Friday, March 12, 2010

Inside 50 days to deadline...wake up, Department of Navy!

NOPE suggests it is about time the DoN end its charade and announce progress toward a buyout and teardown of the Laurelwood housing complex on NWS Earle. This nonsense continues to tax state and federal legislators and local and state taxpayers' time and money, while at the same time we have been nothing but good neighbors to Earle for 70-plus years.

Recapping yesterday's unanimous approval of S762 by the full Senate in Trenton, the bill is awaiting a hearing in front of a state Assembly committee; we'll confirm a date once one is set, but remind our supporters the bill passed the last Assembly session 76-0. Again, approval and the signature of Governor Christie by month's end (or by the end-of-April "military use" phase of the 52-year Laurelwood lease) would signal a positive step for the community.

Separately, here is an interesting take on "Jihad Jane" (whom we wrote about earlier this week) from syndicated national columnist Eugene Robinson, and run in the Asbury Park Press.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

NJ Senate Passes S762 by 36-0 Vote

The State Senate unanimously passed S762 around 3 p.m. We appreciate the efforts not only of Senator Beck, Assemblywoman Casagrande and Assemblyman O'Scanlon in pushing this measure (first introduced outside Earle's main gate in July 2009), but also thank the members of the NOPE community and federal legislators who put their support behind this nonpartisan bill, and especially leadership and countless volunteer hours that NOPE political liaison Elaine Mann put into this time-consuming endeavor.

NOPE will seek confirmation about next steps, but suspect the bill will now be delivered to the Assembly for its own review and vote (before reaching Governor Christie's desk), though we're not sure how long this will take. Recall that the Assembly in the last legislative session approved the measure (then numbered A4159 and since renumbered A2014) 76-0, so we expect much the same this time around.

It is critical for Governor Christie to receive and sign this bill ASAP, so that New Jersey's Treasurer can conduct an appropriate cost-benefits analysis of the unfunded mandate forced upon NJ taxpayers by the Department of Navy. And while the study is conducted, the DEP and DOT will be prohibited from issuing permits to the DoN to start construction of the literal 2-mile road to nowhere (Laurelwood) and the start of a very flawed DoN plan to grant unimpeded access to the privatized housing development on federal, military property through 2040.

S762 on today's NJ Senate calendar

Just reiterating what NOPE supporters already knew...but here's the legislative agenda for anyone interested in visiting Trenton this afternoon for today's 2 p.m. vote on S762, among other bills. We'll be sure to post the outcome later on.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Jihad Jane"

The case of Pennsylvania woman and apparent Muslim sympathizer Colleen LaRose, who otherwise goes by "Jihad Jane," sheds anecdotal light on NOPE's longstanding contention, and lawmakers' growing concern, about how terrorist groups, according to this from the Asbury Park Press, "are looking to recruit Americans to carry out their goals." (Here's FOX News' take on Jihad Jane.)

To correlate Jihad Jane to NOPE's objection to the Navy's ill-advised plan to turn 300 Laurelwood military townhomes into rentals to civilians may seem a far-fetched to those who do not buy our argument that unimpeded civilian access thru NWS Earle poses security risks, but it is clear from this story that we are not immune to radical thinkers domestically, and opening Earle to anyone able to cut a rent check only raises the potential for espionage and terrorism. In short, as we have long argued, it is foolish to expose Earle's service members and surrounding communities to a significant threat, all for the sake of the DoN's inability to recognize that either buying out or voiding the Laurelwood lease is, by far, the best and only viable option.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

NJ Senate to vote on S762 on Thursday

We received confirmation from the bills room in Trenton that the State Senate will vote Thursday at a 2 p.m. meeting on S762, regarding the cost-benefits analysis of proposed civilian housing and unimpeded access to Laurelwood homes at NWS Earle. See previous posts; we've more than beaten the horse on this issue.