Monday, February 3, 2014

Sandy aid: Did NJ towns hurt most get the most money?

Hoboken NJ park flooding after tropical storm Irene - Gary Holtzman photo 
An analysis by NJ Spotlight in collaboration with WNYC/NJ Public Radio has discovered "multiple irregularities in how funds have been allocated" but concluded  that "there’s no proof at this point that politics necessarily played a role in state decisions about who got help and who did not in the aftermath of Sandy." 
"An in-depth analysis by NJ Spotlight in collaboration with WNYC/NJ Public Radio has discovered multiple irregularities in how funds have been allocated through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Energy Allocation Initiative -- the program at the heart of Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s allegations against the Christie administration.
"An examination of the fund shows that despite a scoring system that awarded various towns and cities points for eligibility based on factors such as population size, population density, and previous FEMA claims, Hoboken has been awarded the same amount -- $142,080 -- as much smaller towns like Mt. Arlington and Old Tappan, neither of which experienced much damage from Sandy or previous storms.
"And Hoboken was awarded far less than Nutley, which was allocated $556,000, despite being relatively unscathed by the storm.
"Responding to inquiries from NJ Spotlight, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said a proper, objective process was followed in the scoring and ranking of these applications, and that it’s ongoing, so some of these awards might still be adjusted before they’re finalized and checks are cut. He said it’s unfair to draw conclusions from the data at this point. But many details about the behind-the-scenes process remain unclear, and the problems seem to extend beyond simply a few errant numbers."

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