It is that time again when lists of the year’s top stories begin to emerge in newspapers and magazines, on radio and TV stations, and online in websites, blogs and emails. My list is a little different. Instead of news stories, I decided to take a crack at identifying the top public policy developments that took place in New Jersey during 2008.
This poses somewhat of a different challenge. Rather than selecting the top stories from a group of existing news reports, it requires speculating about the long-term impact of decisions made this year. And that is made even more difficult by the unusual and unexpected twists that can alter our future.
Consider for a moment the case of Charles Ingram Courtenay Wood, 2nd Earl of Halifax. When Neville Chamberlain resigned as British Prime Minister in 1940, Halifax was considered a likely successor, but Winston Churchill was selected for the post instead. As Alan Bennett relates in The History Boys, on the afternoon the decision was taken, Halifax chose to go the dentist instead. “If Halifax had had better teeth, we might have lost the war,” the Dakin character in Bennett’s film remarks.
So barring the likes of an unforeseen trip to the dentist, here are what I consider the most significant public policy developments that took place in New Jersey this year: