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Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: Negative Neds & Nellies

By Kevin O'Toole, October 19 2021 12:01 am

Growing up I would watch this Saturday morning cartoon called Wacky Races – involving Dick Dastardly, his dog, Muttley, and all the other colorful characters. Always in the middle of the pack was this one vehicle that resembled a hearse, it had a bell tower complete with a dragon and bats.  Most memorable was the constant rain cloud that usually followed this particular vehicle.

What is the point other than a trip down memory lane?

It seems to me, now more than ever, the Negative Neds and Nellies of the world are taking stage – front and center.

Much like the storm filled cloud that followed our special racing team, there are too many public officials today who possess this irritating and self-defeating attitude and characteristic. It seems, now more than ever, people want hope not dispair, solutions not more problems.

I can’t tell you how many times I asked an elected official how are you doing and get one of the following:

1) Tough, a lot of work and it isn’t easy; 
2) Trenton is hard and not fun;
3) This budget committee thing is hard work; 
4) Fund raising is a pain; 
5) This constituent service thing can be a real drag.

Get my point.

I remember in 2002, then-Governor James McGreevey exclaimed upon taking office – “thank you for this joyful burden.” I saw the Governor the other day and he is doing amazing work now, but I bet, if he could, he would take a different tact on the job that was ahead of him.

Our elected officials need to be mindful that legions of others would gladly change places with them. With a population of over 9 million, there are only 40 senators and 80 assembly members. Most of us who are part of this club cherish this usually once-in-a-lifetime experience. We don’t really want to hear the negative Neds and Nellies who occupy this special real estate in our political worlds talking as if it’s a life sentence.

Another point to the elected leaders – try being a little upbeat when doing your job. The public is in need of hope and good news. They want leaders who will show them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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