really pretty rotten of the Bush administration.
Then, you also have all these people you know who are good people and now they need to look for jobs. Now, what I did was I ended up--I was going to teach there anyway, but I taught at Princeton and at Rutgers that next year. I was working almost full time on McGreevey's campaign, so it was not a big deal for me. But I knew other people who were single or divorced. When you're in politics, when you have a political job, you know that's going to happen, could happen. I've been lucky because when the Republican won in one place, a Democrat won in the other. I was really lucky that I could always stay in government.
KR: Where were you on 9/11?
JF: It was horrible. I was in Brigantine, [New Jersey] at our townhouse, going to do a talk in the afternoon. I had a massage scheduled at Bally's in the morning. I was going to exercise at Bally's, get the massage, and then have lunch with a friend. Then, I was going to talk to New Jersey Future, where they train young people how to work in government. I was supposed to talk to them about environmental issues that afternoon for a couple hours. I'm pulling out of the townhouse in my car. I put my then favorite radio station, 101.5, on. I'm not even out of our street. Somebody calls up and they said, "A plane just hit a World Trade Center tower." They got him off [the air] right away, thought he was goofing. Somebody else calls up and says, "No, a plane really just hit it." I'm like, "Shit." I stop. I'm not even out of my street.
I call up the EPA office because I had just stopped working there in January. This is [September]. I used to take the PATH train in. I know a lot of people from New Jersey who worked there took the PATH train. The PATH train goes to the World Trade Center. I couldn't get through. I said, "Well, darn. What am I going to do?" I thought, "Well, I guess I'll go get my massage." I go over to Bally's and I go inside. The exercise bikes with the TV--there's almost nobody there and the people who work there are watching the exercise bike TV. I'm watching it with them. We saw the other plane hit the other tower while watching that. "OMG. What am I going to do?" It wasn't a little plane. We're not going to have the New Jersey [Future talk] in the afternoon. I figured, "I might as well get a massage because who knows what's going to be going on?" I get a massage. I walk out of the massage. The one tower had fallen. I saw the other one fall. I decide to head back to New Brunswick.
I'm driving up the Parkway thinking about what I know. I know a lot about security. The one thing that concerned me the most--I thought about the nuclear power plants, but the ones down in Salem, the Public Service Electric & Gas ones, supposedly a plane flying into them shouldn't be able to penetrate. However, the Oyster Creek plant, which was the oldest continually operating nuclear power plant in the country--Oyster Creek is [in] Ocean County, [New Jersey]. I'm going to be driving past it. That one, clearly, a plane could go in there and just take it out. It's not cement and all that kind of impenetrable material. It looks like a tin type of wall around a steel structure. The cooling pond, which is smaller than this room, has all the rods in it and you must keep them in the water. That cooling pond was on the facility's top level. A plane could go into there, smash through, obviously kill everybody, but also let that radiation go. It's not like a bomb, but it's radiation, like a dirty bomb. That's what I was most concerned about. I was also concerned about the other nukes but not as much and about other population centers.
Then, I just went home. Who did I get through to first? The number two secretary, Maureen Hickey--not my executive assistant, but the second one who was a career person, who had a place in the city maybe ten, fifteen blocks north of the office--I got her on her home phone. She had a bunch of EPA people there at her place. I said, "Where's Nancy?" who was my executive assistant and lived in Edison. She said, "I don't know." From our offices at EPA, you could see the World Trade Center Towers because they're right there. She said, "We saw the plane hit and Nancy says to me, 'My sister is in that building,' and she runs out." That was right after the first building was hit. Nobody had seen or heard from her since. I said, "Well, if you hear from her let me know." Then, I called her home in Edison, left a message for her. I called back again. There were three sisters. Nancy had two sisters. One lived around New York-Northern New Jersey and worked at the Trade Center. The other sister was in California. A niece, from the other sister in California, was staying with her Aunt Nancy in Edison because she was going to Rutgers. I got to the niece at about seven o'clock at night. I said, "Have you heard from either of your aunts?" She said, "No, I haven't." I said, "Well, here's my cellphone number. Here's my home number. Call me at any time when you hear from either one of them." I get a call at four o'clock in the morning from Nancy. She was home. She told me--she was obviously really upset--when she got to the building, they wouldn't let her in. Then, she had to try to get home. She didn't get home until four o'clock in the morning. [She] hadn't seen or heard anything of her sister.
Long story short, they never found her sister. They found her sister's purse, but that was it. I was really relieved because nobody from EPA got killed. There were some EPA people coming in on the PATH train, but it was the PATH train--it was funny--gets to the World Trade Center. They didn't announce to them what was going on. They returned them to New Jersey. So, they got off at Jersey City and came in to 33rd Street on the PATH because they weren't told that they should just go home. Nobody made an announcement. They switched trains. They thought it was just not stopping at the World Trade Center.
There were people I knew who worked at the World Trade Center who got killed. I had meetings there every couple of months, planning meetings, estuary meetings, dioxin meetings for the dredge material. We had meetings there. I took the train and PATH in every day. EPA lost nobody, but people lost relatives, firefighters--a couple firefighters and relatives, Nancy's sister, other people's relatives, and people I knew. The guy who was in charge of security for the World Trade Center--[he] was in charge of my building at the EPA. We had IRS [Internal Revenue Service], EPA and FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], we were in the same gym in the building. I was the highest ranking, so I was in charge. I got briefed by the head of the New York City FBI every three or four months about what was going on since the earlier '93 bombing in the World Trade Center parking lot. He would tell me a lot of info. Actually, they stopped a lot of potential terrorism. That guy retired and was in charge of the security for the World Trade Center, I think, for less than a year, I don't know, six months or so. He died. I'll tell you, the security since he got there was greatly improved. It was faster. It was much more secure. He did a great job, but there's no way he could stop an airplane. I felt badly that he went down because he set up a great security system. Then, also other people I knew from different agencies who worked there.
I'd just been up at the Windows on the World with my sister-in-law and my brother because she had never been to New York. That summer we went in, the three of us, and we had lunch up there. It was very cool. She just couldn't believe how beautiful the view was. A lot of those people, they died. The good thing was--in a weird way--that that was the primary election day for New York City ...
KR: That's right.
JF: … When it happened and those towers went down, I thought we lost forty thousand people, but it was early in the morning. A lot of people were voting. I came across people who had voted who didn't get there in time. The primary election results, I think, changed because there was a guy who would have won who was Latino from one of the outer boroughs who probably would have won, but he didn't because they had to redo the election. That saved a lot of people. That was good news. I guess maybe some people were still on vacation. I don't know. It was a lot less people than I thought, but it was just the worst. I think it was worse than Pearl Harbor because at least the guys on those ships were in the military. I think a lot of people, every day they say goodbye to their husband or their kid or whatever, you never know in this crazy country.
KR: You said after the EPA you were teaching and then working on the McGreevey campaign.
KR: How did your career develop after that?
JF: I taught "Smart Growth" at both Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School, and at Rutgers, Bloustein School, and was working on the campaign. I did the classes, but basically my full time job was McGreevey. I did energy, environment, women and higher education. I got him all the endorsements, which was not easy for the environmental groups and for the couple women's organizations. The abortion issue, the choice issue, was a little bit tricky because he was a good Catholic boy and altar boy. I got him to move this way and I got them to move that way [towards the middle]. I got those endorsements, and the environmental groups as well. I was in the office all the time and I worked with the policy people all the time. That was really cool. My husband was one of the consultants on the campaign, so I couldn't get paid because he was, but that was okay. That wasn't the point. I got him to do a smart growth press conference, which was great because it was really time. Smart growth is important. Also, I had a whole "environmental week" I got to do with him starting in Sussex County, ending in Cape May County, different environmental events moving down state. That man was amazing. McGreevey, he's got a memory for faces and names and about the people. Most people would need--I would need--an advance person [to tell them] who this person is, whispering in your ear all the time. Not him. He was the ultimate advance person. We had some event and he would know people. He would know that they had a family, the wife--mind-boggling, this guy. A really great candidate. Actually, he was a very good governor. That was fun. It was important. I would make recommendations, and his campaign policy chief, Mitch Oster, who I worked very closely with, basically delegated those areas to me, too. They had a couple really good staff people there. That was fun. Obviously, we were very happy when he won.
KR: Then, you became president of the BPU. Tell me about that. Tell me how it happened.
JF: Well, Jim wanted me to go into the governor's office. In a December phone call after the election, before he became governor, we were talking on the phone at home. I remember I was at my husband's desk. We were on the phone forty-five minutes to an hour. McGreevey wanted me to go into the governor's office, advising him on those areas. I wanted to run an agency. DEP or the BPU would be one of the two.
I had stopped a roadway when I was at EPA, which would have impacted forest and wetlands--Route 92. Whitman was governor. She came out publicly in favor of the highway. It was an extension from the Turnpike to Route 1, then Route 27, in Mercer County. Everybody was in favor of it, Princeton University, politicians, except for the town it was going through, which was South Brunswick. There were forest and/or wetlands there. The law has it for wetlands, before you can get rid of that or impact that, you have to demonstrate that there is a need for the project. If there's a need for it, can something else meet that need instead? Then, is there at least one alternative? If not, then it's okay to build, to destroy the wetlands. So, DEP was in charge because everything basically--New Jersey is a good environmental state--is delegated to DEP by EPA. Anyhow, DEP was supposed to do a study, a traffic study. It was a highway that was allegedly needed to reduce congestion. Then, they were supposed to give the study to us/EPA. We would have our EPA hearing because we also had to have a hearing. There's no study. There's no study. There's no study. I finally call because our hearing date is getting close; it was scheduled. I call up and talk with his chief of staff, Mark Smith. He says that we don't have the study in yet. Well, I knew they had the study in because people at DEP told me they had the study in. Of course, I didn't out those people, so I pretended like I didn't know that. They said, "Well, I'm going to cancel my hearing until we get this study." I just put off our hearing until we get this study. A couple days later, I get a "draft study"--not the final study--a "draft study," which was actually the final study with "draft" put on top of it. It says that there is a need and there's no alternatives and it didn't make any sense based on looking at the study. In fact, it really did say there was no need. I said, "Well, you know what? I'm going to hire my own consultant," which normally EPA doesn't do. We hired somebody out of Washington who routinely does this type of congestion study. He comes back with our study. I never did get the "final report" from DEP. Our consultant comes back and he says, "There is a need. This just barely meets that need, but there's at least one other alternative that would meet that need at the same amount or better." There was at least one alternative, comprised of all kinds of actions, e.g., right hand turn lanes, different things, a lot cheaper, and you don't have to take the wetlands.
I basically stopped Route 92, but I knew it was political because a friend of mine who was a state senator, who will go nameless, said, "If you do this, it's going to hurt you politically," but he wouldn't tell me much more. I held press conference about it. We had big charts. I went through the whole thing with the press. There used to be a lot more press back then. If I would have known the specifics of the politics, I would have done more, but I didn't know the specifics until later, which I won't go into, as to who really wanted this road built. I stopped the road, Route 92. Then, I couldn't get the job at DEP because of Route 92. In hindsight, what I should have done was just recused myself if I went to DEP because I had already been involved in Route 92. I should have recused myself. But I didn't think about it until several years later.
I learned at EPA about Climate Change. And BPU, first of all, was my home. I was there ten years. I was only [at the] DEP for three years. For Climate Change, at this point in time, energy production had to be dealt with. Energy production was then the greatest producer of New Jersey CO2 emissions. I said, "Well, I'll be BPU president." That's what I was talking to McGreevey about that day at the beginning of December. Jim said, "We promised it to somebody else." He told me who the person was. I said, "He doesn't know BPU issues." He says, "Yes, his law firm does." I said, "Maybe his law firm does, but he doesn't. He's never been there." The last thing he said to me was, "Boy, you're tenacious. We'll talk about it later." My husband, when I told him that Jim said I was tenacious, he said, "Well, that's good because he likes tenacity because he's tenacious too." I eventually did get the job at the BPU, and the other person didn't. It was like a homecoming for me and the BPU.
KR: The New Jersey Senate had to confirm you.
JF: Yes. No problem. That was no problem then, the first time. It was great. I go back and have my first BPU staff meeting in Newark. The room that we have is too big for everybody, so I had two meetings. They were all at the first meeting, but they were down the hall. One of the lawyers, who was a lawyer when I was there as a law clerk just starting, is still there, just a great guy--Ed Beslow. He comes into my new office beforehand. We're talking. I said, "What should I tell them?" He says, "You should tell them that we're going to have the picnic again." The guy who was president after me tried to do a picnic, it didn't work out, and then during the Whitman years, they didn't have picnics. They're all there. They're all like, "Yay," because I'm one of them. I started with them. I was a director with their directors. The first thing I said to them, "So, when do you want to have the picnic?" They go wild. It was great. It was great. That was really nice because they were basically my family. In total, I was there for twenty-three years. That's my home base.
KR: When you were at the BPU, it was the PUC and then the number of commissioners changed when it became the BPU. Can you talk about that?
JF: Actually, that's not where the change happened. When Florio came in and PUC President Scott Weiner was dealing with the DEP commissioner on air issues because electricity generation--you still had the utilities own their own generating stations and a lot of pollution from the coal plants. He was dealing with Judy Yaskin, who was the DEP commissioner, on the air issues. He was already into that in '90. So, when we went to DEP, it was still the Public Utility Commission. Florio made the DEP the Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, DEPE. The BPU became the Board of Regulatory Commissioners, the BRC. The person who was the president was actually called the chair and it was Ed Salmon, who had been a state legislator that I had recommended. He was the only BRC chair because when Florio lost and Whitman got elected, she changed it. She had been PUC president when I was the water director for two years--again, a good president, a good commissioner. God knows why she didn't change the name back to PUC. She did away with the DEPE; got rid of the "E" and back to DEP. Scott and I were the only heads of the DEPE. Ed Salmon was the only chair of the BRC. For some reason, she made it the Board of Public Utilities instead of the Public Utility Commission. I have never asked her why. I keep on forgetting to ask her. I don't get it because she was president of the PUC. She made it what it is now, the BPU. That's how that happened. There was still only three commissioners. Then, near the end of her administration--it might have been when she was at EPA and Don DiFrancesco was the acting governor because he was the Senate president and acting governor for a year--a law was passed, but I think it may be under DiFrancesco, to increase the number of BPU commissioners from three to five. I give DiFrancesco a lot of credit. He could have picked number four and five, but he left it to the incoming governor to do. I was the first commissioner, number four. McGreevey got to appoint four and five right away, which was really nice for McGreevey and also for me. It was a smart thing to do because the benefit of that is with the Open Public Meetings Act--the board was set up well before that; OPMA was passed in '74 and, since '74, legally one commissioner couldn't talk to another commissioner because that would be a majority. They'd have to a have a public meeting to do that, which is ridiculous. Going to five meant that a commissioner could talk to any other commissioner because, now, two of you can talk. That was actually really good. The other good reason for it was that sometimes they only had one or two commissioners out of three. For instance, if somebody had died. There was also one commissioner, who was a former mayor of Trenton, who was in the hospital with cancer for a year. It was hard to function. Certainly, if you had a disagreement among two commissioners, you've got a problem, you can't make a decision. Having five was good for those two reasons. You can go and talk to each other separately--that's okay--about some issue. And if you don't have a full commission, that's okay too because you can function with four or even with three. That was in 2002, January, when I was appointed. That was the first number four. McGreevey also appointed Jack Alter, who was the mayor of Fort Lee, [New Jersey]. Luckily--well, not luckily because he had died before "Bridgegate"--he was the mayor of Fort Lee forever. Jack was commissioner number five.
KR: You were president of the BPU.
KR: What does it mean that you were president?
JF: President is the chair. Most utility commissions--in New York, it's a public service commission. They have a chair. Some of them, they call them judges, like Virginia calls them judges, but most of them, it's commissioners and the chair. New Jersey it's commissioners and the president. It's been the president since 1911. It's a great title because I remember when I started back up there as president, there was a BPU couple who I had met there. The husband had worked for me in the water division. She was a front office secretary. I remember--it was really funny--they're watching TV and Bush is on TV. Their daughter is like five or six years old. She asked who that was. They said, "That's the president." She says to her parents, "That's not the president. Jeanne Fox is the president." That's why president is so cool because little kids think you're really important. [laughter]
KR: [laughter] What did you do your first couple years there when McGreevey was governor? What do you do as president of the BPU?
JF: A lot because Climate Change was my thing. That's why I wanted the job. I started what's now called the Clean Energy Program. In 1999, the New Jersey legislature passed a law where they "restructured" the utilities. There were seventeen states who did this. Basically, what they did was they took from the electric companies, they took the generation away from them and they had to sell them. Three of the four electric distribution companies in New Jersey sold their generation. For some reason--I wasn't around then; I was at EPA--but PSE&G kept them under the parent company, the holding company, but it was a separate generating company affiliate. It was actually two, one for nuclear, PSE&G Nuclear, and one, PSE&G Generation. The gas and coal plants were one. The nukes were in the other. But the other electric companies got rid of their generation. I had to deal with that. A result of that law that was passed in 1999, that was starting July 1, 2003, they were allowed under the law--the only state out of the seventeen to allow this--that the utilities, if they lost money, could defer the balances and the customers would start paying it back July 1, '03. When I came in, there was already a billion dollars in deferred balances for PSE&G alone. I had to figure out how to deal with that.
I also wanted to deal with Climate Change. The law in '99 said in addition to restructuring, getting rid of generation, that the utilities also help with the environment by setting up a fund--the Societal Benefits Fund (SBC)--for energy efficiency and renewable energy. The BPU programs would get that money. Ratepayers would pay for it through their bills. The BPU would use "no more than seventy-five percent for energy efficiency or at least twenty-five percent for renewables." I held hearings around the state, three or four hearings around the state at least, on what do people want from that fund. From those hearings, we decided to set up a Clean Energy Program. They would do energy efficiency and renewables. An Office of Clean Energy was established. I took Mike Winka from DEP, who had been doing sustainability issues, as the director of the new BPU Office of Clean Energy, I think at the end of '02 or beginning of '03.
I had a survey done by DOE [Department of Energy] of wind energy because, at that time in the early 2000s, Pennsylvania farmers were making four thousand dollars a wind turbine. To preserve our farms, that'd be nice because you can still farm around wind turbines. Unfortunately, the Department of Energy study came back the end of '02 that said there wasn't really any on-land wind in New Jersey except up where the national and state parks are in Northwest Jersey and along the shore. So, we ordered an offshore wind study, which was the first one done in this hemisphere. That's where we're progressing to now.
A number of states had renewable portfolio standards. It was a market that was created for renewables, primarily wind back then. You'd get so much money--a credit--and the utilities had to buy some "renewable energy credits" (RECs). But New Jersey couldn't have terrestrial wind. I said, "Why don't we have a solar credit?" It's called a solar carve-out, but it's basically a solar renewable portfolio. Each utility has to have so much solar that they have to buy. It was a very small percentage at the beginning. We created a market for that. You had a solar renewable energy credit (SREC). You had energy credits for all renewables, but then this one, the solar one, costs more--it was more expensive. We required that. We created the first SREC [Solar Renewable Energy Certificates] or solar carve-out in the country--in the world, actually. We loaned the PJM grid system a million bucks to set up how they're going to develop and manage that SREC market. PJM handles the market. When the other states came into it, we would get some of our money back. So, Maryland came in. Delaware came in. We got our money back eventually. We created the solar market that we have now. Great program.
I set up a Clean Energy Council, an advisory council to the BPU. There were twenty-two members. I chaired it, but it had DCA (Department of Community Affairs), DEP, EDA (Economic Development Authority)--I'm missing somebody--another state agency and the federal Department of Energy on it. Then, we had a utility or two, an environmentalist or two, a couple solar guys, couple energy efficiency guys. That group met and had a committee on energy efficiency, a committee on renewables and a committee on community outreach. Those committees did a lot of the hard work. The meetings were open. Our meetings were open to anybody. They set up what is now our Clean Energy Program. That was the big deal. When I came in, in '02, there were six solar installations in the state. We now have probably almost 100,000. We created a marketplace for that. At that point, when I came in '02, there are three gas companies, three electric companies and PSE&G, so seven utilities, [which] all had different programs for energy efficiency and for renewables. You can't market this stuff based on franchise areas because public service goes from Newark to Camden. JCP&L [Jersey Central Power & Light] is on that side of public service and on this side of public service. It's ridiculous. So, we did a statewide program. The Clean Energy Office oversaw that. The plumbers, solar installers, or whoever, could market statewide. We created the statewide program, which is what's been very effective. That's probably the biggest thing I did. We also obviously had to deal with the deferred balance thing, which was horrible.
KR: What happened with that?
JF: It was the only hot political issue I really could not handle completely. I was stressed by it because Al Koeppe, who was the head of PSE&G--great guy. Did you ever hear of him? Al Koeppe is very well-respected. Unfortunately, he died a couple years ago--maybe two or three years. He was the head of AT&T Bell Telephone New Jersey. Then, he became the head of the PSE&G the utility. Then, he became the head of PSE&G, the parent company. Great guy. Everybody loves and respects him. Obviously, he represents his shareholders. Public Service is a big company, the biggest company really in New Jersey. A lot of influence in Trenton. He was trying to get what he wanted for his shareholders. I was trying to get what's best for the ratepayer and McGreevey was in the middle. It's the only time I really had any major disagreements with McGreevey. It was really stressful. It went on for about a year. We finally worked it out. Al didn't get everything he wanted. I didn't get everything I wanted. People had to pay for it, but it took longer than it would have taken in that kind of thing. We did it. It was very frustrating, but it was a bad bill.
KR: What are some highlights when you were at the BPU when Richard Codey and Jon Corzine were governors?
JF: Codey was great. I knew Codey because he was Senate president. I worked with him. I knew his guys. He was really pretty good. He was easy in the sense that he let me do what I wanted to do. I would explain to him and his policy guy, but it was fine.
Offshore wind, a few environmentalists didn't want offshore wind. Most did. We had hearings on offshore wind in every county in the four counties all on the ocean. We educated people on it because you have to do that. Most environmentalists were in favor. I convinced Audubon. New Jersey Audubon had been opposed, but I got to National Audubon and they explained to New Jersey Audubon that, in fact, the number one harm to birds is Climate Change. They came around. Sierra Club, the Environmental Federation, they were also all good, but Clean Ocean Action and Tim Dillingham from the Littoral Society were against it. [Editor's Note: Ms. Fox is referring to the American Littoral Society. The environmental organization was founded in 1961. Tim Dillingham serves as its executive director.] Codey set up a blue ribbon panel on offshore wind, which held hearings and came out with the recommendations and report. It slowed us down for a couple of years. In hindsight, we would have had offshore wind during Corzine's first term, but the blue ribbon panel slowed us down two years, so unfortunately Fishermen's Energy didn't get built. If Corzine would have been reelected, we would have had the turbines in the state water off of Atlantic City, Fishermen's Energy, probably in 2012, 2013. The offshore wind thing is big. It's big for this governor now, too.
KR: What happened with Christie and offshore wind development?
JF: When he was campaigning and then when he first came in and was going to run for reelection, he publicly supported it. He signed a bill for it. However, my personal opinion is because he was running for president, there were certain people who have money who didn't want renewable energy. He never did approve the offshore wind rules. I became president in January '02, then just a commissioner in January '10, and stayed on for not quite four more years. He ostensibly was in favor of offshore wind, but the BPU had to write regulations. The staff person at BPU wrote the draft regulations. Then, they got sent to the governor's office in February 2012, where they sat and they sat and they sat. You can't publish regulations without the governor's counsel's office signing off. They were never approved. That was never public. I had read them. They were pretty good way back then. So, the board got blamed for not doing the regulations. That's why it wasn't moving ahead. But, in fact, it was because the governor's office never moved on the regulations to publish them. So, Christie held up offshore wind, but that was never public. Although I knew that, I wasn't going public on it because it would have put the staff in a bad position and the agency. That was a shame. Now, we're moving ahead. We would have been the first ones by far in the water with offshore wind if Corzine would have been reelected.
KR: When McGreevey stepped down, was it a shock? [Editor's Note: James McGreevey served as governor of New Jersey from 2002 until 2004, when he resigned after admitting that he was gay and had engaged in an extramarital affair with a man.]
JF: Yes, to everybody, including McGreevey, yes. A lot of people say they knew he was gay. People in Woodbridge, probably some of them did know that. I knew him. I knew him from Young Democrats. He's younger than us. I knew him from the campaign. I knew his wife. I didn't think he was gay. Never thought about it. Some people around him were gay, but Whitman had a lot of women around her who were gay. It's not a big deal in New Jersey politics. I think because he was raised as a good Catholic and his parents--his father [was] a Marine drill sergeant and his mother a tough nurse and him an altar boy--he was raised this way and he just couldn't come out.
I knew about it before most people did because my husband was a close advisor to McGreevey and was involved in that last week before it was public, so I knew about it. I went to the announcement in the State House. I was standing right in the front, about five feet from his father. It was very sad. I felt so sorry for his parents because I got to know his father pretty well during the campaign. What a character. He never looked up. He always looked down. It was very sad. It was a very sad time for everybody. I knew it was going to happen for a couple days before. It was tough. He was a good governor. He fixed DMV [Division of Motor Vehicles], brought in Diane Legreide. She's fantastic. They fixed DMV. Nobody thought Motor Vehicles could ever be fixed. It was fixed. He was good on the issues I was doing at the BPU, but also DEP. He did a lot of really good things. In his two years, he got a lot done. I think he had his mind set on the White House. I think he would have had a decent shot at that.
His wedding was down in Washington. It was the beginning of October before the Senate election of Corzine. Steve and I were there. It was a small wedding. The reception is on the Hay-Adams Hotel roof and there's the White House in the background. The beautiful wedding pictures were taken right in front of the White House. That was a shame. I understand why he didn't come out before, because that wasn't acceptable when he was in politics early on. I felt badly for him. His heart got in the way of his governance. That was a human thing he did, but it was not too smart.
KR: Jumping ahead a little bit, what was it like working with Jon Corzine?
JF: Well, he's a business guy. He had been in the Senate, but the Senate and New Jersey state government are two different things, completely different things. He was a really, really good senator. As a governor, he wasn't horrible, but he wasn't a politician and he thought he was. I think that was his weakness. He trusted some people he shouldn't have trusted, which led him in the wrong direction. He was too honest at times, which is not a good politician. He always wanted to do the right thing. He really cared about people. Even when he was running for the Senate, his gut was--he wanted free higher education for people. He wanted free healthcare. He really cared about people and doing the right thing. He was a working-class guy. He was raised on a farm in Illinois, went to the University of Illinois. He was a state-college guy. Then, he started at Goldman [Sachs] and worked his way of up the food chain. He was a risk-taker at Goldman. [Phil] Murphy was a manager at Goldman. Corzine was a risk-taker. He would take risks. He took risks getting elected, but sometimes he wouldn't take risks when he should have taken risks when he was governor. He listened to some people who didn't have his interest or the state's interest at heart. They had their own interests at heart. He thought he was handling them correctly. He really wasn't because he wasn't a good politician. [He was a] good person, wanted to do the right things and did a lot of good things, but just not a good politician.
KR: When you were at the BPU, what policies were instituted regarding reducing emissions?
JF: Well, the emissions area is really--well, car emissions is DEP. California cars, which we're going through now with Trump and all that, is an issue. New Jersey always--Democrat or Republican governor--always follows California cars. You can either do the federal requirements or California's. Because California is so big, [they] can do their own. If you're going to do what California does, that's okay too. There's two kinds of cars that are made in the country. New Jersey is always going with California cars. Emissions for generating facilities, we've reduced now so much for--again, Democrat and Republicans--we did a lot by--the environmental requirements from DEP and a lot has to do with the air that comes from other states. A lot of our pollution--basically, if the last fifteen years, you shut down every facility in New Jersey, we still couldn't meet the federal requirements because the air emissions from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, come in this way. Same with acid rain. I learned about it in acid rain when I was at DEP. The air currents come down and up. The acid rain in the '80s that were destroying the forests in New England were really coming from the Midwest. They come up, across New Jersey and New York and into New England. It's the same thing with carbon emissions. You have all the coal plants burning in Ohio and Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and we get their pollution. We were as strict as you can be, both at DEP and the BPU. The BPU didn't set those emissions criteria; DEP did, but we worked with them. BPU had to handle the costs of those increases that the customers paid for. A lot of our electric rates went up because we were putting all the bells and whistles known to man on those plants. In fact, there were plants in other parts of the country--I was just talking to somebody about this at NRG [Energy Solutions, LLC], which is a big energy-generating company that's headquartered now in Princeton, a big building right on Route 1. They have coal plants that they bought and have spent all this money on upgrading them, all the filters, etc. In hindsight, it wasn't worth it because they spent all this money and because natural gas and fracking caused the price of gas generation to come down substantially, but fracking and natural gas didn't happen until 2009.
I don't know why, but nobody knew that that was going to happen. Gas was really expensive. Well, now it's really cheap. So, natural gas is cheaper than a coal plant, which is why most coal plants are shutting down. Donald Trump got elected because he promised West Virginia--there's no way you can do that because economically, wind is cheaper, but natural gas is significantly cheaper because of fracking and the Marcellus Shale [natural gas basin] and others. That's just a fact. We were lucky. This country was lucky. We were blessed. The same time that the great recession hit, fracking hit. The rest of the world got hit badly because they didn't have all this natural gas. All of a sudden, we got cheap natural gas. It's an environmental problem though. More and more is found out that by actually fracking, you're releasing a lot of carbon emissions. There's research I assume a lot of academics are doing on it. Certainly, the EPA is not doing their research now. Fracking might also be bad for carbon emissions. It's being worked on now. Burning natural gas is a lot less emissions than burning coal, but if you add in there mining the coal and producing the natural gas at the fracking facilities and all that, it might be higher emissions. Research is being done now. We don't know.
KR: What is your time frame for today?
JF: I think I'm okay. I probably should text somebody.
KR: Sure. Let's pause.
KR: Great. We are back on. I wanted to ask you, what are some challenges from your time at the BPU that really stand out?
JF: It's all which governor and staff. Actually, I had a really good team I built. My theory is you want people as smart or smarter than you and people who are team players and don't have huge egos--most of them didn't have egos, so it was even good--and want to accomplish the same purpose. I developed a really good team, actually at DEP as well as at BPU. There's always personnel issues. There's state bureaucracy issues. The BPU is funded by utility assessments regardless of the tax dollars. DEP is funded by tax dollars. When there is a problem with the budget, which there frequently is, some governors place hiring freezes on everybody. Some governors who they or their chiefs of staff are smarter or more considerate-- BPU, for instance--I won't go into detail, but when McGreevey came in, I did an assessment because I know the agency where the people are, where the people should be. Under that administration, under the Whitman administration, it was short. Under this administration, they should have three hundred people. They have like a hundred and sixty when the governor came in. You cannot function, especially with all the work that the legislature just piled on top of them with a couple bills a couple months ago. McGreevey's office and, really the deputy chief of staff, Jim Davy, let me hire forty people. That's a lot of people at one time. We did a really good job. I got my directors, who I was mostly directors with, to hire a lot more women and people of color, intentionally. I talked to them about it and they did it. That's a challenge.
In another administration, who will go nameless, the treasurer, who I knew for a long time and I recommended him as treasurer, and I had a discussion. Well, his position is I shouldn't be able to hire because he couldn't hire because his department was from tax dollars. I'm like, "So all government is supposed to be badly run because some government …" The obvious thing is at least some agencies can operate better because they can hire people. They should be able to. Just because the Treasury Department can't hire more people because they're all on tax dollars doesn't make any sense to me. You don't take that to the governor, right? It's all according to how you can work with your fellow cabinet officers, especially the treasurer or the attorney general's office sometimes. That's an issue.
Also, dealing with the union. The union shop steward, we try to work together. We're friends. He's a really good guy. He's a real radical left-winger, but that's okay because he cares about people. Some union people are better to work with than others. The one I worked with at DEP was probably the best person. Then, probably the people at EPA and then probably this guy at BPU that I consider a friend. That could be a problem because some union people take the lowest common denominator--nobody ever does anything wrong, that kind of thing, which is ridiculous. Negotiating with unions can be a problem at times.
Dealing with governor's offices can be a problem at times because you have people in there--they weren't the governor. They didn't get elected. They probably didn't even work on the campaign and yet they think they're the governor now. What I learned early on was just because somebody from the governor's office calls and wants something doesn't mean it's the governor calling, the governor's chief of staff calling, [or] the governor's policy chief calling. It could be just a young person who got it into their head that they're the governor. Early on, I learned that. [When] somebody from the governor's [office called, I would find out] who are they, who do they report to, that kind of thing, before you jump. Some governor's offices do it worse than others, but frequently cabinet officers are very busy. They had busy schedules. You don't call them up today and say, "I need you at my office nine o'clock tomorrow." They've got to change all their schedules around. Some governor's offices are more understanding than others. Some cabinet officers you can work well with. Some of them, they don't care about the rest of state government, only their agency. That's all small "p" political. That's tough. Then, if you have a good team in place, it's easier managing within a place. We didn't usually lose on things. A couple cases we did in court, but only one or two. It's just there's so much you want to get done and you only have so much time to do it. I learned that you might have plans for what you're going to do in a couple years, but you might lose that election. Depending on who's coming in, it's a problem.
KR: What can you tell me about the Universal Service Fund?
JF: It's great. It's for low-income people, based on federal poverty standards. New Jersey is high-cost state, so you ratchet it up. In fact, I testified. They just had a community solar all-day meeting on Tuesday at the Rutgers Student Center. There were like a hundred and fifty people there and I talked. What we wanted to do was make it easy for lower income people. If they qualified for something on the federal level, they would automatically get the Universal Service Fund, which is money to help pay the utility bill. It took us six years to do that because we had to deal with the Department of Community Affairs, and sometimes they weren't as helpful as they should be and you have to deal with the federal requirements and all that. I had Kristi Izzo, who was the secretary of the board for my seven-and-a-half years plus. I brought her in. She handled all that with two good staff people just to work on that. It was tough to do, but she was very skilled in working with people. She has no ego. She just wants to get the right thing done. It took a long time, but actually, National AARP gave us an award for that. It was such a great program. One of the downsides--because they qualify for it automatically, they don't understand why they're getting it or anything about that, which is a problem. When people don't have much money, they don't have time to think about--I mean, they really only have time to think about how they're going to eat and that kind of thing. That was a big deal. That was a big thing. It took a long time, much longer than I thought it would, but I think it was worth it.
KR: What was it like working in the Christie Administration?
JF: Frustrating. I stayed because I figured I could help. In those not quite four years, I did a couple of concurrences and just a couple of dissents. I was the only one who ever concurred or dissented; nobody else voted with me. I don't know if I should say this or not, but I guess I could now. Typically, my position was actually the position of the staff because they knew me for a long, long time. I wasn't going to out them or get them in trouble. So, I would have to write the order myself. I used to be a good writer, but since 1990 I've not been writing too much myself. I would make my statements and I would never try to embarrass the president. I always went in to see--those couple times I had issues, I would go and see whoever the president was. There were like four or five presidents in the eight years--and talk to them about it. A number of occasions, that's actually where the president was coming from, but they were told by the governor's office what they had to do. They were very understanding. A couple times I went along with them and did a concurrence, like Fishermen's Energy, which is what we would have had offshore of Atlantic City if Corzine had been reelected. They had come in twice for reconsideration. I think the first time I went along with it. The second time I wrote a concurrence. I knew Fishermen's was coming back and I wasn't going to agree with people and I would have to do a dissent. It would be a four-to-one dissent anyway. There were other issues like that. I felt good because I was there with the staff. They had somebody to talk to who understood them.
The staff are really very good and they're very thin because Christie moved us from Newark to Trenton, which was really bad for staff morale, but also we lost good people. What the BPU does is so arcane that you really have to learn it on the job from the people you're working with. That's tough. The staffing issue now is really critical. The legislature gave them so much work to do through the Nuclear Subsidy Bill, as well as for this Clean Energy Bill that they passed at the same time. It's really difficult. They're totally overworked and understaffed, although they are hiring. They're hiring some very good people. They've got legislative deadlines. It's a good agency, but it's probably more important than DEP and has been for probably the last ten years or so now, except now for the climate crisis, which is really a combination of environmental--and there's not much more New Jersey can do regarding power plants. We've done about as much as we can on greenhouse gas emissions in Jersey, except for mitigation and adaptation, which they're starting to work on again. The Christie Administration didn't do that at all. Whitman was doing it, but Christie did not.
KR: I'm wondering if it was shocking going from working in the Clinton Administration and you're working for Democratic administrations and then you're working in a Republican administration.
JF: I didn't have as much work to do. The good news is I went in to see the first president, Lee Solomon, who was Christie's right hand in the U.S. Attorney's office. He's now on the State Supreme Court. [I] developed a good working relationship with him. At first, I think he didn't trust me, which is understandable, but a good working relationship with him. I was on the RGGI board. I was one of the people that negotiated RGGI. I did all that kind of work, but now he's the president and I'm not. They really wanted me out of those air issues. But I was chair of a committee on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), of the Energy Resource and Environment Committee. I was on the board for NARUC. They let me continue to do that. They let me do the travel because NARUC, because I was the chair of a committee, NARUC paid for my travel, which was good. I was allowed to do other speaking engagements if the other people paid for my travel, which they did. I said, "Well, I'd like to concentrate on energy storage." This is 2010. Lee said, "Fine." I started learning energy storage and got travel paid to conferences to speak.
Energy storage is like the silver bullet. This is in 2010. The first energy storage conference I went to was in Southern California. There were maybe two hundred, 250 people there. There's energy storage conferences now and they have them for the Energy Storage Association, thousands and thousands of people are there, because energy storage--right now--is primarily the batteries. There're other types, but batteries are the big ones. They have all different types and purposes. I actually got into that. I worked a lot as a commissioner, but not clearly as much as I did as president. It actually was good work. I enjoyed all that because I was helping on the Climate Change front, but it was as difficult in the sense of some important issues, where you just knew the board wasn't going to take the right position.
It wasn't as bad as it was in a lot of other states. For instance, some other states where Republican governors came in, when Christie came in the year after, they just killed the solar programs. He didn't do that. He kept the solar program, didn't improve it, but kept it in place. A lot had to do with the people, like the new chief of staff at the BPU who came in, Rhea Brekke, [who] had worked at DEP when I was DEP. She was a career government person, directing the sustainability institute we set up when we were at DEPE. She came in as BPU chief of staff. Well, she was good friends with Mike Winka from working at DEP together. I found out she was coming as chief of staff from Mike Winka when she called him before the Christie administration even came in. I personally think that she had a lot to do with saving that, but also, in New Jersey, the state is very much pro-environment, Republicans and Democrats for the most part, except some extreme right-wingers. Christie didn't kill a lot of programs. He basically stopped offshore wind and exited RGGI, but the solar program, we kept on going. He made some decent decisions on that. It wasn't as bad, but there were other things like offshore wind, they kept on pushing off, which is annoying, and some other things here and there. I would have gotten out sooner if it was really bad.
KR: What was it like during Hurricane Sandy?
JF: Well, with Sandy, I didn't really have much to do with it in New Jersey, even though I knew that--well, I was involved because on the national level, I was on NARUC's Critical Infrastructure Committee and I was vice chair. That was set up after 9/11. We set up a Domestic Preparedness Security Taskforce under McGreevey, in which I was extremely active. We spent a day a week for the first couple months and a day every two weeks, and a long time on that. A number of cabinet officers, including me, were very involved with the Homeland Security people. Well, with Sandy, I was involved at the national level. Because of Sandy and because this is where I was from, I was very involved. I actually was on a National Academy of Science panel on resiliency of the greater national electric distribution system in part because of the Sandy experience.
Certainly, our governor, as well as Governor [Andrew] Cuomo, learned a lot about that. Those storms actually helped with a lot of the issues that the governor of New Jersey and Cuomo moved, for instance, on microgrids. We had money set aside for commercial industrial customers if they paid into the fund. I think it was probably about eighty million dollars that we had to go out to commercial industrial customers to do microgrids and energy storage. But Christie took all of that when he came in to balance his budget, along with a lot of other money, like one-and-a-half-billion dollars in Clean Energy Fund monies--he took what should have been for energy efficiency. After Sandy, he realized it was important. He took some FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] money because he didn't have any state money. He used that for some microgrids. Because he was using a lot of ratepayer money at the BPU to balance the budget, along with money from DEP and other agencies, a lot of it should have been done, but the state didn't have the money because they had to balance the budget.
Sandy was a real learning lesson. It's not like we didn't know this was going to happen. Climate Change scientists said all of this stuff was going to happen. I was not at all shocked. What happened with Puerto Rico and [Hurricane] Maria, it's not at all shocking. It's going to continue and it's going to get worse and we're going to have more and more climate emergencies. Because New Jersey is so low lying, we really have to start working on this. Unfortunately, with Christie in place, they didn't do that. They didn't change anything based on Climate Change predictions. The hundred-year storm is now every seven years. You need to change your building code requirements. All kinds of requirements you need to change. He didn't do any of that. Now, that's got to be done.
KR: Over the course of your career, Climate Change went from being a reality to a dire situation.
JF: Correct. It's reality now, and some people don't see that. Dire is an understatement. I'm sixty-six. When I was a kid or when I was your age, it wasn't so bad. The good news is for the Northeast, we probably won't ever see a drought again. We get seventy-two percent more precipitation now than I think [in] 1960 [in] the Northeast. The Southwest, the Midwest, the West, Africa, places that were farmland, are no more. It won't be based on climate science. Our rain is, like what we're getting, really intense, more rain at one time really hard, a lot of flooding. That's going to get worse. We've seen nothing yet, because we haven't stopped the greenhouse gas emissions yet. Carbon will last for a thousand years. Methane, it's a more dire impact immediately, I think forty times worse. It disseminates, goes away, much sooner, but it's still twenty years, or I forget what it is. We're still increasing this. We've seen nothing yet. Your kids, your six and ten year old, this is going to be--they won't even remember the way the weather is now. It's really very sad. This is the only country, including China and Russia and North Korea, that don't think this is happening. We are literally the only country that have blinders on, where you have smart people who went to college actually believe the crap that's put out by whoever about climate science because one scientist in England made a mistake seven or eight years ago and lied about something. Now, they're all liars. It's based on money and personal power. It's very frustrating because our country is destroying instead of leading the world. This great democracy that we have is destroying the whole world and not just our species, every species. It's very sad. The loss of species--this is what they call the sixth or seventh largest extinction. I think this is the sixth great extinction in the history of the world because of us. It's very frustrating.
Then, you go back to Al Gore. If Al Gore would have won, the world would be completely different. Besides climate, which is the major thing, what we're doing now with all the hatred of America because of the Mideast, that wouldn't have happened. We never would have gone in there because there weren't weapons of mass destruction. There was never any proof of that. The Bush administration lied. I go back to those things and I think, "Oh, geez." [laughter]
I might have mentioned to you the last time, but when Carol Browner was at EPA and I was there, we were coming up with--what do we call this global threat? We decided on "Climate Change" because people aren't going to understand "global warming." It's too slow. On the other hand, Climate Change is the one that people might understand best. She was putting money into the Everglades--that's where she's from, Broward County, Florida. I said to her, when there wasn't really anybody else around, "Why are we putting all this money into the Everglades when it's going to be under the water?" Because we had just been briefed by the climate experts. She said, "Well, we're going to stop all that." But we haven't. The southern part of Florida is going to be Lake Okeechobee by the end of the century because of our country. Very sad. Which is why I'm still really active because everybody should do their small part. When I talk to young people over at SEBS [Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences], the school formerly known as Cook, or Columbia University or Princeton University, I say, "Look, smart, responsible people need to go into three areas: Climate Change; curing cancer, MS [multiple sclerosis], Alzheimer's, something like that; or cyber security." They are the three things critical to this generation. You could research. You could [do] science. You could do financing for them, policy on them. But they are the three areas that your generation has to deal with.
KR: I wanted to ask you about your time on the Rutgers Board of Trustees. That started in 1990.
KR: Tell me about that. What are some of the highlights?
JF: There's two major highlights. Number one highlight is saving Rutgers-Camden from Rowan [University]. That's one of the things where I don't do things as an individual, but for me, it probably wouldn't have [happened]. There's a couple "but for" people who were leaders in that too. Basically, President Richard McCormick was willing to give away Rutgers-Camden to Rowan to get the medical schools. Anybody who knew anything knew that Rutgers should get the medical schools anyway. There was no other option. They were Rutgers Medical School when we started [and] became UMDNJ [University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey] in 1969 or '70, whenever the heck it was. It would have to go back to Rutgers. Nobody else could do it. For some reason--he was not political, that's for sure--he decided to work with the Senate president and to give Camden away. The Board of Governors basically, except for one of them, went along with McCormick. The Board of Trustees stopped it. The 1956 Rutgers act was passed by the legislature, but it's also a contract between the then private Rutgers Board of Trustees and the state. That's treated as a contract. What that says is Rutgers Trustees had all these assets--that the Board of Governors, which the Board of Trustees sends not quite half of them, one minus half, to the Board of Governors--that the Trustees have to approve any of those assets being sold or given away. I don't vote because I'm an emeritus now. The Trustees had to pass it. Well, Rutgers-Camden, I forget how many acres it is now, but four or five of those acres were Rutgers in 1956, part of that is where part of the law school is and I think part of the library and part of another older building. The Trustees had to approve it. The Trustees wouldn't approve it.
We fought over that for a long time. I was one of the leaders of that effort. I went to Rutgers-Camden Law. I'm from South Jersey. I was pleasantly surprised that the first meeting we had of Trustees, which was at the Rutgers Student Center here, where Rutgers Trustees who were not from South Jersey, who did not go to Rutgers-Camden, who were from North or Central Jersey, felt as strongly as I did about that. I was really happy and actually surprised because the tendency of Trustees has been, since I was a student, to basically go along. They had strong feelings about it, and I was so proud of them at that meeting, and they fought tooth and nail. I helped organized because I'm more political. Most Trustees are not at all political, which is actually pretty good. Many trustees at the other universities and colleges in the state, since Whitman eliminated the Department of Higher Education, are political to get money out of Trenton. The good news is we're not like that, but it's also bad when it comes to the politics. I organized and I know people down there. I know alumni down there, alumni leaders. A lot of the lawyers from the law school worked with them. Some of the union people down there. Two of the Trustees and I routinely had meeting calls with the guys in Camden, really smart guys--some of them union, some of them Rutgers law professors--planning the strategy. Then, I would deal with the alumni down there. We dealt with the politics. The Trustees stopped the takeover, but for the Trustees it would have gone through. That's something that the Trustee Board should always be proud of because South Jersey is part of New Jersey too. They deserve a Rutgers campus, especially people who--I said I would have gone there, would have commuted there. My brother did. My other brother did. My nephew is commuting there now from Maple Shade. They deserve a Rutgers education too. That's probably the number one thing I'm proud of. That happened during McCormick.
The other big thing during McCormick is when he eliminated the colleges, which was, in my personal opinion, a stupid thing for the University to do because--and it's not like this is not a known fact--people like their college community. Rutgers is too big to be a community. Cook College, University College, Douglass College, Livingston were communities where you had your personal connection. Rutgers College has been so big since it went co-ed that that's hard to define it as a community. I think that's always been the problem is Rutgers College, because they really probably should have changed their name to Queens College. [That] would have been much better. That was a big problem. Rutgers University lost contributions for alumni, a lot--cut in half.
Personally, the elimination of Douglass College as a college, I think it's really bad for women and the state. It's now Douglass Residential College (DRC) and Douglass alumni, and I was one of the leaders on that, again, as a group, led by AADC President Sheila Kelly Hampton, working with Dean Carmen Ambar, who was the dean at the time, saved what we could of Douglass. Politically, Corzine was instrumental in having DRC. Otherwise, I think it would have been eliminated, but we got to the governor. Maggie Moran was his deputy chief of staff--Douglass graduate, very strong woman. [She] was a Trustee. [She] quit the Trustees after this happened. Now, Douglass Residential College still has a campus, still has a dean, still has great programs. The programs are still really good, still really good for young women to go there. It has been diminished because it's a program. I don't really have a big problem with that. It's funded adequately. You've got the [School of] Arts and Sciences. Then, you can apply to Douglass Residential if you're a woman. That's fine, but it's not as much community. They're required to live there for a year, like the Honors College. They're required to live there for a year. If you're Douglass and you're Honors College, you have to do a year at both, unless you're a commuter.
KR: They still uphold a lot of the traditions.
JF: Yes, but you're not as close. I think most younger women identify themselves as an Arts and Sciences person or a SEBS person, Mason Gross, more so than DRC, but they still have good programs. It's still, I think, necessary. That thing I was very involved in; saving what we have as DRC was important. I think the most important thing was probably Rutgers-Camden. The Trustees have done a lot of others things, but I think those two are the most important things.
KR: What year did you serve as a Trustee until?
JF: Trustee is typically six or twelve years. I started in '90; I was a Trustee in '90. So, it would be 2001 I stopped being a Trustee. Why was that? I didn't do quite twelve years. I only did eleven years. There was a reason for that. That was McGreevey--oh, I taught at Rutgers. I was teaching at Bloustein and so I couldn't be a Trustee and get paid. I only had a year left. I thought I might teach. If McGreevey wouldn't have won, I would have been at Bloustein as a professor. Jim Hughes put me into a professor title. It wasn't an adjunct title, like I've done since. I was in a real title, sharing an office with Florio, which was always fun. I would have stayed there. I had to quit being a Trustee. I actually only did eleven years as a Trustee. Then, I became commissioner in '02 and left Rutgers, obviously. It was great. It was part of my pension because I was a full-time employee. That next year, the Trustees made me emeritus. I actually wasn't a Trustee or Trustee Emeritus in '01 for a year.
KR: You've been active with the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College.
JF: Since I graduated.
KR: Talk about some of the things you've done with the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College.
JF: Obviously, the biggest thing is saving DRC. I'll tell you, that was an effort. Thank God for Carmen Ambar. McCormick just didn't listen. We had people come in. Ambar actually put together a program that had women presidents of women's colleges come in. McCormick was there with a couple members of the Board of Governors--the room was packed--talking about the value of women's education. They clearly weren't listening. We had legislators. We had them on our side, all kinds of influence. McCormick just wasn't listening. He had decided this was what he was going to do. My personal take is he's very close with his father, and his father was dean of Rutgers College. To him, Rutgers College was everything. He's the University historian, McCormick, Sr., very distinguished professor and then dean, but it was always about Rutgers College. I think with [McCormick] junior, it was really what he was doing for his father. I didn't even know he had a sister; it was always him. I told you before I adored his mother. President McCormick did a lot of construction in New Brunswick--actually, Piscataway. That Busch Campus, it's amazing what he did up there, but Camden and Newark, forget about them. The other side of campus, Cook and Douglass, almost nothing. We had a couple good buildings, but not a lot, not compared to the Heights, as we used to call it.
KR: What happened in the dispute between the AADC and Rutgers over fundraising for Douglass?
JF: We just had the big University fundraising campaign. McCormick started it. Then, we had the recession, so it was a long campaign. Typically, the University has campaigns every once in a while. AADC from the very beginning has been the primary fundraiser for Douglass College. The last campaign officially ended December '14. Then, a couple months later in April '15, we got a letter from the University saying--after we raised forty-two million dollars for the college and the money was raised for the priorities of the dean, who at the time was Carmen Ambar. Then, Carmen left and Dean [Jacquelyn] Litt came in. The AADC was always the primary fundraiser. I remember on the 75th [anniversary], we raised seven-and-a-half-million dollars. That was the priority. Was it [Barbara] Shailor at the time? Anyway, [whoever] the dean was. Carmen set the priorities. That's what AADC raises the money for. The deans change, but when Litt came in, she knew these priorities and originally she was supportive of them. We get this letter out of the blue in April, saying, "As of this time," like now, "you can't have any staff. You can't raise any money. The foundation's going to be the fundraiser for the college," and a bunch of other stuff. [Editor's Note: The foundation refers to the Rutgers University Foundation.] "You have a month," a short period of time. We freaked. I had just become president. We were having issues then when I came in as president. One of the reasons I took it was because there were issues with the foundation. We were meeting with Nevin [Kessler]. He had just come in. I thought we'd be able to work it out. I thought we actually had worked it out.
Then, we got this letter. It made that other stuff look like [nothing], and it was not good for the University, not good for the college, not good for the foundation, not good for AADC. It was lose-lose-lose all around. First, we went to mediation with a really good retired chief justice, James Zazzali. Then, when that was over, because his law firm wanted him back, we then agreed to do a negotiation and worked on that with lawyers. The University had lawyers. They also had outside counsel. We had lawyers. Rutgers blew a lot of money on lawyers, as did we. We reached an agreement, a five-year agreement, two years ago that we're working under now. AADC does not raise any funds for the college. The [funds] that we do have is basically an endowment of the Douglass Fund Trust. The money that was there is still for the purpose of the donors. It's for the college, whether it's scholarships, etc. The dean will get that money. They always got that money for the scholarships. The college always picked the scholarship recipients out. But we no longer can do anything with the students, unless the dean approves it. Typically, the dean does not approve it. If we want to invite students to something, it has to go to the dean. The dean will send it out to them. She has allowed that a couple times.
It was interesting because before I was president I was chairing the strategic plan for the AADC. We were going to do more programs for alumnae because our younger alumnae have problems because you often have to have a master's now, and you come out with a lot of loans. You need a lot of assistance. It's different than when I graduated, or even when you graduated. We're going to do more programs for alumnae. We had just about finished the strategic plan. It was basically written, but we hadn't gotten it to our board yet when we got that letter. We moved back to the strategic plan last year as to where we're going and what we're doing. We were improving the alumnae programs, and we're doing some really good programs, mostly for younger, but also older alumnae, ongoing education and all that kind of thing. Our focus is now alumnae. We still have the Douglass Fund, which is for the college, her students and women's higher education. We would like to deal with the students more, but we only can if the dean allows it. The foundation with the dean is to raise money for the college. That's where we are. We have a working relationship.
It's gotten better over the last two years. It comes up and it comes down. We're working pretty well within the University as a whole. That's good. Alumnae, for the most part--you have some alumnae from the '60s who aren't thrilled with the University, but most of us, like me, I used to say, "We're the best of both worlds." You had this small community within the large research university, which is really fantastic. McCormick eliminated that with the colleges. It was good for Livingston. It was great for Cook. The Cook alumni were not happy when they eliminated that college at all because you had that smaller community that were part of, even though you were part of the bigger university. It's like being a New Jerseyan, but part of America. Same thing with the colleges and the university. We're working through it. It's a five-year agreement. We'll decide in a year or so if we want to renegotiate it. I strongly assume we will. I think that's what's best for the University and for the college.
I think you still need a place where young women who are still discriminated against, even though they don't necessarily know it nowadays, can build more self-confidence. A lot of the women there now are of color. There's a lot of Latinas. There's a lot of Asian and Mideastern. I believe that, in part, has to do with the families and the cultures that they want the women separate. There's a lot of that, which is good because they get much more confidence and leadership skills. Statistically, women who are in CEO positions or federal judges or judges, they went to women's colleges. It's interesting with young women, a lot of them don't think they are discriminated against. Then, they get out into the working world and they realize that sexism exists and they don't have the self-confidence in themselves. That's what you develop in those type of programs that DRC has. They're good programs.
KR: You've won a lot of awards over the years. What is the most meaningful to you?
JF: Well, when I got the Rutgers Hall of Distinguish Alumni [Award], I basically flipped out because I wanted to get that some time. I do have an ego, unlike my husband and other people I love. I got the letter. I'm like, "Oh, my God." I try [to call] my husband. I can't get him. I try my best friend, Melanie Willoughby, who's Rutgers College. Can't get her. Can't get my brother. I'm like, "Who the heck can I tell about this?" That was a real shocker because I didn't think I deserved it then. I would deserve it now, but I don't think I necessarily deserved it then. I guess I had friends at Rutgers who were on the committee. That was probably the biggest one.
KR: What year was that?
JF: '90-something. That one was big. That one was big. I got a lot of awards.
JF: Okay. I was at EPA. Douglass College has a big--it used to be called the Douglass Society, but because of the agreement we can't use the word "Douglass" anymore, except in our name. Now, we call it the Society of Excellence, the AADC Society of Excellence. That was pretty cool. I got that a lot earlier than I thought I would get it. I was director of the water division. That was the woman of achievement award from the Federation of Women's Clubs. That was big. The Puerto Rico recognition [Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's Pioneer Award] was interesting because they don't typically like the federal people. Did I tell you that I increased the size of their office substantially?
KR: No, you didn't say that.
JF: So, EPA, when I got there in '94, our region was New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. They had a staff of maybe seven people in San Juan to deal with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. What routinely Region II would do was send down mostly guys to Puerto Rico for a couple weeks at a time. The EPA paid for their airfare. They paid for their hotel. They paid for their per diem. Most of them did not speak Spanish, to do routine work, inspections, etc. I thought, "What the heck is this about?" The University of Puerto Rico is a good institution. Over those seven years, starting probably in my third year, my directors, some of them especially, were fighting me on it. But my deputy regional administrator thought it was the right thing to do. Nobody had the nerve to do it before.
When there were vacancies up in Edison or New York, I would move some of them to Puerto Rico. The director there, Carl Soderberg, who's still a good friend, was a great director and an engineer. He would then hire people there eventually to do all the routine inspections. When I left, there was probably an office of--our goal was sixty--I don't think there were quite sixty. There might be forty-five when I left. That was huge. Puerto Rico is the United States. They have a good education. Carl, for his undergrad, attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, an excellent engineering school. A lot of them come up to the mainland for college and they go back down. They're smart people. They're very capable people. That made me very proud. I got along well with the governor and actually the mayor of San Juan--different party--who became the governor after him. I got along with her because I helped do the San Juan Bay Estuary program.
We really fixed up the San Juan Bay estuary. Thousands of people lived there. There was no sewage system. There was no drinking water system, and yet thousands of people lived there. We cleaned that up under the San Juan Bay Estuary program and worked with the mayor, Sila Calderon, and then she became the governor. We got a lot done down there--the six water treatment plants and all kinds of positive actions. They liked me. They gave me an award. Nobody from EPA ever got an award from Puerto Rico before and probably never since. That was really special. That was a shock. I actually cried at that one.
Then, the NARUC ERE [Energy, Resources, and the Environment Committee's Mary Kilmarx Award], is given to one person a year. Mary Kilmarx, I didn't know her, she was a staff person at one of the utility commissions. She was the environmental person who started this committee way back. People vote on it. That was pretty cool.
I got the [Rutgers Camden Law School] Alumni's Armitage Award, which is pretty cool. They give out one of them a year, so I was very happy to get that. I'm not active in the law school. I was happy with that.
The Women's Political Caucus of New Jersey's Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award. You don't know who Barbara Boggs Sigmund was because you're too young. She was the mayor of Princeton. Her father was Hale Boggs, who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives from Louisiana. She's from New Orleans. Hale Boggs, her father, the Speaker of the House, went down in an airplane in Alaska. I don't know if they ever found his body or not. Lindy Boggs, her mother--real southern--replaced him and was a very active member of Congress for a long time. There were two sisters, Barbara Boggs Sigmund, who married a Princeton professor, and Cokie Roberts. PBS's Cokie Roberts is Barbara Boggs Sigmund's sister. They were both from the South, in Louisiana, and had these prestigious parents. Barbara Sigmund ran for mayor and was mayor of Princeton, as well as Mercer County Freeholder, and ran for--it was either Senate or governor, I think Senate. Women don't do that back then, back in the '80s. She was such a hoot. Very classy, Southern type. She lost an eye to cancer. She had patches that matched her dresses and hats, dressed really well. Then, she died of cancer later on. We named this award that we gave out to--she got the first one [posthumously] when I was Women's Political Caucus of New Jersey president. It was probably in '89 or something like that. After that, we gave it to one Democrat and one Republican, or it might be an independent. All the big political women got it. Then, when a friend of mine, who was a BPU commissioner with me, Carol Murphy, died of cancer, who was always Republican, [from] Morris County, very cool lady. I loved her. She died, unfortunately, about ten years ago. She was active in the caucus, not a board member, but always came to things. She had been a councilwoman, a freeholder, an assemblywoman, and then was commissioner with me. We named the Republican award the Carol Murphy Award. That was a big thing because we only were giving out two a year. It's really a virtual list of who's who of Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey, of pro-choice women. That was pretty cool. That was a long time ago when I got that.
Awards are neat. It's fun to have parties and celebrate. Then, I go to my friends' Rutgers [Alumni Association] Loyal Sons and Daughters Award. I went to that the first time when my friend Melanie Willoughby was the first woman to get the Rutgers Loyal Sons Award. Then, after that, they made it Loyal Sons and Daughters Award. Hers actually says, "Loyal Son." I went to that one, but then I didn't go to any for a long time because of the women, but then another friend of mine, Bethany Rocque-Romaine, who was Cook College, I mentored her when she was a Trustee in the '90s. I later hired her at the BPU. Now, she's a deputy counsel for energy. When she got it, I went. Now they're giving it out--it's the RAA, the Rutgers Alumni Association that does that. Now they decided about eight, ten years ago to give it out to women from other schools in addition to people who went to Rutgers or Cook. That was fun. They're always fun. I go to them all the time now because there's always a Douglass person who gets it. I know a lot of other people too. This last time, last year, out of the seven people who got it, I knew all but one because they're all active people. That's for awards.
KR: I want to ask you if there's anything you'd like to add.
JF: Let me see if I had anything down that I wanted to add. I don't think so. I don't know if there's anything else I had to get you information-wise. Let me see. I actually had some stuff on my father that I didn't have--when he died and all that kind of information--that my brother gave me, but I don't think you really need that. I think that's probably it. Basically, what it comes down to with me is I am tenacious, as McGreevey called me--I like that term--but also, I'm a firm believer in people living up to their expectations. I like to mentor people and develop self-confidence in women, usually, young women, sometimes young men. I still mentor people that I've been mentoring for twenty or thirty years now. I feel good about that, whatever Margaret Mead expression is, "It takes a village" type of thing.
The other one, which was a book, [Speaking Truth to Power by] Anita Hill. Her book [Speaking] Truth to Power is actually what I've always done. Now that I'm not working for anybody, I can even do it more, but I've always done it. In trying to come up with an idea that's good for the public and then you get a team of people who agree to that and you just work on who's going to do what's needed to accomplish the goal. I know what I'm good at, what I'm not good at. You need people who are good--you need to know your weaknesses. I definitely know my weaknesses. I think I know my strengths. You just need to work with people that get it done. Saving Rutgers-Camden, that was a group effort. It couldn't have been done without a lot of individuals working together. I'm one of those couple of individuals, but for each one of us individually, it wouldn't have been done. You feel good about that. The Hudson River definitely wouldn't have been done without me. The New York City filtration avoidance definitely wouldn't have been done without me, and the successes down in Puerto Rico without me. On the other hand, it couldn't have been done just by me. You have to have like-minded people. It has to be a good cause everybody believes in. Working with Pataki and Giuliani on that filtration avoidance with their people--I only met with the mayor once and the governor twice, although I met with him on other matters after that. All of us wanted to do the right thing, except for that second chief of staff Giuliani had. That's how you get it done. If you have somebody that's just after their own self-interest, you really need to work the small "p" politics of people and personalities and getting them to do what's right. Typically, most people will. Sometimes, others will. That's my theory of life and how to get important work done.
KR: Well, I want to thank you so much for doing this. It's been a wonderful two-part oral history series.
JF: Thank you.
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Transcribed by Molly Graham 12/13/2018
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 1/28/19
Reviewed by Jeanne Fox 4/12/2022
Reviewed by Jeanne Fox 6/13/2022