Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crediting our elected officials

Last night, NOPE emailed our supporters a media press release, acknowledging the efforts of those who supported our grassroots community effort to prevent civilian housing at Weapons Station Earle, but the quick 350-word PR does not go into great detail. And, in advance, NOPE's apologies to anyone that we omitted by accident in the fast and furious revelations surrounding NOPE's case since Friday afternoon. Clearly, there are so many to thank.

In the days ahead we hope to highlight on this blog more specifically the key players and their efforts here, starting today with those on the federal, state and local legislative fronts and their notable roles, and for abiding by NOPE's steadfast mantra stressing nonpartisan, resolute and respectful participation in dealing with the U.S. Department of the Navy:
  • U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D) and Frank Lautenberg (D), including Senators Menedez's aides Kellie Drakeford and Keith Roachford: Instrumental in federal legislation (i.e. support of the Smith House bill mandating the federal GAO study into the security and business-case elements of proposed civilian housing that the Navy omitted from its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)) and attendance at key events, such key NOPE rallies and a District 12 press conference in July 2009.
  • U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ4), and aides Mary McDermott Noonon, Cate Benedetti and Jeff Sagnip, who battled the U.S. Navy on the Laurelwood plan long before NOPE's existence and were absolutely tireless advocates for NOPE: We, unfortunately, did not start our blog until July 2009, so there are so many elements not published here, but from setting up face-to-face briefings with the Navy Inspector General and top Department of Navy officials in Washington, D.C., to driving between D.C. and Monmouth County for dozens of our meetings, to supporting NOPE's rallies and initiating the key GAO legislation and other invaluable studies (i.e. IG probe into Myers Security) that will prove the security and financial merits of NOPE's case.
  • U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ12), and former aide Steve Hildner, who co-signed letters of concern with Washington state's Norman Dicks (D-6) to Department of Navy leadership and especially recognized the inherent financial perils to constituents in NJ's 12th federal district and, in particular, the Tinton Falls School District
  • New Jersey Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande and Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (District 12), and aides AnnMarie Howley and Layli White, for sponsoring the companion Trenton legislation to the federal GAO study and for otherwise pitching a fierce campaign on NOPE's behalf in the State House to get the legislature and citizens to recognize the inherent security flaws of proposed civilian housing at an active weapons base and protecting NJ from an egregious unfunded mandate. And not once did one of them miss a NOPE-sponsored community event; surely, the trio were our champions on the state level.
  • Monmouth County Freeholders, namely Lillian Burry, who, along with Congressman Smith not only objected to proposed civilian housing and unimpeded access to NWS Earle long before NOPE formed, but also participated in our meetings with the Navy in D.C., attended our rallies and championed our cause, and articulated NOPE's grassroots mission to county, local and civic leaders throughout this tough process.
  • Mayors and councilmembers (past and present) in Tinton Falls and Colts Neck, including Tom Hennessey, Ben Forrester, Ken Florek, Peter Maclearie and Mike Skudera, as well as their Administrators Bob Bowden and Bryan Dempsey, who objectively and steadfastly stood behind NOPE each step of the way in passing numerous resolutions in our favor and for providing us the physical facilities to conduct our briefings and forums. Their backing really enhanced NOPE's validity in the early stages of the movement and proved invaluable in recognition among the local citizenry.
  • Tinton Falls Superintendent John Russo, Administrator Tamar Sydney-Gens and BOE President Pete Karavites, who from the educational-concerns perspective not only took part in our D.C. meetings with the Navy, but spoke at our public sessions when asked, provided NOPE with invaluable confirmation of key financial and other data points to complement NOPE's business-case analysis, and helped our grassroots group to disseminate information about rallies and other key NOPE events thru school "kiddie mail" and via the district website. Also, ALL members of the BOEs and parent-teacher organizations of both Colts Neck and Tinton Falls.

Again, NOPE recognizes the efforts put forth by everyone (and we will articulate this more thoroughly in the days ahead, as we approach successful completion of our mission), but today reiterates heartfelt thanks to the aforementioned public officials who backed our mission.

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