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Posts Tagged ‘The town FEMA turned down’

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger  (Ocean Grove, New Jersey)

In a thorough and courageous cover story called “The Town FEMA Turned Down,” The Weekly Standard, a widely read political magazine with a print circulation of over 100,000 and 2.1 million visits to its web site each month, is featuring Ocean Grove and its difficulties persuading FEMA to provide funds for our rebuilding post-Sandy.

On Blogfinger we have been following this situation with great interest for over a year and we have considered and debated various reasons as to why FEMA has denied us, including the possibility of religious or political bias. (see BF links below) The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association has been avoiding any public speculation on the motives of FEMA.

Soon the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association will be taking its  last shot with FEMA by attending a face to face meeting with officials in Washington, probably next month, to try and persuade  them  to make a favorable ruling on our second appeal for disaster assistance.

The author of the Weekly Standard piece, Jonathan V. Last, a senior editor, explains why he believes that the explanation has to do with government’s current attitude towards religion in our national life. He says, “Yet the story of FEMA’s conflict with Ocean Grove is about more than just Barack Obama. It’s the story of modern America’s rebellion against its religious foundations, rendered in miniature.”

He also considers the history of gay rights in the Grove as a factor in our being singled out by Washington.  About that, Last says, FEMA’s decision was a remarkably tortured reading of both precedent and fact. So tortured that it suggests some deeper motivation on the part of the federal government. What happened between the storms in 1992 and 2013 to change the government’s mind about Ocean Grove? The answer is simple: gay marriage.”

He makes a strong case for his theories, but there are no smoking guns.  FEMA has been very secretive as to the dynamics of their decision vis a vis Ocean Grove, and the media has been AWOL in reporting our story which is an exceptional David vs Goliath saga worthy of national attention.    Last’s ideas about how gay rights issues in the Grove tie into FEMA’s decisions are highly speculative, but his suspicions are worth discussion.

The author also provides an excellent and  comprehensive review of our town’s history. It is an accurate and well- researched summary.

One thing which he left out is that the OGCMA has raised $1.5 million, some of which is earmarked to help rebuild our beachfront. We are not only the one beach town at the Jersey Shore to not receive FEMA help, but we are the only town to raise this kind of money on our own.

He also didn’t mention the New Jersey political establishment, including the Governor’s office,the state legislators and our Congressional delegation  which have tried to persuade FEMA to reconsider their unfair ruling.  I also question his assertion that Ocean Grove has an “upper class tax base.”  If he checks out the 2010 census report, that is clearly not true, unless he is speculating about the second-homer population which is not counted in the census.

Blogfinger has a search engine on its homepage where anyone can look at our many articles on this subject since October, 2012 when Sandy hit the Jersey Shore.

I encourage all of you to read this provocative Weekly Standard piece.  It will certainly help to get our story known nationally and in Washington.

Here is the link to the article:      FEMA OG article

Here is the Weekly Standard’s home page link      Weekly standard web site

Here is a Blogfinger post about possible FEMA bias:  BF bias link

Here is another  Blogfinger article about possible FEMA bias:    Blogfinger link

Here is a link to Steven Froias’ Asbury Park Pulp:    PULP link

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