ON MEET THE PRESS
Tag Archive: Superstorm Sandy
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.
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.
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.”
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:
Open thread: What is on your agenda for 2014?
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.
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.”
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?