Democrats join Republicans in calling on Gov. Murphy to be more transparent during pandemic

Democrats are joining Republicans to call on Gov. Phil Murphy to be more transparent in his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

News 12 Staff

Jul 29, 2020, 2:18 AM

Updated 1,363 days ago

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Democrats are joining Republicans to call on Gov. Phil Murphy to be more transparent in his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Democratic governor is using a 15-year-old law to hold back some critical information about the virus. The law states that in times of emergency, the governor can keep secret certain emails, documents or medical information – stuff that would normally be available for public scrutiny.
Longtime Democratic state Sen. Loretta Weinberg says that this must stop and has introduced a bill into the Legislature.
“Emergencies are not the time for darkness, because darkness breeds skepticism, suspicion and mistrust,” Weinberg said in a statement.
Her bill would make this type of information accessible with limited exceptions. And she is not alone among lawmakers calling for transparency.
“Over the last four and a half months, we haven’t been governed, we’ve been ruled,” says Republican Sen. Joe Pennacchio. “We’ve been one-man ruled.”
The governor of New Jersey is allowed to make big decisions on his own during a crisis, and Murphy has been doing that with around 70 executive orders since the pandemic began.
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If he wants to keep doing it, lawmakers say that he must release more information. Republicans have been calling for months to subpoena witnesses for hearings related to what has been going on.
“For Bridgegate, nobody was killed. Nobody was hurt. And here we have 7,000 lost souls,” Pennacchio says, referring to the number of deaths at long-term care facilities in the state.
Murphy does routinely make himself available to the media, spending hours publicly going through data related to the virus. But down at the local level, the numbers can be confusing.
“I think I speak for the entire mayor and council in Asbury Park when I say it’s frustrating for us,” says Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn.
Quinn says that she has just learned on Monday about a dozen new cases in the town – a major jump that could cause the city to re-think its politics. But Quinn says that when she pressed health officials for more information, she learned that some of the cases go back to May.
Health officials say that some cases can be misplaced or mislabeled. Quinn says that she is not blaming anyone for the miscommunication, but says that a rise in COVID-19 causes could have an economic impact on Asbury Park.


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