More transparency needed for federal Sandy funds, ACLU, Rutgers group say

TRENTON – A pair of “good government’’ groups say the state should be more transparent in its plans to disburse federal funds in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

The American Civil Liberties Union of N.J. and the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic submitted a letter earlier this week to the state Department of Community Affairs asking the state to be more transparent with federal funds.

The groups also called on DCA to allow more opportunities for public input into plans to disburse the money.

Last week, DCA released a draft plan on how it intends to spend federal dollars.

The seven days of public comment on DCA’s blueprint is not enough time for public engagement, the groups argue.

“This plan will have a long-lasting impact on New Jersey residents across the state, and across economic, racial and ethnic lines,” said Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU of N.J., in a statement.

“The public has a vested interest in reviewing the plan thoroughly and providing its input on decisions that will affect them,” Ofer said.

“Any plan must also consider the disproportionate hardship imposed upon economically disadvantaged communities. We all share collective responsibility for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of communities affected by natural disasters.”

Ronald Chen, of the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic, echoed Ofer’s concerns.

“On balance, asking for additional time for the public to review the plan would not seriously impair the interest to help New Jersey residents and provide relief,” he said.

“This is an enormous undertaking and we all share the goal of developing a plan that is sustainable and boosts the long-term viability of the state.”

 

More transparency needed for federal Sandy funds, ACLU, Rutgers group say