Tag Archive: Deepwater

I’ve heard Republicans blame Bill Clinton for everything, but Frank LoBiondo still surprises me.

I wasn’t able to go to the NJ2 debate yesterday between Representative Frank LoBiondo and challenger Dave Kurkowski, but Kurkowski describes how Frank LoBiondo was questioned about his role in squandering over twenty billion dollars:

“I wasn’t the only one last night asking LoBiondo to explain his role in this scandal,” Kurkowski said. “He was supposed to be looking out for taxpayers and for the Coast Guard. As usual, LoBiondo refused to take responsibility for his actions, passing the buck to-and this is a new one-Bill Clinton. As far as I know, President Clinton wasn’t the chairman of the Coast Guard subcommittee.”

That’s really pathetic. Here are the major dates in the Washington Post article on Deepwater:

Deepwater, awarded in 2002 and modified in 2005,…

The first problems appeared in 2004, …

Bill Clinton wasn’t even President!  But even if Bill Clinton personally programmed the computers that miscalculated the weight of the ships and made the radios that were not waterproof, LoBiondo still bears major responsibility.  After all, we already knew he wasn’t running the shipyard.

Kurkowski (NJ2) reacts to debate, brings up LoBiondo’s link to Deepwater

So far I’ve only seen one NJ response to the debate, and it’s our candidate in NJ2:

“This was a strong showing by Sen. Obama,” Kurkowski said, “and he touched on topics that are very relevant to the Congressional race here in South Jersey.”

“As Obama stated early on, the question we must ask of ourselves is how did we get into this situation in the first place-both economically and internationally,” Kurkowski said. “This is about accountability, and it is a question McCain dodged all evening long, just as my opponent is doing.”

“Sen. Obama asked his opponent to take responsibility for rubber stamping the policies of the Bush administration for eight years, and he refused to do so,” Kurkowski said. “McCain did not refute Obama’s assertions about his role in getting us into Iraq and plunging us into this economic mess, just as my opponent has not and cannot refute my assertions about his record. McCain and LoBiondo can try to change the topic or hide behind empty rhetoric, but the voters aren’t going to buy it. The times demand better. I know for a fact that Voters are demanding better.”

Next, the link to Frank LoBiondo and Deepwater.

Is reading the news too much work for an editorial board?

The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board endorses Frank LoBiondo in his Republican primary:

A hardworking moderate who understands the need for bipartisanship, LoBiondo, 62, has worked to improve homeland security in his district…

“Worked” is a interesting choice of words: As readers of this blog know, Frank LoBiondo was a key figure who supported the Lockheed Deepwater program against critics and reformers.  The program went to on waste over 20 billion dollars while providing the Coast Guard with non-functional ships.  That’s his major contribution to “homeland security.”   You’d expect an Editorial Board to know better, but to my knowledge their paper has never reported on the matter.  Maybe they should get a subscription to the New York Times, or if they can’t afford it, the Gloucester County Times, or failing that, use the internet.

Frank LoBiondo’s FEC Filing

I took a look at Representative Frank LoBiondo’s 2nd quarter FEC filing.  Really, all you need to know is summarized here:

Cash On Hand $1,519,954.31
Raised This Quarter $208,202.00
Net Expenditures $48,821.98

LoBiondo remains in a strong position, with a huge amount of cash available.  Furthermore, he is clearly not taking anything for granted.  Compare his $200,000 in fundraising to the $280,286 raised by Chris Shays of CT, who is always a top target.  Two years ago he had $1.6 million cash on hand, which placed him 16th in the entire Congress according to the Campaign Finance Institute

LoBiondo’s Role in the Deepwater Disaster

I got a special treat this morning as I waited in line at WaWa when I saw the Gloucester County Times frontpage article “LoBiondo, Deepwater get into deep trouble.”  This is an excellent article on a subject that has been missing from New Jersey’s papers.  It features a detailed discussion of the Coast Guard Deepwater disaster which happened under Frank LoBiondo’s watch.

I would like to take issue with a LoBiondo quote that appears in the article:

“I was assured, our committee was assured, the Congress was assured that the United States Coast Guard at the highest levels … were overseeing this in minute detail,” LoBiondo said in an interview.

“They told us repeatedly both in public hearings and again privately that everything was on track, that they had their team in place, that the oversight was there. Clearly, something went wrong,” LoBiondo said.

They told us privately?  LoBiondo is playing the victim.  In fact, he acted as the Coast Guard and the contractor’s tool.  He actively prevented the program from being fixed, as this 2006 New York Times article on Deepwater makes clear:

At a hearing two months later, Representative Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who oversees the Homeland Security budget, instructed the Coast Guard to fix its problems and restrain costs. “You simply took the most expensive, all-inclusive Cadillac Seville and we’re going to have to, with our limited funds, fit you into something a bit more appropriate,” Mr. Rogers said. “I hope it’s more than a Chevrolet.”

To fight back, the Coast Guard and contractors relied on Congressional allies, led by Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, Representative Frank A. LoBiondo, Republican of New Jersey, and Representative Gene Taylor, Democrat of Mississippi.

LoBiondo still has not taken reponsibility for his role in this disaster.  He should reflect on how he has squandered over $20 billion, and think about his original term limits pledge.

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Open Thread: What do you want to talk about today, Blue Jersey?

LoBiondo and the Coast Guard: Where’s the Media?

You won’t find a press release at Representative Frank LoBiondo’s website, or a New Jersey article that mentions his involvement, but there have been important developments in the Coast Guard Deepwater program.  Democrats in Congress and the Coast Guard are working to undo the disaster of the major modernization program that left the Coast guard short of functional vessels and squandered billions of dollars.  LoBiondo was not only responsible for oversight as Chairman of the  House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, but actively worked to prevent the problems from being fixed

I’ll let yesterday’s editorial in the Daily Astorian of Oregon sum up this month’s developments:

In hindsight, the biggest mistake was allowing contractors to operate with an unprecedented degree of independence from ordinary governmental involvement.

Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen made a wise first step toward restoring confidence last month by voiding a $600 million contract for small cutters. The contract will be rebid and then directly managed by Coast Guard officials. [Democratic Senator Maria] Cantwell’s plan goes further, requiring already-existing Deepwater projects to restore more authority to the USCG, while providing much more information to Congress and the public.

The new legislation includes the no-brainer requirement that the Coast Guard certify that designs for new ships meet all objectives before contracts are signed and checks are written.

Ultimately, the problems with Deepwater should not be blamed on the Coast Guard or even on the private contractors. It was the job of Congress to make sure the nation got its money’s worth. Under Republican control, it failed in this most basic responsibility. We’ll see if Democrats manage to do any better.

To my knowledge, LoBiondo has never acknowledged his responsibility for the disaster.  Why should he, when the New Jersey media doesn’t show the slightest interest in the story?

LoBiondo and the Crippling of the Coast Guard: Part II

The New York Times has more today on the disastrous Deepwater Coast Guard Program I discussed yesterday.  As I thought, but the Washington Post did not say, Frank LoBiondo was deeply involved in the disaster.  You need to read the full article,  because it seems virtually every aspect of the program has failed:  the new ships don’t work, the old ships don’t work, the new aircraft doesn’t work, and the new radios were not even waterproof.  As you will see after the flip, LoBiondo actively undermined efforts to get the program under control. 

But it’s not all bad news:  Lockheed and Northrup Grumman have made billions.  And LoBiondo, in turn, is “one of the top Congressional recipients of Lockheed contributions.”

LoBiondo and the Crippling of the Coast Guard

Representative Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) has been responsible in this Republican congress for the Coast Guard:

I am pleased to announce I will continue as Chairman of the  House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation in the 109th Congress. The Subcommittee exercises jurisdiction over all Coast Guard programs and activities. We are responsible for ensuring that the Coast Guard’s needs are met, its interests are served and its voice is heard.

The U.S. Coast Guard , the smallest of the nation’s five armed services, has a demanding peacetime mission. Most notably, the Coast Guard is involved in homeland security actions to secure our borders, ports and waterways against threats. However, the traditional missions of the Coast Guard still remain vital and important to our region and nation.

Let’s see how he has fulfilled this responsibility on the flip.  One hint:  The Republican philosophy of huge government spending,  private contractors, and lax oversight  has had its usual outcome.