TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney today held a press conference to discuss the administrations recent release of integrity monitor reports dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The reports lacked detail and were not what the Senate President had in mind when he introduced this legislation in the winter of 2013.
“My intention when I sponsored this legislation was to have these reports done as quickly as possible so that we could both prevent problems and find ways to correct them,” said Sweeney. “Unfortunately, these are months overdue and they are underwhelming to say the least. I was hoping for more detail, especially regarding what was just recently determined to be the second most expensive storm in the last half century. I am certainly disappointed in what was provided to us. It does not resemble what my intention was when I proposed this legislation.”
Senate President Sweeney first introduced legislation calling for integrity monitors in February, 2013. The bill was signed into law the following month. The first integrity monitors, however, were not put in place until January, 2014, nearly one year after the governor signed the bill. The first reports were not delivered to the Legislature until last week, 21 months after Sandy hit.
The reports did not include any information with regard to the Cohn Reznik contract, the group hired by the Department of Community Affairs to serve as the Integrity Oversight Monitor. The report talks about the Belmar Boardwalk, despite the fact that the boardwalk was completed almost a year before the monitors were put into place. In other instances, more detailed information was withheld under the claim that it was not public information.
“The reports all need to be released now – every one of them,” Fair Share Housing Center Staff Attorney Adam Gordon said. “How can anyone claim these reports are really providing the intended transparency on New Jersey’s Sandy recovery when, after spending over $5 million on them, the Christie Administration refuses to release them?”
“This is simply a continuation of this administration’s failure on Sandy recovery,” added Sweeney. “And, just like with the ‘Sandy Bill of Rights,’ the people who get hurt in the end are the taxpayers and the victims of the storm. I certainly expected better than this.”