New Roxbury REACT Trenton Billboard – Co-Sponsored by the Highlands Coalition
REACT (for the Roxbury Environmental Action Coalition), the citizens group in Roxbury, formed to wage the campaign in response to the Christie DEP’s Fenimore landfill fiasco, has done a superb job.
And they have set new standards for local grassroots organizing, research, activism, media, and overall effectiveness.
Above is their most recent move, a billboard in Trenton, which sets the stage for what I am told will be a July 29 rally in Trenton.
Great work, again, but with one significant flaw which unfortunately I must mention – and which I know is not the result of REACT’s work.
The Highlands Coalition is co-sponsoring and likely funding the billboard, which I assume is in the same location as their prior billboards, just outside the DEP building on State Street.
The Highlands Coalition has done several similar billboards, and in all cases, they very prominently named specific individuals, with their photos: i.e. Senator Smith, Assemblyman McKeon (sponsors of the Highlands Act), Senator Bateman, Governors Byrne and Kean (and perhaps Florio, but curiously, I don’t recall McGreevey, who championed and signed the Highlands Act), and even former Highland Council Executive Director Eileen Swan (but not DEP Commissioners Brad Campbell who let me be on OLS team that drafted the Act or Lisa Jackson who signed the Highlands regulations or John Weingart who oversaw adoption of the first Highlands Regional Master Plan), to name the ones I can recall off the top of my head.
[Clarification: I just got a note from a friend advising that Senator Bateman voted against the Highlands Act and questioning why the Highlands Coaltion would recognize him - so I wanted to clarify that and note that I was merely listing the billboard named individuals I could recall, but did it in a confusing way on the Highlands Act. Sorry.]
So how is it possible that they somehow failed to mention the Government official solely responsible for the “Common Sense” environmental policy that they obviously ridicule in the billboard?
Why would they not want to focus on the person responsible and hold them accountable?
That person would be Governor Christie, who used that exact billboard “Common Sense” phrase in Executive Order #2, his first official act issued in the first hour of his first day in office.
EO #2 even explains how “Common Sense” was to be implemented – i.e. by providing “regulatory relief” – which is the DEP hands off policy that led to the Fenimore disaster –
WHEREAS, I am now establishing “Common Sense Principles” for State rules and regulations that will give this State the opportunity to energize and encourage a competitive economy to benefit businesses and ordinary citizens;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, CHRIS CHRISTIE, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes in this State, do hereby, ORDER AND DIRECT all agencies, boards, commissions, departments and authorities over which the Governor has the power to veto minutes (collectively “State agencies”) to implement and adhere to the following Common Sense Principles:
1. For immediate relief from regulatory burdens, State agencies shall:
An old adage says: “never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to”.
Well, I asked the question above so I’ll answer it now here.
My reliable sources tell me that the Highlands Coalition funded the billboard, and the good folks at REACT had little role.
My reliable sources also tell me that the Highlands Coalition, long ago, was told to”tone it down” in terms of criticism of Governor Christie, by Chris Daggett, head of the Dodge Foundation, a major NJ funder.
That is another example of a Foundation funder inappropriately directing the day to day activities of an environmental group for purely political reasons.
This kind of gross manipulation behind the scenes, using the leverage of money, is proliferating and it is disgusting.
There you see, we name names, and tell it like it is – and that’s exactly why we receive no Foundation money.
[PS - and in addition to setting the overall "Common Sense" regulatory policy, Gov. Christie appointed those who implemented it:
- DEP Commissioner Martin, a failed NJ Senate Republican candidate and retired corporate consultant with no environmental training or experience, went even further on the Gov.'s "regulatory relief" policy to alter the DEP's Mission to include promotion of economic development and "customer service" (the regulated community - not the public - being the "customer"). DEP made major mistakes, ignored science, and bent plenty of regulations promoting the Fenimore scheme; and
- Highlands Council Chairman (and Roxbury Mayor) Jim Rilee, who was appointed despite his opposition to the Highlands Act and who exempted the Fenimore project from Highlands Council review.
[Clarification: another friend notes that Mr. Rilee recused from Fenimore issues. I know he recused recently but I don't know if he recused on other, older, Fenimore related HC issues. Regardless, this needs to be clarified to say that thew Highlands Council, which Rilee heads and has significant influence on regardless of formal recusal, exempted the Fenimore landfill from review.]
Both Maritn and Rilee are personally loyal to Christie, before the science, the law, or the public interest.