Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Hello, I'm Chris Neidenberg. For 14 years, I covered your community while working for a "mainstream weekly newspaper." I'm now writing independently, and I am trying to tell you the truth about what's going on in the borough of Maywood.
Please E-Mail me with your thoughts or ideas at email@example.com
I'm back - and stronger than ever!
AN OPINION ...
NEW JERSEY'S TWO-FACED "TOXIC DEMS" ARE AT IT AGAIN!!!
Corzine mum on "sweetheart Dem deal" saving polluter millions?
By Chris Neidenberg
It's election time in New Jersey again, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jon Corzine and his cronies are again trying to "brainwash" the public into thinking - falsely - that his party is a "paragon of integrity" when it comes to cracking down on "corporate polluters."
In fact, Mr. Corzine, and we're sure you already know this, MAYWOOD'S SORDID SUPERFUND SITUATION PROVES nothing could be further from the truth.
Just as they did in 2003, Corzine and his allies with the New Jersey State Democratic Committee are running broadcast attack ads against the Republicans on the environment. This time, the message is aimed at Corzine's GOP opponent, Doug Forrester, suggesting that Forrester alone opposes "making polluters pay" for their cleanups.
Yet, the fact remains, "the king of the sweetheart deals" insulating a polluter from poking up its full obligation for cleaning up an environmental mess is none other than Corzine's crony, one-time stalwart Democratic congressman and senator (and Stepan Chemical Company campaign cash benefactor), the disgraced Robert Torricelli.
Torricelli was the chief architect of Maywood's 22-year old "DOE-Stepan (Chemical Company) agreement." The deal played a role in delaying the release of any final record of decision resolving a big part of Maywood's cleanup for AT LEAST eight years.
And two of Torricelli's biggest local allies in immunizing Stepan from meeting its full responsibility, STALWART DEMOCRATS Mayor Thomas Richards and Borough Attorney William Rupp, are still in power.
Richards certainly counted the disgraced and corrupt Torricelli as one of his biggest political heroes/bosses, repeatedly fawning over "the big shot Torricelli" while Torricelli, in turn, repeatedly stroked Richards' ego - and raped Maywood in the process.
Richards and Rupp wield their clout at a critical time when (at least we believe) Stepan's portion of the final cleanup bill covering helping getting rid of BOTH the Maywood Superfund site's radiological and chemical contamination has not been assessed - by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Justice.
Or if Stepan's final share has been assessed, it certainly has not been publicized.
Any final deal, if in effect, has indeed not been widely publicized - particularly by Maywood's "alleged daily paper of Record."
This publication has consistently and inexplicably put out "disinformation" for years calling the local Superfund facility "the former Maywood Chemical Company Superfund Site."
Corzine gladly meets with polluter ally
In fact, about two or three years ago, Corzine's aides gladly met in Washington with the borough's staunchest "pro-polluter Democrat," then-Councilman Richards, allegedly to discuss the status of Maywood's situation.
Corzine and company glad-handed Richards despite the mayor's long and checkered past on the subject of Stepan and thorium.
This past included repeated and harsh verbal attacks against the former Concerned Citizens of Maywood committee, headed by the late Michael Nolan, which had "the goods on Stepan from the git go."
Corzine's pal, Torricelli, joined Richards in this "toxic" chorus of vitriol.
The all-powerful Torricelli falsely blamed the Concerned Citizens for generating bad publicity that helped delay cleaning up the disaster Torricelli himself helped create - by meddling on behalf of his campaign cash supplier - Stepan.
The company operated a "political action committee" that repeatedly steered money to him.
With no conscience whatsoever, the-then senator lobbied the U.S. Justice Department to end a "sweetheart deal" set up at a similar thorium dump site in Wayne - once occupied by WR Grace and Company - while doing nothing whatsoever to end his own "Maywood sweetheart deal" protecting his Stepan friends.
HOW the hell could this possibly be allowed?
Just as incredibly, Torricelli, still in favor with some in his party, suddenly turned up after leaving office in 2003 at the Honeywell chromium site in Jersey City.
There, as a private citizen, he has served as a U.S. District Court-appointed "special master" overseeing (and incredibly, networking with community environmental groups, similar to the Concerned Citizens, interested in) cleanup of this site.
This despite his own sordid role in helping create Maywood's thorium disaster - and the "dirty" lies he and Richards kept "spewing."
New Jersey Dems and "corporate polluters" - perfect together
You see, Mr. Corzine, Maywood's mess conclusively proves that the New Jersey Democrats "anti-corporate polluter" gospel stops once a polluter wields campaign greenbacks under your party's nose.
This flashing of greenbacks "intoxicates" your party into some sort of stupor - or amnesia - when it comes to indeed "making polluters pay" for cleanups.
Simply browse through Torricelli's Federal Election Commission records, sir, for undeniable proof.
Mr. Corzine, the antics of your friends, Torricelli and Richards, prove your party stalwarts will even try harassing and intimidating the legitimate critics/victims of a Superfund site - while your "corporate polluter pals" keep those campaign greenbacks flowing.
In fact, Richards, after much kicking and screaming we're sure, eventually accepted the Concerned Citizens' long-held position that all of Maywood's thorium-tainted soil be cleaned to "the unrestricted use, health-based standard" of five picocuries per gram.
It's the same standard the mayor backed while he endorsed prioritizing the cleanup of Lodi over his own community (while exploiting Maywood - in allowing use of the borough's own dump site - to accomplish this).
When the federal government kept trying to force soil washing down Maywood's throat during the mid-1990s, Richards stated publicly that he had no problem cleaning up most of Maywood's thorium to a far less-stringent standard - less than what he endorsed for Lodi.
His rationale - putting "commercial uses" at the location.
This, even though the EPA had already taken a far-more stringent position - that it executed at a similar site in West Chicago, Ill. - stating that cleaning up any part of Maywood to less than five picocuries would require years of monitoring and designate Maywood as "a permanent storage site."
By the way, a far-less stringent standard would likely save Richards' - and Torricelli's - Stepan Chemical allies even more money while further stretching Maywood's quagmire in the process.
It's not about endorsing Forrester, but ...
Anyone interpreting this piece as an endorsement of Forrester is making the wrong assumption.
I will not consider either of the major party candidates. But, in Forrester's defense, as a 2002 Republican senatorial challenger to Torricelli, he made a campaign stop in Maywood and brought much-needed publicity and attention to the borough's thorium catastrophe.
He emphatically stated that he wanted to see ALL of Maywood's contamination cleaned up, and rightfully labeled Maywood as Torricelli's disaster.
Curiously, about a month after Forrester's Maywood visit, and after a delay of some eight years, the arrogant U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a cleanup plan(covering only thorium) that seemed to embrace Forrester's objectives.
And what were Corzine and Torricelli doing?
They were nowhere to be found, at least at the Maywood Superfund site, following Forrester's trip three years ago.
Torricelli, apparently getting ready to withdraw from the race, and his senatorial ally, Corzine, made no effort to rebut Forrester's (accurate) allegations.
Debunking "the myth," Richards may perpetuate right up until his grave
We've countered the "Maywood Chemical myth" countless times in the past.
There are numerous posts on this site - that can be accessed by clicking the "Archives" section - which have dispelled this.
In a nutshell, Torricelli, with the help of one-time Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley - spearheaded legislation, U.S. Public Law 98-50, that classified Maywood as a "research and development facility in need of decommissioning."
This led to erroneously placing responsibility for handling all radioactive contamination at Maywood's Superfund site under the trusteeship of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The DOE then incorporated Maywood's thorium mess (based on an entirely false premise) into its Formerly Utilized Site's Remedial Action Program.
At the local level, Rupp and Richards (working in tandem with Torricelli) pushed turning ownership of a portion of Stepan's polluted property over to the federal government that set up the infamous "Maywood Interim Storage Site (MISS)" - using the same false "federal government responsibility" argument.
Torricelli's meddling came shortly after a Lawrence Diamond, then with EPA'S Superfund enforcement unit, designated Stepan as a "potentially responsible party" for the municipality's "radioactive contamination."
This ruling was based on Diamond's proper assertion that Stepan was rightfully liable for this contamination as a private culpable party (having nothing to do with being a federal government facility).
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Why is this "federal government caused the entire mess" premise false?
Because Stepan's own corporate records (used against it in prior litigation) show that it acquired Maywood Chemical through a 1960 stock transaction - and retained control of Maywood Chemical by making it "the Maywood Chemical Division of" Stepan.
Thus, Diamond was right.
All these maneuvers saved Stepan tens of millions of dollars in additional cleanup costs - and delayed final action for years.
In fact, Democratic Councilman Dr. Tim Eustace, a big Richards booster, has floated the idea of trying to force the Corps of Engineers (which ultimately replaced Richards' beloved DOE) into paying Maywood "host fees" for continuing housing this "bogus federal facility."
This, as Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9), another Richards "lapdog," has discussed with the mayor backing legislation turning ownership of the MISS property - Stepan once owned - over to Maywood.
We assume (though who really knows), that would not happen until after a thorough cleanup.
We've never suggested that Stepan has never paid a penny.
Yes, Stepan has paid funds for investigating the chemical part of the problem, which really is commingled with the thorium mess. Democrats like Eustace, however, have tried categorizing the chemical mess as entirely separate from the thorium. Eustace has even asserted that Stepan's chemical mess is worse.
Again, the chemical/radioactive mess is mixed. Has the corps, or the EPA, ever released any separate chemical cleanup plan?
Corzine's "toxic" lies need to be "cleaned up"
So please, Mr. Corzine, stop "brainwashing the public" into thinking that your party "always cracks down on corporate polluters."
Maywood's tortuous thorium saga PROVES that this is an evil lie.
Stop "polluting" the airwaves with these falsehoods.
Your lies must be "cleaned up" so the truth ultimately prevails.
I was delighted to be able to cover the most recent meeting of your Planning/Zoning Board centering on the Vornado application, and,I hope, I haven't missed a beat.
Unfortunately "technical problems" with the web host delayed the story from appearing on this site for almost two weeks. I have - at least temporarily - redesigned the site in fixing this annoying snafu.
Concerning that story, Vornado's lawyer indicated that a decision to redesign the plan by merging two large and distinct retail buildings (spanning over 24,000 square feet) into one big "superstructure" was made at "the last minute?"
As to why I have been away so long, please see the post just below my Vornado story. I have been tied up with "work obligations." I do have to make a living, you know.
It had absolutely nothing to do with your mayor's bullying tactics, chronicled in a post you can see further down, partially titled, "Mayor Tom Richards Says He's Watching Us."
For the rest of my fellow "little people" tired of all the chicanery, don't feel too bad. The fact is "the system," or "the establishment" is weighted against all of us folks.
The only thing you can do is fight back as best you can and remain a thorn in their side, because, as they say, you never know.
Remember clearly, that the politicians - even at the lower end (people on a Borough Council, for example) - can get away with more because they are connected insiders who either control - or can exert pressure over - the two major institutions capable of cutting them down to size: law enforcement and the news media.
Also, local yokel politicians benefit because of their associations with the big bucks pols at the higher end of the scale, such as (which we've clearly seen in Maywood over the years) - U.S. senators and congressmen - awesomely power people capable of getting away with a lot.
You certainly do have politicians, such as your own mayor, who will indeed try intimidating any little gnat who stands in their way, and who seem to be able to do it all with a smirk on their face.
In Washington, President George W. Bush controls the FBI (and federal prosecutors). Could you imagine what might happen to one lone-wolf independent federal agent, who, based on probable cause, tried launching an inquiry into him?
Every once in a while, a politician, even at the higher end, be it a president (Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton), a U.S. senator (Robert Torricelli or Harrison Williams) or a congressman (Tom Delay, James Traficant) becomes the target of a criminal investigation for God knows why.
But, while we have a federal prosecutor here (a Mr. Christopher Christie) who claims that he is dedicated to getting rid of official corruption in New Jersey, one must wonder if people in those positions let dozens of more pols get away with murder because they indeed have "the right connections" or are inextricably linked to scandals so sweeping and far reaching - and which taint both political parties - that these great scandals "cannot be touched."
Remember, prosecutors, be they county, state or federal, are political appointees themselves.
If that is indeed true, I can only say that - deliberately overlooking criminal malfeasance strictly because of one's "political connections" or "clout" - is one of the worst forms of prosecutorial misconduct that I can think of.
I suspect that type of misconduct is ongoing.
If so, then we are not a "government of men," my fellow little people.
We are indeed a "government of criminals."
Read on Maywoodians and hang in there! My Vornado story is next.