State 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: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 13th Legislative District, Chris Christie, Joe Kyrillos, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: Christie Administration, HUD, Joe Kyrillos, RREM, RREM grants, Senator Joe Kyrillos | 5 Comments »
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
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: Art Gallagher | Filed under: CDBG, Chris Christie, Community Development Block Grant, Department of Community Affairs, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: CDBG, Chris Christie, Community Development Block Grant, HUD, Richard Constable, RREM, RREM grants, Town Hall Meeting | 3 Comments »
Responding to partisan and media charges by those hoping to expand the Bridgegate controversy that has besieged the Christie Administration into misuse of Sandy funds, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last night that he is confident that the Obama Administration is carefully monitoring federal funds targeted for homeowners. Donovan said that federal money for Sandy victims is being distributed faster than relief for any previous natural disaster.
Congressmen Frank Pallone and Bill Pascrell wrote to Donovan yesterday asking that HUD investigate New Jersey’s dealings with a terminated contractor that had been assigned the administration of Community Block Development Grants and that HUD appoint a federal official to the usage of those funds in New Jersey.
Pallone’s spokesperson, Ray Zaccaro, did not respond to a request for comment about Donovan’s remarks. We are awaiting a call back from Thomas Piepnykosky, Pascrell’s spokesperson.
Posted: January 30th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Bridgegate, Frank Pallone | Tags: Bridgegate, Chris Hayes, Christie Administration, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Congressman Frank Pallone, HUD, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, MSNBC | 1 Comment »
Congressman Frank Pallone moving his lips, and fingers
On early Monday morning, 6:54, in the midst of the Bridgegate network and cable TV media feeding frenzy engulfing Governor Chris Christie, CNN reported an “Exclusive” story that ”federal officials” were investigating whether Christie had “improperly used” some of the Sandy Relief money used to produce the Stonger than the Storm tourism ad campaign. The source of the “Exclusive” was Congressman Frank Pallone.
Within the hour, Pallone had widely released a statement to the media and posted it on his federally funded website, that contained the information reported “Exclusively” by CNN.
That should have been the media’s first clue that Pallone is not trustworthy. He offered an exclusive to CNN, and then spread, the story, like a crack whore needing another fix.
But no, the media lapped up the story. It led the 8 am hour of most network morning news shows, and dominated the the political news of the day as an “additional federal investigation” that Christie was facing.
The story was a lie. Not an exaggeration. A lie.
MMM was the first media outlet to fact check the story. We started doing so immediately upon reading it on CNN.
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Posted: January 15th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: #STTS, Frank Pallone, Pallone | Tags: #STTS, Chris Christie, Frank Pallone, HUD, HUD Inspector General David Montoya, Ian O'Connor | 7 Comments »
Christie was not first choice as star of #STTS campaign
Congressman Frank Pallone during the 2013 Democratic U.S. Senate Primary Debate
Congressman Frank Pallone lied to the Department and Housing and Urban Development’s Inspector General when he asked that they audit the Christie Administration’s 2013 post-Superstorm Sandy Shore Tourism ad campaign.
In his August 8, 2013 letter to HUD Inspector General David Montoya, Pallone said:
Recently released documents relating to the bidding process and contract award for this marketing campaign show that the contract was awarded to a firm that is charging over $2 million more than the next lowest bidder to develop the marketing plan. The winning firm is being paid $4.7 million for their work, while a comparable firm proposed billing the state $2.5 million for similar work. This large discrepancy between the competing proposals raises concerns as to whether these federal funds are being spent in the most cost effective manner, and should be reviewed by your office.
I am also concerned that the winning bid proposed including Governor Chris Christie in the advertisements, while the lower cost proposal that was not selected did not. As you know, the Governor is running for reelection this year in a high profile race. It is inappropriate for taxpayer-funded dollars that are critical to our state’s recovery from this natural disaster to fund commercials that could potentially benefit a political campaign. In these sensitive circumstances, even the appearance of a conflict of interest should be avoided.
The fact that this particular proposal was chosen despite an obvious conflict of interest, in addition to the higher costs, raises serious concerns with the entire process. I fought hard for passage of the Sandy aid package in Congress by assuring my colleagues that this funding was critical to our recovery and that it would be spent responsibly without waste, fraud and abuse. Many in Congress objected to this funding precisely because of concerns their citizens’ tax dollars would be misspent. In that regard, the state’s mismanagement of taxpayer funds for this marketing campaign is extremely troubling, especially when there are so many New Jersey residents still in need of assistance to recover and rebuild from this historic storm.
But the firm behind the #STTS ad campaign, MWW of East Rutherford, said their proposal was $2.745 million under the $25 million budget and $1.47 million lower than the runner-up’s bid. MWW said their proposal offered the lowest hourly rate of all bids.
(Vote Here: Which song would Frank Pallone choose for the New Jersey Tourism ad?)
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Posted: January 15th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: #STTS, 2016 Presidential Politics, Chris Christie | Tags: Bruce Springsteen, Chris Christie, Chris Smith, David Montoya, Frank Pallone, HUD, HUD Inspector General, Jon Bon Jovi, Josh Zeitz, MWW | 4 Comments »
Governor Chris Christie and HUD Sec Shaun Donovan announce Sandy Relief Grants in Highlands, April 29, 2013
More on this story here and here.
UPDATE: Ian O’Connor of the HUD’s Inspector General’s Office responded to our inquiry regarding the audit into the #Stronger Than The Storm ad campaign.
“Is this audit anything other than what would occur in the normal course of events regarding any HUD grant?
Is there a separate investigation into the Stronger Than The Storm in ad campaign?”
“We received a request from Congress and are performing an audit to address those concerns.”
MMM followed up asking:
“Is there anything out of the ordinary about this audit?
Are all Congressional requests accepted?”
“We have no further statements.”
So here is what we know. Congressman Frank Pallone asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development to look into the Stronger than the Strom ad campaign.
HUD said, OK.
When the federal government grants money, for anything, they later follow up with an audit to be sure the money was spent as intended.
Congressman Frank Pallone thought it would be clever to inform the media that the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s audit into funds granted for Sandy Relief was an investigation into Governor Chris Christie and his appearance in last summer’s #Stronger Than The Storm ad campaign.
CNN and the left stream media either fell for it or went along this morning.
MMM asked Ray Zaccaro, Pallone’s press contact in Washington for documentation that the audit is anything other than the normal course of business. Zaccaro said there was no documentation, just a phone call from someone at HUD responding to Pallone’s August letter on the matter saying, “yeah, we’ll look into it.” Zaccaro said that HUD wouldn’t discuss investigations, “except with us, Members of Congress.”
MMM reached out to Brian Sullivan in HUD’s press office for confirmation of a separate investigation. Sullivan referred us to Marta Metelko in the HUD Inspector General’s office. We received an auto reply from Ms. Metelko referring us to Mr. Ian O’Connor. We’ve yet to hear back from O’Connor.
Posted: January 13th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: #STTS, Chris Christie, Frank Pallone, HUD, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Ian O'Connor, Marta Metelko, Ray Zaccaro, Stronger than the storm | 5 Comments »
Gaetano’s Restaurant and Market of Red Bank is the latest Monmouth County business to benefit from the Grow Monmouth Facade Improvement Program. The $75,000 program is funded by HUD Community Development Block Grants and administered by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Freeholder Director Tom Arnone presented Gaetano’s owner Tom Cappello a check for $1,824 on Wednesday as reimbursement for lighting fixtures for the restaurant.
Early this month, Woody’s Roadside Tavern in Farmingdale received a $1700 grant for its facade improvements. Old Monmouth Candies of Freehold was the first recipient of a Grow Monmouth Facade Improvement Grant.
Businesses with privately held commercial properties in the municipalities of Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Belmar, Bradley Beach, Colts Neck (Naval station only), Deal, Eatontown, Farmingdale, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Hazlet, Highlands, Howell, Keansburg, Keyport, Lake Como, Manalapan, Matawan, Neptune City, Neptune Twp., Ocean Twp., Red Bank, Shrewsbury Twp., Tinton Falls (naval station only), Union Beach and West Long Branch are eligible to apply for facade improvement grants of up to $1,850.
Asbury Park, Long Branch and Middletown businesses are not eligible for this program because those municipalities receive designated HUD Community Development Block Grants directly.
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Posted: December 18th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders | Tags: Community Development Block Grants, Gaetano's Restaurant and Market, Grow Monmouth, Grow Monmouth Facade Improvement Program, HUD, Old Monmouth Candies, Woody's Roadside Tavern | No Comments »