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From The “Big Map” To NJ ADAPT

A Legacy Of Opportunism, Careerism, Incompetence, & Cheerleading

The Revolving Door Also Opens To Rutgers

[Update: 6/18/24: Just got this email from Rutgers:

Jeanne Herb, founding CCRC co-director, will be retiring as Executive Director of the Environmental Analysis and Communications Group at the Bloustein School effective June 30.

No comment. ~~~ end update]

I just got a belly laugh from this note from Rutgers’ NJ Climate Change Resource Center, which struck dissonant cords of historical memory (emphases mine):

In consultation with the NJDEP, the NJ Climate Change Resource Center at Rutgers University prepared a new data layer for non-regulatory planning purposes consistent with the new 2023 DFE for inclusion in its NJADAPTsuite of data visualization and mapping tools. The new data layer provides a crucial understanding of where Design Flood Elevations will change for new construction and redevelopment and can support local efforts to safeguard critical facilities and community assets.

It is important to note that the new data layer is meant to be used as a non-regulatory planning tool for reference only and should not be relied upon for site-specific flood impact analyses, permitting, or other legal or regulatory purposes. The accuracy of this dataset is limited by the data and methods available to create it. This dataset is not based on survey-quality data and must not be used in replacement of survey data.

Why is Rutgers, an academic institution, cheerleading for the Murphy DEP? (while training the development community engineers and planners).

Looking at Rutgers staff heading up the project – could that be a result of the DEP revolving door?


NJ Climate Change Resource Center:

Jeanne Herb

Lucas Marxen

Jonathan DeLura

Pritpal Bamhrah

Marjorie Kaplan

NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection:

Kunal Patel

1 (249)Jeanne Herb has no training or experience in hydrology, planning, engineering, GIS mapping, oceanography, law, or any other relevant field to manage this climate adaptation program.

Herb began her political career at DEP as a democratic administration political operative who first capitalized on her husband’s (Jeff Scott, then CWA 1034 DEP Union Rep.) relationships with the Florio administration. Based on those connections – not academic credentials and experience – she was installed as the Bureau Chief of the new Pollution Prevention Act program.

Full disclosure: Jeff Scott sold me out in my whistleblower administrative hearings by directing – behind my back – my CWA paid lawyer to go easy, not subpoena DEP Commissioner Shinn, sell me out, and settle without litigation and discovery, which would have revealed his dirty hands and cost him his union job and jeopardized union negotiations with the Whitman administration on DEP’s budget.]

Prior to that, Herb used her well developed bureaucratic manipulator skills to leverage power and influence across the entire Department via administration of DEP’s Spill Act research grant money. She administered the program funding – she did not do scientific work.

[Full disclosure: I represented the DEP Divisions of Hazardous Waste Management and Solid Waste Management on Herb’s grant application funding  and”peer review” team.]

After a total failure and the corporate capture and collapse of the Pollution Prevention Program, she served as a management hack for Gov. Corzine’s DEP Chief Lisa Jackson.

[Full disclosure: I was at NJ PEER at the time and was a harsh critic, among many other things, exposing a “Gag Order” on DEP scientists issued by Herb.]

Failing up again, Herb was later promoted to the head of DEP’s Office Of Policy and Planning under Gov. McGreevey’s DEP Commissioner Brad Campbell.

[Full disclosure: I was hired by Campbell and worked in that Office.]

In that role, Herb was the Cheerleader in Chief for Campbell’s misguided and disastrous failure known as “The Big Map”. For the policy wonks out there, see:

[Update: sorry, DEP killed that link. So I just filed an OPRA for the document. I hope DEP doesn’t sue me for “interfering with government operations” now that Gov. Murphy just signed into law a bill that guts OPRA.]

[Full disclosure: I was a strong internal critic of the Big Map, and warned Campbell multiple times – in memo’s and in the presence of Gov. McGreevey’s staff; the DEP Management Team, and even external Environmental Groups – that the Big Map was fatally flawed scientifically, legally, and politically and would destroy DEP’s credibility and his leadership.

This infuriated Campbell. For doing that, Campbell threatened (twice) to fire me for undermining his leadership and sabotaging his highest priority and legacy project.]

Remarkably, one of the prime reasons for warnings of failure was based on the verbatim qualification in the Rutgers NJ ADAPT mapping exercise. Specifically, that the Big Map:

should not be relied upon for site-specific flood impact analyses, permitting, or other legal or regulatory purposes

Herb and Campbell completely ignored my multiple warnings, which were based on DEP GIS experts.

Campbell was determined to use the Big Map for “permitting and regulatory purposes”.

Just as I predicted, the Big Map was viciously attacked technically, legally and politically; multiple mapping errors were exposed; DEP’s credibility suffered a major blow; Campbell’s leadership was destroyed; and the project collapsed in flames and had to be withdrawn, humiliating Campbell (as the NY Times reported (6/26/05).

  • These Days, a Commissioner Is Under Siege

“The guy talks out of three sides of his mouth,” said Bill Wolfe, an aide to Mr. Campbell for two years who is now organizing a campaign against the fast-track law.

So, life is not fair, the truth does not always prevail, and the revolving door doesn’t always open in the corporate world.

Sometimes, for well connected people like Herb, it opens in cushy “academic” slots – as long as loyalty comes first.

[End note: Email from a friend who was there:

I would change to from Big Map to more pro development crap

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