Tag Archive: Superstorm Sandy

News Roundup & Open Thread for Monday, September 14, 2015

ON MEET THE PRESS

  • Christie’s reaction to the news about former PA Chair David Samson: “Let’s stop just reading the newspapers.” Oh really?
  • After NYC Police Commissioner said Christie made “a bit of a fool of himself” for criticizing NYC’s mayor on crime statistics, Christie, ignoring NJ’s crime problems, charged the commissioner with being “completely ridiculous.”

  • An interesting article on the origin of the feud between Christie and NYPD.

  • News Roundup and Open Thread for Thursday, July 30, 2015

    A heat wave continues today: stay cool and hydrated.

    Despite an appeal to the Appellate Court from environmental groups: oral arguments start this morning on the NJDEP v. Exxon settlement case. Among others in protest, Sen. Ray Lesniak will submit his statement indicating, “The court should reject Christie’s settlement because it violates laws of the State of New Jersey, in addition to being unfair, unreasonable and inadequate.”

    To dig or not to dig: Christie says he and Gov. Cuomo are committed to building a new trans-Hudson tunnel and will meet with the US Secretary of Transportation shortly. Christie has his demands. He, Cuomo, and the Port Authority are looking to the feds for substantial funding. With a dysfunctional congress that now can not even agree on how to refund the depleted US transportation account, this plan could be a tunnel too far. However, any news seems like good news for NJ Transit riders who just went through a week in hell.

    Sen. Sweeney wants a $1 trillion federal loan program to rescue the states’ public worker pensions. A nice idea, but is this an impossible dream?

    Christie’s vanity campaign: Real Clear Politics today indicates he is 10th (3.2) with Kasich now ahead of him in the national polls, 13th (2.3) in Iowa, 7th (5.0) in New Hampshire and 9th (5.7) in South Carolina.

    Christie’s campaign proposes to sharply limit federal health care funding under Medicaid: NJPP says, “It would result in the loss of about $15 billion in federal funding for New Jersey over eight years.”  

    President Christie’s’ choice for Supreme Court: would be a Samuel Alito clone. No surprise there, but it makes one wonder after so many harsh pronouncements on the road what he will espouse when he returns to his governor’s job in blue New Jersey.

    Super PAC’s start to dominate races in NJ: POLITICO: Four of the five Democrats considering a run for governor in 2017 have super PACs. There was even one for a town council race in Parsippany.

    Super storm Sandy lingering effects: slow rebuilding of homes and businesses, long insurance battles and mold that refuses to die – have taken a toll on the mental health of residents in its path.

    Rutgers to give stipends to scholarship athletes: Under new NCAA rules they will receive up to $4,900.

    Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh coming to New Jersey: The Haskell Invitational horse race takes place at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport Sunday. Don’t expect to find hotel space anywhere near there this weekend.

    How slavery was written into New Jersey’s DNA: Salon’s fascinating early history of slavery in our state – including Mendham Township.  

    Christie’s Failed Transportation Policies

    After five years of neglect, scrounging funds from Port Authority and highway tolls, and using ever-increasing borrowings, Gov. Christie has yet to formulate a comprehensive transportation plan. With work already underway before he took office, he cancelled the ARC tunnel. It would have increased our access to New York and provided a safety net if the two aging Hudson River train tunnels needed to be closed for repairs. That nightmare struck yesterday with an engineering report from Amtrak that “Superstorm Sandy inundated both tubes of the Hudson River causing significant damage to key tunnel components. A permanent fix is required now.

    The seriousness of the problem cannot be overstated. The tunnels are used by both NJ Transit and Amtrak. As reported by the NY Times, “Closing just one of the two-track tunnels for a year or longer “would cut service by about 75 percent because trains headed into New York would have to share the remaining track with trains headed west from the city. It would reduce rush hour capacity to as little as 25%.”

    Tom Wright, Executive Director of the Regional Plan Association, said yesterday, This can’t be done because closing the Hudson tunnels would have dire consequences for the region. We can’t close either of the Hudson tunnels until an additional tunnel is built.”

    The Gateway Plan is a possible solution. “Amtrak agrees rehabilitation work for both damaged tubes of the Hudson River tunnel cannot reasonably begin until after the new Gateway tunnel is built and operating.” Amtrak proposed Gateway after Christie backed out of ARC. However, no significant planning has taken place, and completion of this proposal between NJ and Moynihan/Penn Station would take 10 to 20 years. In the meantime while less substantial repairs are underway, as WNYC indicates, “Your upcoming delays were avoidable…What happened was…Governor Chris Christie.”  

    What’s Happening Today Tue. 12/31/2013

    UNFINISHED BUSINESS

    As 2013 fades into history, let’s look forward to tomorrow. There is plenty of unfinished business to occupy our attention in 2014. Here are some suggestions:

  • Budget Safety Net: The poor and the middle class are not a priority for Gov. Christie, but with an upcoming strained budget they must be for the legislature.

  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Continue local efforts in support of this national initiative and urge your congressman to support it.

  • Drug Courts & Sentencing: Gov. Christie supports drug courts but more funding is needed. It is time to reduce prison entries for nonviolent offenders and revamp existing drug laws.

  • Earned Income Tax Credit: Gov. Christie should restore the credit to 25%.

  • Economy: Reduce wasteful subsidies to large corporations and invest more in good schools and a well-trained, highly-educated workforce.  

  • Education: Expand State-funded pre-school classes for needy kids and reduce inflated college costs.

  • Financial Assistance for Dreamers: The other half of the Dream Act.

  • Gun Control: The legislature should reintroduce bills vetoed by Gov. Christie.

  • GWB Scandal: Find out the truth behind the lane closures and reform the Port Authority.

  • Halfway Houses: Reform this system which is a bonanza for corporations and politicians but no help for inmates or the public.

  • Health Insurance & Medicaid: Provide education and assistance to assure more enrollment into better quality ACA insurance and into the expanded Medicaid program.

  • Housing: Gov. Christie should end his raiding and obstruction of the affordable housing program.

  • Infrastructure: New Jersey has about $70 billion worth of infrastructure work and the price tag will only increase if the state continues to put off making the needed improvements.

  • Marriage Equality: Continue discussion as to whether ME should be passed by the legislature, and create a veto-proof majority.

  • Millionaire Tax Surcharge: Implement this fair and essential method to increase needed state revenue.

  • Pinelands & Fracking: There should be no gas line through the Pinelands. There should be no fracking or transportation or disposal of its waste in NJ.

  • Property Tax: Encourage (and remove barriers to) consolidation and sharing services.

  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Christie withdrew NJ from RGGI. It’s time to rejoin the initiative.

  • Retire Rep. Scott Garrett (CD 5): Will a worthy opponent please stand up.

  • Sandy Recovery: Start with transparency, bring an end to discrimination, assure financial aid to those most in need, strengthen the State-wide plan (including safe location for buses and trains) and insist on resiliency.

  • Solar Power: The administration should move forward with plans for offshore facilities.

  • Supreme Court Nominees: Christie has already placed two Republicans on the court. He should nominate a Democrat and grant tenure to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner or the Senate should continue ignoring his nominees.

  • Womens’ Healthcare: Gov. Christie should fund Planned Parenthood.

    Open thread: What is on your agenda for 2014?

     

  • Super Storm Christie

    There has been plenty written about the recovery from Sandy as we pass the one year anniversary, much of it revealing the reality of continued struggles of thousands of New Jersey residents and businesses to get basic assistance and information.

    This past weekend I attended a breakfast where Barbara Buono listened to and spoke with people who have not experienced a day of normal since the storm.  Their stories are heartbreaking, ire inspiring, and indicative of this administration's failed efforts to implement effective recovery for New Jersey residents in a fair and equitable manner.

    Residents are being given dates in December 2013 for evaluation of their assistance application, people are being told the demolition of their house is not a priority at this moment so they will have to wait, people have had to resubmit paper work three times as offices lose documents.  These stories are widespread and unacceptable.  They are also unaddressed by our current Governor.

    The trauma of the storm pales in comparison to the traumas these people go through, describing the paperwork and red tape as a full time job and stress inducing to the point of needing to take time off of work.

    What continues to strike me is the unwillingness of this Governor to take responsibility for what has gone wrong, as Senator Buono pointed out while speaking to residents.  Whenever there is success, he takes credit, but where there is fault, he does not own up. He has allowed the offices responsible for recovery to function poorly without adequate trained staff, without a sense of urgency and with red tape and incompetance that he blames on the Federal Government.  He refueses to release data that would illuminate what has not been done which is his standard stalling tactic.  And while other states produce comprehensive plans for storm preparation, Christie has offered up his view on climate change – esoteric and little in the way of preparing for the next storm.

    It is clear to me, as I believe it is to thousands still struggling after the storm, that the continued damage being done here is by Christie himself.   He is a force of destruction and disregard that must be exposed and stopped.  We cannot afford another four, or even two, years of Superstorm Christie.  

    Our Transportation Commissioner Should Be Decommissioned

    New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson  should be fired. An alternative would be to force him to set up private residence in the low lying areas of Kearny’s Meadowlands Maintenance Complex or Hoboken’s rail yards where superstorm Sandy “engulfed hundreds of rail cars some of them brand new, costing over $120 million in damage and thrusting the system’s passengers into months of frustrating delays.” His slipshod performance can be compared to that of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “Eleven NY MTA rail cars were damaged compared with 342 pieces of NJ Transit equipment.”

    What were the errors? Below are just a few of them revealed through excellent investigative reporting from The Record and WNYC:  

  •  They knew it was coming. “Months before Sandy struck, NJ Transit had in its possession a $46,000 climate change study – commissioned by the agency – that warned of higher storm surges and said the Kearny and Hoboken rail yards sit in ‘storm surge areas.'”

  •  They entered incorrect data into the storm map for the train storage area. “If officials had entered the right numbers, they would have predicted what actually happened: a storm surge.”

  •  They relegated weather forecasting to Transit police officers. “NJ Transit has done a good job with public safety but not weather events.”

  •  They covered it up. “The agency declined to release its storm strategy when requested under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.”

  •  They continued with a lack of transparency. “When asked for communications regarding Sandy preparations, NJ Transit released a 3½-page ‘Rail Operations Hurricane Plan’ that was stripped of all information except for the title.”
  •  Commissioner Simpson failed to turn up at the important Assembly Committee Transportation hearing. “‘Simpson did not call before this meeting,”’said Committee Chair John Wisniewski describing Simpson’s absence as ‘a sign of disrespect.'”

    Our governor has his own ambivalent position toward climate change and bears ultimate responsibility for this fiasco. However, it is the commissioner who had the immediate task of protecting State assets. He failed. Then he perpetuated a cover up. What’s a commissioner got to do to get fired around here?