Carol A. Hoernlein P.E.
Opinion

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.

  • Why LG Should Reconsider Height of New HQ

    The Palisades of the Hudson - New Jersey

    Pangea

    Recently I had the honor of meeting a lady, a true lady in every sense of the word, who opened my mind. It was near Christmas time, and I and my husband were invited to a concert given by Florence and her son that changed my world view. Tiny and frail, her heart and her mind are as expansive as the planet itself.  She spends her days bringing people from all over the world together to speak the universal language of music.  The theme of the concert that night was Pangea and the music was specifically written and played to celebrate the concept and the reality that was Pangea, the original continent that once contained all the others.

    Why …


  • Bridgegate: I Want My Money Back

    The Bridgegate Report - Throwing Money Away

    Defective Product

    The expensive report assembled by the$ 650 /hour Christie administration attorney, Randy Mastro of the firm Gibson Dunn, and Crutcher, and released on March 27, but paid for by the New Jersey taxpayer, was not all it was advertised to be. Containing imaginative descriptions that call to mind a badly written novel, the report, assembled by friends of the Governor, and lacking backup for its sexist assertions has roundly been called a “whitewash”. 

    I am reminded of biased science reporting I see often these days, where the actual data behind some breathless reports about this or that finding actually contradict the conclusions of the very same report. The text messages buried in the report actually describe a targeted …


  • When Unions are Used as Political Weapons

    hammer

    Sometimes a Student is just a Student

    Last week when Gov Chris Christie declared that anyone opposing him at his carefully crafted town hall meetings was sent by CWA, the union representing State Employees, his favorite punching bag, it seemed to me to be the largest case of transference I had ever seen.

    As a former state employee and former member of said union I was struck by how quickly – within mere seconds – he declared the protesters as all CWA members.  They were not. Some were residents of NJ and students.  But Christie’s instantaneous conclusion leap was telling.

    The Amazing Race

    You see, just recently, Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, who had relieved the traffic congestion in …


  • Nutrition Advice – Why We Always Get it Wrong

    The Four Food Groups

    The latest news this weekend that new studies show no danger from saturated fat again demonstrates how little the “experts” know about nutrition.

    I have been trying to write a book about food for a decade now. I have nearly given up. The science is changing daily because our knowledge is still evolving. Every day something new pops up and it makes me go off down another scientific rabbit hole it takes weeks to emerge from. However, after studying food science and practicing food engineering in the halls of international food companies, I have come to a few conclusions I’d like to share.

    Searching for BigFoot

    We all know how one week a food is the “SuperFood” and …


  • Saving the Palisades – Again

    The Palisades of the Hudson - New Jersey

    Bergen Battles

    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, …


  • Bridgegate – The Comic Relief

    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 …


  • Bridgegate: The Real Conspiracy Was the Toll Hike

    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 …


  • Hoboken – Why Sandy Relief was Inadequate

    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 …


  • NJ – Governing “With the Spirit of Sandy”

    The Logo for the 98th Annual NJ League of Municipalities Convention 2013 in Atlantic City

    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.

    NJ’s Superfriends

    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 …


  • Bridgegate: Was it to Justify the Toll Hikes?

    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 …


  • Bridgegate: NJ Real Estate and Corruption

    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 …


  • Bridgegate – The Cliffhanger

    Movie Studio Still Image from The House of Hate - at Cliffhanger Rock in Fort Lee. The image is of Pearl White - the original Damsel in Distress - Pauline - of the Perils of Pauline. This image is the iconic one used by the Fort Lee Film Commission.

    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 Scene

    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 …


  • Bridgegate: Governor Christie, Stop Digging

    Google Earth image of the approaches to the George Washington Bridge.

    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 …


  • NJ’s “Shadow Governments”

    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 …


  • Playing in Traffic – GW Bridge Toll “Gate”

    The infamous 3 lanes.

    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 …


  • NJ Election – The Party Bosses Won

    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 …


  • US Energy Policy Harms Native Americans

    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 …


  • $24 Billion Tantrum

    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.  …


  • US Debt Ceiling & The Art of Magical Thinking

    Little Girls, Imaginary Friends and Magical Thinking

    Tea Party

    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, …


  • The Embarrassing US Shutdown – How We Got Here

    Nobody's Happy

    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 …



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