Saturday, January 9, 2010


This is an urgent rallying cry to NOPE supporters to call or email Senate President Richard Codey NOW, asking that he "post Senate bill 3017 immediately for review by the New Jersey State Senate session on Monday." That's all you need to say. Please call this weekend, or by Monday morning at the least; this cannot wait.

Mr. Codey can be contacted at or 973-731-6770 (if you call rather than email, you'll have to punch in "10" on your phone to access his answering machine).

We need to flood him with calls and emails, or else 7 months of NOPE's hard work could be down the drain. We are concerned that the measure, which has already been approved by the full Assembly and on Thursday won unanimous approval by a Senate committee, is being stalled for reasons having nothing to do with our case to prevent the Department of Navy from turning NJ into Ground Zero.

As the point person here, Mr. Codey should do what is right for NJ citizens and post this measure (S3017/A4159) for full Senate passage and the Governor's signature on Monday. Otherwise, we are back to square one and New Jersey will not get the necessary security and financial assessment of a disastrous Navy plan to house and provide unimpeded access to civilians at one of our nation's largest weapons stations - Naval Weapons Station Earle, right here in our backyard in Monmouth County.

We really need you to make this call, or send Mr. Codey an email, RIGHT NOW.

Friday, January 8, 2010

NOPE briefs GAO, Congressman Smith

Last night, NOPE had the opportunity to brief the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the merits of our community's objection to civilian housing at Naval Weapons Station Earle.

We thank Congressman Chris Smith and his staff not only for setting up the briefing, which ran about 2 1/2 hours and proved valuable to the auditors in their early-stage probe, but for having continued faith in the credibility of our leadership and sincerity of NOPE's mission, which is simply to protect our communities, our security, and the Navy from its own flawed logic about what to do with vacant Laurelwood military housing on the Earle base. Collectively, we hope that GAO findings will awaken the Department of Defense to reverse the Navy's egregiously poor judgment from on high.

For those unfamiliar, the GAO is the investigative arm of Congress and tasked with "improving the performance and accountability of the federal government" to U.S. taxpayers' benefit. The GAO was commissioned (for this particular study) by legislation put forth, first by Congressman Smith in the House of Representatives, and then in the U.S. Senate by Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg and subsequently signed into the F2010 Defense spending bill by President Obama, requesting an objective study of the security and financial ramifications of the Department of Navy's plan to house civilians at Earle - key factors the Navy omitted from the cursory 1,300-page Laurelwood Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

NOPE last night learned that GAO's early-stage audit will focus on:
  • a full cost-benefits analysis for all stakeholders (i.e. the Navy and local communities)
  • whether the cost of the proposal to house 300 families of civilians and the Department of Navy's additional security requirements will outweigh the purported benefits the DoN touched upon in the EIS (details of explicit benefits were vague, at best, in that study)
  • whether the Department of Defense plans to engage the community in setting the course for involvement of the local community
The investigators, we are told, will next conduct fact-finding at NWS Earle and get further up to speed on the Navy's posture, and keep the lines of communication open with NOPE in the event new questions arise. The GAO's window for releasing its findings is typically 180 days from the time the study is commissioned by Congress, which could put us somewhere in the April timeframe, depending on how smoothly the investigation goes.

In short, the meeting was extremely productive, and much like NOPE's briefings of the DoD Inspector General (IG) and then-Navy Under-Secretary BJ Penn (both in the summer of 2008), proved valuable in shedding light on the very unusual Laurelwood housing case and Weapons Station Earle itself, which is still sort of anonymous to many in Washington, D.C.

A lot of credit goes to Jim Sfayer and Fulton Wilcox, our primary presenters last night, who eloquently and so professionally briefed the GAO on the mission-critical nature of NWS Earle and why ripping a hole in the security fence to accommodate unimpeded civilian housing and access to an 11,000-acre weapons depot flies in the face of reason, largely from security and financial perspectives. Otherwise, NOPE's leadership team represented our grassroots organization extremely well and with tremendous professionalism, with some probing questions and insights for the GAO.

We'll keep you posted here on the next turn of events in this matter.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

NJ Senate committee backs Earle financial, security study!

Good news from the New Jersey State House...the Senate's Community and Urban Affairs Committee passed by a 4-0 vote Senate bill S3017! This is wonderful news for NOPE, the tireless efforts of Senator Beck, the assembly and NOPE's legislative liaison Elaine Mann, and the 1,500-plus supporters who had signed our white postcards since our October 27, 2009 rally, urging passage of this measure. This proves that our community's voice does count and that NOPE indeed has mettle.

If passed by the full senate and signed by Governor Corzine on Monday, S3017 (the companion Assembly measure A4159 passed last month) would prevent the NJ Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Transportation (DOT) from issuing permits to the U.S. Department of Navy for proposed construction of an unimpeded access road to Laurelwood houses inside Weapons Station Earle.

The combination of data from any State Treasurer study plus the ongoing and separate security and financial assessment conducted by the U.S. Senate's Goverment Accountability Office (GAO) will prove extremely valuable in proving the merits of NOPE's contention that unimpededly opening NWS Earle to civilian tenants for the next 30 years poses a security, financial and environmental recipe for disaster to the Navy itself and our communities. (See our 8-page Business Case analysis for more details on cost dynamics of the ill-conceived Navy plan.) The studies, combined, also will produce what the Navy -- by law -- was required to, but did not, provide to the U.S. citizens last year when the DoN rolled out what in the end was a non-compliant Final-Environmental Impact Statement (F-EIS).

Let's be clear. Contrary to what some opponents (namely a local veterans group and affordable housing advocate) contested in audio comments reviewed from the State House today, S3017 DOES NOT change the U.S. Navy's plans or decide the eventual outcome of the 300-unit Laurelwood housing complex...or, for that matter, who can occupy the homes. Rather, the legislation will rightfully give New Jersey's decision-makers, homeland security and emergency response officials and surrounding communities the missing pieces about security requirements and financial ramifications of a DoN proposal rife with questions and pitfalls.

And, from NOPE's perspective, S3017 would more or less put even more pressure on the DoN to recognize that it must, by contract, engage in a buyout of the Laurelwood lease if it fails to provide Laurelwood's developer access to build the road to the homes by May 1 (the expiration of the Navy's "in-lease" on the 52-year housing contract), as Supplemental Agreement 43 suggests in the Laurelwood leasing contract.

The point being...NOPE will CONTINUE TO FIGHT for the better of the community until the Laurelwood contract is voided or bought out and the Laurelwood houses are razed. Putting ANY civilians in the middle of a high-security munitions depot is a painfully bad idea and will have far too big a detriment on our communities, unless we continue to raise objections.

Let's keep up the fight. It's a battle worth waging!

NJ Senate proceedings link

Anyone who wants to listen in to the Community and Urban affairs hearing in Trenton, where the Earle measure S3017/A4159 is being addressed, follow this link. We'll follow with an update later this afternoon regarding the outcome.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trenton reminder

Anyone wishing to join the small NOPE contingent headed to the Statehouse on Thursday morning to lobby passage of S3017 (see Sunday's blog for more details) is encouraged to meet the team at Colts Neck Town Hall at 8:30 a.m. Thanks in advance to anyone who can attend and provide their own transport to Trenton.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Guard contract up for bid at NWS Earle admits Colts Neck base is a terror target

Naval Weapons Station Earle depends on outsource guards to augment base security, whether patrolling the 11,000-acre fence line, securing the main gate, or watching over the hundreds of bunkers housing high-powered military ordnance and Normandy Road on which these explosives travel. This is nothing unusual at military bases or unexpected, considering that domestic military forces are so spread thin by war abroad. To be sure, "outsourcing" is now embedded in our society and part of our vernacular.

The current team of contract security guards at NWS Earle is Myers Investigative, of Dunn, N.C., though the contract is up for bidding again, with at least 73 "interested vendors" according to Anyone interested in reading this mundane set of documents (or bidding on the contract itself) can access them at the Navy's NECO website.

(NOTE: We must remind NOPE supporters and other observers of last year's scathing Inspector General report on Earle's subpar oversight of the Myers the point where a prospective hire was found to have a criminal background).

Our cursory read of the bid documentation linked above (the submission deadline is January 20, 2010, for anyone interested) validates a primary NOPE contention that the Department of Navy is opening up the Laurelwood military houses on base to civilians against wiser judgement and to the severe detriment of base, local and national security. For, on page 1 of "Annex 4", the Contract Staffing Requirement clearly states that "this contract is for services required for Force Protection Condition (FPCON) B."

What is FPCON B, you ask? According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture website on anti-terrorism and force protection, FPC BRAVO (or B) "applies when an increased and more-predictable threat of terrorist activity exists. The measures in this Force Protection Conditions must be capable of being maintained for weeks without causing undue hardship, affecting operational capability, and aggravating relations with local authorities."

So at the same time the Department of Navy is admitting a threat to an important weapons facility, the DoN's top-notch decision-makers in Washington, D.C., are recommending unimpeded civilian housing and access to the 300 mostly vacant Laurelwood homes to civilians come September. And to make it work, the DoN admits in its Final Environmental Impact Statement in May 2009 that it will have to increase security forces. Amazing!

NOPE is hopeful that with the U.S. Senate (GAO) preparing to begin its own security and financial assessment of civilian housing plan at Earle, and the New Jersey Senate presumably passing companion legislation on the state level within the next week, that cooler heads will prevail at the Navy and that the DoN will buy out the Laurelwood contract and avoid a major headache for everyone, particularly itself and the security of its own dependents at Earle.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

NOPE Is Ready To Roll Into 2010

Off of what we hope was a joyous holiday season for all, NOPE is beginning its third year of grassroots volunteerism targeted at preventing the Department of Navy from turning Naval Weapons Station Earle into the next Ground Zero, by virtue of a hideously dangerous and costly plan to open base housing (Laurelwood) to civilians for occupancy as soon as September 2010.

It's hard to believe that financial mismanagement and poor planning by the DoN more than 20 years ago has put Earle itself and our surrounding civilian communities into such a horrific situation as this, but NOPE will not rest until the Navy either rescinds or buys out the Laurelwood contract and then levels the homes. It's as simple as that.

NOPE's first event of 2010 will be at the Statehouse in Trenton on Thursday, January 7, 2010, as we lobby passage of S3017 (the companion to House legislation A4159, which has passed late last month) initiated by Senator Jennifer Beck and to be heard by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee at 10 a.m. Anyone wishing to join us should meet at Colts Neck Town Hall that morning at 9 a.m. (we ask that you provide your own transportation to Trenton or carpool with a friend) and can contact NOPE legislative liaison Elaine Mann at 732.308.0021 for more details.

Passage by the Senate and Governor will prevent the state's DEP and DOT from issuing any permits to the DoN until a full financial impact study is conducted by the NJ Treasurer. In our opinion, this will create another significant roadblock to the DoN in its effort to meet an April 30, 2010, deadline to let developer Laurelwood Homes, LLC, build the unimpeded access road to the homes and potentially cause a breach of contract that could prompt the developer to sue for a buyout (from the Department of Navy) of the contract. We ask that anyone who has the WHITE POSTCARDS we distributed at the October 27, 2009 rally and thereafter to return these signed cards to their NOPE contacts by Wednesday night, since we will be taking them to Trenton on Thursday.