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: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Monmouth And Ocean Senators Ask Congressional Delegation For Sandy Help

Six state Senators representing Monmouth and Oceans Counties have written to New Jersey’s U.S. Senators and Members of Congress asking for help in correcting inequities and inefficiencies in the federal government’s response to Superstorm Sanday.

In a letter dated March 31, Senators Jennifer Beck and Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County, Robert Singer, Christopher Connors and James Holzapfel of Ocean County and Sam Thompson of Middlesex raised six issues concerning Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Small Business Administration (SBA), FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation(RREM) grant program.

With all those agencies and initials, how could anything be going wrong?

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Posted: April 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: FEMA, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sweeney Rejects Using COAH Funds For Sandy Rebuilding

Sweeney: RCAs “put poor white folk and poor black folk out of town”

Hornik: “No one in Trenton can honestly say that COAH is working”

IMG_9153 (640x391)Senate President Sweeney rejected out of hand an idea brought forth by Marlboro Mayor Jonathon Hornik this week that could potentially release $184 million in dormant funds for the benefit of Superstrom Sandy victims.

Hornik called for the reinstatement of Regional Contribution Agreements (RCA), in order to unlock $184 million in COAH funds to help residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy rebuild their homes in an OpEd piece published on MMM and PolitickerNJ.

RCAs were a practice that was in place to build affordable housing in New Jersey from 1985 through 2008 under the Fair Housing Act, whereby communities that had raised affordable housing funds through development could transfer those funds, and their obligation to build affordable housing within their own community, to other communities with an immediate need.  The legislature and Governor Corzine outlawed RCAs in 2008.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon issued a statement commending Hornik  and said,”When the Democrat leadership in Trenton killed the RCA program it was bad, short sighted policy that many of us knew would come back to bite us. Its flaws are now magnified by the plight of Sandy victims as many towns struggle with the economic burdening of rebuilding.”

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Posted: March 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: COAH, Declan O'Scanlon, Jon Hornik, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Sweeney and Pallone confirm that Feds are the problem with Sandy relief

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Keansburg Deputy Mayor Jimmy Cocuzza, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Congressman Frank Pallone at Sweeney’s Town Hall Meeting in Keansburg, March 20, 2014

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Congressman Frank Pallone tried to feign non-partisanship yesterday at Sweeney’s Town Hall Meeting in Keansburg, the most recent leg on Sweeney’s Sandy Bill of Rights tour. “This is not about politics, or party,” Sweeney said as Pallone nodded “it’s about taking care of the people who need help and getting them the information they need.”

Sweeney’s bill seems to make perfect sense.  It requires plain language explanations of disaster assistance programs and gives applicants the right to know where they are in the process, where they are on waiting lists, and how to appeal.  The bill was cleared with amendments by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, 4-0 with one abstention, Sen. Jennifer Beck, on Monday.

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Posted: March 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: FEMA, Frank Pallone, Keansburg, RREM, Stephen Sweeney, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Hurricane Sandy victims make do in trailers as they wait to rebuild

Hurricane Sandy victims make do in trailers as they wait to rebuild (via NJ.com)

Tina Napalo lived in a bungalow-style house on Fourth Street in Union Beach for more than 20 years. “I didn’t have everything,” said the 40-year-old mother of four, but, “it took me a long time to get what I had.” Then Hurricane Sandy hit.…

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Posted: March 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Christie Administration, Highlands, Hurricane Sandy, Keansburg, Middletown, Monmouth County, Obama Administration, RREM, Sea Bright, Superstorm Sandy, Union Beach | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Menendez Rebuts Christie Over Blame for Stalled Sandy Relief Aid

Menendez Rebuts Christie Over Blame for Stalled Sandy Relief Aid (via NJSpotlight)

Who is to blame for the slow pace of New Jersey’s recovery from superstorm Sandy? Gov. Chris Christie blames federal red tape and regulations for holding up the distribution of aid money to storm victims in New Jersey. But New Jersey’s senior U.S.…

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Posted: March 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Bob Menendez, Chris Christie, Christie Administration, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Christie broke no rules in awarding no-bid Sandy contract, audit finds

Christie broke no rules in awarding no-bid Sandy contract, audit finds (via NJ.com)

TRENTON — A federal audit released today concludes that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration did not violate any rules in awarding a no-bid contract to a politically connected company to haul away debris left by Hurricane Sandy. But the audit by the…

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Posted: March 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Chris Christie signs order to speed razing of Sandy-damaged homes

Chris Christie signs order to speed razing of Sandy-damaged homes (via NJ.com)

Calling Hurricane Sandy-damaged homes that have not yet been torn down an “ongoing emergency,” Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order aimed at speeding up the process of razing unsafe properties. The order puts the New Jersey Department of…

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Posted: March 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, DCA, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Kyrillos Blasts HUD For Keeping Sandy Victims From Rebuidling

KyrillosState Senator Joe Kyrillos came out swinging this afternoon regarding the news that the Department of Housing and Urban Development denied the Christie Administration’s request to allow victims of Superstorm Sandy to continue to rebuild their homes while they are applying for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) grants.

Kyrillos implored HUD officials and New Jersey’s congressional delegation to do whatever is necessary to allow Sandy devastated residents to rebuild their lives.

“It’s ridiculous, to say the least, that the people of New Jersey are being denied access to grant money because they are trying to rebuild their lives after the worst storm ever,” Kyrillos said. “The people of my district and the surrounding areas were some of the hardest hit and their federal government should not be hindering their recovery. Our home owners should be able to rebuild as they apply for grant money and I urge our congressional delegation to get to work immediately”

Senator Kyrillos added that the people deserve a reasonable return on their federal tax dollars in the form of Sandy grants.

“A lot of good has come out of the $1.83 billion in initial aid to New Jerseyans, but the reality is that more resources are needed for this state to recover from nearly $37 billion in damages,” Kyrillos said. “New York has received about $4 billion more, so the time is now for HUD officials and our congressmen to turn their eyes to our state.”

The Associated Press reported today that HUD denied a Christie Administration request to waive a rule that all reconstruction work must stop when a property owner applies for RREM grants.   The federal government wants be sure that historical structures are protected and that the properties are rebuilt to the new elevation standards.  No work that is completed prior to a HUD approval of the plans will be reimbursed with RREM grants, even if the work complies with the standards.

Posted: February 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 13th Legislative District, Chris Christie, Joe Kyrillos, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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 »