Highlands Hero Gets RREM’d

After Closing On A RREM Grant, DCA Says A New Home For Vietnam Vet Is Not In The Cards

By Art Gallagher

Russell Card Jr removes his "family crest" from his family's home in Highlands in preparation for demolition . Photo via facebook

Russell Card Jr removes his “family crest” from his family’s home in Highlands in preparation for demolition . Photo via facebook

A Vietnam Veteran from Highlands and his 65 year-old wife had their expectations of a new home  crushed last week when their RREM approved builder informed them that a stop work order had been placed on their project by the Department of Community Affairs, with no explanation.   The family had prepared their house for demolition, based upon promises from DCA/RREM, and now fear they will be without a home.

Russell Card, a 72 year-old Vietnam Veteran from Highlands closed on his $150,000 RREM grant on July 28.  He put up his $18,000 escrow to cover the difference between the cost of the project and the amount granted.  Card, his wife Maureen and son Russell Jr, 35, prepared their home (which was built in the 1890’s and in the family since 1933) for demolition.   They moved most of their belongings into a POD on their immaculately maintained property and moved themselves into an apartment the size of the living room in the Bay Avenue house they have lived in since 1986.  By mid-September all the utilities were disconnected at the house and it was ready for demolition before their new home would be built.  The funding for the new home was the RREM grant, a gap grant of $30,000 from Gap Funding Initiative and $17,762 that was remaining from a $55,000 grant Mrs. Card had received from her employer, CareOne, after Sandy filled their home with eight feet of water on October 29, 2012.

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Posted: October 1st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Christie Administration, DCA, Department of Community Affairs, FEMA, Flooding, Highlands, Housing, Hurricane Sandy, Monmouth County, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Jackson Councilmen Cleared Of Ethics Charges Over Appointment

The Local Finance Board, the entity within the Department of Community Affairs which oversees the ethics of local officials, has ruled that two Jackson Township councilmen did not violate State Ethics or Campaign Finance Laws when they voted to appoint their former campaign manger a job on the Jackson Municipal Utilities Authority, according to a report on Shore News Network.

Cara Glory was the 2012 campaign manager for Councilmen Barry Calogero and Robert Nixon.  On January 6, 2014 Calogero, Nixon join the rest of the Jackson governing body in unanimously voting to approve Glory’s appointment to the MUA.  Unidentified Jackson residents filed ethics charges with the Local Fiance Board.

The charges were deemed frivolous by Board Chairmen Thomas Neff, according to the Shore News Network report.

“Following preliminary investigation and evaluation of the facts and circumstances relevant to the complaints and upon consideration of the foregoing provisions of Local Government Ethics Law, the Local Finance Board voted to dismiss the complaints as having no reasonable factual basis.”

The state reiterated their stance, adding, “The relationship between an elected officeholder and a campaign deputy treasurer or campaign manager is simply not one, in and of itself, which poses a conflict.”

The charges against the councilmen were dismissed and Glory’s appointment remained as-is.

The issue is of significance in Monmouth County as Democratic freeholder candidates Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo attempt to portray themselves and paragons of virtue in the campaign against Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Deputy Director Gary Rich.

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Posted: September 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Department of Community Affairs, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Monmouth Democrats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Jackson Councilmen Cleared Of Ethics Charges Over Appointment

Patrick Murray: Mark Magyar mischaracterized his analysis

Magyar admits mistake, promises to fix it but doesn’t

By Art Gallagher, artvg@aol.com

Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray responded to my post this morning, Patrick Murray is emphatic that his next poll will be negative for Christie, about his quote in Mark Magyar’s anti-Chistie spin piece on NJSpotlight with an email asserting that his analysis was mischaracteriszed.

Patrick Murray

Patrick Murray

Murray provided an email exchange between himself and Magyar wherein Magyar admits his mistake and promises to fix it.

Murray said:

My assessment of what is likely to happen to public opinion going forward was based on an analysis of the underlying dynamics of my own poll released on April 2 — specifically the public’s underlying initial skepticism of the Mastro report was in my own poll and my analysis of potential movement in that opinion.  Mark, by his own admission, mischaracterized my analysis, which was based on actual public opinion data that I have collected and analyzed.

In the NJSpotlight piece, Magyar quoted Murray as follows:

Quinnipiac Poll released last week showed that 56 percent of New Jerseyans regarded the report as a “whitewash” and only 36 percent believed it to be a “legitimate investigation.” Even more ominously, 65 percent of voters knew of the Hoboken case, and 57 percent of that group believe Zimmer’s allegation that the Christie administration improperly withheld Sandy aid from her city because she refused to support the Rockefeller Group development.

Murray said he expected to see similar results in his next Monmouth Poll. “It will be negative. This is not going to be positive,” Murray stated emphatically, asserting that the controversy over the Mastro report clearly resonated with voters. “The question now with Christie is, ‘Have we hit a floor where a certain percentage of people will defend him no matter what, and everyone else will attack him?’”

Murray corrected Magyar in a email at 9;32 this morning:

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Posted: April 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Bridgegate, Chris Christie, Department of Community Affairs, Kim Guadagno, Monmouth University Poll, Patrick Murray | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Patrick Murray: Mark Magyar mischaracterized his analysis

The Politics Of Disaster Relief

By Art Gallagher, artvg@aol.com

When disaster hits, natural or man made, Americans put aside their differences and come together to handle the emergency.

We saw it with 9-11. Most recently in New Jersey we saw it with Superstorm Sandy.

Once the emergency is over and the federal money is flowing, the politics…partisanship and patronage starts.  We saw it with 9-11. We’re living it with Sandy.

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Posted: April 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 2014 Congressional Races, 2014 Elections, 2014 U.S. Senate race, 2016 Presidential Politics, 2017 NJ Gubernatorial Politics, Bob Menendez, Chris Christie, Chris Smith, Christie Administration, Congress, Cory Booker, Democrats, Department of Community Affairs, Department of Homland Security, Frank Pallone, George W Bush, Housing, Hurricane Sandy, Jennifer Beck, Jersey Shore, NJ Democrats, NJ State Legislature, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Politics Of Disaster Relief

DCA Fires Another Sandy Contractor

Christie Should Come Clean About RREM Snafus At Town Hall Meeting

The Christie Administration has terminated a contract with a second company it hired to assist survivors of Superstorm Sandy rebuild their homes, according to a report on WNYC.



Governor Christie announcing a second round of RREM assistance, and that fact that federal assistance to rebuild from Sandy will be $17 billion or more short, in Keansburg last week. Photo by Paul Scharff

Governor Christie announcing a second round of RREM assistance, and that fact that federal assistance to rebuild from Sandy will be $17 billion or more short, in Keansburg last week.
Photo by Paul Scharff

URS, a global San Francisco based engineering and construction management firm had a $20 million contract to supervise the rebuilding of New Jersey homes under the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program.  The contract has been terminated. Homeowners are being informed by state officials that one of two remaining contractors will now supervise the rebuilding of their homes.

RREM provides $150,000 Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to New Jersey residents as “last resort” rebuilding assistance.  The federal money is supposed to assist residents who have insufficient funds after insurance, other government assistance and private monies are exhausted.  URS was one of three companies hired to supervise home rebuilding, according to the WNYC report.  Residents who were working with URS have been assigned to one of the two other contractors.  The amount of fees committed to the remaining two contractors has not been reported.

While the Christie Administration has received high marks for its administration of assistance to municipal governments and businesses impacted by Sandy, there is growing criticism and frustration over the repeated delays in getting assistance to homeowners.

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Posted: February 14th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: CDBG, Chris Christie, Community Development Block Grant, Department of Community Affairs, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

State reopens appeals period for 2 Sandy relief programs

State reopens appeals period for 2 Sandy relief programs (via NJ.com)

By Richard Khavkine and Erin O’Neill New Jersey officials are reopening the appeals period for residents whose initial applications for two Hurricane Sandy relief programs were denied, according to the state Department of Community Affairs, the agency…

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Posted: February 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: DCA, Department of Community Affairs, Huricane Sandy Relief Fund, Hurricane Sandy | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »