By Carol McCracken (Post # 671)
As expected, former legislator and current business owner, Darryl Brown was easily confirmed for Commissioner of the Department of Environment Protection, late this morning. The vote was 29-6 in favor of Brown’s appointment.
Republican Senator Saviello spoke on behalf of his long-time friend when he said that 22 people spoke of Brown’s integrity and character at a public hearing last Tuesday. The Senator said that never in its history has the DEP had a small business owner Commissioner of the 400 employee state agency. When at 66 years old, Brown could comfortably retire from Main-Land Consultants, Inc., he’s been willing to continue to work. Why, Saviello asked. “Darryl Brown is a leader…..who will make something extraordinary happen,” said Saviello.
Leading the offense against Brown’s confirmation has been Seth A. Goodall, (D). Goodall repeated his concern that Brown’s “conflict of interest” was too great a concern to support him for confirmation. Brown refused to create a blind trust to oversee the company that he started in 1971. Rather he has resigned and there is a new president and board of directors to run the company. The company is for sale, Brown said. But not at a “fire sale” price.
Justin Alfond, (D), Senator representing the Hill, spoke as well against the controversial confirmation of Brown for the post. “Mr. Brown’s business is dependent on the DEP to review and permit his projects. There is no gray area there. If the DEP permits his project, he gets paid…twice. Alfond went on to express concern for the staff of the DEP. “By virtue of their employment, they are placed in a precarious situation. They are being forced to choose between following regulations in support of the environment OR enhancing their boss’ bottom line.”
There are 14 Democrats in the Senate that voted to confirm Brown as Commissioner. Less than half of them voted against his confirmation.