Archive for July, 2008

Ringoes – Rosemont-Lambertville Loop

July 30th, 2008 1 comment

I’m a weekend bicycle warrior – here’s recent pics from my favorite loop. Rolling Hunterdon County hills and historic hamlets. Scenic vistas, pubs and bookstores line the route. Check it out:
Start in Ringoes

Hunterdon County Fairgrounds – Rt. 179.
Something’s always cooking at Mom’s – downtown Ringoes
Landis House – built 1750
Academy of Arts & Science – 1876-1909.
Publishing house for Dr. Cornelius Larison and his “Fonic Speling Wurks in Orthoepy” (sic)
Ringoes train station – Black River & Western line still runs trains from Flemington to Lambertville
eat a peach or tomato – NJ Fresh farmstands along the way
horse country
Headquarters Farm – 1735
… and the road goes on forever…
this house is for sale!

Stop for Water in Sergeantsville

Sergeantsville Post Office
Sergeantsville General Store
Sergeantsville Inn – fine dining and pub.
Green Sergeant’s Bridge (1872) – last public covered bridge in NJ.
lovely cottage just across the creek from the covered bridge. My favorite!
gorgeous farm presents a view as I struggle up the hill and into Rosemont

Go Slow through Rosemont

The Cafe is Open –
“…there was music in the cafe’s at night and revolution in the air..” (Dylan)
Davis’ Lots of Time Shop – drop in!

Back down to the River at Prallsville Mills

Prallsville Mills (on the Delaware (off Rt 29)

Stop in Stockton

via Ponte – Sicilian Pizzeria Trattoria

Lumber down to Lambertville

Bell’s – -old school ambiance
Phoenix Books – used and out of print books. Great selection, better prices.
Have a pint and some grub at the Inn of the Hawke.

Up Rt. 179 hill and 5 miles to home!

Categories: Family & kids Tags:

Obama VP – the Other Woman

July 30th, 2008 17 comments

Governor Corzine’s call today for Clinton to stay in the VP hunt prompts me to re-post this July 7, 2007 post:

Kathleen Sebelius, at Yale global warming conference in April.

Salon is running a story today about a rumored Obama Vice-Presidential running mate, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.
I don’t normally pay attention to this kind of stuff, but it is important to note that Sebelius exercised enormous leadership on global warming by being the first to deny air pollution permits to two new coal power plants, on the basis of global warming.
At Yale, Sebelius stood in stark contrast to NJ Governor Corzine, who talks a good game on global warming, but has yet to back that up with action.

Kansas Governor Sebelius and NJ Governor Corzine at Yale Global Warming conference – April 18, 2008

According to Salon:
“But Sebelius can hit the liberal high notes on issues ranging from abortion rights (as a pro-choice Catholic she has battled with social conservatives for years) to the environment. In May, she vetoed for the third time legislation that would permit the construction of two coal-fired electric power plans in southwestern Kansas. “The reason it was so newsworthy is that this was the first time that a coal plant was rejected solely because of carbon emissions,” says Parkinson, who as lieutenant governor oversees energy policy. Even though critics predictably claimed that Sebelius was costing Kansas jobs with her go-green environmental stance, the governor had political cover, since 86 percent of the electricity that would be produced by the coal plants would flow to other states.”
Obama veepstakes: The other woman
Corzine has yet to come forward with a plan to implement the emission reduction goals of his highly touted Global Warming Response Act – see:
Corzine Missed First Global Warming Deadline

Corzine supports new nuclear plants and did not publicly oppose a controversial plan by PSEG to export NJ produced power to NY City. See:
Saturday Nuke News

Corzine seems enthralled by the Legislature and paralyzed by the business community’s lies that environmental protection is costing NJ jobs. See:
A cruel hoax – on many levels


Corzine needs to get closer to Sebelius on jobs, environment, energy exports, and global warming policies – especially on how to use regulatory tools and on how to stand up to the Legislature –
A VETO of THE PERMIT EXTENSION ACT bill now on your desk would be a good first step!.

Categories: Hot topics, Policy watch, Politics Tags:

Recalling Rita Lavelle and Ann Burford

July 30th, 2008 7 comments

These scandals seem to occur as corporate influence comes to dominate the policy agenda and industry interests seek to roll back environmental protections from the inside of government.
~~~ Bill Wolfe

Today’s news regarding EPA’s most recent in a long series of abuses to supress gobal warming science recalls corruption and environmental crimes of the Reagan Administration. According to the Bergen Record:

Lautenberg wants EPA chief to step down

But Senate leaders have gone far beyond that and seek criminal investigation of EPA. According to the Washington Post and Guardian of London:

Democratic senators call for investigation of US environmental agency
Elana Schor in Washington, Tuesday July 29 2008

Amid intensifying scrutiny of the US environmental protection agency’s (EPA) refusal to act on climate change, four Democratic senators today asked federal prosecutors to investigate the EPA chief for alleged perjury and obstruction of Congress.

The call for a justice department probe of EPA administrator Stephen Johnson – coupled with a plea for his resignation from Democrats – follows a darkening cloud of controversy surrounding the agency.

“Johnson’s EPA has shown an extraordinary disregard for the law,” Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate environment committee, told reporters today.

“It’s unlawful, the things they have done. And by extension, they’ve shown a disregard for the people that we represent and for all the American people.”

The EPA has refused repeated requests from Congress to explain its December denial of California’s request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, a move that overruled the agency’s own career scientists.

In response to the California controversy, the EPA told employees not to talk to internal auditors, Congress or the media, according to a leaked email released yesterday by green campaigners.

In the June 16 email, obtained by the campaign group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer), the EPA told its officials not to answer questions on pollution enforcement – even those from the agency’s in-house auditors.

“If you are contacted directly by the [auditors’] office or [congressional investigators] requesting information of any kind … please do not respond to questions or make any statements,” the email said.

This is not the first time that EPA has been the focus of political scandal and investigation. These scandals seem to occur as corporate influence comes to dominate the policy agenda and industry interests seek to roll back environmental protections from inside of government.

To all government officials out there – this is not the legacy and epitaph you want:

Anne Gorsuch Burford, 62, Dies; Reagan EPA Director
By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 22, 2004; Page B06

Anne M. Gorsuch Burford, 62, the Environmental Protection Agency director who resigned under fire in 1983 during a scandal over mismanagement of a $1.6 billion program to clean up hazardous waste dumps, died of cancer July 18 at Aurora Medical Center in Colorado.

Her 22-month tenure was one of the most controversial of the early Reagan administration. A firm believer that the federal government, and specifically the EPA, was too big, too wasteful and too restrictive of business, Ms. Burford cut her agency’s budget by 22 percent. She boasted that she reduced the thickness of the book of clean water regulations from six inches to a half-inch.

Republicans and Democrats alike accused Ms. Burford of dismantling her agency rather than directing it to aggressively protect the environment. They pointed to budgets cuts for research and enforcement, to steep declines in the number of cases filed against polluters, to efforts to relax portions of the Clean Air Act, to an acceleration of federal approvals for the spraying of restricted pesticides and more. Her agency tried to set aside a 30-by-40-mile rectangle of ocean due east of the Delaware-Maryland coast where incinerator ships would burn toxic wastes at 1,200 degrees centigrade.

Ms. Burford was forced to resign after she was cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over Superfund records, arguing that they were protected by executive privilege. Ms. Burford acted under President Ronald Reagan’s orders, with the advice of the Justice Department and against her own recommendation, her colleagues told the press at the time. A few months later, in what one of her aides called a “cold-blooded, treacherous act of political callousness,” the Justice Department announced it would no longer represent her because it was involved in investigations into corruption at the EPA.

Contrast that tawdry legacy with the Official Spin on Burford:

Anne M. Gorsuch (Burford)

[EPA press release – May 20, 1981]

Rita Lavelle Reports Motive for Grant Delay
Published: April 8, 1985

Rita M. Lavelle, former assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s toxic waste fund, says she now recalls being told that the agency delayed awarding a grant for political reasons.

Miss Lavelle, dismissed from her E.P.A. post two years ago, was interviewed last week in Washington, D.C.

Miss Lavelle said Anne McGill Burford, who headed the agency, wanted in mid-1982 to delay the cleanup grant for the Stringfellow toxic waste dump in Riverside County.

She added Mrs. Burford feared that Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. might get the credit if the cleanup plan were successful, and she did not want to help his bid for the Senate. Governor Brown was defeated.

Mrs. Burford, who resigned two years ago, testified at a Congressional hearing that she delayed the Stringfellow grant because she had some doubts whether it fully complied with E.P.A.’s regulations.

Contrast the tawdry reality with the Official spin on Lavelle:
Rita M. Lavelle
[EPA press release – February 18, 1982]

“The efforts of an aroused group of citizens”

July 30th, 2008 4 comments

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.
~~~~ Thomas Jefferson
Talk that way today, and you’re likely to get your phone tapped and email read, or end up on some domestic watch list. Most folks simply have have lost touch with the essential elements of patriotism, citizenship, and the need for organized activism and dissent. Folks forget that the major shifts in US history – the abolition of slavery; the elimination of child labor and the sweatshop and establishment of the 8 hour work day; women’s suffrage; social security; civil rights; the end of the Vietnam War; the environmental movement; and equal rights for gays – all came from the demands of organized and often angry or violent citizen protest movements. These were not gifts handed down from on high by “leaders” (“deciders”) or charismatic political candidates that mouth platitudes like “change we can believe in”.
Flag waving, lapel pins, bumper stickers, talk radio and blogging have replaced “the efforts of an aroused group of citizens”

But the spirit in which I came of age wasn’t so cowed – on yesterday’s bike ride, I came across this telling memorial that suggests what we need a whole lot more of if we are to end the Bush imperial project and restore a semblance of constitutional democracy. It reads:
Green Sergeant’s Bridge – This is the last public covered bridge in New Jersey. It was erected in 1872 on abutments dating back to colonial times. Damaged in 1960, the superstructure of this bridge was completely dismantled and removed to make way for a conventional span. However, in 1961, as the result of the efforts of an aroused group of citizens, the State of New Jersey, using the materials of the original covered brudge, fully restored this link with the past.”

Categories: Hot topics, Policy watch, Politics Tags:

Jail time for Dirty Dirt – who’s next?

July 28th, 2008 3 comments

How many communities have to be poisoned and criminal convictions have to occur before common sense prevails?

In a little noticed but what could be a major story, on Friday the Trenton Times reported that:
“A contractor who dumped more than 400 loads of contaminated soil from Trenton at a farm in Moorestown and tried to conceal the disposal with false documents was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison.”
Man gets jail time for dumping tainted soil
Friday, July 25, 2008
A key fact buried in the story is that neither DEP nor State DOT detected the crime:
A tip made to the Burlington County Health Department prompted the investigation.
We have written about significant problems due to lax State oversight of the illegal disposal of toxic contaminated soils, most recently in a Bergen Record Op-Ed:
Playing with dirty dirt.

Contractors imported thousands of cubic yards of toxic sludge, contaminated soil and highly questionable “recyclable materials” that were used as clean fill or landfill-capping material. This made existing toxic problems at the site far worse. Press reports disclosed that DEP lacked even a basic ability to monitor contaminated materials imported to the site.

A similar lack of DEP oversight at the cleanup of the Ford plant in Edison resulted in PCB-contaminated soils and demolition debris being used as clean fill at 19 housing projects in central New Jersey.

These same practices not only continue across our state; they are encouraged and subsidized by DEP.
We are spending millions of dollars to clean up toxic soils, only to allow scam operators to “launder” and dump them in someone else’s backyard. This is insane. These materials require strict management to ensure they are safely handled.”

Recapping a fiasco

Lax oversight of contaminated toxic soils has cost taxpayers millions in the Encap fiasco, where the Star Ledger reported that funds from a DEP $212 million loan were used to purchase contaminated soils that may have been part of a mafia kickback scheme. See:
Mob taint suspected in EnCap project

Martin Luther King, Jr. School site in Trenton (this is old school, not new construction that was demolished).

Importation of toxic soils forced demolition of the partially built Martin Luther King, Jr. elementary school in Trenton, at a $27 million loss to taxpayers.
Similarly, PCB contaminated soil from a DEP “supervised” cleanup at the Ford plant in Edison was used as “clean fill” at 19 residential construction sites in central NJ. The PCB tainted soil had to be excavated and properly disposed at a cost of millions. This fiasco triggered legislative oversight hearings, where we warned DEP and legislators of the need to “impose cradle-to-grave management requirements for contaminated soils and demolition waste“. (See:
LEGISLATURE TO PROBE TOXIC COLLAPSE IN NEW JERSEY — Series of Cleanup Fiascoes Have Communities Feeling Betrayed and Vulnerable

Hackensack River operation

Yet despite the loss of millions of taxpayer dollars, significant risks to health and the environment, and a widespread ongoing pattern of fraud and abuse that is enabled by lax DEP regulatory oversight, DEP and Legislature have done NOTHING to tighten oversight, monitoring or enforcement to fix the problems that have been exposed.
Worse, the Corzine Administration, backed by democratic legislators, is seeking to privatize toxic site cleanup, which would further weaken already lax DEP oversight and lead to even more serious scandals. See:
NEW JERSEY MODEL FOR PRIVATIZED TOXIC CLEAN-UPS FAILS AUDITS — Serious Violations Found in More than Two-Thirds of Audited Massachusetts Sites
How many communities have to be poisoned and criminal convictions have to occur before common sense prevails?