Friday, January 29, 2010

NJ Treasurer bill gets re-numbered; join NOPE's Facebook; listen for report on WWZY-The Breeze

A few quick updates heading into what appears to be a COLD weekend...

- The N.J. legislation to mandate that the State Treasurer's office study of the Laurelwood civilian housing plan was re-numbered for consideration in the Senate (S-762) and House (A-2014), and is likely to be taken up in February. Please stay tuned for updates here and on the N.J. legislature website for whether this important piece of legislation passes in Trenton. Such a study will give the state ample financial data to determine impacts to N.J. taxpayers.

- NOPE supporters are encouraged to visit and sign up for our Facebook Causes page, a nascent venture for our grassroots organization. We ask that you sign up and share with your friends and family. The could be a useful venue to spread our message.

- Chairman Bill Holobowski was interviewed by WWZY, The Breeze, this week, about NOPE's briefing of the GAO, so listen the next few days to the news and let us know if you hear anything.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Housing Advocates Mean Well, But In The Wrong On Laurelwood

Respecting the notion of fair-and-balanced journalism and full disclosure of stories of all kinds (whether "pro-" or "anti-" NOPE), we highlight a story entitled "Veterans' supporters eye housing at Earle" in Greater Media's News Transcript this week, and obvious pitfalls both in the facts the "supporters" group apparently presented the writer, and the notion of any civilian living unimpededly within an active, fully secure Naval weapons storage facility as panacea to our area's housing needs.

We suggest that readers take this story with a grain of salt, and remind our supporters' of the author's November 18, 2009 column on the merits of proposed civilian housing at Earle.

Without stooping to the vitriolic posture taken by these "veterans' supporters" (do we Americans not support veterans?) and housing advocates toward NOPE and others during an encounter at the State House in Trenton earlier this month, we highlight the notable falsehoods these groups have been spreading to anyone that will listen. (To be sure, these groups' charges have been summarily dismissed by rounds of elected officials and a host of military veterans, including three NOPE leaders who served a collective three decades-plus in the Armed Forces, who all recognize that putting anyone in harms way is not justification for letting people live on a Navy weapons base and compromising Earle's mission to provide ammo to the U.S. fleet.)

The most notable flaw is the assumption that anyone but Teri Fischer, owner of Laurelwood Homes LLC controls and will manage the properties in question thru 2040 (unless she can find a buyer insane enough to take control of this nightmare in a separate buyout). The Transcript story states that an outfit called Neptune Housing Authority would vet (i.e. conduct background checks, etc.) prospective tenants and "has oversight for this particular military development." Maybe that's NHA's plan, but their charge is 100% false. Much like we have encouraged these groups ad nauseum, we encourage everyone read the Navy's Laurelwood EIS for perspective and the real facts for how "civilian" Laurelwood will be managed...and why NOPE and NJ's elected officials - both Democrat and Republic - up to the U.S. Senate object.

In addition, the contentions of a Mr. Welch and Ms. Zucaro cited in the story about civilians living on other military bases is true, but somewhat misleading, in that each base is very case-by-case (i.e. most not nearly as strategically sensitive as one of the U.S.'s most important Navy weapons depots). Civilians are the tenant of last resort (read about the "tenant waterfall" in the GAO's May 2009 report on privatized military housing) for underutilized military housing, and as cited on the p. 25 footnote to that report, note that many installation commanders object to civilian tenants in base housing. Plus, it is patently insane to suggest, as the Navy tried in its EIS, that what happens at NWS Earle is anything close to the mission at Fort Wainwright in Alaska (one of only 7-8 bases with Section 801 military housing, a housing code that we might add was scrapped very soon after the government realized it was a disaster).

NOPE is confident the upcoming GAO findings on Laurelwood housing will dispel such far-fetched notions that Laurelwood housing is suitable to any civilian, and show that the security and financial trade-offs to the Department of Navy and Earle's surrounding communities does not justify tugging at peoples' heartstrings and hatching schemes to convert Laurelwood into housing panacea within the confines of a very dangerous military base (NWS Earle), whose focus should solely be on national security.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Man busted with weapons arsenal, maps of U.S. military base

As NOPE has always preferred facts over fear mongering, this story should make the Department of Navy question its sanity before willingly opening Naval Weapons Station Earle to unimpeded civilian access and to civilian tenants who can pony up a monthly rent check for a Laurelwood townhome on the base, presumably come September.

According to the Star-Ledger, a U.S. Navy deserter named Lloyd Woodson was arrested in Branchburg yesterday with a "trove of high-powered weapons, including a grenade launcher and two assault rifles, along with maps of a U.S. military base and civilian neighborhood," plus a night scope and police scanner, and clad in a bulletproof vest. CNN has picked up this story as well.

The FBI, according to, finds no terrorism link with Mr. Woodson, and the maps found evidently are of a base outside New Jersey, but the obvious association to NOPE's objections to unimpeded civilian housing and access to Earle is that any crackpot with a checking account, and perhaps bad intentions, will soon live inside a Naval weapons station, posing a significant threat to servicemembers or the weapons base's mission at large for the next 30 years and our own security.

Interestingly, the DoN's stance throughout this process has been don't worry...we can handle it (civilian housing on a fully functional munitions depot), but in light of yesterday's arrest, combined with the Fort Hood massacre, the Fort Dix arrests, the break-in of a nuclear armaments base (Kitsap) in Washington, and well-publicized and thwarted homegrown terror attacks against military personal (Quantico, Arkansas recruiting center), we are left shaking our heads as to why the Department of Navy is so eager to turn Earle into a potential haven for disturbance.

Area residents might want to start calling their legislators and contact Naval Weapons Station Earle (732.866.2171) and start asking for themselves - "why does the U.S. Navy want to expose itself and us to obvious danger?"