Kelly Hatfield, whom Christie has appointed as the new chairwoman of the Public Employment Relations Council, the agency that resolves disputes between public workers and the state. With Christie targeting public workers’ pay and benefits, PERC will be a bloody battleground as the state negotiates new contracts. Christie pledges an “adversarial” relationship with unions.
Hatfield, however, has no background in labor or law. She is a former Summit councilwoman and former school board member. She has run for Assembly and Congress, and lost both times. Questionable qualifications for running an important state agency, but, hey, anybody can be a hatchet (wo)man.
She is a microbiologist, which is fitting, because Christie now has his germy hands all over PERC and the infection is likely to grow.
Under Christie’s direction, Hatfield forced the resignation of staff attorney and general counsel Ira Mintz, who for 25 years has been a fair and reasonable voice in acrimonious labor disputes. Christie apparently isn’t interested in fair and reasonable, so Mintz was, in effect, fired without cause. (Hatfield, a bureaucratic rookie, denies she took Christie’s direction on the force-out, but that’s simply not believable.)
Some conclude Mintz was kicked to the curb because he sided with workers against Christie in a dispute over a holiday. Christie’s message to other PERC employees is clear: Side with workers and you could be given a permanent (unpaid) holiday.
After ripping Corzine for making purely political appointments, Christie is doing the same thing. And it’s not the first time. Here’s the Christie Reform Agenda you won’t see on YouTube: Among other things, he has interfered in elections (giving a Port Authority job to Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speciale, a Democrat, to get him out of a race) and hired pals of dubious qualifications to the Parole Board, the Port Authority and the Department of Transportation (which, at the time, was under a hiring freeze).