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EDITORIAL: Accountability is top job for new Sandy czar

There's going out with a whimper and going out with a bang — and going out with no one knowing who you are or what it is you do.

That would seem to be the fate of Marc Ferzan, who went from being the toast of the town when he became Chris Christie’s so-called Sandy czar to being the guy nobody could recognize at press conferences — that is, if he was the sort of person to attend them. He only spoke at one in his 20-some months on the job, and declined to speak at numerous committee meetings in Trenton dealing exclusively with the storm recovery effort.

For a public official, he had a decided aversion to publicity. Of course, given the high-profile failures committed in Sandy’s wake — the dismissal of several contractors over concerns about their performance, questionable spending on advertising, accusations about short-changing hard-hit cities such as Hoboken, the wildly inappropriate award to a Belleville senior housing project, and on and on — you could understand why the Sandy czar would want to play them close to the vest. But this nonsense needs to end with Ferzan’s tenure.

Down the Shore, the sunny start to the summer has erased some bad memories about how a little more than a year ago, there was real concern that the beaches and boardwalks would be empty. As we’ve seen now, the cure for that is sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s and 90s, not commercials. But at the Shore and beyond, Sandy recovery remains a critical issue for business owners, who want answers on recovery, federal and state support, how flood insurance is going to work going forward, and so on. Homeowners still are stuck wanting basic information about being compensated for losses and how to protect themselves going forward. And despite piles of money being spent, the most tangible rehabilitation project has been the rebuilding of the Shore’s boardwalks.

Ferzan was a little-known commodity when he took the reins in late November 2012, but it was enough to call him a real power broker — we featured him in the top 10 of the 100 most powerful people in business just a couple months later. He never lived up to the hype. Now, his direct understudy, Terry Brody, takes the role. Let’s hope he’s smart about spending federal dollars, helpful to the business community — and more accountable to the public.

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