Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Only Christie News That Really Matters

Are you, like me, bored senseless with the horserace "news" about the portly governor and former Federal Attorney of New Jersey? He's up! He's down! We got a horserace now! Hillary is wiping the floor with him; the woman mayor of Hoboken is wiping the floor with him! Cat-fight! Cat-fight! Yaaaaaay!


All through this nonsense runs the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, devastation that lingers years after the event, just as the devastation on the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina (and others) still lingers -- and probably will never be fully repaired, nor will displaced populations ever fully return.

This is how these storm situations are being handled these days. Send money to the best off so that they can get their beach mansions up above the storm surge levels in time for the next event, and deny money to the least well-off and most needy -- so that they will Go Away.

From time to time I get updates from Occupy Sandy and from various Occupy efforts and their offshoots going on around the country and the world, and today's email brought news of the Occupy Christie efforts to shame and ostracize the Governor and all his minions for their deliberate and ongoing refusal to address the real problems of the people of New Jersey left in the wake of the storm. While the events have been going on since last Sunday, and I only got the update this morning (having been drop-kicked from one of the email lists I was on and only just got it restored) I thought it might be useful to post the contents of the email so as to give some idea of the extent of the problems for recovery in New Jersey:

Dear friends and supporters, 
 In light of the recent disturbing disclosures concerning Governor Chris>
 Christie's flagrant misuse of federal Sandy aid money, the collective of
> storm survivors and their allies who organize under the Occupy Sandy New
> Jersey banner are hereby calling on residents of New Jersey to join us in
> Trenton in Occupying outside the Capitol starting this Saturday, January
> 18th, at noon. We intend to maintain our camp through Chris Christie's
> re-inauguration festivities on Tuesday, January 21st.
> In particular we invite and encourage Sandy survivors to make the trip to
> Trenton (we'll help you get here if you reach out: call 609-318-4271 or
> email OccupySandyNJ@interoccupy. net) to tell your stories to the state
> and national media already camped out nearby. We know that the people of
> New Jersey have stories to tell, to Chris Christie and to anyone willing to
> listen, and we plan to provide a safe space from which to do so.
> Since our Sandy recovery work continues on a daily basis?indeed, some of
> our volunteers and organizers may not even be able to make it to Trenton
> due to responsibilities in the field?this will only be a four day
> Occupation. However, should the administration fail to quickly fix its
> broken response to the storm and shift its attention to the state's
> residents who are most in need, we will not rule out returning to Trenton
> again soon. Governor Christie must understand that the last people he
> should be bullying right now are Sandy survivors.
> #OccupyChristie starts at high noon TOMORROW at the State Capitol. Bring
> sleeping bags.
> To Governor Chris Christie, here is our one demand: do your damn job!
> In solidarity,
> Occupy Sandy New Jersey
> ________________________________
> WHEN: Saturday, January 18th, NOON to Wednesday, January 22, 9am.
> WHERE: 140 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ
> WHAT: Camp #Sandygate (see partial schedule below)
> RSVP:?
> ________________________________
> ?
> Why "Camp Sandygate"?
> ?
> Sandygate is the real big scandal of Chris Christie's administration. While
> the state and national media are fixated on "Bridgegate" -which indeed does
> make for a good story -the real story should be the thousands of New Jersey
> residents who have been failed by Christie and the state. This is not
> simply an issue of storm recovery being a long and difficult process, as
> officials are often heard saying, but this is an issue of discrimination,
> misappropriation, and lies. Sandygate is about callous state officials
> deciding that one group of people will get help, while another will be
> ignored.
> Frankly, Sandygate is a scandal about mistreating the most vulnerable
> among us.
> Below are just a few of the grievances we hear most often through working
> with both survivors and service providers. As the links below demonstrate,
> the NJ media has actually done quite a good job of telling the real story.
> Unfortunately, the national media has so far failed to put the pieces
> together:
> Racial discrimination: Blacks and Latino applicants have been
> disproportionately rejected for resettlement and construction grants. 14.5%
> and 13.5% of White applicants were rejected by the Resettlement and RREM
> programs, respectively. Contrast these rates of rejection to 20.4% / 18.1%
> of Latino applicants, and a shocking 38.1% / 35.1% for African-Americans.
> Regional disparities: South Jersey's battered Delaware Bayshore has been
> almost completely left out of the recovery process. Residents of Cumberland
> County, one of the poorest counties in the state, are ineligible to receive
> state-administered federal funds. This means that while a beachfront
> homeowner on Long Beach Island is eligible to receive up to $150,000 to
> repair their home (or even to jack it up on stilts so their flood insurance
> remains affordable), bay-front or marsh-front homeowners in Downe Township
> could have lost everything and yet be eligible to receive nothing from the
> state.
> Discrimination against mobile-home owners: Despite assurances from the
> state that the grant application process did not exclude mobile-home
> owners, the process was riddled with confusion. In October, 2013, only 10
> of 3,500 statewide applicants for rebuilding grants were given to
> mobile-home owners. In the devastated Vanguard and Metropolitan parks, in
> affluent Bergen County's working class borough of Moonachie, only 4 of 400
> residences were approved. The state website still contains language
> excluding "RVs and trailers," which is believed to be the main cause of the
> confusion.
> Mishandled recovery for renters: Rental property recovery was underfunded,
> and relief went to landlords based on demand, rather than need, leaving
> renters out in the cold. As a result, $2 million of the $4.5 million
> awarded through the state's Incentives for Landlords program ended up in
> Essex County, which did not experience nearly the magnitude of
> storm-related damage as did other Atlantic counties. Devastated Ocean
> County, by contrast, received a mere $47,484 from the same program.
> Furthermore, while the state has been focused on landlords, renters
> themselves have too often been ignored.
> Leaving people out in the cold: As a result of the systemic mishandling
> and inequities in the Christie administration's recovery effort, many of
> the most vulnerable among Sandy's survivors have fallen through the cracks.
> The state has yet to commission a comprehensive survey of survivors, nor
> assessed the needs of those who currently live crammed into motel rooms
> with their whole family, or by sleeping in the condemned ruins of their
> home, or in between the reeds hidden in sand dunes. These and countless
> other survivors are still in urgent need of assistance with basic
> necessities such as food, clothing, medical services and stable housing. We
> do what we can for them every day, but there is so much more work to
> do.
> With so many resources going to well-off people and businesses, even one
> vulnerable person left behind should be a scandal. Tragically?and due to
> the decisions of Chris Christie and the state of New Jersey?thousands have
> been left behind.
> This is Sandygate. Please join us in Trenton tomorrow if you share our
> outrage.
> ________________________________
> Day 1 - Saturday
> Noon - Occupy
> 6pm - Community Dinner & Assembly
> 8pm - Memorial Candlelight Vigil for Sandy's victims
> Day 2 - Sunday
> 9am - Breakfast
> 1 pm - Community Lunch & Assembly
> 7pm - Sunday Dinner
> Day 3 - Monday
> 9am - Breakfast
> 11am - Press conference
> 1 pm - Community Lunch & Assembly
> 7pm - Dinner
> Day 4 - Tuesday
> 8am - Breakfast
> 11am - Sandy Survivor Speakout
> 1pm - Lunch
> 7pm - Dinner
> Day 5 - Wednesday
> 9am - Breakfast and break down encampment
This is the real story of the Hurricane Sandy relief debacle. 
It's not about the mayors and the governor and Hillary and the polls
and the Rockefellers and all the rest, it's about the People and their struggle 
in the face of this ridiculous mess and media 
This issue is the real story all over the world. 
One day, we might come to know about these things in real time. 
Haiti, anyone? 

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