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anne_mikolay_120It's the summer concert season, and we all know what that means. It means hoping for good seats at various venues, including Holmdel's PNC Bank Arts Center. The prime seats there, however, are not up for grabs to the average Joe; they are reserved for Governor Christie and New Jersey State officials.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority overseas the PNC Bank Arts Center, and while Governor Christie recently ended the practice of New Jersey Turnpike officials reserving premium seats for sale to its members, he did nothing to squash their free ticket perk. For the past twenty years, The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has set aside forty free season box seats at the PNC for state officials (including eight tickets for the Governor). Granted, the box seats in question are not within financial reach of New Jersey's middle class, but it's not exactly fair to withhold the option of purchase from the residents who make up the backbone of our state. According to a Christie spokesman, the box seats are designated “seats for business purposes,” and as such, are not included in house seats sold to the general public. It seems to me that Governor Christie, who likes to put himself out there as a “man of the people,” is making a clear distinction between himself and his “people.”  Why should his kids have an opportunity to enjoy premium seats to see popular musical acts when my kids, and yours, do not?

It could be argued that similar practices have existed in the business sector for years. The Wall Street establishment I once worked for regularly purchased box seats at the U.S. Open for its senior officers and visiting dignitaries. Nobody protested this common public relations method aimed at creating good will among account officers and clients. While New Jersey State officials' longstanding free ticket perk might also be considered a good will directive, one must question its primary motivation. Does the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's practice of keeping free tickets for themselves benefit the state of New Jersey at all? Are they creating good will for anybody else other than themselves?

I think not. The “box seats for business purposes” smack of the egocentric excess and sense of entitlement that have created so many problems for the state of New Jersey.