Saturday, March 20, 2010

Supporters: Make a Quick Call to Assemblyman Conners

NOPE is asking all supporters to make a quick and respectful call to N.J. Assemblyman Jack Conners at his Delran office (856-461-3997), and simply state: "As a NOPE supporter and concerned New Jersey resident, I kindly ask that you post bill A-2014 for review by the Assembly."

You might be asking, "didn't we do this already back in November, with Senator Codey?"

Well, yes, we did, but then again we're dealing with Trenton, so we need to make another call, since we're in a new legislative session and our 2009 efforts stalled with Mr. Codey. However, our bill in this year's session is this close to passing soon, so we need your help.

Assemblyman Conners chairs the N.J. Assembly's Military and Veterans Affairs committee, which is tasked with considering this bill (which unanimously passed the state's Senate 37-0 on March 11; the Senate's version is S-762) and needs to be taken the Assembly, which last fall passed this exact same measure. But because then-Senate President Codey withheld the measure from full Senate vote and politicized the issue, the nonpartisan bill expired and had to be renumbered and re-reviewed by both the Senate and Assembly committees that unanimously passed the measure.

Although the bill already passed this year's Senate session, this year's Assembly session needs to sign off before review and, hopefully, passage by Governor Christie. It is important that this be done before April 30, at which point the Laurelwood housing lease changes from the military-use to the 30-year civilian rental phase.

This is why we ask that you call Assemblyman Conners as soon as possible.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Earle main gate improvements contract update

According to the Veterans Today Network (about halfway down the linked page), P&S Construction Inc. of Massachusetts won a bid, valued at nearly $6.3 million, for main-gate enhancements at NWS Earle's primary entrance on Rt. 34 in Colts Neck. The improvements evidently will be made by October 2011. We will see if we can find out more about this over the weekend, as federal government documents initially put the contract budget at slightly more than $8 million.

Again, we note that this contract is not directly related to the Laurelwood civilian housing situation, but shows the utter hypocracy of spending millions of dollars on improving the main gate to keep people out of NWS Earle, while at the same time a few hundred meters south the Department of Navy is so eager to rip a hole open in the fence to provide unimpeded access through the base to unvetted civilians...all for the sake of getting out of a bad 1980s-era housing contract.

NOPE will continue to expose this hypocracy and eagerly awaits an announcement from the DoN within the next 40 or so days, pertaining to a buyout or some other compromise on the Laurelwood privatized housing contract.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just a fly in the ointment

Greater Media's News Transcript has run another story on the Laurelwood housing situation, this time honing in on NJ Senate passage of S762 (i.e., the cost-benefits analysis of civilian rental housing proposal at NWS Earle), but failed once again to reach out for a response from NOPE regarding a half-baked concept to turn the complex into veterans-only housing.

Not to sound callous, but the same group of advocates from Neptune Housing Authority, one Colts Neck resident and one Tinton Falls resident posing this time as "the MonmouthATeam" continues to espouse the benefits of vets-only housing at Laurelwood, but for two years has not produced a single, viable, detailed document to the public for how their plan to convert Laurelwood into a veterans housing panacea will work (we have long asked for this). For that matter, it is clear that they have not read ANY of the federal documentation put forth about the Department of Navy's civilian housing plan and unfunded mandate on New Jersey, and this group continue to try to tug at peoples' heartstrings (i.e. homeless vets need housing, with which no one would disagree), rather than assessing the DoN's true motivations for putting any civilians inside an active Navy weapons station and giving them unimpeded access to boot.

NOPE supporters should be clear that this MonmouthATeam's initiative is nothing but noise. And enough already that there's no available rental housing in Monmouth County. Look, we know that federal, state and local legislators from both political parties (a miracle unto itself) squarely oppose and/or have serious, valid questions about the DoN's stated plan for Laurelwood housing, and Laurelwood's owner has come out practically begging for a buyout (i.e. she wants no part of these houses and the eventual headache of the 30-year civilian use phase of the contract). In addition, the Navy, itself, knows it would be ill-advised to compromise Earle's mission capabilities by turning Laurelwood into a civilian free-for-all, all for the sake of skirting rent obligations for underutilized housing.

So, please DoN, let's come public and end this charade once and for all. Enough already. Void or buy out the contract and level Laurelwood. You are wasting your own time (and money), and clearly ours.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Denver Post: "Tectonic shift in terror's battle lines"

Regardless of whether Jihad Jane and Jihad Jamie are merely crackpots or truly involved in terrorism (or a combination thereof), this column from Mike Littwin of the Denver Post provides unique perspective on the changing face of terrorism (i.e. disenfranchised Americans drawn in by radical Islam). Perhaps most startling is the line from Jihad Jamie's grandma, concerned her 6-year-old grandson is a "terrorist in training."

These types of stories tie into NOPE's longstanding concern that it is increasingly difficult for authorities to identify terrorists, and that by letting civilians pass thru NWS Earle and live in the Laurelwood homes unimpededly for the next 30 years, the Department of Navy is exposing itself, and us, to a major threat.