Aw, come on. We don't even get a fig leaf anymore? Just naked political cronyism, in all its glory, staring us in the face? And we're supposed to just look away?

Last week, Gov. Chris Christie nominated Dianne Solomon, of Haddonfield, to be one of five commissioners on the state Board of Public Utilities, a post that pays $140,000 a year.

She is the wife of Superior Court Judge Lee Solomon, who was Christie's choice to head the BPU in 2010 and 2011. Judge Solomon, a longtime Christie ally, also was in the running for a nomination to the state Supreme Court. But Christie ended up nominating someone else, and Judge Solomon returned to the Superior Court.

Now his wife, if confirmed by the state Senate, will be a commissioner at the BPU - which regulates the state's utilities and is currently wrestling with major issues regarding the state's electrical-power infrastructure and offshore wind energy.

Dianne Solomon served on Christie's transition team. She is also a commissioner on the South Jersey Transportation Authority.

But, as a paralegal and a certified United States Tennis Association referee and umpire, her resume is a little thin for the BPU.

And more than a little unusual.

"At first blush, it doesn't pass the straight-faced test," David Pringle, campaign director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said of Solomon's nomination.

That's putting it mildly.

Of course, the BPU has long been a bastion of political patronage. In fact, Solomon would replace former Cumberland County Republican Assemblyman Nicholas Asselta, of Vineland. Former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat, appointed Asselta to the BPU in 2008, hours after the lame-duck assemblyman provided a critical Republican vote for a school-funding measure Corzine was pushing.

But at least Asselta had been an elected official - not a tennis umpire.

(Asselta, by the way, now works for Aqua America, a water utility regulated by the BPU, according to Apparently, there also isn't much of a fig leaf anymore when it comes to post-employment restrictions for state officials. How is this allowed?)

We don't doubt that Dianne Solomon is a very nice person and perhaps even a competent person. But there's no way her appointment to the BPU post can be seen as anything except a favor for a wife of a friend, perhaps in return for her husband not getting the Supreme Court nomination.

Of course, we could be wrong about that. But even if we are, it doesn't change the naked fact that there is nothing in Dianne Solomon's resume that remotely suggests she has any expertise relevant to the BPU's important work.

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