By Danielle Flood
New Jersey’s unethical politics are ruining the state’s reputation, a state commissioner said in a speech to the Rider community on Thursday,
Rolano Torres, Jr., the New Jersey Commissioner of Personnel, noted how “public confidence is eroding” and that “political participation is not as vibrant or robust as it once was.”
Unethical behavior has caused people to lose faith in government and the consequences are coming at a heavy price, according to Torres.
For one, there is a theft of talent. Many professors no longer want to teach in New Jersey.
The state has also become the butt of jokes in newspapers, such as in the New York Post.
Torres indicated how New Jersey cannot afford to lose the future generation’s input and ideas, but that will be the case if the government continues on as usual.
Unethical behavior needs to be dealt with so that the state can focus on more pressing matters, such as violence, poverty, drug abuse and child abuse, he said.
The commissioner came into government with the idea of becoming part of the solution, not the problem and says he “wants to leave the community in a better place than where I found it.”
A way of achieving his goal is to change the current perception of New Jersey’s government. In order to change perception, Torres has created the ethics commission, which affirms the principles of a good government and penalizes unethical behavior.
A key aspect of the ethics commission is transforming a culture. An example would be creating a business guide of ethics to avoid corruption and to incorporate full-time training offices to reinstate compliance of ethical behavior.
A way the ethics commission is cracking down on unethical behavior is by increasing the penalties from $5,000 to $10,000.
Torres noted that although progress has been made to change ethical behavior in New Jersey government, the problem “won’t be turned around in a day,” but is going to take some time.
Torres went on to say that the problem with the current climate of New Jersey government is that it casts a shadow on the public officials who do their job effectively and properly.
A way to remedy unethical behavior would be educating the future generation, Torres said. Parents, teachers and mentors need to educate the future generation to make the right decision and be aware that every decision has several options and that it is up to the individual to make the most ethical choice.
Torres was reappointed as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Personnel by Gov. Jon Corzine. He was initially nominated on Nov. 22, 2004 by Acting Governor Richard J. Cody; the nomination was confirmed by the N.J. State Senate March 14, 2005.
Torres, an attorney and trained mediator, is an expert in civil rights and workplace issues. Specifically, he is an authority in consensus building and reconciling diverse interests on public policy issues in public and corporate settings.
During his career, he served as the Special Deputy Commissioner in the Office of Legal, Policy and Legislative Affairs at the Department of Human Services. During his career as a public servant, Torres was instrumental in helping to implement historic child-welfare reform.
In 2003, Torres, who was appointed to the Governor’s Office as Deputy Chief of Management and Operations under Gov. James E. McGreevy,
negotiated the legislative agreements that ultimately became New Jersey’s Auto Reform Act of 2003.