My morning started out innocent enough. Simple home cooked breakfast, eggs, bacon an orange and coffee through my Chemex. Beau and I took a walk and it was stunning out. We romped on the beach. He was turning circles of excitement.
I have been coming down to LBI most of my life and it is a certain truth, you need until Tuesday to release whatever your mainland shackles are. Tuesday brings bright bliss. Not the “oh I forgot to check email kind.” but you finally start engaging with the island on island time. That is usually the day when you can loose hours on the beach just staring ahead at the water. And that was what I did.
Don’t get me wrong, the reminders of Sandy are all around.
But all you have to do is look up or out and you feel the hope the island has.
In the afternoon I attended the TOWN HALL With Gov. Christie, Please excuse the next section…this is more of a stream of conscience of sights and sounds I took in. This is no way is hard reporting nor meant to be minutes representation.
The community center is packed with good people who are concerned. Concerned with what they are to do. The surrounding communities need our help as much the island. LBI is much more than the 18 miles…it is Stafford, Beach Haven West, Manahawkin…etc etc.
Awaiting Gov Christie…Bobby Darin playing in the background. The conversation around me while I wait has shifted to those that have lost their like due to heartache caused by Sandy.
Despite the frustrations, these are communities that are pulling together. “You play the piano in the church? I knew that was you, how are you?”.
After a near hour of waiting the announcement comes, “Please take your seats.”
There will be anIntro video, brief remarks & the dun dun dun q&a session.
Someone in the bleachers requested that we say the Pledge of Allegiance. The Governor’s staff obliged. The crowd spoke with one voice not unlike the videos of Boston crowds. “One nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.” finished with applause.
Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable now playing.
Then the unmistakable sounds of helicopter low over the building is heard.
That’ll be the Day playing.
The Governor walked out to a standing ovation. These people are hard hit and yet they have great deal of respect and faith in him. That is evident.
The Governor opens with speaking about you can get detached…this is why he does these town hall’s to stay grounded and informed… today is number 107 since Sandy hit six months ago.
His dad is here…at least 3 Christie’s in the room.
His dad is 80 too.
1.8 BIL appointed by fed gov to NJ for recovery efforts.
1855 sandy hm housing support
1855sandy bz. Business support
RREM Housing Program 150k grant to reconstruct renovate elevate or mitigate home
Low to mod income- 750mil large multifam houses…apartments will be built.
Business grant 50k working capital
No interest loan 100k to 5mil…zero interest
Money to towns public facility improvements
In 3 weeks $25 mil tourism marketing adv program. Designed much my little blog here is to say come back, we are open for business! Target markets include Boston Montreal NY Phil Baltimore!
He is bridging tourism…thinks the Jersey Shore in 2014 fully back and thriving. This is incredible considering how much is not back online after Katrina. I was in New Orleans 18 months after Katrina. The old gal was running, but not even close to 100%.
This is only the first packet of $ aide.
“Small biz are the heartbeat of the jersey shore!” He wants people to stay…to maintain the flavor and character of each town and community…the local people make the decisions not Trenton or “god forbid in Washington” on how to come back.
ANNOUNCED: Dune system from Cape May up the whole coast to protect not just the shore line but the communities behind them.
Getting everyone back in their homes and businesses is the priority! “If your living relatives you probably have had it by now.”
Affordability in nj. Significant changes to pension and benefit system…the changes in pension…your contributions this year…600k less. Making the system stronger.
Increasing the retirement age.
Cut taxes…says he inherited 13 BIL of deficits. Paid off all the debit.
Last yr proposed income tax cut because you know how to spend your money better than I do.
He is charismatic and humorous.
We are building these dunes…we are building them whether you consent or not
The bullshit moment. Please just google it.
30 billion in damage…lifetimes memories washed away…we are not going through that again so you can see the ocean from the first floor.
The dunes systems are not theory…we saw…they work!
One of the more poignant moments…
Young man from S Amboy talking about small towns without tourism.
Christie promised to come to S Amboy…middlesex county for first phase of buyout…take out entire neighborhoods.
The young man says they call the Governor, the Incredible Hulk. Christie says he is called much worse in trenton.
The Clark Brothers, two boys want to ask questions. The Governor brings up Scooby Doo gate. Again google it, Colbert hysterical.
The first boy asks, Are you going to try to open LBI schools…”Yes, all schools will be up and running by September.”
The next Clark bros asks what are you doing to help people who have not received insurance money?
The Governor asks which home or flood? Homeowners state…flood fed
After each question a card was given out…but more importantly, frank answers. This man does not guild the lily. He also knows how to answer with the smartest statement. “I don’t know, but we will find out.”
I know our Governor is a polarizing individual. But seeing him live one thing comes through loud and clear. He knows NJ. He cares about NJ. You may not agree with him and he is fine with it. Years ago I saw a Senator in a local debate to return to his seat on the hill. This man could have rested on his family’s name. I was deeply moved though how well he knew his state and constituents. I certainly didn’t agree with everything he said, but I knew he deserved that seat; which he held until he died. My respect for Senator Ted Kennedy has never wained since seeing that debate. It is that kind of knowledge and commitment I see in Governor Christie.
I leave you with one parting shot. I was on my way to have dinner at Buckalew’s in Beach Haven. And the sunset was simply…we you determine for yourself.