Home > Uncategorized > Where Have All the Recent Sandy Critics Been for the Last Year as Gov. Christie Pursued “Rebuild Madness”?

Where Have All the Recent Sandy Critics Been for the Last Year as Gov. Christie Pursued “Rebuild Madness”?

Silence of the (well fed) Lambs

Compare the silence of the lambs with former DEP Commissioner Mark Mauriello – an early, constant and highly visible critic, who has clearly articulated a vision and policy agenda. 

I don’t know about you, but in the last week, I’ve seen a huge proliferation of critical news stories about Sandy – particularly the performance of Governor Christie, especially focused on the failure to address climate change and sea level rise.

If I were Gov. Christie’s political people, given the fawning media coverage to date and “the silence of the lambs”, I might suspect it was a lame attempt at October Surprise!

It is so obvious, I won’t even take a few moments to Google and list the dozens of news stories that have appeared or single out any single one for criticism – except to say that I just threw up in my mouth after reading the one with Chris Daggett and Christie Whitman calling for strong leadership (we will do a future post on the stunning stupidity by Union of Concerned Scientists providing a platform for Whitman, one of the most flagrant abusers of scientific integrity, which is a core mission of the UCS).

None of the news outlets now seemingly on the critical bandwagon had any critical coverage when it mattered – i.e. when they could have had some influence on crucial policy decisions that were being made, when money was being appropriated by Congress, and when NJ’s response and recovery plans were being designed by the Gov. and his crony, the “Rebuild Czar”.

With the exception of Jeff Tittel of Sierra Club and myself (I’ve written dozens of posts here, issued PEER press releases, attended and spoke at events, and attended 10 legislative hearings and testified when allowed to, among many other things), there has been virtually a total silence in the environmental community.

This is an abysmal and cowardly failure of vision and leadership, especially by the groups that work on coastal issues, e.g. ALS, Clean Ocean Action, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Save Barnegat BAY, NJ Audubon.

Aside from vacuuming up all the Foundation and government grant money, I can’t point to one public event they’ve held, or one policy demand they’ve made, or one victory any of these groups has achieved  for the last year on these issues.

In the wake of Sandy, NJ’s ENGO’s made no demands from the Governor for a Coastal Policy Agenda or a climate change agenda or for an adaptation/land use planning agenda that they knew was required.

Instead, during the period when critical policy decisions were being made, they spent months contemplating their navels in internal closed door meetings to discuss general toothless “principles” under the ridiculous banner “NJ Enviro’s Together”. (Kumbaya Brother – As long as I get the Grant).

[ Of course, I’d be remiss not to note, that after a full year of this abysmal cowardly failure, the Lambs finally did muster the courage to issue a press release and make a demand of Gov. Christie! – the Lambs were so bold they demanded that the PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD OF NJ RECOVERY PLANS BE EXTENDED BY SEVEN MORE DAYS! Wow. Now that sure is setting the bar high! Way to get in the Governor’s face! (snark!)]

Silence of the lambs – Just what the Gov. ordered!

ENGO”s then withheld criticism as the Gov.’s “Rebuild Madness” became obvious and the dominant narrative was formed.

Just as bad, few are aware that they actually tried to sandbag Assemblyman Barnes’ Coastal Commission bill behind the scenes (I was able to attend this meeting and derail that effort, for which Barnes personally thanked me).

Then, after failing to sabotage the bill behind closed doors, they provided perfunctory tepid testimony “supporting the bill in concept – but seeking amendments to make it stronger”. But they never got behind the bill and invested an effort in supporting the bill or praising Assemblyman Barnes’ leadership.

They failed to attend most of the 10 legislative oversight hearings. And when they did testify, they either explicitly praised Gov. Christie, tap danced, or pulled punches and withheld criticism. They did virtually no press releases our public events I am aware of (other than the typical politically safe COA beach litter cleanup stuff).

The media was just as bad as the envrio’s – and in some sense worse.

The media spent months writing hundreds of stories about Gov. Christie and his fleece – pumping him so full of hot air and misleading the public.

There is no doubt in my mind that that intensive cheerleading coverage drove Christie’s huge increase in favorable poll ratings.

The only exceptions to this fawning and irresponsible media coverage were a few stories by WNYC in partnership with the Bergen Record on the NJ Transit fiasco; a brief burst of politically oriented coverage of the AshBritt scandal; an occasional story by Tom Johnson at NJ Spotlight; and Tom Moran’s editorials at the Star Ledger.

[Oops, forgot to mention new coverage and editorial at Asbury Park Press – they were first NJ outlet to report on failure of FEMA maps to include climate and sea level rise.]

Meanwhile, the “leaders” at NJ Foundations (like Dodge and Duke) and the Academics (like Rutgers and Stockton) and the political class (like former Gov.’s that are now coming out of the woodwork under cover of the one year anniversary) WERE NOWHERE TO BE SEEN OR HEARD.

Compare the silence of these lambs with former DEP Commissioner Mark Mauriello – who has been an early and constant and highly visible critic, who has clearly articulated a vision and policy agenda. 

Worse, over the last year, some of the Foundations have kept their powder dry, while working to secure huge pots of grant funds, and then using that money to manipulate the ENGO’s with notions of Foundation grant sugar plums dancing in their heads.

The most recent example I can point to is a perfect illustration of how dysfunctional and inept the ENGO community is. Follow tis:

Ocean County has prepared a draft Hazard Mitigation Plan. It is the first and only such plan to explicitly include an entire section on climate change, sea level rise, and related risks and vulnerabilities.

There are dramatic findings, critical policies and programs, and maps included in that plan.

There are groups in NJ that are getting funding to work on exactly these issues.

A public hearing was held on Monday night on the plan –  myself and Jeff Tittel were the ONLY PUBLIC THERE!

The place should have been packed with people and media.

But, after the Monday night absence, today I read news reports about so called “leaders” in NJ calling for “strong leadership” and the failure of NJ Hazard Mitigation Plans to address climate change and sea level rise!

So, please – give me a fucking break and excuse me while I go throw up after reading today’s additional round of media clips and quips from all those “leaders” and “experts” and “planners” and “journalists” – who have been hiding under their desks for the last year, pumping Governor Christie full of hot air, and irresponsibly failing to educate the public about the nature of the risks and the actual performance of government.

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