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.

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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

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Christie In Greenwich – Meet “The Gated Ones”

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

 

Belle Haven, Connecticut, a private gated community open only to residents and guests

Belle Haven, Connecticut, a private gated community open only to residents and guests

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they made…”   ~~~  The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Now we know why he can’t imagine what it’s like to walk a mile in the shoes of regular New Jerseyans: He doesn’t even walk 100 yards in his own.  ~~~ Star Ledger editorial (6/2/11)

Many people – myself included – were deeply offended by Gov. Christie’s veto of gun clip legislation and his outrageous slur that the bill was “trivial”.  And all this was closely followed by his sociopathic selection of Connecticut as a place to hold a fundraiser.

Thankfully, those sentiments were picked up in most press reports (watch good video interview by SL’s Brian Donohue)

Christie’s divisive tactics are way beyond insensitive, and are reminiscent of the ugly NRA protests in places shortly after gun slaughters, or of Ronald Reagan kicking off the 1980 Presidential campaign in Neshoba County Mississippi with a State’s rights message.

Simply put, like the classic demagogue, Christie is cynically doubling down – he’s intentionally going out of his way to stick a finger in the eye, intentionally wound political opponents, and send a political message about his so called “strong leadership”.

This is the ugly way Christie rolls.

And, while the NJ media is well aware of all that, they are afraid to write that story and instead write about his reputation for “strong leadership” and “straight shooting”, hometown cheerleading that is helping CHrisite frame his nation media narrative as he seeks the 2016 nomination.

But, there are far deeper and more profound problems illustrated by the Christie visit to Greenwich that are being totally ignored by the both the national and NJ press corps – many of whom, aside from the limits imposed by their corporate owners and timid editors, seem genuinely oblivious – and virtually all of the protesters at yesterday’s event (myself excluded, of course!).

It’s about the shocking facts of growing concentrations of vast wealth and income and increasing inequality, the destruction of the middle class, and the arrogance of power of corrupt money in our politics.

About corporations and billionaire’s buying our democracy – the 0.01 percent (no typo, 1/100th of 1%)

About corrupt politicians following the money and serving special interests, not the public interest.

About an economy built on Wall Street finance that is killing main street.

About a culture of materialism, accumulation, and conspicuous consumption.

About the privatization and appropriation of public space.

About the rich seeking to carve out private enclaves in hopes of shielding themselves from the riff raff and from the growing chaos their wealth and power are creating for the rest of us. I got mine jack, screw you. A pathological lack of empathy.

Greenwich shows us all of that pathology – and more – in spades.

With all these dynamics so obviously destroying our democracy and the planet, it takes an incredible, even sociopathic, Chutzpa to hold a fundraiser in a private gated community in the home of a Wall Street hedge fund manager.

  • My Greenwich Adventure – Off To The Gated Land

That’s why I wandered off to Greenwich yesterday – and in doing so, I managed to pierce the veil and get a peek inside this sheltered private world of privilege. Take a look at what I saw.

I brought my bicycle and arrived early so I could get a lay of the land.  I wanted to see how The Gated Ones lived and consumed. My first sight was a yatch that looked like it was out for an afternoon shopping spree:

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The ferry you see here was no typical ferry. It was restricted to Greenwich residents – no Gilligan’s Island 3 hour tour – they took special passengers – not the public – to two private islands, where I was told there were small public beaches, but only for Greenwich’s wealthy residents.

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I then took a walk in downtown Greenwich, which makes Princeton look like modest:

Looks like an official government building, no? The former US Post Office, now a Restoration Hardware

Looks like an official government building, no? The former US Post Office, now a Restoration Hardware

Here’s what it looks like inside, where decorative moss gets intimate attention:

are we decadent yet?

are we decadent yet?

After that tour, I proceeded to literally crash the gates of Belle Haven, where The Gated Ones live:

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After deceiving and driving past the guards, I was able to look at some of the homes of The Gated Ones – the spirit of Jay Gatsby was so alive, I almost sensed he would pop out from behind a tree down by the “The Club”:

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I got a close up view of the children of The Gated Ones – innocently safe and secure in their wealth and privilege, defended by private security guarded gates. As these folks wage Class War and slash spending on public schools, social programs, and public parks and rereation and public spaces, they make sure to lavishly take care of their own:

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The Gated Ones live in large castles:

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With long driveways lined by mature trees:

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Their estates are defended by ostentations displays:

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As I finished the loop of the community of The Gated Ones, I stopped my bike for a drink of water and took out the camera – The Gated Ones don’t allow photography of their Private Property:

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I rather think you’ve got the picture by now, yes?

So what continues to boggle my mind is how any middle or working class person – the disenfranchised 99% – could vote for this corruption and why the corporate media is not denounced  and shamed for embracing, not exposing and criticizing this corruption.

So, are these the “Beautiful People”?

I'm on the way to Christie' Wall Street fundraiser! Get out of my way!

I’m on the way to Christie’ Wall Street fundraiser! Get out of my way you prole!

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Hundreds Protest Christie In Connecticut

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

Christie Ducks Protesters at Private Gated Millionaire’s Compound

Christie “Not Welcome In Connecticut”

"Not Welcome in Connecticut

“Not Welcome in Connecticut”

This was no stage managed Christie Town Hall.

Gov. Christie’s fundraiser at an exclusive private gated compound in Connecticut yesterday was jolted by hundreds of protesters, who set up a gauntlet along what protesters thought was the only entrance route to the exclusive compound.

But, in a cowardly move that perfectly echoed his veto of gun safety legislation, Christie took the back door into his Billionaire’s Boys fundraiser and, showing his arrogance and contempt for democracy, evaded the signs and chants of protesters: “Not One More!”

Christie's suburban skulks in the billionaire's back door

Christie’s suburban skulks in the billionaire’s back door

The location, far from the “sacrifice zones” in his home state, was the perfect backdrop to illustrate the the warped priorities of the Gov. – a man that manufactures a budget crisis by providing $2 billion in welfare to corporations while cutting pension contributions, education, and social programs, is right at home in a private gated community of the 0.01 percent, hosted by a hedge fund manager Vulture Capitalist.

[Perhaps a reporter - just one - could ask Gov. Christie, specifically, just how those billionaire hedge fund managers - i.e Vulture Capitalists - and Wall Street financiers - i.e. speculators and fraudster who took down the economy - "create jobs".  Make the Gov. defend his discredited trickle down austerity policy with some evidence.]

The attempt by Christie to promote his national political aspirations in Connecticut was also a deeply painful insult to many, in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school slaughter.

While the political issue that brought out protesters was gun safety and outrage over Gov.’s Christie’s veto of a bill that would restrict high capacity magazine clips that facilitate mass slaughters like that went on in Connecticut’s nearby Sandy Hook school, there were other important – let’s say “non-trivial” – political implications of the large protest of Christie.

[Perhaps an intrepid reporter - just one - could ask the Gov. why he feels that legislation to stop the slaughter of children in schools is "trivial". Make him defend his own veto and disgusting rhetoric.]

The protest hopefully will begin the process of puncturing the Christie media myth and narrative as a candidate that is warmly embraced on the campaign trail in other states as a moderate, bi-partisan, “strong leader” and “straight shooter” (no pun intended).

Christie needs to receive many more of these kind of pushback protests, in every state – including his own – that he visits in his quest for the Republican Presidential nomination for 2016. Bird dog the bastard!

If every single issue group harmed by Christie’s policies were to organize similar Christie “welcomes” in every state he visits, then maybe the media would begin to look at his record and accurately portray the Gov.’s miserable record, and not simply echo and reinforce the narrative the Gov. is trying to build.

The Gov. is bowing to deeply unpopular special interests – the Billionaire’s, the corporations and polluters, the NRA, etc – in a cynical attempt to court the Republican wing nut base, who vote heavily in Republican primary states.

Second, the crowd was composed of what appeared to be a good fraction of upscale and clearly moderate people. When these folks start taking to the streets in protest, that sends a strong message to others that are similarly outraged by the rightward political shift in this country, and is a source of optimism that movement politics are surging.

Something to build on – take a look at the scene:

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This is What a “Sacrifice Zone” Looks Like

July 19th, 2014 No comments

I Entered “Some Kind of Environmental Hell”

THIS PROPERTY CONDEMNED

Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
But the humans will give no love. ~~~ “A Horse With No Name”  America (1972 – listen)

 

Chris Hedges has written and spoken about places he calls “sacrifice zones” -(in addition to hitting those links, you should watch Bill Moyers’ interview before proceeding with this post).

We have another nomination for that odious distinction.

I closed my last post about the Troy Chemical Superfund site with a photo and caption that contrasted Troy’s lush suburban corporate office park headquarters in Morris County with the conditions of their workers in urban Newark, NJ.

So, today, we take a look at those Newark conditions I observed while visiting the Troy Chemical facility.

The full experience requires far more than a mere look at these photos: the place assaults not just the visual perception, but senses of smell, taste, hearing, feeling, and the moral conscience.

I’m no writer or artist, but the scene was out of Dante or Blake or Bosch – surely beyond the “dark satanic mills” industrial nightmare.

I simply could not take photos of the people I saw.

For to do so would dehumanize, humiliate, and shame them for the utterly deplorable conditions imposed on them – as they emerged from sleeping in their cars, labored in oppressive heat and pollution, or gathered socially in rubble strew abandoned and toxic landscapes that served as makeshift parks and “public” places. Green Acres, not.

The first thing I noticed as I got off the highway and onto local roads was the terrifying assault of noise and fumes from the low flying landing jets and the constant barrage of trucks.

The air was almost moist with the sweet nauseating fumes of organic chemicals.

As I drove at 15 mph (the maximum speed on what passed for a paved road could safely handle) with the windows down, breathing the odors of the huge sewage plant was almost an improvement, as its musky smell masked the organic chemicals and choking truck fumes.

As I parked the car in abandoned lot and walked around, fearing that it might be stolen and that I might get shot, the heat blasting down from the sun and reflecting back up from the pavement and the dust from the rubble strew beyond pothole pocked local roads was oppressive.

Huge 2 – 3 foot mounds and depressions almost made driving a car impossible in places.

Construction debris, piles of soil, and junk of all sorts was disposed of randomly by the roadside.

Mountains of stacked cargo crates towered – adjacent to impromptu landfills of so called “recyclable” debris.

Stagnant waters, swamps, and mudflats gave off a stench that could make a person wretch.

Abandoned grafitti marked industrial buildings crumbled – not even the homeless squatted there.

The place I was at was not some third world country – but in the heart of the largest city in one of the richest States in one of the wealthiest countries of the world.

But amid the chaos and debris and human depravity I could not even photograph, I noticed that the light poles had solar arrays.

Welcome to Newark, NJ – portions of the place I’ve previously written about as “the worst place in NJ – Toxic Torture -

I heard that DEP is looking to enforce illegal waste disposal, so take a look (or is DEP only interested in the pretty places? Do DEP enforcement people ever even wander into this neighborhood down these mean streets?):

Note: belated hat tip to Piri Thomas, whose great book of that title I read in Junior High School, along with the poetry of Amiri Baraka, the recently deceased father of the current Newark Mayor, who back then was called LeRoi Jones:

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hell7THIS PROPERTY CONDEMNED

 

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