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Ocean County Freeholder Director Vicari Is A Coward

Ocean County Freeholders Dodge Accountability for Supporting Pipeline

My press clips note that yesterday, the Asbury Park Press reported that the Ocean County Freeholders were “taking a pass” on the controversial South Jersey Gas pipeline through the Pinelands, see:

OC freeholders refuse to take sides on pipeline issue

TOMS RIVER – The Ocean County Board of Freeholders is taking a pass on a contentious proposal to build a natural gas pipeline through the Pine Barrens.

Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said Wednesday that the board would take no position on the proposal, citing ethical concerns.

Freeholder Director Vicari is a coward and full of crap. The Freeholders have already acted to support the proposed South Jersey Gas (SJG) pipeline.

The Ocean County Freeholders appointed current Pinelands Commissioner Avery in an extraordinarily disgraceful way – days before their prior representative was laid to rest.

They rushed Avery’s appointment explicitly so that he could vote in favor of the South Jersey Gas pipeline. Avery then voted in favor of the SJG pipeline.

Here are the facts: 1) Ocean County was represented on the Pinelands Commission by John Haas, longtime Ocean County recycling coordinator. 2) Haas died on Saturday November 30, 2013. 3) Haas was buried on Saturday December 7, 2013 (see Haas’ obituary). 4) Avery was appointed by the Freeholders just days after Haas died and days before Haas was buried. 5) Avery then voted in favor of the SJG pipeline in January 2014. The Pinelands Commission vote was a 7-7- tie.

At the time, I blasted them for that in a December 6, 2013 post:

Recently deceased Pinelands Commissioner and Vice Chairman John Haas has not yet been buried (his funeral is Saturday), but instead of spending time respectfully honoring the man’s legacy at the Commission and as Ocean Count recycling Coordinator, the Christie Administration, Executive Director Wittenberg, and Ocean County Republicans have been working assiduously to line up a hack to fill his slot on the Pinelands Commission.

Mr. Haas’ life and legacy has been reduced to a patronage appointment to assure a majority vote to approve a gas pipeline that violates the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan.

How sick is that?

If you don’t believe my version of events and my chronology, please read veteran reporter Kirk Moore’s story in the  Asbury Park Press: (article is archived, no link available):

KIRK MOORE / APP.COM – Days after the death of Pinelands Commission member John Haas, the Ocean County Board of Freeholders moved quickly to fill their representative’s seat on the commission, appointing Alan W. Avery Jr., a former county government administrator and planning director who served on the commission for many years.

Avery’s appointment Wednesday came as the Pinelands Commission appears to be bitterly divided over a proposal to allow construction of a large natural gas transmission line through a forest zone, contrary to longstanding Pinelands rules. The Christie administration and state Board of Public Utilities are strongly backing the plan by South Jersey Gas, which would enable reconstruction of the aged BL England coal-burning generation plant as a modern gas-fired power station.

The timing of the appointment means Avery will rejoin the 15-member Pinelands panel — which oversees land use and environmental protection in seven South Jersey counties — in time for the commission’s next full meeting Dec. 13. That’s when a majority of commissioners could decide whether to move forward or retreat on an agreement with the BPU that would clear the way for pipeline construction

Shame on the Ocean County Freeholders for the way they appointed Avery and now refuse to be accountable for that.

And shame on Avery for accepting the post at the time and then voting in favor of the SJG pipeline.

Mr. Avery, you could prove me wrong and make me apologize and eat my words by voting NO on the pipeline. But I won’t hold my breath on that.

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