24-page report on Sandy spending ‘unacceptable,’ N.J. Senate president says

The leader of New Jersey’s Senate is criticizing a report from the monitors charged with keeping tabs on  federal spending for Superstorm Sandy recovery projects.



Senate President Steve Sweeney was the prime sponsor of a law enacted a year and a half ago that requires “integrity monitors” to oversee recovery contracts of $5 million or more.

The 24-page report the administration released is unacceptable, Sweeney said Monday.

“If the report was glowing, I’m sure we would have seen it, a much more detailed report. Obviously, the report shows we didn’t do as well as we need to,” he said. “At some point, let’s move beyond good and bad, let’s get the answers to the public, and let’s fix the mistakes and go forward.”

Sweeney said the state spent $5 million for the monitors’ work.

“We want to know what we did right and what we did wrong. We spent $5 million on these reports. So if you’re going to spend $5 million, you get more than 24 pages,” he said. “It’s almost a whitewash.”

Housing advocates joined Sweeney in calling for the administration to provide more details on what the monitors found. Doing so would help ensure that the recovery money was spent fairly and effectively — and that any flaws in the programs could be addressed in order to better deal with any future disasters.

Staci Berger, president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said not having that kind of information will leave New Jersey — and other states — in the dark.

“If we don’t know in detail what problems the state encountered, except anecdotally from the hundreds of people who’ve reached out to us and thousands who’ve reached out to our members, we can’t really make sure that a recovery process that might very well happen again here in New Jersey or anywhere else the country is better off than we were when Sandy hit here,” Berger said.

Sweeney said he hopes there will be enough public pressure on the administration to provide additional information so any mistakes with the recovery programs can be corrected.

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