#OccupyChristie

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: https://www.facebook.com/events/490811191030334/


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.


PARTIAL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

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

3 comments on “#OccupyChristie

  1. I don’t see anywhere that Occupy demands the 2 million dollars returned to Sandy funds that was used for the commercial (sic) featuring Christie family. That was clearly used for political purposes and 2 million could have been used in places like Hoboken that only got 1 percent in its request. Have a political goal as well and create the pressure for the Governor to respond. He will look at all the lofty goals your site lists and will say “yeah im for helping Sandy too”. Making his campaign return 2 million dollars will not be so easy but the right thing to do.

  2. Solidarity! I’m a former NJ resident who knows what Sandy did to our state. I just tried to leave CT to drive down there but was snowed out. THANK YOU for bringing attention to corruption in NJ! <3 you guys, stay strong!

    If you want supplies, reply w a mailing address and I will see if I can send some stuff

    ~Keia

  3. All The Governors Men? The Real Plum Is Here David Samson

    They say history has a way of repeating itself. Some people are comparing the current New Jersey scandals (being investigated) involving Governor Chris Christie to Richard Nixon and Watergate.

    The man that Governor Chris Christie respectfully refers to as “The General”, David Samson is one of 18 people under subpoena from a state legislative committee to produce documents related to the September closure of lanes to the George Washington Bridge. In a previously released email, Samson said Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye
    was “playing in traffic”, and “made a big mistake” after the lane closures were reported in the press. And it’s David Samson’s firm that represented a developer (the Rockefeller Group), that wanted to build in Hoboken — the city that Mayor Dawn Zimmer says was denied Hurricane Sandy relief aid because she wouldn’t support the real estate deal.

    David Samson has hired two high-powered law firms in the wake of the controversies. He personally retained the Newark law firm led by Angelo Genova, as well as the firm of former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. That is some powerful high priced and high profile legal talent. For decades, David Samson has quietly prospered at the nexus of New Jersey’s powerful legal and political worlds as his clout and connections have enriched his law firm, Wolff & Samson. The firm, one of New Jersey’s largest, has cashed in on state contracts, winning more than $8.4 million in work in the two years after Gov. Chris Christie appointed Samson to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

    In the two-year period, the firm got lots of work from agencies controlled by Christie: the New Jersey Economic Development Authority ($1.15 million), NJ Transit ($1.4 million), the Turnpike Authority ($2.67 million) and the South Jersey Transportation Authority ($113,700). And Wolff & Samson got more than $1 million in work from the state attorney general and the state Treasury Department.

    Here it is again: Follow the Money. Inside the Port Authority’s dirty politics: the agency has a reputation as a patronage clubhouse and an ATM machine for unaccountable spending. The Port Authority was supposed to have all the efficiency of a private firm, but with the higher aim of furthering the public good. This is now a bi-state agency that controls three major airports and a good share of the transportation infrastructure in and around New York City and New Jersey with a multi-billion dollar budget.

    In December 2012, the Port Authority board adopted a $2.58 billion budget for the 2013 calendar year, which included salaries for the agency’s 6,777 employees and other ongoing operating costs. The Port Authority is there while politicians come and go. Sure holding Chris Christy responsible for what he knew and did regarding the lane closures and holding hurricane Sandy money hostage is vitally important, but the focus should be on the bureaucracy that made that possible. Wall Street executives got away with the fraud of the century with the help of the federal government bureaucracy.

    The lesson learned from the movie “All The Presidents Men” was the “abuse of power” was unraveled because the two reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein followed the money. It is with that idea in mind that I hope there is an Occupy Wall Street style populist movement to “Occupy The Port Authority“. The Port Authority squanders the peoples wealth and mismanages its assets; it charges ever increasing high tolls, puts off necessary maintenance work; and it’s a cesspool of dirty politics fueled by tolls, tax payers, and corporate money. Plain and simple, THIS IS A JOB FOR OCCUPY!