Thursday, May 20, 2010


Anyone who has been involved with NOPE can attest that our effort to prevent the Department of Navy from turning NWS Earle into a civilian free-for-all has been a lesson in patience (three years and counting). To be sure, dissecting the layers of local, state and federal bureaucracy remains a Herculean task and one that serves as a good lesson in civics and patience.

Those of use who continue to lead NOPE have fielded a host of questions, namely: "when is this whole Earle mess going to end?" Great question...but, remember, this is your government at "work."

Here are a three "short" answers, touching upon what NOPE would like to see:
  • Expeditious completion of the Laurelwood buyout: From what we gather between media reports and updates from Congressman Smith's office, Mrs. Fischer, owner of Laurelwood Homes, LLC, filed a complaint with the Navy's Contracting Officer in April, setting the wheels in motion for a 60-day review in which the DoN and Laurelwood will discuss buyout terms. It is our understanding that Laurelwood would pursue legal action if the talks stall or fail to yield a settlement.
    • (Remember, the buyout is solely the result of the DoN's incomprehensible decision in 2002 to give up its contractual right of cost-free contract termination when it allowed Mrs. Fischer to refinance her mortgage.  [Someone needs their head checked, having signed off on such a provision less than a year after 9/11].  And DoN officials lied to U.S. citizens and a Congressman about its motives for shirking our call for simply terminating the deal; officials told us they did not want to be "bad business partners" mention of a relinquishment of its "ace in the hole" - we had to OPRA documents to learn this.)
  • Demolition of the Laurelwood homes: The NOPE effort will not rest until the homes are leveled immediately after the contract buyout and the land is "restored to its original state," as spelled out in all privatized military housing agreements. Our biggest concern and overhanging mistrust of DoN leaders in the Pentagon is that some "new" decision maker or military commander will have ulterior motives that compromise local security, environmental and business-case interests, and that we could find ourselves engrossed in another Earle housing mess once again.
  • Passage of S762-A2014 by the NJ legislature and Governor Christie by the end of this legislative year (i.e. January 2011): It seems that the District 12 legislative team, amazingly, is implicitly declaring victory in the Laurelwood housing case by keeping mum that their legislation still sits idle in an Assembly committee that passed the measure this year (but seemingly had a change of heart this year). By that, we mean the committee, which simply needs to "post" the measure to the full Assembly for a vote (the same exact measure passed the Assembly unanimously last year) before the Governor can sign S762-A2014 into law, had two shots at posting the bill but punted. Sources tell us that there is a small caucus of newer Assembly members that now questions the measure, which is ridiculous, considering the bill is merely to do a cost-benefits and security impact study on the state level, which would complement the federal GAO study already underway. We would recommend you call Senator Beck, Assemblyman O'Scanlon and Assemblywoman Casagrande (732-933-1591) and ask why they are silent on the Assembly committee's failure. It is important that this legislation pass, to not only assess the impact to N.J. of the current unfunded mandate (i.e. Laurelwood housing), but also to set a precedent for future military decisions that could have an obvious adverse impact on our state's taxpayers.
As always, we welcome your feedback and questions, whether or not they our consistent with NOPE's mission. Feel free to post your thoughts here or via email at

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