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Media Coverage is Part of the Problem (Part 289)

Posturing Fails to Press Legislative Democrats To Veto Reckless Christie Rollbacks

Two quick examples of media schlock and failure by the environmental advocates to properly frame the issue and put pressure on their Democratic friends in the legislature:

I) Star Ledger Editorial on Flood Hazard Rule Rollbacks Ignores Legislative Veto

The Star Ledger editorialized yesterday, harshly critical of the Christie DEP’s rollbacks of Flood Hazard and storm water rules, see:

The editorial got it exactly right in its focus on the C1 buffers and its conclusions, which they put in the first sentence:

The Christie administration is trying to let development encroach on our rivers and streams, with a new set of rules that would further pollute them.

This is its latest and most significant attack on clean water in all of New Jersey — part of a pattern that began in the first year of Christie’s governorship, when he appointed people who opposed the Highlands Act to implement the Highlands Act.

I was also very pleased to see the link to the Highlands, as the DEP’s Highlands rules that were extended by Gov. Christie expire on December 31, 2015, so we all need to start pressuring DEP now to prevent another serious loss.

But the Ledger made a fatal omission – and the omission was not inadvertent but instead reflects a pattern of failures by the press and the environmental groups to put pressure on their Democratic friends in the Legislature.

As I’ve noted, the Legislature can veto the DEP regulations using their Constitutional power to veto any regulation they find “inconsistent with legislative intent”.

This veto does not require a Super-majority vote in the legislature or the Gov.’s signature – a simple majority vote of both houses, controlled by the Democrats, would kill this rule, see:

I think it is impossible that the Star Ledger editorial board does not know this –

I know that the environmental groups are aware of the veto power, but they have failed to focus on it to protect their Democratic friends in the Legislature.

It’s a lot easier – and much more fun – to simply blast Gov. Christie than to break a sweat and force the Democrats to take a stand in opposition to their development community friends.

It’s posturing that generates  great media – but is totally ineffective in changing policy.

[Note: I smell a cover story already concocted by the usual suspects. The cover story is that the Flood Hazard Area rules have not been adopted yet, thus it is premature to ask for a veto. That is bullshit, my friends.

First of all, the CAFRA and CZM rules were adopted (see below). There was no campaign by ENGO’s to call for a legislative veto on them.

Second of all,of course, the legislature doesn’t have to wait until a rule is adopted to conduct oversight – that’s why the Administrative Procedures Act requires that the Legislature is provide notice upon rule PROPOSAL. – push back against the spin you get.]

II)  NJ Spotlight Whitewashes Coastal Development

I’ve criticized Scott Gurian of NJ Spotlight before, but his story today wins the prize for perhaps the worst weak kneed “he said she said” equivocation ever, see:

I really hope this is not some set up for the 3rd anniversary of Sandy and the Christie performance.

Of course, the headline is one big lie: coastal development is rampant; the Christie Barnegat Bay Plan ignores required restrictions on development to prevent the ecological collapse of the Bay; and – going even one step beyond neglect – the Christie DEP post Sandy regulatory rollbacks IGNORE climate change actively PROMOTE more growth in unsafe and environmentally sensitive locations.

Here is my note to Gurian:

How is it possible to turn this story into a “he said/she said”?

The problem is not regulations per se – the problem is that the regulations are WEAK and that Christie DEP is using regulations to PROMOTE development in unsafe and environmentally sensitive locations.

The problem is that there is NO regional PLANNING – the Christie administration opposed a recent bill to create a Coastal Commission and has abandoned the State Plan and DEP’s own coastal planning powers. (and there is a very old out of date Coastal Plan DEP adopted long ago).

Read what Jon Miller WROTE in comments on the Christie DEP Flood Hazard regs (I left out the stuff about failure to comply with FEMA requirements), see:

And Legislators can VETO the Christie Flood Hazard and Coastal zone management regulatory rollbacks using their Constitutional power to veto any regulation that are “inconsistent with legislative intent”, see:

Get a clue man. This is schlock.

[Update – OMG, I just read Reitmeyer’s story on Red Tape and must include Part III:

III) Red Tape – 

John Reitmeyer of NJ Spotlight wrote about Red Tape today:

Where to start on this one?

The story begins with an example of red tape as regulation of church raffles.

That’s the welfare Cadillac lie of government regulation.

The story continues with “some critics say” bullshit line – instead of doing actual journalism to document exactly what the Red Tape Commission and Gov. Christie’s Exectuive Orders #2 and #3 have actually done at DEP in terms of regulations and permits.

The record is robust –

We’ve written about numerous examples, and we’ve only scratched the surface. We’ve focused mainly on regulations and science, and, aside from some high profile permits, have not really gotten into the weeds of all the DEP permits or the interventions by revolving door corporate hack Michele Sierkerka.

[Note: Reitmeyer mentions the DEP Office of Dispute Resolution. For 6 years, I’ve seen nothing written about that in the press or spoken about by NJ envio’s – but, I have written extensively about it and its relationship to Red Tape – see this post. So, I can’t help but feel ripped off – again!]

The story concludes with the typical sound bite environmentalism from Jeff Tittel of Sierra.

Tittel’s quote makes my point, which I posted in a comment to his recent Spotlight Op-Ed piece on the Exxon deal:

Solving real problems requires a lot more than a soundbite strategy.

Things like research, planning, strategy, policy and regulatory analysis, advocacy, organizing – and diverse viewpoints – all get neglected, even ignored.

There are far more important things than getting media coverage – and in some cases, the soundbite strategy backfires because it make media lazy and gives them an excuse to ignore the substance and fall back on the cheap soundbite. Ironically, Spotlight was founded to avoid those traps and yet they’ve fallen deeply into them 

And timing is critical – it makes no sense to wait until the decision is made before getting involved. Far too much of the media is after the fact.

Both the Exxon case and the recent action by Pinelands Executive Director Wittenberg are perfect examples of media criticism after the fact with no intervention prior to the fact.

I added this comment too:

It would be nice if environmental groups and Democratic legislators who have criticized the Exxon deal – and the media who have given that huge coverage – would focus on fixing all the loopholes and DEP program flaws the Judge Hogan’s opinion laid out in detail.

The fixes would include legislation, regulation, NRD program funding, and legislative oversight.

Why doesn’t the media take a look at these issues? I’ve been writing about them for years and issuing reports and press releases that get ignored.

Worse, the loudest legislative critics have sponsored and voted for laws that have severely harmed DEP’s ability to assess and collect NRD, see this:

The Posturing and Hypocrisy On The Exxon Deal Is Stunning


NJ reporters should just give Tittel a byline and go home.

As it now stands, instead of doing any real work, they just buzz his cell for a story.

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