Home > Uncategorized > Green Mafia Strikes Again – Chapters 27 & 28

Green Mafia Strikes Again – Chapters 27 & 28

$2 Billion Endowed Duke Foundation Gets Million$ in EDA & Federal Subsidies

Christie DEP Quietly Gives NJ Audubon $500,000 In Green Acres Money at a Premium Price for Already Preserved Land

There was not much more for us to talk about
Whatever we had once was gone
So I turned my cab into the driveway
Past the gates and the fine trimmed lawns

And she said, “We must get together”
But I knew it’d never be arranged
Then she handed me twenty dollars for a two-fifty fare
She said, “Harry, keep the change” ~~~ “Taxi” (Harry Chapin, 1972)

Dukes of Hazard?

Duke Mansion - spent millions to restore a barn

Duke Mansion – spent millions to restore a barn

Next time you’re stuck in traffic, or demolish your front end in a pothole the size of a garbage can, or the water main breaks and floods your town again, or the sewer line backs up into your basement, or the there’s standing room only on the NJ Transit train, or there’s no money for flood control, or you kid is diagnosed with lead poisoning from drinking water at school, consider this outrage: (Star Ledger)

There are more ironies. The Duke Foundation got a $58 million low-interest loan from the New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority to repair infrastructure in 2009, but didn’t spend a nickel on the mansion. It also took $2,309,800, from the federal government in 2010 to protect 528 acres along the Raritan River from development, and another such deal is in the works. Curious isn’t it, that tax dollars should go to preserve land already preserved and paid for by the Dukes?

Gee, we thought the EDA only took care of Christie’s corporate friends.

Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap

Sparta Mountain logging

Sparta Mountain logging

You may have read or heard that NJ Audubon is proposing a controversial logging project in the highly protected forests of the NJ Highlands on lands purchased for preservation by the Green Acres program.

But you probably have not been told that the NJ Audubon logging plan, written by a private forestry consultant paid by NJ Audubon and with no public input, was put on the Christie DEP’s letterhead and that NJ Audubon’s logging plan was announced by DEP as a DEP plan.

Pretty clever, eh? But it gets much worse. Follow.

We’re sure that you are not aware that a billionaire’s private hunting club gave NJ Audubon $140,000 to write that plan.

And we’re fairly certain that you don’t know that, after hundreds of people expressed outrage and opposition to “DEP’s” logging plan, that Christie DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources Rich Boornazian – a former real estate man with no environmental training or experience – wrote an email to NJ Audubon thanking them for defending the DEP and providing cover:

audubon boor

But … drumroll … now for the pièces de ré·sis·dance:

Last April 15, 2015, the DEP quietly paid NJ Audubon $500,000 in Green Acres money for conservation easements on two tiny already preserved parcels of land on Sparta Mountain (about 70 acres, a price of over $7,000 per acre). (if that link does not work I will provide the PDF upon request).
audubon deed

Maintaining the land “forever predominantly in natural, scenic, and open conditions” of course does not include logging.

And of course, the Christie DEP’s press office, the most prolific ever, was quiet about this “open space” funding – no press release touting the Christie Administration’s commitment to open space preservation – despite the fact that the deal happened in the heat of the highly charged debate about the Open Space ballot question implementation legislation last year, when various folks were outraged by how little funds were available and how the Keep It Green Coalition (led by NJ Audubon) had duped voters about the diversion of existing funds.

So, next time your local historic preservation group loses a lovely building for lack of preservation money or the Environmental Commission recommends land acquisition and is told there is No Green Acres money, or your CITY council says there’s no money for urban parks, call DEP’s Boornazaian at DEP – or Eric Stiles at NJ Audubon or Mike Catania at Duke.

They may have some spare change you can keep, Harry.

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