Home > Uncategorized > Don’t Blame The Bureaucrats – Blame the Gov. and the Media

Don’t Blame The Bureaucrats – Blame the Gov. and the Media

Christie's Sandy Rebuild Czar Marc Ferzan (R) (press conference at Union Beach, 2/5/13)

The Star Ledger ran an absolutely infuriating editorial today that blames red tape and bureaucrats for the failed response to Sandy, see N.J. bureaucrats are stonewalling Hurricane Sandy victims

As I wrote yesterday, the current intolerable situation is way beyond stonewalling.

I predicted all this would happen way back last November when Christie named Furzan as Czar – and have written about the multiple flaws in that appointment numerous times since then (e.g. see this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this).

The arrogance, incompetence, patronage, cronyism, self promotion, lack of transparency, lack of public accountability, and lack of a science based plan to guide recovery and redevelopment were cemented in place by the Gov. when he chose to name a Czar and consolidate power and control through the federal block grant program funding, rather  than engage in an open and public planning process.

But, instead of drilling down on those issues and conducting real investigative journalism and reporting the facts, the media did nothing but cheerlead for Gov. Christie and stoke multiple misleading myths.

The media ignored the substance and continued cheerleading, even after obvious policy contrast stories were teed up by NY Gov. Cuomo’s response to Sandy and President Obama’s Executive Order.

And all that is what built his favorable poll ratings and enabled the policy failures and resulting  human suffering on the ground we are seeing now.

Since Ferzan’s appointment by the Gov.,  it has only gotten worse, and the Gov. has politicized and self promoted shamelessly, just as I predicted back in January: Gov. Christie Launches Re-Election Campaign in Belmar.

It continues today – most recently an amazing example occurred yesterday.

On Monday, during a Legislative hearing in Toms River, the Gov. got blasted for failure to distibute ONE DOLLAR from a  $600 million pot of federal money to help people rebuild damaged homes, know as the RREM program. Yet, the Ledger had a favorable headline about a planned future release of just $8 million of the $600 million.

Repeat: not one dollar distributed, at a time when thousands of people are homeless.

First of all, that story was broken by the Wall Street Journal, not a NJ media outlet. Second, it got very little coverage in NJ outlets and even less the stories on Monday’s Toms River hearing.

But far worse, the RREM failure was cited by Senator Buono in the last debate, and again ignored by media.

So, after virtually ignoring a massive EPIC RREM failure, what does the Star Ledger and the rest of the media do?

They trip over themselves to write a positive story – based exclusively on another Christie press stunt – about a new $57 million chunk of federal money to help homeowners!!!

So, I blame the media for the epic failure of democracy and the likely re-election of an incompetent fraud.

Next in line are the “bi-partisan” Machine Democrats who “worked with the Gov.”, instead of looking out for their own people and holding him accountable.

Last in line are the cowardly “environmentalists” hiding under their desks – and planning advocates and academics – all of whom knew how fucked up this all was and said nothing, either out of fear, career, or financial interests of their organizations.

Below we repost the original November 2012 prediction:

NJ Gov. Christie Slams Door Shut on Coastal and Climate Change Reforms In Wake of Sandy

November 28th, 2012

Appoints Corporate Crony As Czar to Oversee Redevelopment

No Lessons Learned – Business As Usual

Will The Legislature Allow Christie To Control The Whole Game?

(Is there a “Heck of a job Marc” in NJ’s future?)

The “debate” of whether and how to rebuild the shore is over before any real debate actually occured.

Let this be confirmation of the trite slogan: politics abhors a vacuum.

In the vacuum created by the absence of Legislative leadership and while the planning and environmental advocates were hiding under their desks (or worse: having secret meetingswith their friends at DEP) and making no public demands on the Administration, Governor Christie just unilaterally acted.

According to the Bergen Record, in another vast executive over-reach, Christie has centralized control and appointed a corporate crony as Czar to oversee redevelopment:

Christie also announced the appointment of Marc Ferzan of Lawrenceville and the hiring of Witt Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based public safety and crisis management consulting firm, to work with him.

Ferzan will be responsible for overseeing and coordinating the state’s long-term recovery, while working with local governments and public and private partners, including Witt Associates.

“I’m naming Marc to this position because of the importance and urgency of the effort and my commitment to getting it done efficiently and effectively for the people of our state,” the governor said. […]

Ferzan said he planned to assemble a “core team” and would work with federal, state and local officials, charities, private industry, community organizations, volunteers and impacted community members to rebuild and develop mitigation strategies.

I have been writing here and working behind the scenes urging my colleagues to back a“strategic retreat” from the shore and to call for the formation of a Coastal Commission to oversee the public planning process.

As another “extreme weather” event,  Sandy illustrated the need to demand aggressive new climate change policies, including things like a phase out of in-state fossil power and imports; a moratorium on new pipeline and powerline construction; a carbon tax; accelerated wind and solar renewables; expansion of Clean Energy Funds; and massive public transportation and infrastructure investments.

None of that is likely to happen now –

(all of it was improbable, but it is certainly impossible without a demand, which is something that never emerged, despite numerous entreaties.

My guess is that this silence was no accident – now certain passive conservation groups can sit back and bask in the mitigation money likely to flow from the redevelopment boom.)

And I blame timid and visionless leaders of NJ ENGO’s (I’m willing to name names), a tabloid press corps, virtually no effort by the somnolent professional planning community, and a passive legislature.

The only question that remains is will Sweeney and Norcross sit back and take it?

(maybe Sweeney would get a burr under his saddle if US House Republicans proposed to eliminate prevailing wage and unions from the multi-billion $ federal bailout appropriation bill – something that is not beyond the pale, given the Katrina “Shock Doctrine” rollbacks and current “fiscal cliff” austerity politics. ) 

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