Monday, June 16, 2008

FEMA flood map issue should have been bipartisan all along

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, has absolutely politicized the process of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issuing new flood maps in the Bayshore.

This is to the detriment of the issue, without doubt.

Before the validity of the new FEMA flood maps should be addressed, the more important thing for Bayshore residents to do is to back the current bill before Congress by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., which is the only thing in this world that will stop the re-issuance of these flood maps.

Regardless of this fact, Mrs. Handlin and a host of her GOP supporters on the municipal level have made every effort at obscuring this fact among a flurry of activity surrounding her petition drive. Notably, FEMA has already made it clear on the record that this petition drive will, in no way whatsoever, influence the agency’s decision to reissue flood maps. So, the first part of the work is to stop FEMA from executing these maps, through supporting this vital piece of legislation by Mr. Pallone in Washington, D.C. Of course, Mr. Pallone’s bill, if made law, is only a temporary measure, but it gives all-important breathing room for this area to make its case to the Federal Government.

Middletown Democrat for Township Committee Jim Grenafege said, “What I would like to see is that the issue is not politicized. I would like to see Assemblywoman Handlin partner with Mr. Pallone throughout the Bayshore and use her voice to back this legislation. I see this as her job as an elected official. This hasn’t been done.”

Mr. Grenafege said Mrs. Handlin does not have primacy in this issue, as a state-level official. However, she is a voice for the people and he believes she should “join the chorus” supporting this bill and stop being divisive. “This is a time for teamwork,” he said, and I think he is right.

Mrs. Patricia Walsh is Mr. Grenafege’s running mate this fall. She said the Middletown Committee should be the main cheerleaders for Mr. Pallone’s bill in this area. “Rather than arguing the politics of names on a resolution, as Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill did, Middletown should initiate real action to benefit the citizens of Middletown.”

Mrs. Walsh said that the committee should be making sure it has established a procedure to provide lower cost insurance through the community insurance rating instead of investing time in useless arguments.

“Besides doing the well thought-out information sessions that Mr. Pallone is providing. The township must put forth a resolution supporting tax credits for residents, future rebates for flood insurance holders that are not impacted by flooding and partnerships with primary lien holders on mortgages and loans that mandate their participation in helping to pay flood insurance premiums,” Mrs. Walsh said.

The fact of the matter is that ‘politics-as-usual’ is business-as-usual in Middletown and the Bayshore. In particular, Middletown Republicans have taken such an adversarial attitude toward working with Democrats that it has blinded them to effective community governance.

Instead of the Middletown Committee offering the best possible solution to community problems, they often resort to the best ‘Republican solution’ for a problem, which has nothing to do with the benefit of the community.

Municipal office, like all office, is a matter of stewardship. No one person or group has a claim to permanent leadership in any community or any level of government. Rather, it was the intention of those who crafted our system of government that every elected official must earn the respect and trust of the governed through their record of service. In my opinion, the Middletown Committee majority’s current system for resolving problems is very challenged, and echoes of Party Machine tactics that have become so well-identified with this county to date.

If there is to be change and reform, it will be in the spirit of action within communities. Quite frankly, the Middletown Committee majority tries to talk a good game about bipartisanship, but falls abysmally short where it counts – in results.

No comments: