Friday, April 16, 2010

NOPE appreciates the outpouring from the community!

The leaders of NOPE appreciate the inundation of support and gratitude from members of our community, some of which we would like to share heading into the weekend:

Many, many thanks to all who really got this grassroots action going and sustained it. Your hard work and great organizing skills really serve as an example of what can be done when people work together. Kudos to the committee members who really helped energize the communities. You have done an incredible service to our towns. Lucille Castro, Tinton Falls

I read the news in the Press over the weekend I was excited to see that NOPE made a difference. Great work. Milton Hubbard, Tinton Falls

You are all to be congratulated for your efforts on behalf of the residents of Colts Neck. Your effort was the greatest grassroots efforts I've ever seen or been associated with. There is no doubt in my mind that without NOPE, the result would have been unfavorable to CN residents. I realize that there's an agreement to be reached before this is finally put to bed but your effort is nothing short of fantastic. Best personal regards, Frank Leccese Sr., Colts Neck

Thank you for ALL you have done!!! The Warendorfs

CONGRATULATIONS on a job well done!!!!! Mike Terzano, Tinton Falls

Congrats to you and the entire NOPE team for doing such an amazing job winning this fight. Our family thanks you for saving our wonderful community from this potential disaster. Again, thank you for everything you have done. Kinds regards, Andrew Weisbrot

Congratulations and thank you for a job VERY Well done… God Bless you and all your efforts. Regards, Glen

Congratulations to all on a job well done and my continued support and appreciation of your efforts to monitor the impending buyout agreement. -- Barbara Finn, NOPE supporter

Awesome work by all involved, thanks to those who have worked so hard to bring this about, Jill Sammarco

Thank you for your tremendous, tireless effort. You are greatly appreciated and admired for all you have done. With sincere gratitude, The Chadwicks

Kudos to all!!! -- Mike Tormey

Sincere congratulations for such an outstanding effort and a positive outcome! Thank you for serving as the catalyst for residents to come together and help where they could. ALL of YOU deserve a pat on the back and the thanks of our town and elected officials. Without the work and leadership of your core group, this would have NEVER happened. Thank you! Susan Lewis

Congratulations!! Great grassroots effort. -- Anonymous

How about a shout out to Amod Choudhary who started the whole thing. VictoriaFoley (Editor's note: Amod helped to start the NOPE movement and will be cited next week as we compile our enormous "thank you" list.)

Heard the good news this a.m. Thanks to all of you who really got involved and persevered. Cindy Caizza

Thursday, April 15, 2010

bnet: New Jersey Towns Battle -- and Beat -- the U.S. Navy

In our daily channel checks, this story from the site "bnet" (apparently geared toward a government-contractor business audience) is worth reading, particularly for an audience that might not understand the dozens of nuances of our unique case, but a bit misconstrued.

It seems the media - collectively newspapers, radio and bloggers - are dwelling on concerns about property taxes and financial issues. However, the lynchpin of NOPE's objection to civilian housing at NWS Earle has ALWAYS been security. (Yes, our business case was on target in identifying the financial pitfalls of the Navy's plan to convert military to civilian housing, but one of many focal points of NOPE's objections.)

Clearly, the Navy's decision to buy out the Laurelwood private housing contract is an admission that building an umpeded access road through an active weapons facility is not logical from perspectives of base and national security and Earle's mission to provide ammunition to the U.S. Navy fleet.

Still, bnet author Matthew Potter did a fair job of summarizing (very difficult in our 2+ year case) the recent turn of events, though we would add that NOPE was not specifically recognized as the catalyst to the Navy suspending its Record of Decision on Laurelwood. Although Howell, Wall and Middletown are cited as participants, most of us (locally) recognize the driving forces for NOPE were Colts Neck and Tinton Falls residents comprising NOPE.

Meanwhile, NOPE's leaders appreciate the outpouring of gratitude since Friday from hundreds of members of our communities, but we want to remind supporters that our organization will not rest until the completion of both the Navy's impending buyout of Laurelwood and the physical demolition of the homes. This is merely to ensure that no wrenches are thrown in to what has obviously been a methodical and arduous, but constructive, process and one that placed a fair measure of distrust in Navy leadership in Washington, D.C. However, Friday's announcement of a good-faith resolution with Laurelwood Homes, LLC, perhaps ushers a new era where the Department will prioritize its relationship with the good neighbors of NWS Earle's host communities who have embraced the U.S. Military's presence in Monmouth County long before many of us were here or even born.

Please continue to stay tuned here for daily updates, as in the days ahead we will also more-specifically recognize the community groups and NOPE leaders who helped our group succeed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crediting our elected officials

Last night, NOPE emailed our supporters a media press release, acknowledging the efforts of those who supported our grassroots community effort to prevent civilian housing at Weapons Station Earle, but the quick 350-word PR does not go into great detail. And, in advance, NOPE's apologies to anyone that we omitted by accident in the fast and furious revelations surrounding NOPE's case since Friday afternoon. Clearly, there are so many to thank.

In the days ahead we hope to highlight on this blog more specifically the key players and their efforts here, starting today with those on the federal, state and local legislative fronts and their notable roles, and for abiding by NOPE's steadfast mantra stressing nonpartisan, resolute and respectful participation in dealing with the U.S. Department of the Navy:
  • U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D) and Frank Lautenberg (D), including Senators Menedez's aides Kellie Drakeford and Keith Roachford: Instrumental in federal legislation (i.e. support of the Smith House bill mandating the federal GAO study into the security and business-case elements of proposed civilian housing that the Navy omitted from its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)) and attendance at key events, such key NOPE rallies and a District 12 press conference in July 2009.
  • U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ4), and aides Mary McDermott Noonon, Cate Benedetti and Jeff Sagnip, who battled the U.S. Navy on the Laurelwood plan long before NOPE's existence and were absolutely tireless advocates for NOPE: We, unfortunately, did not start our blog until July 2009, so there are so many elements not published here, but from setting up face-to-face briefings with the Navy Inspector General and top Department of Navy officials in Washington, D.C., to driving between D.C. and Monmouth County for dozens of our meetings, to supporting NOPE's rallies and initiating the key GAO legislation and other invaluable studies (i.e. IG probe into Myers Security) that will prove the security and financial merits of NOPE's case.
  • U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ12), and former aide Steve Hildner, who co-signed letters of concern with Washington state's Norman Dicks (D-6) to Department of Navy leadership and especially recognized the inherent financial perils to constituents in NJ's 12th federal district and, in particular, the Tinton Falls School District
  • New Jersey Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande and Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (District 12), and aides AnnMarie Howley and Layli White, for sponsoring the companion Trenton legislation to the federal GAO study and for otherwise pitching a fierce campaign on NOPE's behalf in the State House to get the legislature and citizens to recognize the inherent security flaws of proposed civilian housing at an active weapons base and protecting NJ from an egregious unfunded mandate. And not once did one of them miss a NOPE-sponsored community event; surely, the trio were our champions on the state level.
  • Monmouth County Freeholders, namely Lillian Burry, who, along with Congressman Smith not only objected to proposed civilian housing and unimpeded access to NWS Earle long before NOPE formed, but also participated in our meetings with the Navy in D.C., attended our rallies and championed our cause, and articulated NOPE's grassroots mission to county, local and civic leaders throughout this tough process.
  • Mayors and councilmembers (past and present) in Tinton Falls and Colts Neck, including Tom Hennessey, Ben Forrester, Ken Florek, Peter Maclearie and Mike Skudera, as well as their Administrators Bob Bowden and Bryan Dempsey, who objectively and steadfastly stood behind NOPE each step of the way in passing numerous resolutions in our favor and for providing us the physical facilities to conduct our briefings and forums. Their backing really enhanced NOPE's validity in the early stages of the movement and proved invaluable in recognition among the local citizenry.
  • Tinton Falls Superintendent John Russo, Administrator Tamar Sydney-Gens and BOE President Pete Karavites, who from the educational-concerns perspective not only took part in our D.C. meetings with the Navy, but spoke at our public sessions when asked, provided NOPE with invaluable confirmation of key financial and other data points to complement NOPE's business-case analysis, and helped our grassroots group to disseminate information about rallies and other key NOPE events thru school "kiddie mail" and via the district website. Also, ALL members of the BOEs and parent-teacher organizations of both Colts Neck and Tinton Falls.

Again, NOPE recognizes the efforts put forth by everyone (and we will articulate this more thoroughly in the days ahead, as we approach successful completion of our mission), but today reiterates heartfelt thanks to the aforementioned public officials who backed our mission.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Press Release from Congressman Smith

In the days ahead, we will get everyone up to speed on reactions from all officials who were instrumental in supporting NOPE's grassroots effort to get the Navy to end its public housing plan for NWS Earle.

Here is a press release from Congressman Chris Smith, and, otherwise, we have heard from Senator Robert Menendez's office and anticipate some kind of announcement or event from his office very shortly. We would encourage all elected officials who backed NOPE to organize a joint press conference, for it was the collective bipartisan efforts of individuals on many levels of government who made NOPE a success.

Meanwhile, we are trying to track down the full story for a headline posted Sunday to, which reads Tinton Falls board seeks ruling on defunct Earle plan. At the moment, we can only speculate this pertains to the Board of Education's legal efforts to reverse a state law that some interpreted to suggest the borough's K-8 school district could have been obligated to educate Laurelwood civilian residents, but will follow up with officials on this today as time allows.