Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal just can’t help himself from practicing the “politics of yesterday,” as Governor Chris Christie said of him last year.
Friday evening on the Political Roundtable segment of the NJTV News with Mike Schneider, Gopal reacted to the news that the federal government had cleared Christie Administration of any errors or wrong doing with the AshBrit contract for cleaning up much of New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy by sticking to the Democratic/Star Ledger talking points. “The bigger issue is,” Gopal said, “why was so much money wasted in the process?” “Costs were higher,” he said, without saying higher than what. Certainly they were not higher than what the Army Corp of Engineers charged New York for their clean up.
What Gopal didn’t say is that he was busy helping AshBrit get business in the aftermath of Superstrom Sandy.
Click here to read an email Gopal sent me three weeks after Sandy hit asking for my help in introducing AshBrit’s agent, Laura Matos of M Public Affairs, a veteran of the Corzine administration, to Highlands Mayor Frank Nolan.
GOP political consultant Chris Russell joked on the segment that he was waiting for apologies from all the Democrats who criticized Christie over the AshBrit contract. Gopal should have apologized on the spot, especially since he was an active participant in recruiting municipalities to sign with the clean up company.
I don’t know if Gopal got paid for helping AshBrit get business but it is a safe bet that Matos and her fellow Corzine administration veterans at M Public Affairs did. Vin should ask Matos why the AshBrit contract cost so much.
I didn’t get paid. Nolan had Highlands almost entirely cleaned up without AshBrit before Vin reached out to me.
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“My message to the federal government, get the resources where they are needed as fast as possible, as hard as possible and for the duration. Because the recovery process, obviously in a place like New Jersey is going to take a significant amount of time….
I told the mayors and the governors, if they are getting no for an answer somewhere in the federal government, they can call me personally at the White House.” ~ President Barack Obama, October 30, 2012
“On October 29 last year the job changed for me. It’s no longer a job, it’s a mission.
You see a mission is something that is different from a job. A mission is sacred. It’s a sacred trust that was thrust on me, and you, on October 29 of last year.
And that mission is to make sure that everyone, everyone in New Jersey that was affected by Sandy to return to normalcy in their lives.
I will not let anyone, anything, any governmental entity, or any force get in between me and the completion of my mission.” ~ Governor Chris Christie, November 5, 2013
Welcome back to Monmouth County, Governor Christie. We’ve been waiting for you.
“We respond as Americans,” Christie bellowed following a congressional adjournment which occurred without a vote, “at least we did until last night… it was disgusting to watch.”
A majority of conservatives were of a decidedly different opinion, ranging from disinterest to feelings of betrayal. Their disgust was reserved for an event that occurred approximately two months earlier, before the Mitt Train officially derailed, when the rockstar GOP Governor embraced President Obama on Garden State soil, a move which public exit polling suggested could’ve helped move the needle in the incumbent’s direction in key 2012 battleground states like Virginia and Ohio. Base political calculation at its worst? Or simply emotions getting the best of an emotional guy?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has turned down a request from the Christie Administration that the rule requiring that reconstruction work on homes damaged by SuperStorm Sandy stop upon the homeowner applying for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation(RREM) aid, according to an Associated Press report posted on NJ.com and other outlets.
HUD rules require that the plans for all work on properties receiving RREM grants be evaluated and approved by the government. Work done without the RREM approval is not eligible for reimbursement under the program, even if the work complies with all requirements. This process has created a major logjam is funds being awarded and homes being rebuilt.
In an undated letter obtained late Tuesday by The Associated Press, HUD rejected the state’s request.
HUD says the rules, which have been the source of many complaints from homeowners struggling to rebuild after the October 2012 storm, are intended to make sure historically significant properties aren’t damaged or demolished, and that aid is not duplicated among the numerous Sandy reconstruction programs offered by federal and state governments.
Yolanda Chávez, HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for grant programs, wrote to New Jersey Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable listing other reasons why the rule can’t be dropped as well.
“If the construction does not meet elevation requirements and must be undone, resources will be spent with no benefit to the recovery,” she wrote.
If you’re going to Governor Christie’s Town Hall Meeting in Middletown tomorrow, expect to hear about this rule and others as the source of the delay in RREM funding, and as an explanation for why the multi-family projects outside of Sandy impacted areas, notably the Belleville and New Brunswick projects that have been in the news, have been approved while Jersey Shore residents are still waiting and not living at home.
The weather reports say it will be too warm to snow on Thrusday and Governor Chris Christie is hoping the third time is the charm.
The twice postponed Town Hall Meeting on Sandy Relief Funds is now scheduled for Thursday, February 20th, 11am, at VFW Post 2179, 1 Veterans Way (Off Rt 36) in the Port Monmouth section of Middletown Township. Doors open at 10:00 am. Seating is first come first served. RSVP’s are requested via email at TownHall.Middletown@gov.state.nj.us.
Joining Christie will be Office of Recovery and Rebuilding Executive Director Marc Ferzan, Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner Chuck Richman, Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez, Economic Development Authority CEO Michele Brown and Banking and Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski.
A mobile cabinet meeting to assist Sandy impacted homeowners and businesses is scheduled to follow the Town Hall from 12:30 till 2:00 pm.
Governor Chris Christie will likely be tan and relaxed after a holiday weekend in Puerto Rico when he arrives in Middletown for his first Town Hall Meeting since last June tomorrow.
He should be ready for bear.
Christie could get RREM’d tomorrow.
Bayshore residents who overwhelmingly voted for Christie in 2009 and again last November are ready to give up on giving Christie the benefit of the doubt. The politically connected feel he’s taken Republican Monmouth and Ocean Counties for granted. Those still suffering from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy feel like Christie has ridden their suffering to national prominence while neglecting his self professed “mission” to rebuild the shore.
The powder keg of frustration with Christie was building before the election and certainly before Bridgegate. Sandy victims brutalized by the storm feel further violated by the red tape and false starts peddled by all levels of government, banks and insurance companies.