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Christie Pushes Utility Companies to Restore Power

Governor says schools should be open on days set aside for teachers convention.

Gov. Chris Christie said thousands of added workers from across the country are set to arrive in New Jersey, after he pressed utility companies to speed up repairs.  

Christie said he told chief executives of the state's largest utilities they must take extraordinary steps to step up restoration efforts. 

"I made it clear to them that whatever playbooks they had were to be thrown out because we've never faced anything like this before," the governor said. 

Governors from Ohio to Virginia dispatched repair crews to aid storm-ravaged New Jersey, Christie said at a briefing in Moonachie Thursday afternoon.

President Barack Obama offered to fly utility crews and equipment to the state on military aircraft, Christie said. Federal emergency management officials were also establishing housing for the workers at Fort Monmouth. 

"You're going to see the results of that because the power will be restored much more quickly than it would have been otherwise because of these new people," Christie said. 

Public Service Electric and Gas, the state's largest utility, said in a statement Thursday that full service might not be restored for a week or 10 days. No new timeline was immediately released. 

Christie said he would make electric companies provide updated estimates once crews were tallied.  

More than 1.7 million New Jersey electric customers remained without service four days after Hurricane Sandy slammed the state. That number was down from 2.7 million without power. In Bergen County, Teaneck, Hackensck and Fort Lee were some of the towns hardest hit by outages. 

Gasoline and diesel fuel were also bound for New Jersey, but set aside for government and vehicles involved with the relief effort, including utility crews. 

Christie also commended the state's teachers union for canceling its annual conference in Atlantic City. The event was scheduled for Nov. 8-9, days when school is normally closed. 

With the conference canceled, Christie said schools should open. 

"I understand that the teachers convention and those two days off is a statutory entitlement that was given to the teachers union but I think these are extraordinary circumstances," the governor said. 

"I would hope they would do it voluntarily and I'm confident they will, but I would not hesitate to do what needed to be done to help our children get the education they need," he said of teachers working during the scheduled convention days off. 

Concerns over voting are mounting as some polling places have been washed away or remain without electricity. 

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno said she directed county clerks to keep offices open over the weekend and extended the mail-in ballot deadline. Clerks were set to report by tomorrow which of the state's 3,000 polling places were unusable and temporary voting areas would be setup using military trucks. 

Officials would work to get people staying in shelters mail-in ballots, Guadagno said. 

Bergen County was added to the President's major disaster area declaration on Thursday, Rep. Bill Pascrell announced. Christie asked residents seeking federal assistance to call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362. 

"Our job has moved now from saving lives to rebuilding them," the governor said. "We must move together to return New Jersey to normalcy."

chris November 02, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I cant believe how some people view things so differently...Do you really think that Gov Christie top priority is to take digs at the teachers during this etremely difficult time for our state?Really?Oh...I guess you also think that the Gov could have prevented this horrific natural disaster!!!!Why not focus more on those people that lost everything instead of "the teachers"
BN November 02, 2012 at 04:34 PM
We need to investigate further the research of Nikolai Tesla. He was a brilliant man who stifled by the powers that be...NWO, illuminati, Masons, your pchoice. Free electricity for all with no power companies necessary.
Chica2ool November 02, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Holly, you're sooooooo right........
JBird November 02, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Open outside assitance from non-union workers. I have friends at the power company in MD who are prepared to assist Jersey's power restoraion efforts but are being refused because they are non-union. They headed to NY instead, since NY is more open minded. And it looks like that is paying off for NY.
Karen Larkin November 02, 2012 at 05:23 PM
JBird, if that's the case, that is a disgrace! We have people with power, including heat, and its supposed to get pretty cold tonight! So let's wake up and accept the help we are offered!
Jon Boody November 02, 2012 at 05:48 PM
As for the schools, the kids need it for more than just education. They are under a huge amount of stress that adults can more easily handle. By getting the kids back in school as soon as possible they will at least have 6 or 7 hours of their normal comfortable lives back each day. Teachers took their jobs because they care for the kids and I'm sure they will all agree that getting them back into the classrooms as soon as possible is critical for their well-being. While some schools are still being used as shelters or have too much damage to open, any school that is fit to open should open as soon as possible.
David Fischer November 02, 2012 at 05:59 PM
School days missed will be made up, just as snow-days are made up. Schools have to be in session the required number of days and that means that some future holidays or spring break will be eliminated or modified to allow for the required number of days. Instead of trying to get people who are recovering back to school next week, we should all be working to help our neighbors to recover. It is not just the teachers who have to recover, but all residents... lets get our neighborhoods on the way to recovery and stop bashing one group or another. The school days will be made up as they always have been when snow or other events have caused closings.
Ro November 02, 2012 at 06:28 PM
1. Easy to believe non-union help rejected in NJ. Discrimination against non-union workers must be made illegal, esp in a state of emergency. 2. My neighbor watched a private company remove a fallen tree from cable lines (not electric lines). He saw 3 - yes 3 - DPW workers stand around and "supervise". Did no work, just watched. Esp. in a state of emergency, rules requiring this non-sense should be suspended. 3. The teacher's union convention in AC - "it's for the kids!". What a joke. 4. Rules protecting companies from competition need to be suspended too. E.g., buying gasoline from out of state refiners or the Jones Act (restricting foreign tankers delivering fuel). Both of these happened, belatedly, but who knows what other restrictions are hampering the recovery effort? 5. As part of preparedness, states should have a list of bogus rules that protect and pamper unions and businesses that automatically get suspended in a state of emergency. For that matter, let's get rid of them all together!
ralph November 02, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Holly- The word "commended" ,as in he commended the teachers' union, is a positive not a dig.
dana November 02, 2012 at 06:44 PM
That,s a pretty ignorant statement. I guess you aren't involved in learning! Do you know how much you can learn in 5 full days?
KayM November 02, 2012 at 07:35 PM
It is inaccurate. The Alabama company said that this report is not true and they have crews in NJ and other states. The union also said it wasn't true, and confirmed that they are welcoming everybody.
KayM November 02, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Not the least bit true, although Fox wants people to believe it is. Straight from the power company's Website: http://alabamapowernews.com/private/ogaojGiFnx "We've seen a number of news reports about electric line crews that are being turned away in the state of New Jersey, on the grounds that the crews are non-union. Rest assured, our Alabama Power crews have not been turned away from anywhere. Our employees are proudly representing us in several states that have been affected, and have received a warm reception everywhere they've been."
KayM November 02, 2012 at 07:42 PM
It is not true that non-union electrical workers were turned away, despite Fox News trying to claim that is the case. We need to push back against this lie or more companies will not realize New Jersey is welcoming non-union and unionized workers to help in the crisis.
KayM November 02, 2012 at 07:46 PM
We need to debunk the lie that FoxNews and other rightwing "news" outlets are spreading that non-unionized electrical workers are being turned away. This is not true according to the union and the Alabama company with the non-union workers, who are actively helping NJ residents. http://alabamapowernews.com/private/ogaojGiFnx We need to make sure out-of-state electricians, whether unionized or not, know that NJ welcomes and needs their help. This false claim is only going to hurt our state's residents and needs to be shot down fast.
catch22 November 02, 2012 at 07:59 PM
OH, teachers you all are always good for complaining.... It's such a hard life isn't it???? Do a good deed, quit your job so we hear less complaints
Socrates November 02, 2012 at 08:08 PM
What reports? Did you check the source? Cite it if you have one. Otherwise, PLEASE stop spreading malicious rumors based on nothing. Things are bad enough without stupidity fanning the flames!
Socrates November 02, 2012 at 08:09 PM
What "friend"? Did you check the source? Cite it if you have one. Otherwise, PLEASE stop spreading malicious rumors based on nothing. Things are bad enough without stupidity fanning the flames!
Socrates November 02, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Hey, "thevoiceofreason," I think you should quit your job and become a teacher and show them how it's done.
Socrates November 02, 2012 at 08:12 PM
What district? Did you check the source? Cite it if you have one. Otherwise, PLEASE stop spreading malicious rumors based on nothing. Things are bad enough without stupidity fanning the flames!
Shay November 02, 2012 at 08:24 PM
So do I Tom, so do I ! This would be totally unacceptable, if accurate ! But,I too have heard this as well. I know it was reported this morning as factual on Fox News this morning. I wouldnt put it past the unions to snub the NON unions ! sighhhhh Some people say , dont pay attention to such things BUT this IS a major thing ! We need every helping hand we can get in every area. You have to have a plan in place, and be able to get reports out to the public, so people know what to expect in a crisis like this. Everyone should just help where they can, and those around them in need . PS Although THAT particular Alabama comp. said they were not needed, there are other utilities from there who WERE turned away in Jersey. NICE ! There are other non unions going into Jersey who are being told they are not needed. this needs to be looked into , since we dont really know the facts at this time, but it very well may be happening.
catch22 November 02, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Socrates, I would but I am too valuable in the corporate world. Also, unlike teachers, my promotions and raises are given based on performance. I don't use entitlement as a crutch.
George November 02, 2012 at 10:57 PM
KayM Hard to get the truth into the heads of those who think the FOXIE news network is always right and does not have a hidden agenda of their own.
snert November 03, 2012 at 02:36 AM
The first comment in this whole series is the only one that matters. Make JCP&L, as part of First Energy statisically one of the worst power companies in the US with respect to customer service, fianancially responsible for their failures. All the BS about teachers and unions is *just* *not* the issue.
Brian Clancy November 03, 2012 at 10:04 AM
135-140 bucks a month i give JCP&L.. an when its times like this the knife goes deeper into us..bunch of shytheads running this company , worst company i ever delt with..the CEO is a bum..i miss PSE&G..they are high class..
kat sko November 03, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Does anybody know if schools open on monday?
Lou DeGeorge November 03, 2012 at 11:12 AM
DPW workers are not allowed to work within 10 feet of power lines for safety reasons . Not union reasons Thats why you see contractors working with the poewer co .
Lou DeGeorge November 03, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Middletown reopens November 13th . Not sure what school district you are from .
kat sko November 03, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Does east brunswick have school monday?
Ro November 03, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Hi Lou, thank you for your comment. I guess I made my point poorly. I was trying to point out that DPW workers could be doing something more useful than standing around watching others work. Also, if DPW isn't skilled enough to work near power lines, that's fine, but why have them involved in this tree removal at all? Have them do something else. I bet the reason is that there is a featherbedding union rule saying you have to have DPW workers there (remember there were 3!). This is meant to create make-work jobs for union workers and increase the cost of using private contractors. Overall it is ripoff to taxpayers. They don't even have the decency to suspend these rules during a state of emergency.
Lou DeGeorge November 03, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I cant speak of the story you are talking about . But I do know once the power co makes the tree work safe the dpw crew can clear it up .

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