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NORTH BERGEN – Larry Wainstein was leading a column of more than 100 boisterous, sign-waving people down Kennedy Boulevard Thursday evening when he remarked: “We have tremendous support in the community.”
He did on this night and on this block.
Wainstein also had an issue apart from his usual charge that Mayor Nick Sacco, who in Hudson County tradition is also a state senator, is corrupt.
That is a plan to build a power plant in the North Bergen Meadowlands.
Before the march, many of his supporters jammed into his storefront headquarters next to a pizza joint on 62nd Street and the Boulevard to hear Wainstein say he had filed suit to stop plant construction.
Defendants are the state, the town and Sacco himself.
Supporters of the plant, which includes the Sacco administration, say it would mean hundreds of local jobs and a revenue boost for the township. Opponents say the health risk is more important and also
note, disgustingly, that electricity generated by the plant would be used by New York.
Battles of this type are common around the state, but the city’s May 14 election seems to have galvanized opponents. For a man running for office, this is a good wave to ride.
Wainstein told the crowd that the administration doesn’t care if the plant threatens their health and that if elected, he’d stop the plant from being built.
Supporters chanted “Larry, Larry,” and then, “Have no fear, Larry’s here.”
Then it was time to march about 20 blocks to town hall for a rally. All this was symbolic, because there was no one at town hall at 7 p.m.
The march was uneventful up to a point.
One onlooker yelled that Wainstein should go back to “Saddle River.”
Nice try, but that was the wrong town. The Sacco camp alleges that Wainstein really lives in Franklin Lakes, not Saddle River. For the record, he says he lives on 74th Street in North Bergen.
Then there was a car sporting a Sacco campaign poster that stayed abreast with the marches. A man with a camera in the passenger seat recorded the scene as the car crept along. There were shouts back and
forth, but no real trouble.
Wainstein must know that the power plant is an issue that reverberates beyond North Bergen. Many residents and officials in southern Bergen County don’t like the idea either.
This can be a headache for Gov. Phil Murphy, who has talked about renewable energy and the wonders of wind and solar power. When the governor visited North Bergen earlier this year for a bridge opening,
he met protesters holding signs reading, “Don’t gas the Meadowlands.”
He told them that the plant is being reviewed by the state DEP. That could be technically true, but you have to figure that the governor could easily stop the review if he wanted.
Which brings us to Chris Christie, who lashed out at Murphy two weeks ago at a dinner in Sussex County. Talking to reporters afterwards, Christie ridiculed Murphy’s credibility on environmental issues and specifically brought up the North Bergen project.
Christie speculated that the plant has gotten to the review process only because there was a deal between Murphy and Sacco.
Chris Christie, may I introduce you to Larry Wainstein.