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History--1970s & 1980s: Cahill, Byrne & Kean
Apart from the income tax, Byrne's eight years in office saw the development of the New Jersey Sports complex with Giants Stadium and the indoor sports and entertainment arena (controversially first named after Byrne); legislation to protect the resources of the Pinelands; the creation of New Jersey Transit; approval of casino gambling in Atlantic City; the establishment of Liberty State Park; imposition of strict controls on the use and shipment of cancer-causing chemicals; construction of new sewage treatment facilities to end untreated ocean discharges; and the authorization of a state compensation fund to meet losses and finance cleanups of toxic chemical and oil spills, which became the model for the federal Superfund program.
Byrne considered the preservation of the Pinelands his most significant achievement. After first encountering difficulty in securing sufficient support in the legislature, he issued an executive order barring most construction until a more permanent planning and regulatory program was enacted. The controversial action promptly was challenged in the courts, but succeeded in building pressure so that Byrne's proposal was enacted as the Pinelands Protection Act. After the law went into effect, a plan developed by the Commission created by the legislation sharply curtailing new construction was approved by the US Department of the Interior pursuant to complementary federal legislation which established the Pinelands National Reserve.
-- New Jersey Supreme Court
During Byrne's time in office, the New Jersey Supreme Court, in addition to its landmark role in the Robinson v. Cahill litigation, took other aggressive actions. In 1975, in Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel, the Court held that a system of municipal land use and zoning regulation making it physically and economically impossible to provide low and moderate income housing was unconstitutional. The "Mount Laurel" case subsequently led to controversial state legislation to establish goals for affordable housing in each municipality. In 1976, the Court's In re Quinlan decision held that the father of 21-year-old Karen Ann Quinlan, who had lapsed into a vegetative state after a night of drinking alcohol and taking tranquilizers, was legally able to order her removal from the ventilator thought to be essential to keeping her alive. After the ventilator was disconnected, she unexpectedly continued to breathe on her own, subsequently dying ten years later of pneumonia. The "right-to-die" decision received global attention, and led to legislation in New Jersey and other states defining procedures to be followed in similar situations.
In February 1980, NBC News reported that the FBI had been conducting an undercover investigation under the code name Abscam in which an agent had been posing as a wealthy Arab purportedly interested in investing in Atlantic City, offering payments for support of his projects from local, state and federal officials. Of over thirty officials who were investigated, those convicted included New Jersey's US Senator Harrison Williams; Congressman Frank Thompson of Mercer County; and state Senator and Camden Mayor Angelo Errichetti. Five members of the US House of Representatives from other states also were found guilty, along with members of the Philadelphia City Council.
* Governor Brendan T. Byrne Administration, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
* Governor Tom Kean: From the New Jersey Statehouse to the 911 Commission by Alvin Felzenberg
* Governor Thomas H. Kean Administration, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
Next-- 1990s: Florio & Whitman
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