“Our credo must be the exposure of the plunderers, the steerers, the wirepullers, the bosses, the brokers, the campaign givers and takers … So I say: Stew, percolate, pester, track, burrow, besiege, confront, damage, level, care.” — Wayne R. Barrett, 1945-2017, on his prayer card
Wayne Barrett died last week, just one day before the Trump Inaugural. A rare lung disease killed him, but I suspect the Trump chaos had some impact.
Wayne was well known in NY political and journalistic circles as an award winning investigative reporter who knew how to write hard hitting stories about abuses of power – including those by Donald Trump. See today’s NY Times story:
But Wayne also had New Jersey connections – he owned a summer home on the shore in Beesley’s Point.
I met Wayne in early 2014 – he called me out of the blue and wanted to pick my brain about regulatory issues and the players involved in the BL England re-powering project.
At the time, I was unaware of who he was or his line of work. Wayne told me he read Wolfenotes, praised my work, and wanted to followup on stuff I’d written about BL England. We hit it off and had 3 extended phone conversations. He had incredible knowledge of NY politics and asked detailed questions, including who the players were and technical questions about regulatory issues and copies of the source documents (which reporters almost never do). I wrote about all that in this March 30, 2014 post.
The investigative story I contributed to was Wayne expose’ of the BL England plant and Pinelands pipeline. That piece was aptly titled “Governor Christie’s Polluting Belch”.
Here’s how Wayne began and concluded that piece:(emphasis mine):
I own a summer house in Beesley’s Point, New Jersey. Chris Christie haunts it. […]
I’ve spent a lifetime investigating just these kinds of deals, yet missed one so close to me. I ran by the plant’s 175-foot smokestack whenever I jogged across the Beesley’s Point Bridge. We were often awakened by the 90-car trains hauling in the coal associated with 13 premature deaths a year, according to the Clean Air Task Force national study. …
I live with questions about whether its fine-particle soot — high in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides — has anything to do with why a lifelong nonsmoker and runner like me wound up with a lung affliction that has me on oxygen today, after making it through lung-cancer surgery last year.
But it’s the deal, not the plant, that makes me sick. Connections compromised public safety once again — this time where I live and, unfortunately, breathe.
Of course you won’t read about any of this in the NY Times – but I have tried to get a few of NJ’s veteran reporters to write about it.
I won’t hold my breath waiting for that, however.