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Editorial and Chart of the Day

DEP Commissioner Martin & Spokesman Larry Rangonese Should Resign – or Be Fired

Damage from 1962 Coastal Storm - De ja vu all over again?

After his dumb remarks on “No DEP role in rebuilding the Shore”, DEP spokesman Larry Rangonese should have been fired by now.

But, in fairness to Larry, he was only following the lead of his Boss, Commissioner Martin.

So both should step down – or be fired.

And I’m not the only one who’s noticed.

The Asbury Park Press editorial board must be reading Wolfenotes

They restated the exact quotes and issues we have written about repeatedly – they even specifically named Rangonese and criticized his remarks and his Boss’ policy (watch Huffington post Live panel “Zoned for destruction” which focused on this).

The APP editorial was on point and pushing accountability:

State must lead on rebuilding


“… Particularly troubling are Christie’s ambiguous comments about the state’s role in determining how and where coastal towns can rebuild. We can only hope that remarks about its role by Larry Ragonese, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, do not reflect Christie’s thinking. 

“People who live along the shore always live with a risk, and they know that,” Ragonese told Huffington Post. “We at the state are not going to tell these towns you can or cannot rebuild, but we will work with them to make sure that whatever comes back will be done in as smart or protective a fashion as possible.”

It’s also troubling that Ragonese’s boss, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, early on signaled that he believed his job was not only to protect the environment, but to help stimulate the economy.

The DEP’s job, first and foremost, should be protecting life and property. That job should not be compromised by economic or political pressures. Hopefully, Sandy will have served to underscore that point.”

Hear Hear!

[Excerpt of transcript of 11/12/12 HuffPost Live panel: “Zoned for destruction”

(HuffPo reporter) Chris Kirkham – at time 22:30

So, I think the question really becomes: “Is that the role of the state?”

And I feel that in talking with the State Department of Environmental Protection over the past few weeks, they feel that they do not have a role in dictating where people should rebuild or whether they should rebuild.

Bill Wolfe, NJ PEER

They’re just completely wrong on that. I think that’s got to get some focus.

Larry Rangonese’s comments in your story – that it’s not their role – he’s said that multiple times.

It is their role, both under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, which makes coastal planning and management a State function, and NJ has a State law called the “Coastal Area Facility Review Act” (CAFRA) which regulates development in the coastal zone.

And there are State programs to regulate infrastructure – where the water and sewer lines go.

The State has a legal and moral responsibility here, that this administration, for purely ideological reasons, is just rejecting.

And that’s why I’ve called for – and will testify before the State Planning Commission hearings tomorrow on adopting the State Plan – that to move forward, it’s going to take a legislative response because this administration is intransigent.

And it’s going to take the formation of a new institution. I’m calling for a Coastal Commission. The idea of a Coastal Commission was discussed during the Kean Administration, in the 80’s.

So, it’s [a Coastal Commission] a place to bring in all these disparate perspectives on the problem and come up with some rational planning based solutions, that you’re never going to get under the current Administration of Governor Christie.

Those statements from the DEP press office, I’m so glad that you put them in the story, because they are an illustration of the problem.

[Update – and here’s what the law professors network and rest of the country are seeing and reading: Hey, Chris Christie: Don’t Rebuild in Harm’s Way

Photograph by Mike Groll

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  1. Bohemond
    November 19th, 2012 at 10:54 | #1

    There once was a guy named Martin
    Couldn’t tell if he was talkin’ or fartin’
    Absent of tacked, just political hacks
    To guide him from Cape May to Weehawken

    There once was a guy named Rangonese
    The phony DEP mouthpiece
    As the DEP fails, he’s spinning tall tales
    With another goose greased press release.

    There once was a DEP
    A failure, it’s plain to see
    So cue up the Mop for the photo-op
    To spew forth their fantasy

  2. C. Montalvo
    November 19th, 2012 at 12:09 | #2

    Bill: Not only was a Coastal Commission contemplated in the 1980’s but as recently as 1996 and then again in successive efforts to give the NJ Coastal Management Program a more prominent ‘face’ in coastal management in the state – oh wait the DEP has done everything in their power to take the federal money and do the least possible to implement the program as approved in 1980/82. There was at one time a DEP Land Use Advisory Panel that held 1/4ly meetings with representatives of coastal communities and ngo’s but they haven’t met in at least 5 or 6 years. Wow, what anovel concept – use the talent available in coastal management to inform future actions – oh wait, the DEP has done everything in their power (did I say that already) to bury anyone who has prior knowledge of coastal management and planning. New blood and new ideas are good but sometimes it helps to have the assistance of caring and knowledgeable individuals that can help avaoid ‘pitfalls’ and what works and hasn’t worked (and why). This administration has done what it can to divorce itself from ‘state planning commission’, coastal management (othe than relaxing regulations), water quality management planning – I’m not talking about doing the planning for the communities but rather adding assistance to their planning so that they can comply with the regulatory structure put in place to avoid adverse impacts to sensitive resources and ‘protect the public from itself’ – which we all know needs to happen (too) frequently. A coastal commission or advisory board – or EBM commission – wasn’t that proposed (prior admin.), never appointed and then deleted as an action of of this Governor? And then there’s the Science Advisory Board – did they ever weigh in on Climate Change efforts? So the Commissioner has no ‘science advice’ from his chosen advisors – hence no action?
    I agree that we not waste any more time on bashing the Commissioner, his inept staff (AC’s and press)and do more to get the Governor to appoint (because you know it’s going to have to be from Governor)a responsible oversight commission(regardless of political affiliation) with knowledgeable staff (those buried in DEP)to coordinate with the federal agencies, towns and counties, ngo’s to prepare a plan similar to the one that Louisiana and the Gulf states prepared for their recovery. DEP can go back to its regulatory role, the towns and counties can focus on the clean-up and this commission/advisory board would have the role of developing the ‘plan’in consultation with all – but as their primary role. In this instance divide and produce – put a time limit on it and don’t make it an ‘academic product’ although academia has its role.
    P.S. I appreciate the prose – very clever -it’s not DEP that has failed but its leadership – I offer the following (perhaps not so prosaic)
    There once was a DEP
    Its leadership a failure, it’s plain to see
    So cue up the Mob for the photo-op
    To spew forth their fantasy

  1. December 10th, 2012 at 16:38 | #1
  2. June 12th, 2015 at 09:09 | #2
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