Halloween evening, seven years ago tonight, I was on the phone planning a return trip to check on my home and business on the New Jersey Delaware bayshore wrecked by superstorm Sandy. I knew that we would rebuild and recovery from the physical damage. That’s what we do. We are a tough resourceful community.
What I didn’t know then was the extent that government would go to hinder our recovery with blatant fraud, extortion, opportunism and conflicting personal agenda of bad actors at all levels of government. Those of us at the lowest level of income and opportunity were victimized a second time by post-Sandy government. The struggle for environmental justice continues today.
“Choices being made now about how to respond to sea-level rise profoundly influence the trajectory of future exposure and vulnerability to sea-level rise. If concerted emissions mitigation is delayed, risks will progressively increase as sea-level rise accelerates. Prospects for global climate-resilience and sustainable development therefore depend in large part on coastal nations, cities and communities taking urgent and sustained locally-appropriate action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to sea level rise.”
Baysave is committed to a plan for 2020 that emphasises activating diverse community interests at Money Island NJ.
GOVERNMENT– After an intense year of dealing with government, we anticipate that government will play a decreased role as we move forward. The board of directors adapted rules specifically designed to avoid the need for government integration and we do not anticipate that government support will the largest factor in future sustainability plans.
DOCKS – We will emphasize the use of the Money Island site as a port for large vessels. The demand is growing and our facilities are less expensive than other options. While smaller boats are welcome here, dry dock is more affordable than boat slips. In general, the cost of boat slips (costs imposed by government, not by us) exceeds the amount that small boat owners want to pay and exceeds the price of other docks in the region. For all boat sizes, we will emphasize long term relationships rather than single season arrangements.
CRABS – Commercial operations will remain in Delaware until New Jersey updates its laws to allow transfer of crab license and the use of online cooperative marketing. We hope to expand support of recreational crabbing with boats and rafts if public interest is sufficient.
OYSTERS – There is growing interest in recreational oyster tonging. We have no specific plans at this time
INVESTORS – Private investments are available. A significant goal is to create long term tax-free investment gains.
CHALLENGES – The largest challenge for founder Tony Novak is balancing the desire to make facilities available to as many people as possible with the need to reduce financial losses. In 2018 the losses to to abuse and vandalism were substantially more than public donations. That is obviously unsustainable. We will continue to try different approaches, technologies and operating practices to deal with these challenges.
Another long term challenge is building engagement with the community. The trend toward depopulation has been going on for decades and now we see only a few people each day. A key to sustainability is connecting with the fewer but more interested individuals who have an interest in the bayshore.
This shocking science news yesterday (September 19, 2019) was buried beneath all of the other shocking national news; 1,400 scientific papers on food security and environmental science were suppressed or hidden from us by the federal government since January 2017. The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture apparently had enough with the corrupt and dangerous politics and compiled this 634 page list of the important documents for release to the public. The title of the report is “Peer-Reviewed Research on Climate Change by USDA Authors January 2017-August 2019“.
The full 634 page report of 1,400 peer reviewed documents is available online:
The cost of delay in failing to address human-caused environmental damage is estimated to be in the tens of trillions of dollars.
The Bank of England added to the climate change cleanup message recently when its governor said “Companies that don’t adapt, including companies in the financial system, will go bankrupt without question.” He added that some companies will make fortunes in cleaning up from the effects of climate change.
A core belief at Baysave is that strict product liability law is the key to our survival. In other words, if you sell a gallon of gasoline, then you have a primary financial liability for the damage caused by the chemical gases released when the gasoline is burned. We continue to see huge opportunities for environmental cleanup in the the Delaware Bay. We just need to get the big polluters on board to pay for it. That will take legal and legislative action.
I never imagined that my work would involve frequent meetings with elected officials, but that is an important part of my agenda recently. As an advocate for small businesses, I’ve had the opportunity to meet locally, in Harrisburg, Dover and Trenton as well as Washington DC. Because our bayshore neighborhood is often in the news over environmental justice and aquaculture redevelopment issues, I’ve had the opportunity to host a handful of officials here on our emerging sustainable aquaculture site at Money Island, NJ.
I suggest these tips:
Do your homework before the meeting. Know your representative’s voting history, committee assignments and recent activity (usually available on social media).
Open with clear simple facts.
Paint pictures with short clear stories of how the issue affects your business or industry.
Avoid tipping your bias on politically sensitive issues. Disregard partisan politics.
If the issue involves problems with unelected officials, be sensitive to comments about your legislator’s willingness to get involved. Some are not willing to get involved and will tell you so. Some will tell you that they have a poor track record working with ingrained bureaucracies. That is important information even if it is not what you want to hear.
Wrap up with a clear actionable request. If that includes asking the official to write a letter, offer to prepare the letter draft yourself. Better yet, have it drafted already and offer to send the staff the electronic version.
If you belong to a community group with regular meetings, extend an invitation to the meeting. This is a nice way to wrap up, exit, but hold the door open for follow-up communication.
Leave you business cards with both the representative and the staff.
Follow up with an email and thank you card or letter.
Connect with the representative on social media and be positive and supportive. You’d be surprised how many directly answer tweets.
Donate to the campaign even if it is a small amount. If you donate to an industry PAC, mention that when appropriate.
I am especially grateful to the professionals at the New Jersey Society of CPAs, especially Jeff, for teaching me the basics of advocacy, to my Cape May friend Ed for emphasizing the value of diplomacy and restraint, and to my activist friend George for showing me the power of being loud and fearless. While we may never be certain of the ultimate impact of our own advocacy efforts, I now know for sure that my voice will be heard.
There were unusual and unexpected actions apparently involving both the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office and the Clerk of the Criminal Case Management office last week. As a result, the hearing originally scheduled for tomorrow, June 10, is apparently delayed. I’ve filed motions to address the underlying reasons. It’s just incredible that so many bad acts by government and court officials could be packed into one frivolous case and this raises larger questions. Here is the update:
On May 30 I filed a motion to exclude a late-filed brief because the deadline in the case scheduling order for the state’s brief had passed. When I filed the motion in person in Bridgeton, I heard from the clerk court that she intended to allow a late-filed brief based on an ex-parte e-mail communication between the Prosecutor’s office and the court clerk. Both of these actions (the acceptance of filing outside of the court-ordered schedule and the e-mail collusion between the two court officers) are violations of criminal court procedure that work against the defendant. I complained to the clerk that the ex-parte communications that disadvantaged me in this case are reportable ethics violations. The clerk literally shrugged her shoulders in response to my objection.
IMO, an ordinary citizen should be outraged that this type of unethical action outside of legal procedure takes place against a defendant. I commented to the clerk that that this type of casual disregard for the law and willingness to place defendants at an unfair disadvantage is why average citizens lose faith in the justice system.
The clerk asked me to wait in the office of Criminal Case Management and within 30 minutes of my filing handed me a revised case scheduling order that changed the details. Apparently the revised scheduling order was an attempt to address my complaint. The prosecutor apparently filed the response brief later that day. I then filed a motion to reject the Revised Scheduling Order on the basis that it was merely an attempt by officers of the court to cover up my complaint.
Both of my motions are unaddressed at this time and I will address them later as appropriate. But based on the latest court order, the new hearing details are listed below:
Oral argument is now scheduled Monday June 17, 2019 at 1:30 PM before Honorable Judge Joseph M. Chiarello, JSC in Court Room 235, Cumberland County Court House, Broad and Fayette Streets, Bridgeton NJ for State vs. Tony Novak, Appeal #2-19. The state will be represented by Danielle Pennino, Esq. of the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. The hearing is open to the public.
This case has unfortunately brought out the worst of our criminal justice system – a frivolous case gone mad. We now have:
A demand by a law enforcement officer where the defendant could not possibly comply with the demand
A law enforcement officer manufacturing an offense without any witnesses or physical evidence
Admission of stalking by a law enforcement officer on social media
Admission of entrapment based on the stalking by an officer
A municipal court’s lack of familiarity with applicable case law
A prosecutor’s willingness to distort a law enforcement officer’s testimony to secure a “win” on a municipal court case
Mishandling of appeal paperwork by municipal court office
Ex-parte communications between prosecutor and the court
Refusal of officers of the court to take responsibility for their own bad behavior
Court filings that are normally available as public (or even restricted) records online are apparently not available for this type of case. I do not know why. I plan to make the case records available after final disposition of the case, unless legally restricted, if the court does not do so. Other legal observers are looking at this case both in terms of the prosecutorial procedures as well as the potential impact on online marketing of regulated industries like community-funded fishing.
Unfortunately, this case has turned into a clear example of what is wrong with our criminal justice system today.
We are entering the peak season for mosquitoes at the bayshore. They will expand rapidly in June and continue until first freeze. Mosquito management here has six components:
Elimination of standing water. This means vigilant turning over of buckets, barrels etc. I think this makes the most difference. I’m known to be militaristic in keeping our community free of standing water containers.
Treatment of standing water that can’t be eliminated. A government-required fuel spill containment area, for example, holds unavoidable standing water. I use bacillus thuringiensis tablets available in hardware stores but have no way of knowing if that actually works. Another visitor suggests that a tiny amount of bleach also works.
Keeping them out of the house and buildings. This is the hardest part for me. They can come in though the often open doors and the doggie door flap and gaps or holes in screens. It’s a constant battle.
Wear long leaves and long pants. Most of my bites are on exposed skin like neck and ankles. I buy specific clothing to wear under different insect conditions, including head masks for some spring work.
Wear repellent. DEET and the natural products seem to work equally well. The problem is remembering to put it on. Of course nobody wears it all the time. We keep a basket of assorted products available for all visitors.
Treat bites. I use meat tenderizer. There are other natural options and plenty of over-the-counter treatment products.
Mosquitoes are one of the six major insect pests here at the bayshore. The others are gnats, green head flies, strawberry flies, ticks and house flies. Each one has its own management strategies that we take seriously. Bayshore residents know that insects are not to be taken lightly. Visitors are likely to hear the local phrase “June is for the bugs”. Outdoor activities are often dependent on having an adequate breeze of over 5 mph to keep most of the bugs away. Bugs are our natural human population control and some have speculated that without the insects our bayshore would be lined with high rise condominiums.
This fish choice chart from the FDA is highlighted with the species of our most common Delaware Bay catch. It’s great that our most common species: crab, oyster, perch and flounder, striper, weakfish all make the grade.
Baysave is tremendously grateful to the bayshore community for helping us raise more than $50,000 to help struggling businesses in and around Money Island in Cumberland County over the past three years. We achieved this milemark this past month in May 2019. Most of that charitable grant and donation money during this first decade was spent on state financial demands: permit fees, user fees, taxes, application fees, etc. for environmental problems that were the state’s fault for their failures decades ago. Baysave is a 501(c)(3) formed in 2010 and registered with the State of New Jersey as a public charity. Our funding comes from private donors, private grants and the public.
We still have a long way to go toward restoration of Money Island with about $100,000 in government expenses still unpaid. Most of this is needed for aquaculture permitting to convert a former marina into docks and seafood handling facilities. We also support a range of public access to waterways initiatives. Our diverse stakeholders include universities, environmental groups, recreational public fishing and naturalists. We believe that the community will continue to support the basic goals of food security, restorative aquaculture expansion and shoreline stabilization.
Why Money Island?
Money Island is New Jersey’s second most productive seafood landing port and the target site for a conversion into restorative aquaculture practices. In other words, we’ve taken the challenge of rising tides and turned it into a good thing. We have a “shovel ready” plan of action that has been shared and endorsed by many in state government and the NJDEP. Money Island is also possibly New Jersey’s most remote and most pristine natural environment, surrounded by thousands of acres of undeveloped space.
The disaster after the disaster
We survived the devastating impact of superstorm Sandy but not the corruption in government that followed in the aftermath of storm recovery.
Prior to Sandy, BaySave had a strong track record of working as a partner with the state and was often cited for our innovative projects. Then a few bad government actors got involved. I personally received threats, solicitations for bribes and, to this day, extortion pressures from government officials. These bad deeds are all reported, a few were investigated, but none were prosecuted.
How the battle to adapt to climate change turned into a battle against bad government
How did Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal show its appreciation for the environmental compliance progress that this rural Cumberland County community has made so far during the first two years of his administration? By suing Baysave, it’s former directors and executive because we are not moving fast enough. State officials have repeatedly refused to reply to requests for meetings and declined to participate in the NJDEP’s statutory alternate dispute resolution procedures. How did our local elected officials respond? Our local government says they are powerless to help against what they repeatedly refer to as the actions of “DEP terrorists”. Our former State Senator said it is too risky to get involved and our current State Senator and Assemblyman are apparently taking the same position.
Standing firm for our future
Yet we stand with New Jersey’s independent seafood businesses. New Jersey’s small independent watermen are an important part of the future of our food security, shoreline stabilization, restorative aquaculture and sea level rise response. This is an example of government acting badly against its poorest and most vulnerable populations.
We urge the community to continue to stand united with us against bad government for a strong and sustainable future.