Weekly Roundup: Week of March 25

TRENTON – The dunes will be built, even in front of the homes of property owners who may not want them.

That was the hopeful message from Gov. Chris Christie at Wednesday’s town hall in Middlesex Borough.

The controversy over some property owners holding up dune projects because they refuse to sign easements, fearing heir pristine views and the beach culture would be fundamentally changed, had Christie saying enough is enough

“I don’t have sympathy for your view,” he said to a round of applause.

As an enticement to get homeowners to sign on, Christie said he would call out their names if they don’t comply. He said he’s compiling a list of property owners who haven’t signed on yet, working with local mayors and officials.

Dune projects were largely believed to have helped curb substantial damage from Superstorm Sandy to properties along the oceanfront.

In other remarks at that event, Christie assured a Sayreville woman that buyout funds would be available, and that he had no interest in putting in place a carbon tax following the storm’s aftermath.

He also implored the Legislature to adopt meaningful bail reform to keep recurring, violent criminals behind bars. The Democrats have yet to move on that.

Block grant

A few weeks after releasing a rough outline on how it intended to spend the $1.83 billion community development block grant, the Christie Administration released an actual breakdown of how much it intended to spend in various areas related to storm damage.

The plan calls for $825 million for the  reconstruction, rehabilitation, and elevation of residents’ homes, $254.5 million to meet the needs of displaced renters, and some $500 million in recovery funds for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to administer such activities as small business grants, community revitalization programs and a tourism marketing campaign.

Bills signed

On the legislative front, it was all quiet as no committee hearings or full sessions took place.

But Christie did sign two bills into law – putting project overseers, or “integrity monitors,” in place for big projects to prevent misspending of Sandy recovery funds, and putting in place a “Helmets to Hardhats” pilot program at the Turnpike Authority.

On the latter bill, Christie initially vetoed it after there weren’t specific enough benchmarks in place measuring its effectiveness.

The amended version had them.

Jobs creation

More than 12,000 jobs were created last month, giving the Christie Administration additional bragging rights – and probably less ammunition for the Buono campaign.

Trouble in Camden

The state said it would assume control of the Camden schools system.

It was the first such takeover done by the Christie administration, but the fourth such takeover by the state overall, including schools in Newark, Paterson and Jersey City.

Although the N.J. Education Association decried the track record of such takeovers, the administration said that ongoing poor test scores made it clear something had to be done.


Weekly Roundup: Week of March 25