The NJ Pinelands Commission: How one of government’s most successful environmental bodies was overtaken by the fossil fuel industry.

On February 24, 60% of the commission’s fifteen member board voted in final support of the construction of a 15 mile natural gas pipeline through the heart of the New Jersey Pinelands. The vote was in spite of the vast majority of the approximately 800 in attendance, along with virtually all of the state’s environmental groups and four former governors, standing vehemently against it. Representing the culmination of a five year battle pitting environmentalists against the Chris Christie administration, the fossil fuel industry, and unions, the final vote was tallied literally over the shouts, chants and singing of the crowd.

This is the story of how the Pinelands Commission transformed from being a bipartisan governmental agency that faithfully enforces one of “the strongest state land-use legislation in the country,” to one that now votes at the behest of the fossil fuel industry, in direct opposition to public sentiment.

In 1978, the New Jersey Pinelands, also called the Pine Barrens, became the nation’s first National Reserve:

The [Pinelands Nature Reserve] is approximately 1.1 million acres and spans portions of seven counties and all or part of 56 municipalities. The reserve occupies 22% of New Jersey’s land area and it is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston.


The reserve is home to dozens of rare plant and animal species and the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system, which contains an estimated 17 trillion gallons of water.

(Not billions, trillions.)

In 1979, New Jersey passed the Pinelands Protection Act. The act was intended to assist one of the only remaining untouched regions in the state in its resistance to further development, as pressured by Atlantic City on the east and Philadelphia on the west. The act created the Pinelands Commission:

[The Pinelands Commission is an] independent state agency whose mission is to “preserve, protect, and enhance the natural and cultural resources of the Pinelands National Reserve, and to encourage compatible economic and other human activities consistent with that purpose.”…

In this cooperative intergovernmental scheme, all participants were to “preserve, protect, and enhance the resources of the Pinelands” and permit only that development that was consistent with that purpose.

In 1983, the United Nations declared the Pinelands an International Biosphere Reserve and in 1995, the UN called the Act and its Commission “still perhaps the strongest state land-use legislation in the country.” (According to environmental activist Bill Wolfe, the Highlands Act, that protects northern NJ and was based on the Pinelands Act, is “far stronger.”)

January 10, 2014: Pipeline defeated in 7-7 deadlock

Originally proposed by South Jersey Gas in July of 2012 (page 5), a draft Memorandum of Agreement between SJG and the Pinelands Commission was presented in December of 2013. The plan included an $8 million payout to the commission, including (page 14) $250,000 to build a “Pinelands education center” and $500,000 for the creation of “education or outreach based programs or initiatives.” The remaining $7.25 million was to be placed in a Land Acquisition account:

[A Land Acquisition account is to] fund the acquisition of land located adjacent to the site of the proposed pipeline project located in a Forest Area. If all of the identified lands have not been acquired after three years from the execution of this MOA by the last signatory, than any remaining funds also may be used for acquisition of lands in the southern forested portion of the Pinelands Area, i.e. south of the Atlantic City Expressway.

The Agreement was rejected by the board on January 10, 2014, in a 7-7 deadlock. As described in the next section, one anti-pipeline commissioner was forced to recuse himself. Two of those voting against the pipeline were Chris Christie appointees. One of those voting for it was a new commissioner appointed by his county exactly three days before the funeral of his anti-pipeline predecessor, around one month before the vote.

The vote occurred in the midst of the Bridgegate scandal and on the day of a dangerous ice storm.

(Details on the vote are on page 4, individual votes on 5-6.)

The rejection was encouraged by four former governors, two Democrats and two Republicans, in an unprecedented joint letter delivered to the commission a month before the vote. Each of the governors were intimately involved in the creation or maintenance of the Pinelands law:

Kean, as an assemblyman sponsored the law preserving the Pinelands, a measure Byrne signed into law. Florio, as a congressman, pushed through legislation adding federal protections to safeguard more than 1 million acres of the preserve. He later served as chairman of the Pinelands Commission. Whitman signed into law a long-term stable funding source for protection of open spaces…. Kean defeated Florio to win his first gubernatorial term. Whitman defeated Florio when he sought reelection after his first term.

Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg

In late 2010, Governor Christie appointed Nancy Wittenberg, the former head lobbyist of the NJ Builders Association, to be the Executive Director of the Pinelands Commission. Her starting salary was $135,000 and at the time, she professed a “passion and commitment for preserving New Jersey’s environment.”

Wittenberg’s staff inappropriately coordinated with both the Christie administration and South Jersey Gas, much of it without the knowledge of the board. During this time, the State Ethics Commission, on the “order of the governor’s office,” very questionably forced the recusal of an anti-pipeline board member from the critical January 2014 vote. Despite his absence, the pipeline was still narrowly defeated.

Three months later, seemingly in retribution, Chris Christie became the first governor in the commission’s history to veto the minutes from a monthly meeting: minutes which happened to contain the new budget providing the staff with its first raise in four years. Four months after that, something unexpected occurred at the August 2015 monthly meeting, whose agenda did not contain anything about the pipeline. As reported by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance:

In a stunning move the Executive Director of the Pinelands Commission decided she would not allow the matter to be submitted to the 15-member governing board of the Commission. She stated that the project complied with the rules [and therefore approval was only necessary by the state’s Board of Public Utilities]. On December 16, 2015 [the BPU] approved the petition from South Jersey Gas that would waive all municipal land use ordinances and regulations in relation to the construction of the pipeline.

The BPU vote was unanimous; conducted in only a few minutes and without debate. In addition:

BPU staff directed the board to consider only evidence provided under oath, which did not include comments given at public hearings and during comment periods by members of the public.

Numerous environmental groups appealed the decision and, in July of 2016, they gained the support of three of those same former governors, who this time filed an amicus brief to the courts, declaring Wittenberg overstepped her authority in a role intended only as advisory and administrative. (Although the fourth Republican governor did not sign the brief, he vocally supported the effort.)

On November 7, 2016, the day before Donald Trump was elected to the presidency, Wittenberg’s decision was struck down by the courts, who declared that she overstepped her bounds, forcing the decision back to the Pinelands Commission’s board. Among the court’s evidence was the amicus brief.

On February 17, 2017, one week before the final vote by the board, Wittenberg once again recommended passage.

Aside: So-called public comment:

Page 7 in Wittenberg’s recommendation report (abbreviated here on out as “WH-7“) states:

At its January 24, 2017 meeting, the Commission received public comment from approximately 130 individuals. Attendance initially exceeded capacity, and Commission staff collected a list of those waiting to enter, and allowed those people to enter as others left. All those wishing to attend the meeting were able to enter by approximately 12:30 P.M., and the Commission continued the meeting until past 5:00 P.M. to give all those who wished to speak an opportunity.

Hundreds of people were shut out of this so-called public meeting, possibly more than were on the inside. There were multiple reports of people being refused entry up to an hour before the scheduled start time. I, myself arrived right on time and was shut out. I was later offered entry as press, but declined in order to tell the story of those on the outside, where I livestreamed for three hours. Despite Wittenberg’s assertion, most of the crowd was forced to leave after enduring hours in the bitter cold and rain.

Robert Barr, pro-pipeline Chris Christie appointee

In January of 2016, two years after his “no” vote, Republican Commissioner Mark Lohbauer was demoted by Chris Christie from his five-year chairmanship.

In April and May of 2014, three members who voted against the pipeline in January were recommended for replacement with people known to be supportive of it. Two were nominated by the Governor. A fourth was replaced by her county’s freeholder board after 18 years of service.

(Similarly, in 2011, Christie replaced three environmentally friendly members of the Highlands Council, a commission created in 2004 to protect “a vital source of drinking water for more than half of New Jersey’s families, yielding approximately 379 million gallons of water daily.”)

One of Christie’s nominees was Robert Barr. His nomination first required passage through the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee, which twice failed. According to the Press of Atlantic City, “Barr professed last year during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee to an intentional ignorance of the Pinelands.”

Before Barr’s third vote with the Committee, the same former governors wrote another joint letter, this time in opposition to Barr’s nomination. The letter was addressed to the now-current Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Ray Lesniak, who agreed with their assessment. However, Lesniak was shut out of the vote because it was scheduled to coincide with the final day of a planned personal vacation (in January 24, 2016). Lesniak was temporarily replaced by someone known to support Barr, resulting in the nomination passing by a 7-5 vote (with one abstention), sending it on to the full Senate.

On March 16, Barr’s nomination was defeated by the Senate by a vote of 19 in favor and 17 against (with a required threshold of 21). Less than one hour later, “Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) added their ayes to the appointment,” pushing Barr over the edge and onto the commission.

Environmental impacts

This is Chris Christie’s New Jersey:

While there is no hydraulic fracturing in the state of New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly vetoed restrictions from importing fracking waste. He also passed a bill to privatize every water system in the state. If any water is polluted by that fantastically toxic fracking waste, the priorities of the remaining clean water will be determined by a profit motivated private corporation.

According to South Jersey Gas, the pipeline “will provide significant environmental improvements for[sic] the B.L. England generating station by transitioning it from coal to natural gas” and according to the plant’s owner, doing so will increase the plant’s efficiency by 27%.

But the environmental political action group NJ Sierra Club asserts that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s findings, as quoted by Wittenberg (WH-22), are based on misleading methodologies and that the plant, which was originally scheduled to shut down in 2007, remains open in an effort to avoid newer and more stringent environmental laws. The plant currently runs on coal for about two months out of the year. If converted to natural gas (which will result in its lease being extended by up to 20 years), it will run at least 350 days out of the year (WH-12, bottom), 24 hours a day, dramatically increasing overall emissions. Methane is also a greenhouse gas seventy times–not percent, times–more potent than the CO2 in coal, but the greenhouse pollution from methane largely happens at the extraction site, whereas, for coal, it is exclusively during combustion.

South Jersey Gas asserts that keeping the BLE plant running is “necessary to improve reliability” of energy in the Pinelands area and Richard Engel, a state deputy attorney general, suggests that closing it could cause NJ to face rolling blackouts or brownouts*. Although the energy of any power plant generally serves those geographically closest to it, the energy from the BLE station is poured indiscriminately into the massive regional PJM grid that ultimately serves thirteen states and the District of Columbia.

Because the plant is currently peak-only, running around two months out of the year, permanently shutting it down, according to the grid’s own spokesperson, is likely not detrimental and, according to the Sierra Club, “would actually cause fewer power reliability problems than if it [stays] open.” Regardless, Frank Felder, director of the Center for Energy, Economic and Environmental Policy at Rutgers University says it is an issue to monitor, not a crisis*.

*(From a private correspondence with Becky Free.)

Regarding the inevitability of leakage, Wittenberg responds (WH-21) with how good “modern” and “state of the art” technology is for both preventing and dealing with accidents:

Modern technology regarding pipe materials and construction techniques minimizes the risk of leaks from new pipelines [and that the] magnitude of an unlikely leak will also be minimized by the use of state of the art piping, continuous pressure gauges, and inspections and shut off valves.

Regarding the inevitability of explosions, Wittenberg responds (WH-18-20) with the plethora of required safety standards, precautions, and procedures, which includes limiting the number of inhabited structures within 100 feet of the pipeline. What is not mentioned:

  • Since the pipeline is almost exclusively intended to line the shoulders of roadways, cars traveling on top of it are at obvious risk. (The Pinelands Preservation Alliance, however, directly contradicts this: “The pipeline will be immersed in the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer along much, if not most, of its length.”)
  • Even assuming an ignition source right at the pipe, a 24-inch pipeline running at 437 PSI (WH-3) has a blast radius closer to 1,000 feet*, not 100.
  • Wildfires are an important and recurring part of the Pinelands’ ecology.
  • “By designing the proposed pipeline to operate at pressures far greater than necessary to supply B.L. England… South Jersey Gas substantially increases future material fatigue that could rupture the pipeline….”*

*(From page 26 in this officially submitted expert review document.)

Finally, Wittenberg states (WH-17) the pipeline’s construction does not require a dewatering permit because, although water will indeed be drained in order to stabilize construction, “[the] BL England project will be below the 100,000 GDP [gallons per day] threshold.” Leaving open the possibility that many tens of thousands of gallons of water will be drained daily throughout the Pinelands, affecting nearby well water, ponds and marine life.

The pipeline is approved because it will “primarily serve the needs of the Pinelands”

Wittenberg’s recommendation reiterates the purpose of the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) (WH-5):

Public service infrastructure is only a permitted land use in a Forest Area if it is demonstrated that the proposed natural gas pipeline is intended to primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands

In 2012 (WH-2), the same pipeline was denied by the commission for this very reason. But now in 2017, both she and Barr support it. What changed?

Barr states in an interview: “I am convinced [that] this pipeline will serve mostly Pinelands people and business. That is what we are supposed to take into account. This was my primary driver.”

According to South Jersey Gas, while the pipeline “is necessary to improve reliability for the 140,000 South Jersey residents,” Wittenberg concludes that (WH-13) 20,000 of them are in the Pinelands, which is 14%. Since this conclusion is based on the fossil fuel companies’ own information, even this is likely overly optimistic.

How does Wittenberg conclude that this project does indeed “primarily serve only the needs of the Pinelands”? Because the pipeline will serve the BL England power plant, a business that happens to reside in the Pinelands, even though it is outside of the protected region under the Pinelands Commission’s jurisdiction (WH-5):

Serving the needs of an existing Pinelands business alone satisfies the CMP’s Forest Area land use standards for public service infrastructure, based on existing Commission precedent. Thus, on this basis, because the proposed pipeline serves the BLE plant, an existing Pinelands business, more than 95% of the time, it primarily serves only the needs of the Pinelands.

Determining whether or not the pipeline will benefit residents is “not necessary to demonstrate CMP conformance.”

In other words, a pipeline built by one fossil fuel company, exclusively benefiting another fossil fuel company, whose business resides in the Pinelands, but the vast majority of whose customers do not…such a pipeline completely satisfies the Pinelands Commission’s Comprehensive Management Plan.

A 24-inch pipeline running at 437 psi has the potential to carry many times more gas the BL England plant can even process. This, along with the massive 30-inch, 722 psi sister pipeline running southeast from Chesterfield, NJ to Ocean County, suggests that much of the gas is not for domestic use. (The higher the pressure, the farther the gas is intended to travel.) Instead, it is largely suspected to be sold for profit into the regional grid or exported internationally for issues of profit or national security. (Perhaps it is intended as a desperate attempt to prop up the struggling Atlantic City?) Regardless, these facts further undermine the argument that the pipeline “primarily serves the Pinelands.”

Aside: That both these New Jersey pipelines ultimately lead to the same general location (the South Jersey coast), along with the aggressive expansion of pipelines across the country, it seems that this network of pipelines is being designed in the same manner as the internet; where the massive redundancy of its computers and the connections between them is designed explicitly to keep the overall system robust, even if a substantial number of nodes or pathways are taken out.

Commissioner Lohbauer testified during the commission’s final vote on February 24, 2017, that the original planners and commissioners feared exactly this possibility: that a pipeline would cut entirely through the Pinelands protected area, where the source, destination and beneficiaries of that energy would all be completely outside of the protected region.

Their fear is now a reality.

By: Jeff Epstein, 3/7/2017
Edited by: Ben Szioli
Subject assistance by: Becky Free of Pinelands Preservation Alliance

Jeff is the co-founder of Citizens’ Media TV. He was a super-volunteer for Bernie Sanders, was one of around forty candidates in the country to be personally endorsed by senator, and was a pledged delegate at the 2016 DNC. Jeff is also a finalist for Brand New Congress. You can see more of his writing on his blog.

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Potential trouble awaits Monday’s MacArthur Town Hall

(Link to original livestream with comments.)

Republican Congressman Tom MacArthur, representing New Jersey’s third congressional district, has avoided in-person town halls because he doesn’t “want to be baited into having an event that some outside group can just make a spectacle out of.” Instead, he has held two telephone-only “tele” town halls in recent weeks, which, according to first-hand accounts, have been highly filtered affairs, where a single person asks a question, the congressmen answers, no follow ups are allowed, and no interaction between participants is possible. Constituents in Marlton protested by holding their own in-person town hall that MacArthur himself did not attend.

MacArthur is holding an in-person town hall on Monday night, 7 miles from the east coast in an approximately 50 mile wide district (going from only a few miles away from Philadelphia, all the way to the coast). The town hall, first announced Friday morning, is scheduled to start at 6:30, with doors opening at 5:30, in a room having a capacity of 250. People must RSVP, and among those who RSVP, it is first come, first served.

A carpenters union and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS), a second amendment advocacy group, have both posted an event called “The town hall to support Representative MacArthur.” The carpenter’s union event, posted by Carpenters Local # 255 of South Jersey, is scheduled to start at 5pm, a full hour-and-a-half before the official start time.

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The NJ2AS article states:

“Congressman Tom MacArthur, the first and only NJ Congressman to support the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (HR38) so far, supported us when no one else would. Now it’s our turn to support him. As you may have seen on the news, town halls across the country have been raucous events full of bussed in members of the opposition sent there to harass their Congressman. We’re not going to let them outnumber us though. [W]e’re asking that hundreds of our supporters arrive to the townhall [sic] to be there inside and outside the event to let Tom AND the media know, that we support him…. We’re going to show groups across the country how to fight back against these organized protestors sent in to harass our members of Congress.”

The National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (HR38) is a bill that allows anyone to carry a concealed firearm in a state whose laws allow it, regardless which state they reside in, and regardless the laws in their home state. MacArthur has sponsored the bill, which has only been introduced.

So a union is planning on arriving very early, in as large numbers as possible, at a venue with a capacity of 250 in a district of 732,000 people. Additionally, a second amendment advocacy group is planning on attending in the “hundreds,” explicitly to “fight back against these organized protesters.” It seems that anyone who gets even mildly upset at MacArthur has already been accused as being someone who is not a constituent of, and has explicitly come to harass, the congressman.

Though clearly intended as intimidation against those wanting to challenge the representative, New Jersey’s gun laws are among the most strict in the country (although are set to be significantly overridden by this potential new law). This along with the expected level of security at events of this type, both inside and out, the likeliness of guns being brandished during the event are low.

To close with an opinion: As it relates to the difficulties congressmen have faced at recent town halls, one complaint I’ve heard that I believe has some merit, is how some protesters seem to want to simply vent their frustrations at the Trump administration and the Republican takeover of Congress. The more concrete and actionable people’s requests are, the better chance they have at being effective, and not being framed in a negative light. You can be angry, you can express that anger, and you can express it forcefully. But unless you express it with peace, and respect for the person you’re addressing, you lose.

Citizens’ Media TV will be covering the event live starting at 4pm.

Update 3/6/2014: To better reflect my opinion in the final paragraph.
Update 3/7/2014: NJ2AS has removed the “fight back” sentence from their website.

Thanks to Ben Szioli for the editorial suggestions.

Jeff is co-founder of Citizens’ Media TV. He was a super-volunteer for Bernie Sanders, was one of around forty candidates in the country to be personally endorsed by senator, and was a pledged delegate at the 2016 DNC. Jeff is also a finalist for Brand New Congress. You can see more of his writing on his blog.

Second major Associated Press story sabotages popular progressive candidate soon before election day.

Both based on anonymous Democratic insiders, both authored by Lisa Lerer.

This post is an in-depth study of Lerer’s work during the 2016 Democratic primary. A remembrance of how badly the corporate, so-called left-wing media treated Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

I discuss this entire article in this video:

(This post has been re-published by John Laurits and Naked Capitalism.)

Updated 2017-02-16: Based on feedback at Naked Capitalism, I’ve changed all instances of “left wing” and “left leaning” to “corporate”.

AP Article: DNC Chairperson: Establishment Tom Perez versus progressive Keith Ellison

On February 1, the Associated Press published an article announcing former Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement of DNC Chair candidate, Tom Perez. Buried in paragraph nine of the article, 24 days before the election, is a declaration that establishment favorite Perez has an unassailable lead:

Perez, who was quietly urged by the White House to jump into the race, faces his stiffest competition from Ellison.

Democratic strategists with knowledge of the chairman selection process say Perez has as much as a 66-member lead among the 447 members of the party who will vote on the next chairman at the party convention in late February. In total, 304 members have indicated who they’re backing.

The strategists spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the vote counting.

I was made aware of this story by The Young Turks newest correspondent, Nomiki Konst, who is covering the DNC chair candidate forums. Konst reports that no AP reporter has been present at any of the forums. (This is her analysis of the AP article.)

As Konst suggests, there are currently 14 candidates, each with their own group of supporters. As candidates drop out, their supporters will shift to different candidates. Calling the race at this moment is premature, which is a charitable interpretation, given that the only sources are “anonymous Democratic strategists.”

Perez, former Labor Secretary under the Obama administration, entered the race on December 15, and has raised 73% of his donations from small contributions. In a video shown on the Jimmy Dore Show, Perez is solidly in support of big donations to the DNC, no matter how veiled his statements are (“You don’t go to a knife fight with a spoon.”). Despite a vision speaking of unification, progressive values, and grassroots, Perez can claim no strong progressive endorsements. As described by Glenn Greenwald:

It’s not hard to see why the Obama and Clinton circles want him to run the party instead of Ellison. He’s acceptable to big donors. He has proven himself loyal to the party establishment’s agenda. He is a reliable party operative. And, most importantly of all, he will change nothing of substance: ensuring that the same policies, rhetoric, and factions that have prevailed continue to do so, all while protecting the power base of the same people who have run the party into the ground.

According to Konst, Perez is also the only candidate who refuses to talk with TYT, and she and her network are the target of rumors being spread by Perez’s campaign. Update 2/11: Konst got an eight minute interview with Perez on the final day of the DNC forums, where he confirms everything stated by Greenwald above.

The most prominent progressive candidate, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, entered the race on November 15, raising 98% of his donations from small contributions. Distinguishing himself from Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Ellison is the only candidate who can claim both prominent establishment and progressive endorsements, including progressive leaders Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and establishment stalwarts Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, and John Lewis.

As elaborated in the Baltimore Sun’s endorsement:

Keith Ellison, a Democratic Congressman from Minnesota and front runner in the DNC chair race, has impressive credentials. He is an avowed progressive, championing worker rights, a minimum wage increase, Wall Street reform, immigration reform, and LGBT rights during his decade in Congress. He knows the issues of rural and working class communities who feel left behind by politicians in D.C., and will work to serve them. And as the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, Mr. Ellison has a personal understanding of the effect of today’s attacks on minorities.

Ellison has, however, made moves disappointing to some progressives. He endorsed a decidedly establishment congressional candidate in Florida over the progressive alternative, and as potential chair, would not rule out big money donations to the DNC, stating that he would put the decision to a vote…likely resulting in big money donations.

AP article: Democratic nominee for president: Establishment Hillary Clinton versus progressive Bernie Sanders

After hearing the Perez-Ellison story, I was immediately reminded of a similar Associated Press story about Clinton and Sanders from June 6, 2016. Like the above article, this one, written by four co-authors, unequivocally states:

Striding into history, Hillary Clinton will become the first woman to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party, capturing commitments Monday from the number of delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination….

[Clinton became] the presumptive Democratic nominee on Monday with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates. Those are party officials and officeholders, many of them eager to wrap up the primary amid preference polls showing her in a tightening race with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. She also has the support of 571 superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count.

The AP surveyed all 714 superdelegates repeatedly in the past seven months, and only 95 remain publicly uncommitted…. While superdelegates can change their minds, those counted in Clinton’s tally have unequivocally told the AP they will support her at the party’s summer convention.

Once again, anonymous Democratic insiders “eager to wrap up the primary” decided the election was over, and the Associated Press obediently trumpeted it as truth. This time, only twenty four hours before six states, having a population of more than 50 million people, including two of the largest (California and New Jersey) were to vote in the Democratic primary, the AP said that finally, once and for all, Hillary Clinton is truly inevitable.

(Interestingly, according to Zero Hedge, the original wording of the final quoted sentence was, “While superdelegates will not formally cast their votes for Clinton until the party’s July convention in Philadelphia, all those counted in her tally have unequivocally told the AP they will do so.”)

The AP is just doing their job. They’re just reporting the news. Right? They’re not blatantly corrupt. But it sure does seem like they’re allowing themselves to be used by those who are.

Downplaying the announcement and its potential effect on voters, Clinton said,

“According to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment. But we still have work to do, don’t we? We have six elections tomorrow and we’re going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.”

Where did this “burst of last-minute support from superdelegates” come from? According to Benchmark Poltics, CNN’s John King reported that the Clinton campaign had around forty superdelegates ready and waiting to declare their support, but were urged by the campaign to hold off.

In the email sent out to supporters bragging about this announcement, this image was displayed:

The file name of this image file is secret-win-V2-060416c_02.png, implying it was created two days before the article was published. It will likely never be known if the Clinton campaign conspired with the Associated Press, but at the very least, it is a spit in the eye of every Sanders supporter.

Within hours, this one story exploded into hundreds around the globe (because, according to the Associated Press, “More than half of the world’s population sees our articles every day.”). Despite California’s record breaking 2.3 million new voter registrations, 1.4 million fewer people voted in comparison to 2012 levels.

Similar to the difference between Perez and Ellison, Clinton received around 19% of her contributions from small donations, compared to Bernie Sanders’ 70%. Importantly, these figures completely disregard money from super PACs and the unethical-but-technically-legal money funneled through state Democratic Party coffers, both of which Bernie Sanders refused to take advantage of.

As summarized by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept:

This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization — incredibly — conceals. The decisive edifice of superdelegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes. But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that its nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward, and undemocratic sputter.

That the Democratic Party nominating process is declared to be over in such an uninspiring, secretive, and elite-driven manner is perfectly symbolic of what the party, and its likely nominee, actually is.

(Here is further analysis of the AP Clinton article by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.)

Lisa Lerer, journalist for the Associated Press

While I knew both stories were published by the Associated Press, it was Jane Sanders who alerted me that both were written by the same author, Lisa Lerer.

Like many corporate journalists, Lerer’s writing during the 2016 Democratic primaries is consistently suspect. Direct statements by often-anonymous Democratic insiders are uncritically presented as truth; Hillary Clinton is unrealistically lifted up and both Bernie Sanders and his supporters are unfairly criticized and minimized; reports of Clinton’s primary victories at first impression seem balanced, but in actuality entirely ignore the difficulties faced by voters and the existence of confusing, questionable, unethical, and blatantly illegal practices, let alone the influence those practices may have had on the outcome.

(Coincidentally or not, according to Wikileaks, Lisa Lerer was one of many prominent mainstream media journalists to attend a private, off-the-record dinner at John Podesta’s house, soon before Clinton announced her candidacy. Breitbart elaborates.)

All articles that follow are written or co-authored by Lisa Lerer. “The author” means Lerer. “The authors” means Lerer and one or more co-authors.

Omission: Pretending primary wins by Clinton were exclusively because of her strengths. Pretending that voting was smooth and timely for all voters.

February 2, 2016: Clinton wins Iowa, campaigns turn to New Hampshire

Clinton defeated Sanders by less than three-tenths of 1 percent, the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history, the state party said. Sanders said his campaign was still reviewing the results and did not concede….

Democrats spent much of the day wrestling over the Iowa results. Sanders’ campaign declared victory even in defeat…

Setting aside the title that gives no indication of how close the race was, hidden in these vague suggestions of unresolved results are serious discrepancies, any one of which could have influenced the historically thin margin of a quarter percentage point. According to the Des Moines Register,

There have been widespread questions in Iowa and nationally about the accuracy of the counts reported on caucus night, which saw the second-highest number of participants and the closest result in Democrats’ caucus history.

Even with the updated numbers, it remains unclear which candidate won the popular vote. Party officials, following tradition, declined to release the raw vote numbers.

Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire told The Des Moines Register the day after last week’s caucuses that no review would be conducted, and that Clinton’s narrow victory over Sanders was final.

Several discrepancies were reported in Hillary Clinton’s favor.

It also doesn’t help the optics that the state party chairwoman drove around for years in a car with “HRC2016” license plates.

Coin tosses decided the winner in at least a dozen precincts, and the Register declared,

What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. [T]he refusal [of the Iowa Democratic Party] to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy….

[T]oo many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.

February 20, 2016: Clinton turns back Sanders challenge with Nevada victory

In an article that looks once again more towards upcoming primaries than at what happened in Nevada, the authors give no hints of the difficulties faced by caucus-goers. They do say this:

The 57,000-member Culinary Workers Union didn’t endorse in the election, but it circulated literature ensuring its members knew where and when to caucus and had staff ensure they were able to get to their sites Saturday.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called casino bosses to ensure that workers would get paid time off to caucus. He also reached out to the union to try to encourage the group to push their members to caucus, even without a formal endorsement, according to aides.

Harry Reid’s “encouraging” phone call to the head of Nevada’s most powerful union contributed to Clinton overwhelmingly winning all six of the state casino caucuses, a significant factor in winning the state.

The Democratic Party was scrambling for volunteers only ten days out, increasing the chances for chaos, and despite turnout being a third less than it was in 2008, chaos was indeed a reality, as if turnout were record shattering.

There was no anticipation for the large turnout, nor was there sufficient equipment to register people in a timely manner. We had five laptop computers for hundreds of people and were short staffed. As a result, the caucus meeting started an hour late.

As a precinct captain, I was given minimal training through a photocopied information guide. I wasn’t given a copy of the detailed procedures until the week leading up to the caucus, and there was no one present at the caucus to answer questions that might arise, except for other volunteers who weren’t sure of procedures themselves. When the first vote was taken after the initial instructions were given and letters were read, many wanted to leave. Some had been already been there for nearly four hours.

There were an enormous number of illegal, inappropriate, and confusing occurrences reported by Nevada caucus-goers on sites such as Reddit, US Uncut, The Reno Gazzette, and Attn.

June 6, 2016: Hillary Clinton wins Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary

From the article:

Hillary Clinton overwhelmed Bernie Sanders in Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary on Sunday, putting her within striking distance of capturing her party’s nomination… Clinton is now less than 30 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win the nomination, according to an Associated Press count.

Beyond the purposefully misleading count including superdelegates, this short article leaves out any hint of the incredible hardships endured by Puerto Rico voters.

There were 2,300 polling stations in 2008. In May of 2016, the number of stations was scheduled to be 1,500. On primary day, June 5, the actual number was 440. Funding for administering the elections was halved from 2012 levels, polls were open only for seven hours, and voters had to go to two different locations to vote in the national and local elections. While all or most poll workers for Clinton were properly certified, many for Sanders were not. Finally, an inmates’ rights group reportedly threatened prisoners to vote for Hillary Clinton or they would be killed.

On primary day, only 90,000 ballots were cast, despite, as reported by Metro PR,

…in principle, about 700,000 voters were expected to participate in the Democratic primary on the island. However, following the reduction of schools and colleges, the new Projection is around 300 thousand.

There were 92% fewer voters than expected “in principle” and 70% fewer than the updated projection.

Minimizing Sanders and his supporters

March 26, 2016: Sanders wins 3 states; Clinton retains big delegate lead

Bernie Sanders scored three wins in Western caucus contests, giving a powerful psychological boost to his supporters but doing little to move him closer to securing the Democratic nomination.

[The] results in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii barely dented Hillary Clinton’s significant delegate lead…

Clinton anticipated the losses: She barely campaigned in the three states, making just one day of stops in Washington state, and was spending the Easter weekend with her family.

This was one of the more successful days of his campaign, where Sanders won all three states, gaining 104 pledged delegates; doubling Clinton’s 53. The author minimizes these wins to nothing, suggesting Sanders won only because Clinton let him, and that the victories were fruitless.

June 3, 2016: Sanders’ campaign adventure takes him from Hamilton to Rome

(Co-authored by Catherine Lucey)

He’s lagging in delegates and votes, but Bernie Sanders is still on one excellent campaign adventure.

In the past few months the Vermont senator and his wife, Jane, have traveled to Rome to attend a conference and met Pope Francis, toured Mount Rushmore and rallied supporters in sunny Puerto Rico. He’s scored seats for the Broadway musical sensation “Hamilton” and hobnobbed with celebrities at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Earlier this week, he dropped in on the final game of the NBA’s Western Conference finals….

Of course, Sanders is far from the first candidate to enjoy the perks of the trail [but f]ew candidates have taken as many side excursions as Sanders. In part that’s because they fear looking like they’re focused on activities other than winning voters….

Some of the activities do not seem like standard fare for a Vermont senator known for his workaholic ways. In his decades in Congress, Sanders has rarely attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a star-studded annual Washington affair. This year, he was seated at a front-row table with his wife, where he mingled with Morgan Freeman and Aretha Franklin….

To date, former Secretary of State Clinton has spent considerably less time on this kind of entertainment or travel. She has not made a foreign trip since starting her campaign. Presumptive Republican front-runner Donald Trump has not done as many side activities, though he has used his campaign to promote his products, including a Trump hotel under construction in Washington and a newly renovated golf course in Scotland, which he will visit later this month….

Clinton backers say they don’t begrudge Sanders his fun. “Great, he wants to have his YOLO moments, go ahead,” said Democratic strategist Mary Ann Marsh, using the acronym for the expression “you only live once.”

Clinton, Marsh added, “actually is trying to be president of the United States.”

Sanders, an unusually earnest and genuine politician, is painted as someone only on the campaign trail “for the perks.” His choosing to travel 40 hours to Italy for a five minute meeting with the pope, days before the critical New York primary, was not a spiritual journey, but just “a perk.”

It is strongly suggested that the only adult in the room, the only one actually “trying to be president” (despite spending Easter vacation with her family, instead of campaigning in those three states) is Hillary Clinton.

This is the work of an “unbiased journalist.” This is the story that the Associated Press decides to call “The Big Story.”

Outright hit piece

May 19, 2016: Trump more than happy to agree Sanders is getting a raw deal

(Co-authored by Jonathan Lemire)

Sanders’ path to the nomination has narrowed to the nearly impossible and campaign donations have plummeted.

But that reality hasn’t swayed Sanders, whose heavy emphasis on party functionaries and arcane political rules is a notable change for a candidate who’s long focused on curbing income inequality, regulating Wall Street and eradicating the influence of corporate money in politics.

Sanders and Trump have both seen themselves as victims of a system stacked against them by the establishment [and while Trump is over it because he’s now winning] Sanders and his supporters are simmering, if not boiling over, with that grievance now.

“I’ve been receiving phone calls from all over the U.S. — profane, sexist, they threatened my life, they’ve threatened my family,” said Nevada Democratic Party chairwoman Roberta Lange. “I feel threatened everywhere I go.”

In Nevada [at the Nevada Democratic State Convention], chair throwing, shouted profanities and even death threats to party leaders marked a meeting of the state party on Saturday. Sanders supporters accused Lange of stacking the rules against them. But those rules were approved by the state party’s full board weeks ago, party officials said.

Setting aside Nevada for a moment, this article portrays Bernie Sanders as someone who has abandoned his principles in a desperate attempt to grasp onto “arcane political rules” to do whatever it takes to beat Hillary Clinton. This is the exact opposite of the previous article, where it’s suggested that he’s not trying to win at all.

In Nevada, despite the best efforts of John Ralston, a chair was lifted and immediately put down. None were thrown. Death threats were indeed delivered to Roberta Lange by at least some Bernie Sanders supporters (as reported by Rolling Stone and Jezebel), but there is no proof that any attendees of the convention perpetrated these threats. Even granting that there were thousands of threats, Lange’s suggestion that the Sanders campaign incited them, let alone the nonexistent violence at the convention, is a tendentious stretch.

According to multiple first person accounts (here, here, here, here) and unedited videos of the event (Heavy, Reddit, Adryenn Ashley, the latter listed under “Nevada Democratic Convention livestream”), there was no violence and every voice vote went questionably against Sanders supporters. Rules that were indeed approved weeks before the convention we’re not voted on until the convention, a full half hour before the scheduled start time, when unsurprisingly, Clinton supporters were all seated. Finally, the results of the convention itself were affected by the 64 Bernie Sanders delegates whose credentials were challenged (compared to the 8 challenged Clinton delegates), resulting in a Clinton margin of victory of 30.

(To address one more important point not brought up in the article: The “vandalism” charge at the protest the following day, was sidewalk chalk, written on both the sidewalk and the side of the Nevada Democrats building. According to Nevada state law, this is considered “graffiti,” not vandalism. This and many other articles leave out the detail of sidewalk chalk, allowing the reader to assume that a stronger form of destruction and criminality was committed by Sanders supporters.)

Of Bernie Sanders’ tens of millions of supporters, an extremely small percentage threatened Roberta Lange (potentially criminal), wrote grafitti with sidewalk chalk (barely if at all criminal), and arguably acted inappropriately such as by shouting and cursing (not criminal). Conversely, in order to win at any cost, a large percentage, if not all, of the Nevada State Democratic Party leaders who support Hillary Clinton preemptively used their positions of power to take advantage of and abuse the entirety of the Nevada Bernie Sanders delegation for twelve straight hours.

Citizens’ Media TV

The Nevada State Democratic Convention is the reason Citizens’ Media TV exists. Adryenn Ashley and I met because I was watching her live broadcasts that day, that she and other state delegates were filming at the convention. Adryenn has a large following on Facebook and Twitter, and she shared her own (and everyone else’s) livestreams to millions of people. She is a major reason that the rumors of violence and vandalism of that day did not take hold as strongly as they could have. She filmed the chair being lifted (it occurs at around 4min:30secs). It is her footage that John Ralston tried to twist into violence. Not only did she broadcast that day, she continued reporting on the event, using the raw footage as evidence to tell the truth.

After witnessing how powerfully Adryenn used social media, I contacted her to see if we could take what she did that day to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Myself and a handful of other correspondents both in (Bernie Sanders delegates) and out (supporters and protestors) of the convention hall did the reporting with Facebook Live-streams, and she, from her home in Nevada, personally assisted all of the correspondents. She again used her reach to show the world what really happened, from our points of view. Not the narrative. Our coverage reached 1.4 million people, including almost 400,000 direct video views .

Excusing and apologizing for Clinton’s health and odd behavior

The author has twice notably excused and apologized for Clinton’s behavior and health. First, after a remarkably odd encounter in a coffee shop, where Clinton, in the midst of answering softball questions by Lerer and other reporters, jerked her head suddenly and repeatedly for a few seconds. Lerer, who was caught on camera as taken by surprise, explained the encounter as “an innocuous exchange.”

Perhaps eager to avoid answering or maybe just taken aback by our volume, Clinton responded with an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds…. Where I saw evasiveness, they see seizures.

Pretending that Clinton’s behavior was not, at the very least, really strange, is strange. This is what you expect from campaigns, not journalists.

Second, referring to Clinton’s stumbling into a van after a September 11 event, the authors write:

At least part of the blame goes to a simple cause: Clinton’s stubborn unwillingness to follow the advice of doctors, family and friends.

“This is just who she is. She is a workhorse. No matter who tells her, her husband can tell her. It doesn’t matter. Chelsea can tell her,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who served as chairman of her 2008 presidential campaign. “You’re not going to change her at this point in her life.”

After her Friday pneumonia diagnosis, Clinton was determined to “power through,” she told CNN late Monday.

Becoming almost amusingly self-aware, it continues,

Her supporters now are trying to turn the episode into a badge of honor — and a credential for the White House.

“This is a woman who works 20 hours a day and comes into contact with tens of thousands of people and you pick up germs and viruses and things like that and you get exhausted,” said Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut. “If you don’t get a cold or a virus or the flu or pneumonia in a campaign, you weren’t working hard enough.”

In other words, Hillary Clinton’s only fault is that she just cares too much.

(Is there something wrong with Hillary Clinton’s health, that she could not handle being the president? Probably not. I have no idea. And neither does she.)

Conclusion

The day after Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump, the authors described the loss as “stunning,” further confirming how out of touch they and the Democratic Party are, or pretend to be, about the sentiments of the electorate.

Many corporate journalists behave more like public relations, crisis management, and hit-piece writers than impartial journalists. Their true employers seem to be the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. which really means that they’re true bosses are the donors. Certainly not the Associated Press, an organization that describes itself as “the definitive source for news.”

That journalists like this are employed by supposedly reputable news organizations, demonstrates how compromised they have become and how far astray the public has been led. While there is plenty of real journalism done by these individuals and their employers, it is fatally undermined by the Democratic stenography and apologism that is consistently featured as the top story of the day, which in turn is treated as incontrovertible fact.

With each passing day, these “news” organizations seem less and less interested in furthering the art of journalism, and instead are slowly and permanently transforming into unthinking tools for their powerful, nearly omnipotent owners, whose only goal is to crush dissent and win at any cost.

With thanks to Ben Szioli for the editorial guidance.

More than half refused entry to so-called public Pinelands Commission meeting requesting comments on proposed natural gas pipeline

At its peak, more than 300 people are standing outside of St. Anne’s Church in Browns Mills, in the rain and near-freezing cold, forbidden from joining the Pinelands Commission meeting. The ostensibly public meeting is for comments on whether the natural gas pipeline, as proposed by South Jersey Gas, will benefit the Pinelands, and if it conforms to the commission’s charter and to state environmental laws. At 8:45am, forty five minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin, people were refused entry because the hall was filled to its capacity of 258 people. While the empty sanctuary and other rooms in the church can hold more, they are unavailable.

(This article has been published on Ocean County Politics. Here are the original-livestream posts: part one, part two.)

A handicapped woman who is unable to stand for long periods arrives at almost exactly 9:30, but is refused entry by a state trooper. She is given a chair. The trooper will not allow anyone to use the restrooms. “It’s one for one. If one person leaves, I’ll allow one person in. Sorry folks, we’re filled to capacity. Fire code.” Later, people on the inside report up to 20 empty seats, but according to the officers, “We’re counting physical bodies, not seats.”

Despite this, late arriving members of the commission and the press are let in. As one commissioner enters, he is stopped by a woman who requests that the meeting be postponed. The commissioner gives a terse and uninterested reply before quickly entering.

Live coverage by Jeff Epstein of Citizens’ Media TV.


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According to the Pinelands Commission spokesman the meeting was moved because, “Ultimately, we wanted to make sure we have enough space…” The meeting was not just for public comment. The normal monthly meeting for the commission, originally scheduled for January 13, was instead moved to the beginning of today’s meeting, adding to the confusion of when the public portion would start, and therefore when people should arrive.

“We want to larger space! This meeting’s a disgrace!”

Lena Smith of Food and Water Watch New Jersey says, “This process from the very beginning has intentionally tried to keep the public out.” Lena was later allowed in, shouted at the back of the room to the commission, “There are more than 200 people outside, shut it down!,” and was escorted out by police. A photo of her is the cover photo in the Burlington County Times cover story of the meeting.

At 9:45, Bill, a member of Chesterfield’s People Over Pipelines and a man with a booming voice, shouts to the officer, “You’ve got 100 people out here, shut it down!” The crowd breaks into a chant of, “Shut it down!” He tells the officer, “This is a public hearing! There are legal requirements for a public hearing! I want to participate, they have to shut it down! This is against the fundamental requirements of due process in a public hearing. You can’t do this.” He tells me the goal of this tactic is to tire the people out so they go away and stop fighting, in order to speed up and ease the permitting process.

For those against the pipeline, the goal is either for everyone to be let in to give their comments–and to hear everybody else’s–or for the meeting postponed and rescheduled for a larger venue. In August of last year, a similar situation happened. A public comment meeting was scheduled at a conference room in the Ramada Inn in Bordentown Township, that had a capacity for 200 people. Both then and today, there were reports of pro-pipeline union people being bussed in early to fill seats and further limit the seats available to the public. The meeting was postponed and rescheduled to the Chesterfield High School auditorium in October.

What do we want?! Shut it down! What do we want?! Shut it down!

10-year-old Ben is in line with his parents instead of attending school. His parents chose for this to be his first taste of real activism. “I’m here to help the Pinelands stay safe. And the world and nature to stay safe. And no polluting. And no danger. They’re trying to put a pipe there to make money. But you don’t have to put it in the Pinelands.”

At 10:30, one of the commissioners comes outside to collect a list of all those who wants to come in and give their comments (and then exit again). The person that escorts her out shouts, “She’s a commissioner!” The woman pauses at that, and then says, “I’m trying to accommodate everybody.” I ask if the commission was trying to accommodate everyone, why would they choose a venue that could handle less than half of the people? She did not respond.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

After five full minutes of heated conversation between the commissioner and the crowd, Pemberton resident Mark Georgia asks, “What is your capacity?” She responds, “I’m just a business person. I’m on the clerical unit.” But the crowd was told very clearly, while she was standing right there, that she was on the commission. “That was a mistake.”

Jennifer Coffey of the non-profit ANJEC, The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions has been involved in the fight for New Jersey’s environment for 15 years, and holds two graduate degrees in environmental studies. “I have never had the indignity of attending a meeting like this. I have been out here for three hours. My toes hurt it is so cold, and I’m relatively young and able bodied. There’s no bathrooms!” She makes the point that calling people in from outside to make their comments is unfair, because they have not had the chance to hear any of the preceding comments for context.

At 10:45, about half go around to the other side of the building, in order to shout at the windows where the meeting is being held. Two nondescript police cars, one on each sides about 200 feet away, keep tabs.

Some in the crowd are coordinating with those on the inside. One is watching a livestream of the meeting. At least two people use much of their testimony time to stand in silence, so the commission can hear the shouts of those being excluded. About half of those on the outside remain at the front door to ensure they will be able to make their comments when called.

Let us in! Let us in!

Jill Popko, former mayor of Bordentown is blowing a whistle. During her tenure, Popko was ejected by police out of an October public-comment meeting. “These people’s taxes pay the wages of the Pinelands Commission…. When these people go to the pearly gates, the Lord Almighty is going to look at them and say, ‘I don’t think so!’ These people are destroying the earth, they are destroying New Jersey, and they are getting paid to do it.”

Post-pone! Post-pone! Post-pone!

There are at least five families with young pre-school children standing out in the rain. One mother of a five-year-old was outside for four hours before being let in to make her comments. Other parents escape to their cars for a break from the cold and rain (and from having to constantly hold hands with their children), with some giving up and going home.

A mother from Wynnewood Pennsylvania has traveled an hour and 20 minutes with her 17-month-old girl and four-year-old son. She was walking them to her car to take a break from the cold, and was told that she would get a phone call when it was her turn to speak. Why did she travel this far? “Because we love the Pine Barrens. If you want to protect something that you love, you come out for it.”

Afterwards, a mother from Tabernacle tells me her story in a text message:

I arrived at 9:30 but it took ten minutes or so to find parking at the Veteran’s Park at the end of the block. The doors were locked when we got to the door at about 9:45. I waited in the rain with my two kids, ages four and three for about 15 minutes. We returned to the car where we waited for another hour and twenty minutes. We had packed lunch and ate in the car. We then went to a local store to let them get some energy out. Drove back around 1:30 and the parking lot was still full and people were still outside. We had to abandon and go home, because it was too difficult for my kids.

Another mother says, “I don’t want my children drinking dirty water.” I joke that her standards are too high.

This is on purpose! Shame on you! This is on purpose! Shame on you!

The meeting was not postponed, and the cold did indeed disperse most of the crowd. When I left at 12:45, there were around 20 people left. If their goal was to tire people out so they would go away and stop fighting, they succeeded. At least for today.

Bill, the gentleman with the loud voice, tells me that it is getting close to the point where more direct action, such as creating a Pinelands version of Standing Rock, may be necessary. “They can’t vote on it today. But the next meeting in February, they’re going to approve it, guaranteed. The only thing we have left is direct action and civil disobedience…. The only other thing we have is lawsuits.”

Rachel Delgado-Simmons, a resident of Pemberton, tells me, “This is my church. Saint Anne’s is my church. My mother sat in on the meetings where they created the Pinelands Commission forty years ago. They created this charter to protect the Pine Barrens. We live in the Pinelands and we’re going to save the Pinelands.”