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A Note To DEP Readers

I’d like to say a few things to my DEP readers.

Yesterday’s Bergen Record editorial “Cleaner Water” is a powerful reminder that informed advocacy can make a huge difference.

Basically, we forced Commissioner Martin to reverse his bad decision to kill a rule proposal. As a result, the health of NJ residents will be better protected.

Ideally, while the editorial makes it crystal clear that Martin was wrong on both the science and the policy, we also would have liked to have forced an apology by Martin for his smear of DEP science, but that is unrealistic.

To obtain the documents that supported our arguments that led to this victory, we had to file both NJ OPRA and federal FOIA requests.

Commissioner Martin denied our OPRA requests to prevent us from getting this information.

So thank goodness for federal FOIA or it would have been impossible to document the abuse that occurred here.

Without credible documentation, it would have been impossible to hold Martin accountable, brief legislators to conduct oversight, and provide media with the factual basis for writing strong news stories and editorials that forced the Commissioner to reverse a bad decision.

We can repeat this success! But I can’t do it alone.

I need DEP documents! Absolutely confidentiality provided to sources.

So, I am asking that you help provide similar documentation to prevent the advance of bad policy or future bad decisions. (for examples, take a look at this prior PEER survey of all DEP employees: N.J. DEP EMPLOYEES SAY WHITMAN ADMINISTRATION SOFT ON POLLUTERS — One in Four Report Orders to Ignore Violations

I fully understand DEP employee professional standards, the constrained role of science in policy and regulatory decisions, and loyalty to colleagues and the chain of command. I can respect a reluctance to become an “advocate” and disclose legitimate policy debates that some say should remain confidential within DEP.

I also understand real fears of career harm or outright retaliation for opposing bad management decisions or unsound DEP policy or regulation.

Nonetheless, I am encouraging you to engage in what we call “anonymous activism” (here is a link to Intro & Chapter 1: Sin against God and not the bureaucracy. For God may forgive your sins . ..

So, when you know of or personally experience a range of unsound DEP management policies or practices – from incompetence or mismanagement to politicization of science, regulatory, permit, enforcement, or financial decisions – drop me a line.

Even a heads up about what I should OPRA is helpful.

But do this from home – don’t do so from your work phone or computer and don’t print out documents at DEP.

We can provide legal advice and guidance to protect you. You call the shots – we will only do what you first approve. We are not affiliated with or beholden to any union or environmental group. Below is PEER’s confidentiality policy – while this blog is my own and distinct from my work at  PEER, there are additional legal protections of sources because this blog is a journalistic practice. My contact info:

Bill Wolfe

359 Oliver Street

Bordentown, NJ 08505 (address updated)

609-397-4861 – email  Bill_Wolfe@comcast.net

PEER Confidentiality Statement

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