Home > Uncategorized > How Long Can the Lies Hold Out? A Case of Monumental Hypocrisy

How Long Can the Lies Hold Out? A Case of Monumental Hypocrisy

 Divert Millions of Dollars From DEP Programs, Then Complain That They Lack Funds

Christie DEP seems to think that they “put the state back together”

Intro: Informed comment, from a fellow NJ Spotlight reader:

NJ KeepItGreen sold us on the Open Space ballot’s amendment taking care of our drinking water. Now that 123 scientists at DEP in Water Resources, along with the few geologists left in the NJ Geological Survey (under Water Resources) and in charge of water supply will lose 1 million dollars, and ALL Site Remediation staff (who do not personally profit from protecting ground water), will lose their jobs due to Open Space…what is Michael Catania and NJKIG doing to rectify this urgent situation? Haven’t seen any reports of KIG’s lobbying the public or the Legislature to restore these funds, nor a discussion by the news of the true ramifications of short-sightedly de-staffing three major DEP departments.Posted by tuliptree on January 13 at 12:29 PM

[Update Below]

I thought the Keep It Green Coalition members – who recently jumped on the Liberty State Park bandwagon after they had sacrificed the entire State Parks capital budget and slashed state parks operating fund for their selfish open space & stewardship initiative – had set a new standard for defining hypocrisy.

I thought it took a big pair of brass balls, after having cannibalized State Parks budgets for your own selfish interests, to just ignore all that and try to hijack the efforts of local advocates trying to save Liberty State Park.

But, today, NJ Spotlight carries a story that outdoes those efforts, see:

I refer of course to the titanic hypocrisy of the comments of Mike Catania, the puppeteer of the Keep It Green Coalition (KIG).

Suggesting a reason for years of delay in updating the Water Supply Master Plan, Mike said this:

The assumption on the outside is anything that costs money is on the back burner,’’ said Michael Catania, executive director of the Duke Farms Foundation and a member of the blue-ribbon panel.

The casual reader would consider this a reasonable observation, completely unaware of the deep hypocrisy it reveals.

The public is unaware of this hypocrisy because of 1) lies by the Keep It Green Coalition about the impacts of the open space diversion on environmental programs; 2) the refusal of the press corps to print the embarrassing truth and hold KIG accountable, even after its now been exposed; and 3) the efforts of NJ Spotlight, in articles like this,  to redeem the KIG leadership.

Herein lies the hypocrisy:

It is more than ironic that Mr. Catania noted that things that cost money are not getting done, after he led the charge to divert $71 – $117 million per year from DEP, primarily in water resource protection programs to support the pet land projects of the members of the Keep It Green Coalition.

The NJ Geological and Water Survey, who provides the scientific support for the Water Supply Plan, got their budget whacked by over $1 million as a result of the Open Space Ballot diversion.

Other DEP staffers in water resource programs that work on Water Supply planning also got hammered – previously dedicated funding to support 123 water resource professionals was eliminated.

Curious also that given Mr. Catania’s entrepreneurial experience with the DEP NRD program, that the KIG OPPOSED the initial version of the SCR84, which would have dedicated Natural Resource Damage recoveries to the new open space fund. That provision could have been amended to capture all cost recovery settlements and provided significant new funds. But the provision was stripped from the final version, SCR84 SCS.

The Passaic River $190 million settlement, where the Gov. diverted $140 million, shows exactly how shortsighted and incompetent that move was.

[Of course, the fact that KIG killed NRD and was too stupid to dedicate cost recovery and other settlement money is really not curious however. The KIG leadership (Catania, Stiles, et al) have inside influence and an inside track on that NRD money and want to retain that inside track. They don’t want that money going into a statewide pot and competing against all other uses. The KIG Boys want access to restoration projects of their own. The y don’t realize that in opposing the NRD dedication, that they were doing the business community’s bidding. The business community historically strongly opposed NRD funds becoming “The ATM” for the Whitman DEP’s open space program (this was when Whitman was looking for a funding source for her Million Acre goal. Mr. Catania puppeteered that effort too, so he knows all about it.). Jim Sinclair coined that phrase back during the Whitman Administration. I was actually on a DEP NRD Taskforce back then, set up by Rich Gimello, then Assistant Commissioner. So, I think the KIG Boys are acting as classic “useful idiots” and, to top it off, they used Jenn Coffee as their puppet to testify in ignorance of all this history to do so.]

How can a person like Catania, responsible for all this damage – who refused to fight for a new source of funds for open space and instead raided existing DEP funds –  now complain that lack of funds are what holds up release of the Water Supply Plan?

Where have Catania and Company been for the last several years?

DEP is not the only party that is late, years late.

[*Note: a knowledgeable reader just advised me that I forgot to note that DEP is under a very specific legislative mandate to update the Water Supply Master Plan no later than December 31, 2006 – See P.L. 2005, c. 285 – so DEP is in egregious violation of the law. Where is the legislative oversight?]

We’ve been writing about this issue, with virtually no support, for years.

And the water supply master plan is tied to the DEP’s wastewater planning rules – county WQMP plans must demonstrate adequate water from the most current water supply plan. We wrote about those set of problems recently in the case of the proposed new sewer plant in Plumsted.

No wonder the WS plan is on hold – it will impose constraints on new development, something ignored in the Spotlight story.

So what really, as Mr. Van Abs noted,  “wears thin”, is this masquerade and hypocrisy.

And the lies come not just from KIG  – I got a charge out of this quote from DEP press office:

Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the DEP, said the plan is still under review but may be released later this year. “It was never dropped, but it got put on the side burner when we had to put the state back together,’’ he said, referring to extreme storms, such as Hurricane Sandy.

This is the excuse that Mr. Van Abs correctly observes “wears thin”.

But it is worse than that, because it shows that DEP apparently thinks that: 1) the State has been put back together and 2) that DEP was responsible for putting the state back together.

Both assertions are ludicrously delusional – just ask the thousands of people still not back in their homes more than 2 years after Sandy.

[Update: A word of advice for the “Blue-ribbon panel” members, especially Mr. Catania and Mr. Daggett who served in State government, from current DOT Commissioner Fox – TAKE RESPONSIBILITY:

Fox, who also held the commissioner job during the McGreevey administration, took some of the blame for “kicking the can down the road” on transportation funding and increasing borrowing instead of finding new revenues.  Star Ledger, 1/13/15

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