NJ Politics Digest: State-Issued Car Privileges Remain Even After Complaints

At dawn, cars drive down the US 9 highway past Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey. mith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

You’d think having a citizen call to complain about how you were driving a state-issued car could be a pretty fast way to lose your wheels. But, as a report by NJ.com points out, you’d be wrong.

Of the 298 complaints filed with a state hotline set up so motorists could report state vehicles being misused, only two complaints, or 0.67 percent, resulted in state workers losing their privileges to use a state car, according to the NJ.com report.

And it’s not like people were reporting minor incidents. NJ.com reports that complaints included accusations that folks driving state cars ran red lights, threw trash out of the window, drove erratically, and made profane or offensive hand symbols, according to the report. The state also received complaints about cars parked at malls on weekends, when no state business is likely being conducted, according to the report.

The state fleet includes 5,718 vehicles, and all but cabinet members and state police must display a bumper sticker with a number residents can call to complain about how the car is being used. Some complaints, according to the report, include state drivers who attempt to alter the bumper sticker so taxpayers can’t read the correct number to call.

A state spokeswoman told NJ.com that despite the large number of complaints, which included 81 reports of speeding, 72 reports of weaving or erratic driving, 66 reports of aggressive driving and 54 reports of tailgating, investigations by state employees have, in most cases, found their fellow employees committed no violation of state vehicle use policy or that it was a minor infraction or a first-time offense, merely warranting a warning.

Quote of the Day: “It is so obvious what went on there. It is so obvious that what she did, how she did it, and then to actually think she’s going to come to the Legislature and we’re going to refinance that program with the way that she’s handled it? I’m shocked she’s still there,” — Senate President Steve Sweeney, on Gov. Phil Murphy’s continued support for Schools Development Authority CEO Lizette Delgado-Polanco.

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