In the two years since Sandy, I have found myself on the front line of an unfortunate number of unjustifiable actions taken by government against my small business clients and neighbors in the bayshore region of South Jersey. This list compiles ten of the most terrible government actions taken in the two years since Sandy.
- New Jersey state government’s exclusion of Cumberland County and the bayshore region from the nine county recovery funding plan. It was unconscionable for the state government to use a redlining strategy to deny aid to the poorest part of the state.
- Issuance of local municipal tax lien foreclosure warnings against those who are struggling to rebuild their homes and businesses since Sandy.
- The local municipality charging the usury rate of 18% interest against those who have been unable to catch up on post-Sandy property tax bills.
- Cumberland County Health Department’s forcible eviction of lifelong residents who lost their permanent water supply and had to rely on a temporary garden hose supply while their water well was rebuilt.
- The state of NJ building inspector’s issuance of stop work orders and resulting fines for even the most basic post-Sandy repair projects.
- The local municipality’s insistence on correcting newly discovered zoning deficiencies as a pre-condition of issuing even the most basic storm recovery construction permits even when the previously unknown violations existed for decades before Sandy.
- The Small Business Administration’s denial of 98% of all Sandy recovery loan applications.
- The New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s denial of aid because IRS pre-Sandy tax transcripts are not in a format acceptable to the Authority (due to no fault of the applicant).
- New Jersey Sea Grant’s denial of a waste water pump out grant application because the property owner has not able to obtain insurance after Sandy.
- U. S. Treasury’s failure to issue any tax relief to Sandy victims. The only relief offered was an extension of deadlines for the filing tax returns due in 2013. Even the late filing relief was challenged in later IRS enforcement actions against my clients. There was no relief to the casualty loss limitations or the waiver of penalties for those who had to take an emergency withdrawal from their retirement account to repair or relocate.
I’ve already given two interviews and expect to write a few editorials to make the most of 2 year Sandy anniversary. While I don’t like the negative tone of this “shame list” (just as we all hate negative political advertisements), the fact remains that this type of blog post remains the most effective in reaching large number of readers and influencing public opinion. As always, I welcome comments and feedback.
One bright spot: see our communty’s long term recovery plan at http://www.mauricerivertwp.org/pdfdocs2014/RecoveryPlanFEMAfinal.pdf
Talking points about Sandy recovery at Money Island NJ http://moneyislandmarina.com/Sandy-recovery-talking-points.html