December 14, 2017

What To Do When You’re Dead In Jersey – Thursday’s Roundup!

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The Pine Barrens + Sandy Funnybusiness = Must-Read
A guy who voted twice to put pipelines through your Pine Barrens–that national treasure–was not living where he was supposed to be living when he cast those votes on the Pinelands Commission, according to an environmentalist who just dropped a bunch of documents demonstrating the fact pretty convincingly, Michelle Brunnetti Post reports in the must-read story of the day.

Ed McGlinchey, last seen here being named to replace Ed Lloyd (“considered one of the strongest conservationists” on the Pinelands Commission) by our vindictive governor, was supposed to be living in Camden County, whose people he represented on the Commission.

Inconveniently, according to the grant application for money he got to raise his house after Hurricane Sandy, he was living in Longport. And not real Longport, but the little butt-end of Longport (Seaview Harbor) that’s really EHT.

More brilliantly, McGlinchey wasn’t some annonymous resident. He was president of the Seaview Harbor Community Association when they were trying to secede from the Township, Notorious MBP reports. Nevertheless his colleagues on the Pinelands Commission were “flabbergasted.”

The head of the Sierra Club says the North Jersey pipeline vote wouldn’t have passed without McGlinchey’s yes vote (it wouldn’t have) and McGlinchey’s involvement in the South Jersey Gas pipeline negotiation (the one through Maurice River and Upper Townships) is a bad thing. “The whole process was poisoned.”

Stirling & Sullivan
They’re not a law firm. I doubt they pay a lot of federal income tax. But are they making your world a brighter place? Depends on your attitude.’s “Death & Dysfunction” story is out. It’s the kind of thing we should pause a moment and celebrate, because actual outbursts of journalism are a real public service. If you’re a “taxpayer” in New Jersey, it’s helpful to know $26 million in public money goes to a “system marred by neglect and dysfunction.”

I’m not a journalist. I try to avoid eye-contact with the journalist I live with as much as possible. But from what I gather this kind of thing–investigative stories that kick a lot of hornets nests–is impossible to do, nearly.

It took S.P. Sullivan and Stephen Stirling 18 months. They were probably working on it on the side, in between the daily grind of cop stories and weather stories and covering the Great Halloween Candy Showdown. They don’t get paid extra for this kind of thing, I’m guessing.

Maybe they’re lucky and have a great “enterprise editor”or something, but very often an editor looks at ambitious bright sparks like these two and sees: More work, more hassle, more risk, more likelihood of offending the wrong people. When you write stories people want to read, they better be correct. Which explains why so many stories get written that no one wants to read.

Who could be offended by a story about medical examiners? Maybe the State Attorney General, who overseas the system. In the fall, he hired a former state Supreme Court justice (at $350 an hour) to review the medical examination system, meaning it’s probably been fixed, right?. Except, as this story tells us, “At least two similar reviews have been done in the past, with few results.”

More fun facts from Death & Dysfunction:

* Peers across the country think NJ’s an especially bad place to die (has “a well-earned national reputation for dysfunction.”)
* The last two chief medical examiners resigned in protest.
* Offices lose their accreditation. The southern regional office never had one to begin with.

I hate to point out that death is ubiquitous. Hopefully when it comes it comes peacefully and without controversy, but often it does not. Doctors, hospitals, cops make mistakes. There are conflicts of interest. Crimes, public health emergencies go unnoticed. You’d like to think someone’s minding the shop, but what if someone’s not?

Journalism (a term that applies to a kind of story) is also expensive to produce. These guys interviewed “attorneys, doctors, pathologists, law enforcement officials, current and former prosecutors, and those most affected by the system’s failures — grieving families of loved ones who died under suspicious circumstances.” Many of those sources are cited by name. They also filed lots of Open Public Records requests and read the documents. Maybe you think they’re just doing their job. But I noticed I didn’t pay to read this example of it. And it’s way more valuable than a lot of stuff passed off as journalism.

A Note on #FakeNews: No one can help you tell journalism from flagrant propaganda. I only note that this story by Steve and S.P. makes an important claim, but a relatively modest one. A system that affects a lot of lives is dysfunctional. The reporters spent most of their time trying to establish that claim, and they showed their work. You can do with the story what you want: Hopefully help fix things.

Meanwhile over at the bullshit factory, some people who spend a lot of time in wardrobe are calling for the complete dismantling of the FBI “because it was turned into a KGB-type operation by the Obama Administration.” Go with God.

Playground Woes
Mel Taylor has deets on four high-end retailers leaving “Boardwalk” Bart Blatstein’s Playground Pier. The Apple Store is staying for now.

Wait, we had an Apple Store? I think I knew that.
Hat-tip to Mel for calling him “Boardwalk Bart.”

That $400 Million Trenton Project
Former U.S. Senator Robert “the Torch” Torricelli asks a series of rhetorical questions about that $400 million office project pushed through in the last few weeks by historically unpopular lame-duck governor Chris Christie.

Who cooked up the project? Who decided only state-owned land should be used? “Who decided not to use the leverage of a state lease to develop mixed-use residential, commercial, and state office buildings?”

The Torch doesn’t answer those questions, but his use of the buzz-phrase “mixed-use residential” makes him our Four-Star-Appliance Millennial Understander of the Week.

Elsewhere in Waste: NJ Transit paid $4.4 million for office space it hadn’t been using, Curtis Tate reports. On the other hand, they got a great deal! And they seem to kind of be using it now.

The CyberApocalypse Will Be Fueled by Gamer Nerds
The Mirai botnet cyberattack, which Wired calls “the most dramatic cybersecurity story of 2016” was hatched by New Jersey’s own Paras Jha, a student at Rutgers. He was one of “three young American computer savants” who pleaded guilty in Alaska to unleashing the masssive DDosS attacks. For a while people thought the attack came from China or Russia or another “large nation-state” but it was three geeks “trying to gain an advantage in the computer game Minecraft.”

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