Home > Uncategorized > Divide and Conquer – Heckofajob KIG! (Part II)

Divide and Conquer – Heckofajob KIG! (Part II)

Open Space, Farmland & Historic Preservation, State Parks, & Urban Advocates at Each Other’s Throats

Competition and Conflict Replace Mutual Support and Cooperation

Divide and Conquer: In politics and sociologydivide and rule (or divide and conquer) (derived from Greek: διαίρει καὶ βασίλευε, diaírei kaì basíleue) is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up.  ~~~ Wiki

Shooting the messenger” or “killing the messenger” is a metaphoric phrase used to describe the act of lashing out at the (blameless) bearer of bad news. ~~~ Wiki

Tom Johnson at NJ Spotlight reports today on the latest development in the open space funding clusterfuck, the release of Governor Christie’s budget message:

… The budget proposal also allocates $32.7 million to programs previously funded by corporate business taxes — cleanup of toxic sites and underground storage tanks, as well as an assortment of water-related programs. The administration’s figure is down from $103 million in the current budget, which led some to oppose the ballot question.

As we expected, there were deep cuts in water resources, site remediation, and land-use regulations,’’ said Bill Wolfe, director of the New Jersey Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Wolfe was one of the biggest critics of the ballot question for precisely those reasons.

Given that we made the prediction, I need to update my own most recent engagement in this snake pit:

Think about it:

What better way to divide a community than to engage a $1 million PR campaign to mislead people, inflate expectations of future funding, prohibit discussion of any negative consequences, and then dramatically slash historic resource levels and force each member group to compete with each other for very scarce resources?

Is there a more destructive dynamic possible?

It didn’t used to be this way: planning and regulation complemented open space acquisition. But how Smith and KIG have chosen to finance open space has forced competition and conflict, creating collateral damage instead of mutual support. ~~~ “Open Space Funding: Holy Grail – or White Whale?

A Koch Brothers strategist could not have done a better job.

[Actually, there are other Neoliberal features of KIG’s initiative, see: “Stewardship” Becomes The Charter School of the Environmental Movement]

Well, that’s exactly what the Keep It Green Open Space campaign has done – and the disappointment, irreversible bad blood, and damage now underway from that campaign was predicted.

Before the ballot measure was voted on, virtually the only public interest group in NJ, we opposed it. On October 6, 2014, we warned voters:

Trenton — A November ballot measure would amend the New Jersey constitution to siphon $10 billion out of park facilities maintenance as well as toxic site cleanup and state water infrastructure over the next 30 years solely to finance real estate purchases for open space. Billed as a “green” proposition, it would devastate bread and butter environmental programs while lining the pockets of some key proponents, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

“This is utterly irresponsible eco-policy cynically masquerading as an investment in our future,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe, pointing out that it will likely trigger layoffs of state Department of Environmental Protection staff working in both waste and water programs. “Green Acres and open space preservation are good ideas but not to the exclusion of everything else.”

Well, here we are now, after the tremendous  (Pyrrhic – or “White Whale“) “victory” on a dedicated source of open space funding  – listen to the angry voices now:

  • “The imminent disappearance of the NJ Historic Trust and its funding for historic preservation capital projects is not what I voted for in November, and I don’t think it’s what you thought you voted for either.” ~~~ Cate Litvak, President, Advocate for New Jersey History

I could provide many more such angry quotes from people who are shocked by the cuts to various programs that were traditionally funded at much higher levels from open space funds.

And people still have yet to figure out what the devastating impacts will be to core DEP programs, who have suffered over $80 million in cuts to CBT funded programs – a topic I will write  about as FY’16 budget details emerge.

Unfortunately, a lot of angry people are mis-focused and blaming the wrong people.

They are all saying “I didn’t vote for these cuts in the November ballot” and are attacking the implementation legislation.

But they DID vote for these cuts.

They were duped, misled, and/or lied to by the Keep It Green Coalition.

Those, like myself and others, who tried to bring the facts to public light were shouted down, attacked, and or marginalized and ignored.

The KIG Coalition should be the target of people’s wrath.

All these cuts and the bad blood they have created was predicted. We predicted it. We tried to stop it.

We were ignored. We were called “enemies”. We won’t forget.

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