Monday, February 22, 2010

Learning first hand why Trenton is a train wreck

The amazing part about NOPE is that, within a relatively small amount of time, our grassroots organization of moms, dads, senior citizens, distinguised military veterans and "average Joes" helped to get responsible, bipartisan federal legislation passed for the U.S. GAO to conduct a cost-benefits analysis of the proposed civilian housing at NWS Earle. However, we continue to spin our wheels in Trenton about companion state legislation - even when the responsible measure we support (S762) unanimously passed the full House and a Senate committee last session, only to be held up because of party politics.

Contrary to what we anticipated following S762's latest passage on Thursday by the current Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, now we learn that the bill will not go to the full Senate for a vote, but is now referred to the Senate's Budget and Appropriations Committee, which we understand will meet next week - and where, for a 4th or 5th time in Trenton alone, NOPE - ALL volunteers with full-time jobs, family responsibilities, etc. - will need to commit more time to testify for the same darned measure.

New Jerseyans had better cross their fingers and hope the GAO study exposes the obvious flaws of the Laurelwood EIS (i.e. Department of Navy's plan to turn Laurelwood housing into unrestricted rental units to civilians), because our elected leaders in Trenton cannot figure out which was is up or down. Candidly, if and when S762 passes and is signed into law by Governor Christie, it will probably be too late; the study will NOT produce any results until at least six months AFTER Laurelwood can be rented to civilian tenants.

The intent of S762 (formerly known as S3017 until Mr. Codey and others politicized the issue during the 2008-09 session) was to simply delay required DEP and DOT permits (to the DoN and its housing developer Laurelwood Homes, LLC) until our own Treasurer could conduct a cost-benefits study of what NOPE clearly sees as at least a $300-$500 million (or more) unfunded federal mandate on New Jerseyans. More or less, NJ saying "wait a second, Uncle Sam, let's take a look at your plan and how it impacts us financially."

That's right, NJ - the DoN wants you to foot the half-a-billion-dollar bill for its own bad housing contracts, while at the same time compromising your security. Our leaders in Trenton, however, fail to recognize the urgency of this matter, and instead will move S762 to another committee for review, and then likely to the House for its two cents (after the House passed the earlier version of the bill by 76-0 in 2009).

Ah, efficiency at its finest in Trenton. Nonetheless, NOPE will be there - AGAIN - to testify for S762 if need be on the community's behalf. Do not worry. We will always watch our community's back.

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