With great power, great responsibility to the state
Take a look at the top 10 people on our annual Power 100 ranking starting on page 14. Now try to imagine what it would look like if Hurricane Sandy hadn't paid New Jersey a visit.
OK, as visuals go, that's not nearly as striking as a home teetering upon a newly carved inlet in Mantoloking or a roller coaster mired at sea in Seaside. But it should be a reminder that, months after the storm slammed the coast, recovery needs to be a top priority. Builders, boardwalks, casinos, residents and the legion of others who lost power, lost their homes and lost their livelihoods have been treated to the continuing theater of the absurd in Washington, rather than a hasty influx of capital to begin rebuilding.
Let's go back to those images on television — a chunk of Atlantic City's Boardwalk washed away, Hoboken Terminal taking on water faster than a marathon runner after a race. We're willing to bet some New Jerseyans believe New Orleans is still underwater and the French Quarter has floated halfway to Belize by now. Five years after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the Big Easy has yet to win back its pre-storm crowds. And in New Jersey, which has lagged as other states shake off the weight of the recession, tourism is a hugely important engine that pumps billions into the coffers. As the budget deficit continues to grow, the state has much to do in order to win back those tourists — something more than buses at the capital saying New Jersey is open for business.
The people on this year's list who would be unknowns were it not for the storm — the Marc Ferzans and Lopa Kolluris — have an awesome responsibility to the state. How it fares in the upcoming budget year will have a lot to say about their leadership, determination and vision. Let's hope they can find a way despite the long odds.