Lawyer: Any delays in moving Fort Monmouth's mission costly



The remaining $285,000 a month would be due to project management and planning and design costs, according to the certification by Carl Penski, the project's manager. Penski's certification was contained in one of two responses filed by the government to a lawsuit filed by the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1904, which represents some non-military workers at the fort.

The U.S. Department of Justice, including U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Christopher J. Christie, is representing the Department of Defense and the Army in the lawsuit and made the arguments in papers filed last week and earlier in October with U.S. District Court Judge Mary L. Cooper.
The two sides are expected to hold a teleconference on Monday with Cooper's magistrate over claims by the DOD that some documents sought by the union do not exist.
Federal judges are each assigned magistrates, or minor judicial officers, who handle the details of each case for the judge.

A full hearing in the case is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday in Trenton.

The documents that are expected to be at the heart of Monday's phone conference are a cover letter and certification statement that the union claims should have been attached to answers submitted by fort personnel to 22 questions posed by the Base Realignment and Closure commission in 2005, prior to the commission's decision to shutter Fort Monmouth and send most of its mission to Aberdeen.

The government's lawyers claim those documents do not exist, said Eugene LaVergne, the union's attorney.
The fort's answers to the 22 questions — some of which were used by the DOD in its official response to the BRAC commission — contained a warning that data used to calculate the costs of closing Fort Monmouth were wrong, and included more accurate data. The Asbury Park Press's ongoing investigation into the decision to close the fort has revealed those warnings were ignored.
Among the issues expected to be argued at Thursday's hearing are:

The motion made by the union for the judge to issue a stop-work order on the contract to build the new C4ISR campus in Maryland.

The Army's contention that the BRAC commission did not have the authority to require the DOD to submit a report to Congress stating that the move of Fort Monmouth's mission to Aberdeen would have no adverse affect on the global war on terrorism. In its legal filing, the government stated that it would, nonetheless, submit the report by the end of the year.

The government's motion to dismiss the union's suit.
LaVergne said nothing in the DOD's responses was surprising.

The union includes in its suit the BRAC commission's initial finding that in making the recommendation to close Fort Monmouth, the DOD "substantially deviated" from six of the eight criteria that were to be met in making such decisions. The government argues that claim is "demonstrably false," even though the statement is included in the BRAC commission's final report.
LaVergne said the government's responses provided nothing new.

"They advance the same arguments they've advanced in every BRAC case in the past two years," LaVergne said. "Their position is nothing short of outrageous. They're arguing that a pineapple is a grape and there's no valid way to support their argument."

"Despite their best efforts, we'll still have our day in court," LaVergne said.

Union president John Poitras said the government has once again "fabricated and misquoted what the law is concerning Fort Monmouth and its closure."

Bill Bowman: (732) 643-4212 or bbowman@app.com


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