Carol A. Hoernlein P.E.
Greetings From The Garden State
Carol is a licensed Water Resources Civil Engineer practicing in Northern NJ. In 2007, Carol became known statewide in NJ as an elected official/political blogger by raising awareness of NJ political corruption not being covered by the local press. Before switching careers, Carol studied Food Science and Agricultural Engineering at Rutgers and worked as a Research & Development food process engineer.
Latest by Carol A. Hoernlein P.E.
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | March 10, 2014
What do flat screen TVs, a national historic landmark and NJ political dysfunction have to do with each other? Plenty, if you live in North Jersey. The current battle waging in Bergen County right now, pitting town against town is not Bridgegate. It is the battle over the height of the proposed new LG headquarters in Englewood Cliffs.
National Natural Historic Landmark
I have a little background on this, since I used to be the NJ engineer for the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and I actually narrated the documentary about the creation and the building of the Palisades Interstate Park which invites millions of visitors from around the world each year. The Park is part of me, …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | March 3, 2014
You knew there had to be at least one funny Jersey angle to this whole sordid cynical story of NJ corruption, didn’t you? I guarantee you haven’t heard this story yet. I was fortunate to witness the craziness firsthand and simply remembering it still makes me laugh, if only for a moment, until the seriousness of the corruption once again sets in.
Funny Fort Lee
At the time, a few of my friends from Fort Lee, a wonderful bunch who have the most infectious sense of humor and share it generously, came up with a silly idea. While Chris Christie was running for Governor against Jon Corzine, these Fort Lee folks wondered, wouldn’t it be fun to run a campaign …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | March 2, 2014
The latest Bridgegate bombshell out shattering any scintilla of public trust still left in the Christie Administration dropped today. The toll hike was simply a cynical ploy abusing commuters for political impact to make the Governors of NY and NJ look good while creating a bi-state slush fund to be used to reward friends and punish enemies. The tolls were apparently raised exorbitantly high so Christie and Cuomo could look like good guys for making the Port Authority lower them, at the same time, the excess would be used to fund pet projects so they did not have to look like they were raising taxes.
Former and current Port Authority employees reveal the “War Room” tactics to Shawn Boburg of …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | January 25, 2014
Exactly what part of NJ is tidal, anyway?
Watching Steve Kornacki on Up this morning I was struck by the ignorance that still surrounds what happened during Hurricane Sandy to NJ, NY and Connecticut communities North of “the Shore”. I began to shout at my TV. The Republican legislator on the Bridgegate investigatory committee thought the $342,000 that went to Hoboken was plenty of money because, as he put it, Hoboken “did not experience a tidal surge”. Au, contraire.
The problem is, because of the Stronger Than the Storm ads, people outside New Jersey and even apparently inside it (legislators yet) think that Hoboken got their fair share of Sandy aid. They mistakenly think communities north like Hoboken were …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | January 18, 2014
The 98th Annual League of Municipalities Convention luncheon on November 21, 2013, was supposed to be the traditional annual address to a bipartisan gathering of the Mayors and Councilmembers that make up New Jersey’s 566 Municipalities. The theme was “Navigating Recovery & Renewal” (or “Dealing with the Devastation of Sandy”). And NJ Governor Chris Christie was a no show.
The League of Municipalities is not an imaginary group of cartoon Superheroes like we used to watch on Saturday mornings, but it is a pretty important group of folks in the State of New Jersey who help train and educate ordinary folks on how to be better elected officials.
Many folks wonder how New Jersey can operate as a …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | January 17, 2014
The reasons for the illegal lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in the Bridgegate scandal are still a mystery. Although Mayor Sokolich was blamed by Port Authority police officers, and Sen Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg was running for re-election and Christie would love nothing more than a Senate without her in it, and Steve Kornacki’s real estate theory was intriguing, we still have no proof.
Here is my theory, although not very Hollywood, it is logical and explains the involvement of so many people, including the Commissioners. The illegal closures may have simply been done to justify the toll increases that the Port Authority had rushed through and to distract from a scathing Congressional report that came out the …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | January 16, 2014
One of the most intriguing theories advanced in Bridgegate by Steve Kornacki that seems most plausible to my political sources here in NJ has been the real estate angle. That, as well as Port Authority Chairman David Samson’s possible role in the scandal and the utter silence of the Board of Commissioners.
Still a Whodunit
Currently the feeding frenzy centered around Chris Christie by the national media is viewed here as not helpful to the investigation. Partisans from across the country are trying to make this about Chris Christie and 2016 when the clues have not led directly to him just yet.
I have spoken to NJ Legislative staffers who have been swamped with phone calls from across the country …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | January 12, 2014
Bridge-Gate – The Cliffhanger
The past few months have been a slowly unfolding whodunit turned into a blockbuster overnight on January 8, as emails were revealed to the press that directly linked Chris Christie’s staff to the growing Bridgegate scandal. At first blush when it happened, it was billed as a petty fairytale of political vengeance by a few that went awry and widened to ensnare an unwilling cast of thousands in the world’s first pre-Hollywood film town. Fort Lee.
The dramatic backdrop for this story includes the breathtaking NJ Palisades along the picturesque Hudson River, overshadowed by what NJ residents consider the prettiest, as well as busiest, bridge in the world. Fort Lee was world famous long …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | December 23, 2013
When someone is in a deep hole, the way to get out of it is to first – stop digging. Not the kind of digging the investigators at the Port Authority, in Trenton, and now in Washington are doing. They aren’t in deep trouble. They are trying to uncover the truth, which could clear up the whole mystery of the September lane closures, now dubbed Bridgegate. Gov. Christie, by contrast, is digging his Presidential ambitions a hole he may have trouble climbing out of.
How to Get There From Here
The past few weeks have been interesting in the NYC area to say the least. As someone whose original hometown was Fort Lee until my parents moved me …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | December 18, 2013
I first heard about NJ’s Shadow Governments when I was invited to a press conference by State Senator Loretta Weinberg in October of 2007.
Senator Weinberg and the Assembly members of her district, Gordon Johnson and Valerie Huttle, used the term to describe the Commissions and Authorities in NJ run by un-elected appointees. The main one being investigated in 2007, was the Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority, although the Bergen County Improvement Authority, the NJ Economic Development Authority (that chose the Stronger than the Storm ad firm), the Delaware River Port Authority, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, now being hotly discussed, are some of the others.
These commissions and authorities have the responsibility …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | December 11, 2013
How to conduct a Traffic Study
Listening to the 5 hours of riveting hearings on the Port Authority lane closings at the George Washington Bridge on Monday, I started having flashbacks to my first engineering related job.
I was a Traffic Enumerator. I literally counted cars at intersections with my elderly co-worker Sam. Often folks passing by would ask if we were selling lemonade or waiting for a parade. We looked like a kindly old gentleman and his granddaughter sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk. But we were off to the side, not interfering, and certainly not directing traffic. In my lap I held a square traffic counter that had buttons all around the sides. The modern digital ones …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | November 7, 2013
The day after the General elections in New Jersey are like Christmas morning to political junkies here. We wake up and unwrap the newspaper to see what the electorate brought our towns. Is it a shiny new Mayor? Or a lump of coal – the same old corrupt politician?
In a NJ election, you never know what you will get because we are notoriously fickle and will vote instead of straight down ticket, all across the ballot. We Leave holes here to teach party operatives a lesson, or switch parties altogether. We split tickets with abandon. Maybe it is being in the most densely populated state – even though there are a lot of us – it is easy to …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | October 27, 2013
An Interview With A Lenape Principal Chief
A few weeks ago I was privileged to interview the Principal Chief of the last known Lenape tribe in New Jersey, Dr. Ronald Yonaguska Holloway, of the Sand Hill Nation. He spoke at length about his fight to stop the fracked gas pipeline to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania through the most sacred and environmentally sensitive parts of New Jersey and the Delaware River Valley.
The fact that the pipeline is being built in the Highlands region of New Jersey, a prime source of clean fresh drinking water as well as prime hunting and fishing lands used for recreational tourism, has local environmentalists up in arms as …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | October 20, 2013
When the dust cleared it was evident that the embarrassing tantrum the world witnessed over the past 16 days during the Government Shutdown cost $24 Billion.
Call me silly, but the Tea Party should not be calling themselves Conservatives anymore. A Conservative in America has traditionally been your staid, stoic Father who lived through the great depression surviving on flour dumplings because his family couldn’t afford meat. He works hard, prefers sameness to change, and small, steady progress to wild theories and erratic behavior. He wants to know what is coming next and hates surprises. He prefers an uneventful Sunday, raking the leaves, and watching a nice football game. Kind of like a hobbit. No adventures, thank you very much. …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | October 10, 2013
The popular bumper sticker “Tea Parties are for Little Girls with Imaginary Friends” would be funny if it were not so spot-on. Too many Tea Party members in Washington believe millions of imaginary voters agree with them. Due to Congressional approval ratings lower than tax day, even imaginary voters may stay home election day. The anguish we endure every time the Tea Party throws a tantrum and threatens to blow up our economy due to magical thinking coupled with ignorance so vast and deep, is tiring.
The current unpleasantness brings to mind a certain other tea party where the Mad Hatter, who I imagine resembles John Boehner, but less orange, holds court. To quote Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit, …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | October 5, 2013
The Dog Finally Catches the Car
Like the dog who finally catches the car, the Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party Republicans have just what they always wanted. They have brought the US government to its knees because they are blinded by one thought. No government = No taxes. They have wanted a shutdown since they convinced primary voters to get rid of the sane rational moderate Republicans and won their elections thanks to preventing students, seniors and minority voters from getting to the polls by voter purges, reduced early voting, voter ID laws, and gerrymandering. By stoking the anger of the populace and limiting the rights of people to vote, the Republican establishment brought this on themselves, but it …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | September 26, 2013
Our Unflattering History
There is a lot of unflattering American History that American children are never taught. Like the part where the newcomers from Europe weren’t kind to the hosts who saved them from starvation 400 years ago. Or the part where the very first explorers didn’t invite the Indians to dinner, they actually kidnapped a few as slaves instead. Or the first Thanksgiving in New Jersey declared by the Dutch Governor Kieft after he had ordered the slaughter of Lenape men, women, and children at Pavonia, (Newark) – the children actually ripped from their parents arms and literally cut to pieces and dumped in the river, while still shrieking.
Then there is the part about how Native Americans had …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | September 22, 2013
As a stormwater engineer I always feel strong emotions when the news turns to flood disasters anywhere in the world. As we wait for the latest severe Typhoon named Usagi to approach Hong Kong and watch the cleanup in Colorado, my thoughts turn to flooding and how we exacerbate the damage.
This past week Colorado – which had just faced devastating wildfires and drought not two years ago, faced an event similar in rainfall to what Hurricane Irene dumped onto New England and NJ a year before Superstorm Sandy. Even NJ had rarely seen 14 inches of rain in one day before Irene hit. Colorado is now dealing with the effects of a storm, like Vermont did, with no …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | September 16, 2013
As the United States watches Governor Chris Christie and US Senate Candidate Mayor Cory Booker in the next few weeks, as well as the antics of Tea Party candidate and one man sound-bite-generator, candidate and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, I thought I would share a few pieces of wisdom learned during my turn as a NJ elected official.
1) Just One Person Can Make a Difference
With billions of people in the world, it is easy to feel that your one voice does not make a difference. That one voice alone can’t possibly matter when drowned out by all the others. But that is what the powers that be want you to think.
A few years ago I was …
By Carol A. Hoernlein P.E. | Greetings From The Garden State | September 9, 2013
“Limited Strike” or Act of War?
This week, the World holds its collective breath. A military strike is seen by many as an act of war. In our Frank Luntz age of politics in America – language is being used in an Orwellian attempt to control public outcry about a possible US military strike in Syria. For years the Republicans were holding focus groups to change votes by abusing the English language and calling things their exact opposite. Now the Democrats are doing it too. “Limited strike”, no “boots on the ground”, “no regime change” as if calling a military strike something else would take away what it really is – an act of war. We all know that throughout …