The Courier received a letter regarding my FEMA series

The Courier often receives Letters to the Editor. This one came in recently from a concerned Republican.

His concern is that our newspaper is being used as a platform for Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and his “reactive,” not proactive, response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) situation in the Bayshore. I applaud your concern! Not many people care enough about FEMA to write such a lengthy, intellectual letter about its coverage in the newspaper.

Robert E. McLeod makes it a point to ridicule The Courier’s “journalists,” stating at one point, “I know it is easier to simply regurgitate Pallone’s press releases, but journalism does have a higher duty.”

It’s ironic, because I actually did a lot of work with Congressman Pallone and have been on the phone with him and his office quite often. No statement from Pallone was ever e-mailed to me, nor did I “regurgitate” it from a press release. I have interviewed the congressman on several occasions.

Fact: Pallone is a Democrat. Wow, really? I had NO idea. Wake up, McLeod. The Bayshore revolves around a political circus. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

If you’ve been keeping up with my series, and if you’re actually reading the articles other than trying to decipher the headlines, than you’ll see I noted which parties, groups or persons did not return my phone calls.

If you’ll also recall, at one point Assemblywoman Amy Handlin was the subject of a story involving the “Flood map fallout.”

Fact: Most Republicans don’t return my phone calls and pretend as if I don’t exist when they see me in public. I cannot change that fact; I can only continue my persistence in presenting both sides of the story.

As for being Pallone’s “mouthpiece,” all I have to say is that journalists are exactly that: We’re the voice, you’re the bigmouths. Congressman Pallone has been persistent in making his voice heard on the FEMA issue. Other politicians have not.

I will not be accused of being one-sided when the other side chooses not to respond.

Sorry, Mr. Republican. In my opinion, if you’re been following the series, you must be fuming at this point.

As for any “neophyte” such as yourself being able to do the type of research that I have conducted: Yea RIGHT. If you’re so diligent, try checking in with your party and see that the Republicans have done little to nothing on the FEMA issue in almost the entire Bayshore, give or take Union Beach.

FEMA has said outright that any petition really does nothing within the agency – especially halt the implementation of flood maps – other than show that someone went and rounded up a whole lot of signatures. Which, by the way, apparently Handlin has about 1,300 signatures at this point. That doesn’t even encompass half of the newly affected residents who will pay flood insurance, and it doesn’t even touch the actual number of residents in the Bayshore.

I don’t create the party lines. I’m “just” a reporter.

Here’s the letter in its entirety. Enjoy :)

Pallone’s mouthpiece?

To the Editor:

Your paper’s coverage of the FEMA flood map issue confirms its role as the official media outlet of Frank Pallone’s Ministry of Propaganda.

All one has to do is type “FEMA” and “flood plain maps” into the Internet search engine of choice and up pops volumes of articles from across the country addressing this controversy. Every salt water and fresh water coast or river bank has been under review by FEMA pursuant to Congressional mandate. The most recent flurry of activity appears to have begun in 2001/2002 but some of it appears to have started in the late 1990s.

When it reaches a Congressman’s district the voters start to complain about the impact of the new maps on their flood insurance and the value of their property. The Congressman scampers to propose some “remedial” or palliative legislation or regulatory moratorium such as Pallone has done. Such actions are always “reactive,” yet your paper presents Pallone’s as proactive. That is misleading.

Interagency conflicts between FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers – or any other set of overlapping agencies – are not new. Pallone is not directly at fault for the current “problem,” but it is a creation of Congress, a body of which he has been a member for 20 years. It should have been no surprise to someone in Washington who has had the vantage point to watch this controversy unfurl across the littoral and riparian regions of the country.

If a technical neophyte such as myself can discover all of this information during an hour or so on the Internet, one has to ask why your “journalists” could not have done the same. Subheading a full page article “Veteran congressman takes federal agency to task about new maps” depicts as decisive action what is simply an after-the-fact attempt to cover one’s political nether regions now exposed to a foreseeable controversy. It is a reaction to an event which should have been no surprise, if one were paying attention.

I know it is easier to simply regurgitate Pallone’s press releases but journalism does have a higher duty.

The issue posed by the new flood maps is not new; it has simply taken this long to hit the northern Monmouth Bayshore. Pallone’s actions at this point are simply another example of his penchant for grandstanding. The Courier is apparently ready to provide the podium and assist him in scripting his presentation.

Robert E. McLeod
Republican Candidate for 6th District

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Filed under Bayshore Flooding, FEMA, Flood Map Fallout Series, Politics

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