(WEST ORANGE, OCTOBER 19) - Schundler for Governor campaign manager Bill Pascoe, responding to U.S. Representative Robert Menendez’s criticism of Jersey City’s emergency preparedness, today issued the following statement:
“It is extremely disappointing that the McGreevey campaign would use a sitting U.S. Congressman to attack the reputations of the hard-working men and women of the Jersey City Office of Emergency Management, Police Department, Fire Department, and Health Department. It is a sad day indeed when a faltering campaign, worried about polls showing a narrowing gap, looses an attack dog to impugn the good work of those who put themselves on the front line, all in the name of a political hit.
“Congressman Menendez should well know that Jersey City is perhaps the best prepared city in New Jersey to respond to a terrorist attack.
“Jersey City is one of only two cities in the state to receive both ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ and ‘Metropolitan Medical Response System’ grants from the U.S. Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services to train its emergency response personnel to respond to a terrorist attack.
“The Jersey City Office of Emergency Management has used these grants to train over 700 emergency response workers to respond to a terrorist attack that results in mass civilian casualties.
In fact, just this spring Jersey City firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical personnel from the Jersey City Medical Center staged a mock disaster drill which simulated a chemical weapons attack at a PATH station in downtown Jersey City.
“This practice drill was hauntingly familiar to the Jersey City rescue workers who responded to the World Trade Center attack on September 11, because as part of their training emergency personnel were tasked with setting up a mock temporary morgue in Liberty State Park to handle mass casualties from a chemical or biological attack. Jersey City emergency management personnel were asked to repeat this very same task, albeit for real, on September 11.
“It is our hope that if and when Congressman Menendez has legitimate concerns about the emergency preparedness of the towns within his district, that he would first ask the emergency management experts of those communities for the facts so that he does not needlessly and wrongly disparage these career public servants for his own political gain.
“I would also be negligent if I did not point out that of all the large communities within Congressman Menendez’s district, including Elizabeth, Union City, Perth Amboy, Bayonne -- AND WOODBRIDGE - the Congressman chose to question the emergency preparedness of the ONLY city that has done any true planning and training for a terrorist attack. Could it be that Congressman Menendez is playing politics in this time of heightened anxiety, or has he just not yet begun to examine Woodbridge’s record on emergency management training?”