Archive

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Christie Ducked Debate on Controversial Coastal Policy in Run-Up to Election Last Year

July 25th, 2014 No comments

DEP Abused Regulatory Procedure To Shield The Governor From Criticism

Re-adoption of Coastal Rules Without Change Before Election – Massive Rewrite After Election

Cynical Bait & Switch Undermines Democratic Accountability

Some of the most controversial economic, public policy, and political issues NJ has ever faced were raised by Superstorm Sandy – particularly issues surrounding how the Christie Administration prepared for Sandy and sought to rebuild the shore, especially in light of the need to adapt to climate change.

So, obviously, the Governor’s coastal redevelopment policies should have been a focal point of press coverage and public debate during the 2013 Gubernatorial campaign.

In fact, public opinion polls showed that Governor Christie benefitted from a huge increase in favorable opinion as a result of how he responded to Sandy’s devastation, see:

The last thing Gov. Christie wanted during the run-up to the election was critical media coverage like this:

So, he took steps to avoid that.

Follow this to understand how DEP grossly abused their power to do this. Telling this story requires that I delve into the regulatory weeds on the chronology  - what DEP did before and after the election on the same rule – and lay out the basic theory of government to illustrate why that was such a gross abuse. So bear with us as we try to do so.

  • The Current DEP Proposal

On June 2, 2014, Governor Christie’s DEP proposed a massive 1,000+ page re-write of 40 years of coastal land use and natural resource protection policy.

That controversial proposal has generated significant criticism of the Governor, primarily for DEP’s failure to consider climate change, sea level rise, and the lessons learned from Sandy. (see

Instead of reforms designed to adapt to the huge challenges of coastal sea level rise and reduce risks to life and property, the Christie proposal would invite even more development to NJ’s highly vulnerable coast.

  • The Stealth Re-adoption of the Same Rule Prior to the election

While the current DEP proposal is generating huge controversy, virtually no one knows that less than a year before the DEP published the current massive re-write – just months before the November election – on July 1. 2013 DEP quietly posted a notice of re-adoption of the rule, without change.

The DEP readopted the coastal rules – without change – for another 7 year period.

Yet less than 1 year later, the DEP totally rewrote the same rule!

That stealth move by DEP in July 2013 – basically hiding the Governor’s coastal development policy –  kept critical coastal development policy issues below the radar and shielded the Governor from the intense criticism he is getting right now.

  • Why DEP’s bait & switch is a fundamental abuse

The DEP’s quiet 2013 pre-election re-adoption of the coastal rule with no change was followed less that a year later with a post election re-write.

That is an incredible abuse that violates fundamental principles of administrative law and Constitutional separation of powers.

Under our Constitutional scheme, the Legislature sets policy through laws. The Executive implements that policy.

The public is supposed to have a voice in policy, and that voice is expressed in both elections and during the various government processes that set policy.

Legislators enact laws in open sessions and they are accountable to the voters for the laws they pass. That’s how representative democracy works.

That is, at least in theory, what the “separation of powers” is about.

But, in actual practice, legislative and executive powers are not separate, but are blended or shared powers.

The laws Legislators pass delegate power to Executive Branch officials to “fill in the details” required to implement and administer the laws consistent with the policy set by the legislature. These “details” are filled in in regulations.

Regulations have the force and effect of law.

But regulations are written by unelected Executive Branch officials who are not accountable to the voters.

Because regulations blend Executive and Legislative branch powers, they must be adopted by procedures that provide transparency, accountability, and due process.

These procedures include giving the public an opportunity to review and comment on proposed regulations, including at least one public hearing.

These procedures are the means for holding the Executive Brach agencies who write the rules accountable to the public, to the legislature who passed the law, and to the laws that authorize the regulations (which provides a factual record that enables the Judicial branch to hold the Executive Branch accountable to law).

Regulators are often criticized as “unelected bureaucrats” for  effectively usurping the powers of the Legislature via undemocratic and unaccountable regulatory means.

That is why the regulators must follow laws that require that their regulations be subject to public review.

In July of 2013, the Christie DEP – if quietly – told the public that there would be no change in coastal policy for at least 7 years. That was the policy record theoretically available to voters going into the election.

But shortly after the election, Christie announced a massive and controversial re-write of coastal policy to promote even more development at the shore, while ignoring climate change.

The cynical Christie DEP played political games and grossly abused our entire Constitutional scheme of government.

And that is shameful.

[PS - if we had a functional legislature, media, or even a professional Bar Assc., this kind of abuse would be a big deal and sternly criticized. But sady, we don't.]

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Where Is Gov. Christie on Obama Off Shore Oil & Gas Drilling?

July 24th, 2014 No comments

After DEP Lawsuit to Block NOAA Sonic Research, Christie Administration Silent on Obama Plan

Is Christie Protecting the NJ Shore?

Or Preserving His Access To Oil & Gas Industry Presidential Campaign Cash?

Gov. Christie at the shore - (L-R - Cindy Zipf, COA, former Gov. Tom Kean (R), DEP Commissioner Martin)

Gov. Christie at the shore – (L-R – Cindy Zipf, COA, former Gov. Tom Kean (R), DEP Commissioner Martin)

It’s been a week now since we’ve been bombarded by headlines like this:

So where is Governor Christie?

Where are the coastal protection groups and shore legislators demanding that Gov. Christie step up and fight the Obama plan?

Where’s the bi-partisan letter from former Gov.’s Kean, Whitman, Byrne, Florio, & McGreevey about how bad an idea the Obama fossil plan is for the NJ shore – and the carbon constrained future of our increasingly warming planet?

Given all the Gov.’s shore promotional events, why isn’t the press hounding him for his position?

Where is the high profile press conference at the shore, with a defiant Gov. Christie standing with coastal groups and drawing a line in the sand, now that he finally has his fight with the Obama Administration on an environmental issue, a fight he welcomed during the 2009 Gubernatorial campaign (watch You Tube video of that), where the Christie candidate famously laid down the gauntlet:

I’ve got a feeling that you will see a lot of battles between the Christie Administration DEP and the Obama EPA.

(a potential fight, BTW, that the Obama EPA has run away from).

Back on March 31, 2010, before he was running for President, Gov. Christie issued a statement opposing the Obama plan:

“I oppose the idea of drilling off the coast of New Jersey,” Governor Christie said, noting that the President’s proposal thus far includes areas off Virginia and the northern tip of Delaware near Cape May in the Delaware Bay. “New Jersey’s coastline is one of our economic engines and I would have to be really convinced of both the economic viability and environmental safety of oil and gas exploration off our coast. At this point, I’m not convinced of either.’

Has he been convinced since then?

Energy industry money to fuel a run for President can be very convincing.

Gov. Christie’s current silence on the Obama plan is especially stunning, given how aggressively his DEP opposed a far less significant climate change research proposal by NOAA & Rutgers using similar seismic technology.

His DEP issued press releases and the Attorney General filed a lawsuit to block that:

The Christie Administration is taking legal action to halt a federally approved seismic ocean survey that is scheduled to start this month off the New Jersey coast, and which could adversely impact the state’s vital tourism and fishing industries, and marine life, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin announced today. [...]

“We must carefully safeguard those resources, which play such a key role in our state’s $40 billion tourism industry, for the benefit of our residents, businesses and the environment,’’ Commissioner Martin said. “The Christie Administration continues to focus on clean ocean water quality, protecting our coastline and working to enhance our coastal recreation and fishing industries.”

When DEP summarily lost that legal challenge, in an unusual move, as soon as the decision came down the DEP immediately announced that the State would appeal: (DEP press release)

TRENTON – The Christie Administration will appeal today’s U.S. District Court ruling that allows seismic testing by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to move forward despite concerns raised by the State that the survey could adversely impact New Jersey’s vital tourism and fishing industries, and harm fish and marine mammals, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin said today.

“This ruling is very disappointing to the Administration, and could have a negative impact on the ocean and its wildlife,” Commissioner Martin said. “The DEP believes this research, which would use loud, powerful sound blasts to map the ocean floor, will likely have a detrimental effect on New Jersey’s fisheries and marine mammals. We must take no chances when it comes to protecting our ocean resources, our commercial and recreational fishing, and our state’s $40 billion tourism economy.  A healthy ocean is vital to our residents, our visitors, and our businesses.”

I was amazed at all the attention and opposition the NOAA/Rutgers research project got, while there was virtual silence on the far more damaging Obama BOEM sonic survey work to support off shore oil and gas development.

In addition to the DEP lawsuit, Christie Administration friendly NJ coastal advocacy groups mounted a huge campaign.

Yet, they both did NOTHING publicly to try to stop the Obama BOEM off shore oil & gas drilling work.

So, where is Gov. Christie now?

Does he oppose Obama off shore drilling?

Or is he running for President on oil & gas industry money?

We think we know the answer – and its the same for off shore LNG.

[End Note: Jim O’Neill’s Record story let Christie off the hook – see:

Governor Christie has said he opposes drilling off the New Jersey coast, and has also expressed displeasure with the thought of oil rigs off Virginia or Delaware’s coast, just miles from Cape May.

Yes, I’m sure Cindy Zipf told O’Neill that Christie “has said” that – but, as I note above, a long time ago and before he was running for President. Cindy played the same game of cover on off shore LNG, citing Christie’s prior veto.

What does he say NOW?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Different Views

July 24th, 2014 No comments

upper delaware

 

upper delaware2

 

upper delaware3

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Gotta Name Names – Gov. Christie Owns The Fenimore Fiasco

July 23rd, 2014 No comments

New Roxbury REACT Trenton Billboard – Co-Sponsored by the Highlands Coalition

New Trenton Billboard

New Trenton Billboard – the guy in the gas mask should be Gov. Chris Christie

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.

They rock!

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?

christie mobsterThat 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 –

Here is EO#2

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 Martin and Rilee are personally loyal to Christie, before the science, the law, or the public interest.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Rebels Without A Cause – Greenwich (2014)

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

Why Are Skate Parks Located Next To Police Stations?

Royal Enfield (7/21/14)

Royal Enfield (7/21/14)

 

James Dean

James Dean

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando

Lee Marvin

Lee Marvin

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: