Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Adding insult to injury...

At the same time the Department of Navy is slapping New Jersey in the face with an unfunded mandate (which NOPE estimates at about half a billion dollars and anticipates a GAO study will verify) for proposed civilian housing at NWS Earle and compromising its own and our security, a few miles down the road we have another case of egregious financial mismanagement and ineptitude surrounding the DoD's impending closure of Fort Monmouth.

Although different from the Laurelwood housing case at Earle, each case sheds light on why NOPE is adamantly opposed to the Navy's plans for Laurelwood housing and how poorly the U.S. Military manages budgets, and why local citizens should not only encourage their elected officials to be more vigilant about military matters that impact New Jersey, but also to become more informed and involved themselves.

In a report that should come as no surprise to anyone watching how the DoD has turned New Jersey into a bigger laughingstock, The Asbury Park Press this morning says the "price tag to close Fort Monmouth has jumped more than $100 million in the past nine months." With that, we now know that it will cost U.S. taxpayers $1.87 billion to relocate Fort Monmouth's mission to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, or 137% more than the initial $789 million estimate in 2005. Of course, spokepeople for the U.S. Army were unavailable to comment.

And that's just the financial parameters of the move. Not mentioned is how the ill-informed BRAC decision-makers literally have set back the Army's mission by years and will drain the highly-skilled workforce at Ft. Monmouth by relocating the base, presumably for the sole sake of paying off favors to either Maryland politicians or key military brass. The notion of any kind of military benefit (in a recession, no less) of a nearly-$2 billion relocation expense is hogwash, when considering such funding could go toward better gear for our soldiers or attending to the needs of DAVs or other military needs.

In short, NOPE remains (and needs its supporters to remain) vigilant in pressing the Department of Navy to reverse its course on Laurelwood housing and to end the contract with its developer and raze the development. We would encourage you not only to stay tuned here and in the local media to this case, but within 90 days of the DoN's deadline to open the base ahead of planned civilian housing at NWS Earle this September to call your elected representatives in N.J. and Washington to press our opposition to privatization at NWS Earle! We need NOPE supporters to remain vocal, before we have another Fort Monmouth-type debacle (and likely even worse) on our hands.

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