Hurricane Sandy: New Jersey Shore One Year Later

A Victim’s Perspective


It has been one year since Hurricane Sandy struck the New Jersey Shore and changed my life. I will never forget the days leading up to evacuation. I will also never forget seeing the damage to the town where I once lived, Sea Bright, for the first time riding in on a bus one week after the storm.


I am still haunted by the images of those days in the aftermath. I am still kept awake some nights by the horrible destruction I saw in the town of Union Beach, when my wife and I drove through there two days after the storm. Life in some areas is coming back to “normal”, other places still look like the storm rolled through yesterday.


The federal relief aid has, for the most part, not arrived here to the areas of New Jersey which were hardest hit. FEMA is a bad word around here, they pulled out of the area and left people high and dry. The inspection process for many was not a very positive experience.


I have lived in the northern Shore area for my entire life, and I had never seen the type of destruction that I saw last October in the wake of Sandy. I also never saw so many acts of kindness and generosity.


I saw neighbors helping neighbors, but I also witnessed strangers from other parts of the state or region helping people they had never met before. In my own experience, I was in a bad car accident three weeks after Sandy, and I was injured to the point I could not lift anything. My wife and I would not have been able to salvage some of our belongings or get rid of the stuff that we needed to clear out of our home without the help of family members, but also the kindness of volunteers. Those volunteers, we had never met them before, came in on the weekend and helped us with a tremendous amount of difficult work, which due to my injuries, I could not physically undertake.


It is those experiences which provide me with hope that we will move forward from Sandy as better people that our communities will be stronger and our commitment to rebuilding the Shore will have lasting resolve.


My Story, Our Story


My story and experiences relative to Hurricane Sandy are not much different than the stories that my neighbors and fellow effected residents would share. My story is our story, it is a story of hope in the face of despair, it is a story of strength and not of giving up, it is a story of compassion for others and not isolation and it is a story of gratitude for the days ahead without taking anything for granted anymore.


I have covered the events of the days since Hurricane Sandy struck for several websites, news sources and a local magazine. I have written about the harmful effects of mold in flooded homes and businesses, and the government relief funding programs.


I have covered the impact the storm has had on our infrastructure, the increased costs of repairs to sewage and water treatment facilities and the remarkable progress made by some towns in the months following this terrible event.


I have fought back tears as I covered the “Sandy Ground Project” playground opening in Union Beach which brought a new playground to that ravaged city and dedicated it to the memory of Jack Pinto, one of the children killed in the Newtown, CT school shooting. I watched as children from Union Beach and Newtown played on the slide or the swings surrounded by a town struggling to rebuild from Sandy.


I smiled with residents of Union Beach as they showed me the work they had done to move back into their homes, which they once thought was impossible. My heart was so happy for them, and so grateful they allowed me into their lives.


I covered the impact of the storm on the small business community and their struggles and unbelievable stories of success in overcoming insurmountable odds to open for business again for the busy summer tourist season.




I covered the transformation of the boardwalks and the renewal of the Shore, detailing each town and the pitfalls and successes they had in gaining funding and rebuilding the boardwalks which are the backbone to the tourism industry in New Jersey.


I covered the visit of Prince Harry to the boardwalk in Point Pleasant and correlated it to a day where I met a member of the British royal family so many years earlier, and the hope that his visit provided to New Jersey.


Finally, I covered the slow cleanup and rebuilding in towns with working class demographics such as Keansburg and Union Beach. I detailed the resolve that the people in those towns had to restore their communities against the red tape of the government and the lack of relief funding.


Looking Back, Looking Forward


I look back today, one year to the day of Sandy striking our Shore, and our state of New Jersey, and I realize how many lives I have touched through all of these articles I have published. I also realize how many lives have touched me in a profound way.


It was a distraction for me to write these stories to bring positive energy, to make a difference in the lives of others who had nobody to advocate for them because with my injuries I could not do much else to help in the effort. I was also committed that I was not going to just sit still and watch, I was going to participate by writing, by writing what I saw and who I spoke to. My story, your story, our story.


Hurricane Sandy will not define us, we will define our future. I look forward today and realize that I have covered a lot of aspects of this event. I focus on the hope, the hope for a better tomorrow that I know is within our grasp. My story is just one of many, I have shared the stories of many others. The most profound part of today and reflecting back is that I realize it is just the beginning.


My story, your story, our story continues in the days, weeks and months ahead.

New York Red Bulls Win Supporters Shield

The New York Red Bulls made a huge stride to erase their long history of disappointing results and difficult seasons for their fans by winning the Supporters Shield last night for the first time. The trophy came to New York by virtue of the Red Bulls 5-2 victory over the Chicago Fire in front of a sold out crowd at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey (


The Red Bulls were impressive in their dominance of the Chicago Fire, especially if you consider that Chicago needed to win the game to gain the last spot in the Eastern Conference for the MLS Playoffs (


Significant Victory


The victory for the Red Bulls was significant for two reasons:


  • The team did not melt down in a big spot where they had to win to get the best record which is what prior editions of this team have done in the past
  • The Supporters Shield now gives New York the home-field advantage throughout the MLS Playoffs, including for the first time this year the home field for the MLS Cup championship game should they advance to that point



The Red Bulls are a very good home team so the ability for them to play most of their playoff games in Red Bull Arena is an excellent advantage for them. This statement should be qualified though, with the fact that the Supporters Shield does not guarantee a championship.

In fact, only six times in MLS history has the winner of the Supporters Shield gone on to win the MLS Cup championship ( However, in my opinion, not many of those teams enjoyed the type of home field advantage that the Red Bulls have this season. I think the home field aspect is crucial for this team to have a chance to advance to the MLS Cup.


Forgetting the past


The challenge for Head Coach Mike Petke and the Red Bulls now that they will turn the page and enter the playoffs, is to forget the past. They need to forget the struggles that this team has had historically in the playoffs. They even need to forget about the success they had in the regular season because all that is not going to mean anything if they lose in the playoffs.


Instead, they need to move forward and focus on winning each round of the playoffs until they reach the MLS Cup game. This team is talented enough and has the right blend of stars (Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill) and role players (Peguy Leyindula, Fabian Espindola, and Dax McCarty).


New York also has the right coach in Mike Petke, who has done a masterful job this season, and the right goalkeeper in Luis Robles, who played outstanding at points this season. That combination of head coach and goalkeeper becomes critical to separate the elite teams in MLS.


The Red Bulls have a very loyal fan base who will support them along this difficult journey through the playoffs. The energy of the fans seems to really boost the level of play for this 2013 team. That will continue to be a factor in the final weeks of the season.


Playoff structure


Courtesy of NBC Sports and the MLS website I will provide the format and the list of teams which made the playoffs. The MLS has 10 playoff teams (5 from each conference) ranked in order of their finishing record from 1-5 in each conference.


The teams that finish 4th and 5th place in each conference play a one game “knockout game” to advance to the next round. The winners of those games will face the first place team in each conference in the semi-final round.


The 2nd and 3rd place teams play each other in the semi-final round, which MLS plays two games and takes the aggregate number of goals from each game to determine the winner.


The winners of the semi-final rounds will play in the Conference championship round, which is also a two game aggregate series. The winner of each conference plays one another for the MLS Cup, which is a one game winner take all scenario.


The playoff teams and rankings in 2013 are (courtesy of

Eastern Conference

  1. New York Red Bulls
  2. Sporting Kansas City
  3. New England Revolution
  4. Houston Dynamo
  5. Montreal Impact


Western Conference

  1. Portland Timbers
  2. Real Salt Lake
  3. L.A. Galaxy
  4. Seattle Sounders
  5. Colorado Rapids


In the format explained above, the Houston Dynamo will host the Montreal Impact in the first round “knockout game” in the East. The Red Bulls will play the winner of that game in a 2 game series with the first game on the road for New York and the second game at Red Bull Arena.


The MLS and NBC announced earlier today that the Red Bulls will play on national television on NBC for their first playoff game on Sunday, November 3rd at 3:30 PM Eastern time (




The Red Bulls match up well against either Houston or Montreal, and they played well in a victory in Houston a couple of weeks ago. I saw them manhandle the Montreal Impact in a game at Red Bull Arena this summer. So I like their chances in the 2 game series against either team.


The team to watch is Sporting Kansas City, they are a very talented team that is flying below the radar right now, and nobody in the media is talking about them. The MLS media focus is on New York, the drop Seattle took in the standings, whether the Galaxy can win three titles in a row, and the dominance of Portland down the stretch. Sporting Kansas City is going to be a threat in the East.


The MLS playoffs are upon us, and I will continue to follow the Red Bulls as they look to further erase the bad history of the franchise by competing well in the playoffs and contending for a championship. They have the advantage of playing at home, it will be interesting to see how this team will respond to the expectations placed upon them by the media and the fan base.


UPI Article Link

Please see the link below to my article published by UPI (United Press International) on the Chinese purchase of Smithfield Foods and the impact on the U.S. food industry:



Please feel free to share your comments on this article. Thank you for your continued interest in my work.

TV markets and the expansion of professional sports – Part 1

A major factor in the decision regarding the expansion of professional sports teams is the size of the television market for the respective city proposing to join one of the major sports leagues.


In the changing landscape of the medium of television, live sports event programming is a ratings gold mine for the networks. Due to the advancements in smart phones, tablets, social media, and other devices it has created a scenario where it is very difficult for a fan to not learn the outcome of a given sporting event.


These advancements have changed the practices for the viewing of sporting events because many of them are no longer recorded to watch at a later point. The fans of a respective sport want to watch the event live as it happens, which has created a surge in the ratings for sporting events on television, and it also creates added importance for the major sports leagues to be in position to capitalize on those ratings.


Each league has their own unique challenges when it comes to expansion and the maximization of television ratings and other revenue streams. This first part in a multi-part series will detail the current status of each of the “Big Four” sports leagues and their future potential expansion prospects.


The “Big Four” leagues are each in different positions in their own respective growth cycles with regard to expansion. This is driven by a variety of factors:

  • Size of the league currently
  • Locations of their current franchises
  • Current revenues/revenue projections for the future
  • Stadium/arena situation
  • Dedicated and stable ownership in the respective market
  • Corporate Sponsorship and local/state government support


A point of clarification on the revenues and projected revenues item listed above before moving into the individual leagues. Each league divides certain revenues among all of the respective member franchises.


Some leagues (NFL, NBA) have ownership boards that like the number of teams they currently have and do not want to “split the pie” too much further with expansion franchises. Particularly because most expansion teams will not be successful in the standings, so they could qualify to receive higher amounts of revenue sharing funds based on the rules for that respective league.


The revenues for the National Hockey League (NHL) are expected to rise but the league is at a point where they just came through a labor disruption with the 2012 lockout. The owners and players both have an interest in getting more out of their “piece of the pie”. One way for them to do this quickly is to expand the league because the fees paid by the new owners for entry into the league is an immediate revenue injection.


National Basketball Association (NBA)


The National Basketball Association (NBA) currently has 30 member franchises split into two conferences of fifteen teams each, within each conference are three divisions consisting of five teams in each division.


The NBA could conceivably expand by two teams to 32 at some point in the future. Those who follow the league know that they NBA just went through a roller coaster saga with the Sacramento Kings franchise and their ownership change.


The former owners, the NBA, and the city government could not come together on a deal for a new arena, and the current arena in Sacramento is badly outdated compared to other venues in the league.


It appeared that the team might be relocating to Seattle, where the league had a presence for years, until they moved the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City in 2008 ( The loyal fans in Seattle have been trying to get their NBA team back and were very upset that it was moved away (also over a failed new arena deal) and the NBA has been trying to correct that public relations nightmare ever since.


In the end, the city of Sacramento put together a solid ownership group to bid for the team to keep it in the capital of California. The NBA approved the deal because it did not want to relocate another franchise and have angry fans in Sacramento like they did in Seattle. The new ownership group quickly moved on a new arena deal in a different location of Sacramento than the previously failed sites, and the team did not move out of Northern California (


This last minute change thwarted all of the work that Seattle did up to that point to secure a new team to replace the franchise the city lost. Therefore when you consider the expansion markets for the NBA they are as follows: (all TV markets data courtesy of and the demographic info was provided by and the Fortune business info is courtesy of )


  • Seattle – they have a history and established fan base from the Supersonics years of being located there.

TV Market: ranked 14th

Metro area population: ranked 15th

Fortune 500 companies: 4

Synopsis/Outlook: The Seattle market is too large from a population and TV market size perspective for the NBA to ignore. They have a dedicated potential ownership group lead by Chris Hansen, who has spent large sums of his own money to secure land near the other 2 stadiums in downtown Seattle to build a state of the art arena. The political climate has changed because the officials there learned from the past mistake of not allocating government
funds to a new arena back in 2007-08. The public there is very dedicated to gaining a new team, and they have a built-in fan base. The outlook is highly likely that they will gain a team, either through expansion or relocation. The latest news here is the Milwaukee Bucks have an arena issue, and the NBA has said they need to solve it or else they would entertain relocating the team elsewhere. Seattle would be the first destination on the list for a relocated franchise, if the Bucks cannot get an arena deal consummated with the State of Wisconsin.


  • Tampa/ St. Petersburg – attractive location for the league could join Southeast Division in expansion.

TV Market: 13 (pretty big compared to markets currently in league)

Metro Population: 18th ranked

Fortune 500 companies headquartered: 0  (5 in Fortune 1000)


Synopsis/Outlook: The population demographics and the TV market size are strengths for this city. The arena there hosts an NHL team and is state of the art. The issues with a bid from this city are the lack of major corporations which could negatively impact: corporate sponsorships, luxury suite spending, and media air time buys. The other factor to consider was the area was hit hard by the recession and that could have an impact on attendance figures. The two other major detriments are no known committed ownership groups and the NBA has two other teams in Florida including one a couple of hours away in Orlando.


  • Pittsburgh – has the other 3 sports and wants to be a “Big 4” city

TV Market: 23rd

Metro Population: 22nd

Fortune 500 company HQ: several- including suburbs estimated 13-15


Synopsis/Outlook: The strengths for this city for the NBA bid are numerous including top 25 TV market, a brand new arena built for the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins, and very strong major corporation presence. The Sporting News has named it the “Best Sports City” in the past, and the fans of their current teams are known for their passion. If the right ownership group could put together a strong bid, this could be a very viable option for an NBA expansion franchise.


  • Kansas City – an outsider looking in – some good points and some question marks for a potential expansion bid.

TV Market: 31st

Metro population: 30th

Fortune 500 Company HQ: 3 (several other large corporations with offices here)


Synopsis/Outlook: This city is a solid contender for NBA expansion bid with the location being between Oklahoma City and Denver, which would create regional rivalries which help expansion teams. The arena, Sprint Center, was built in 2007 and the taxpayers desperately want a full time professional tenant to use it, since they shelled out money to pay for it. The players in exhibition games have raved about the arena being completely state of the art and nicer than some current facilities in the league. The arena is a huge component of an NBA bid and it is a very strong positive for this city. The issues here could be public support long term of the team with the immense popularity of the University of Kansas basketball team in competition directly. The right ownership group could be a challenge as well.


  • Louisville – my last entrant for the NBA based on a mention in an interview by NBA Commissioner David Stern regarding potential expansion sites.

TV Market: 50th

Metro population: 42nd

Fortune 500 Company HQ: 3


Synopsis/Outlook: Louisville is an interesting contender for an expansion team but might be on the outside looking in. If the NBA expands it will be by one or two teams and I think Seattle will definitely be one of them. The TV market rank looks bad at 50th –  but then the NBA has a current team in New Orleans, the Pelicans, and that TV market is ranked 53rd. Since basketball has very strong local support it generally does a solid rating even if it is a small market. The corporate presence is good here, and the arena is only a few years old. It is very close to Indianapolis (about 90 minute drive time) which could be looked at as a plus or minus by the league with a team currently in Indiana.




The last consideration as far as NBA expansion is concerned is the potential for European teams. Some might feel this is further away than it actually is, it could be a serious consideration in the next 5 years. The NBA and soccer are the only two global sports.


The NBA has so much international appeal that David Stern has talked about a potential division of teams in Europe. In my opinion, you are probably looking at London, Paris, Rome, one team in Spain (probably Madrid), and because of the health of the German economy probably two teams there for a total of six. I would think six teams would be the only way it would be worth launching in Europe, and is a solid number without overreaching in the early stages. The players would probably dislike the travel, but it is something that could become viable in the future.


The second part of this series will detail Major League Baseball, and the potential for expansion of the game that has defined America for generations.





Follow Up: EPA Regulations on Power Plants

I recently covered the EPA ruling on the regulations for new power plants in order to curb the further emissions of greenhouse gases. This story was prevalent in the news again today with coverage by both The Associated Press and USA Today.

Those news agencies reported that the EPA ruling will be reviewed by The Supreme Court to determine whether or not the EPA has the authority to regulate the emissions of the power plants (


The main issue is whether the 2007 Supreme Court ruling which allowed the EPA to regulate the emissions from automobiles under The Clean Air Act could be used to extend their authority to regulating the emissions from power plants (


Both Sides


The environmental groups are downplaying the decision today by The Supreme Court to hear the case. They feel that the unanimous decision the EPA received supporting the regulation in the federal appeals court will help their position.


The EPA believes they have a strong case as well, reporting to the AP that they have the right to protect the general public from pollution within the scope of The Clean Air Act.



The environmental groups also point to the fact that the Supreme Court rejected calls to overturn the 2007 decision as a good indication that the Supreme Court is setting the boundaries of the argument by the energy industry into a very tight frame (


Conversely, the energy industry feels that the decision by The Supreme Court to allow the case to be heard is a positive development in their cause. In my first article on this matter, I detailed the C.C.S. technology and the high cost it would require for implementation in a new power plant. In addition, the energy industry contends that the technology is unproven and they should not be required to implement it until it has been proven to be an effective technology.


The energy industry also feels that the Supreme Court could use this case to rule that the EPA has no right to regulate emissions from standing sources, such as power plants, at all (


The Stakes


According to reports, the EPA was going to use the cap on emissions for new power plants as a measuring stick for extending regulations of emissions on other standing sources of pollution. The Supreme Court ruling could either greatly enhance the EPA in this process, or greatly inhibit the EPA moving forward in that regard.


The AP reported that President Obama was giving the EPA a year to come up with standards for emissions on existing power plants. Subsequently, the Court decision could have drastic ramifications on that process as well. If it rules against the EPA, then they will have a tough legal battle trying to regulate existing power plants.


The energy industry has a great deal at stake here as well. If they lose their case, they obviously cannot appeal it any further, and it would have to follow the EPA regulations in any new plants by installing the C.C.S. system.


Moreover, they would be faced with certain new regulations on the existing power plants and the emissions from those facilities. Other standing sources of pollution would face similar regulations by the EPA, except this time it would be backed by Supreme Court precedent and The Clean Air Act.


These regulations, as I detailed in my earlier article, would have an impact on the American consumer, as it would drive up the cost of energy.


Environmental Implications


The environmental implications are very steep here as well. The evidence is there to suggest a link between greenhouse gas emissions, particularly of carbon dioxide, and climate change.


All of these other implications aside, we have a responsibility to our environment and we need to be much more effective at lowering carbon emissions and other pollutants. We need to protect our planet for future generations. It goes beyond the courts, the costs, and the designation of the role of government.


This issue is an issue of humanity, a question of:  what kind of conditions in our environment do we want for our children and our grandchildren? That is a big question, one which will transcend this case and needs to be a part of a much deeper conversation.

New York Red Bulls: Entering the “Home Stretch”

The New York Red Bulls enter the last stretch of regular season games in the lead for the Supporters Shield, which is the trophy given to the team with the best regular season record across all of MLS (Major League Soccer).


The Red Bulls further helped their cause with a pivotal 1-1 tie in a recent match against the Western powerhouse club, the Seattle Sounders, in a rain soaked game out in Seattle. These two teams are neck-and-neck in the race for the Supporters Shield, so it was an important result for the Red Bulls to get a draw in a very difficult place to win against a very good team.


The result of the match in Seattle was made even more impressive by New York because they played without Thierry Henry, their best player, who sat out the game because it was played on artificial turf. Henry has a history of leg and joint injuries, so the team did not want him to sustain an injury playing on an artificial surface this late in the season.


In his absence, Tim Cahill really stepped up for the Red Bulls and had an outstanding effort in the match in Seattle. New York returned home to play host to the New England Revolution last Saturday night, in a game that was crucial for both teams.


Playoff implications


The Revolution came into the match last weekend against the Red Bulls with a chance to still grab one of the playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, most probably the 5th slot, but they would have to play very well in their last three games to get into the MLS Cup Playoffs.


The Red Bulls came into the match needing either a win or a tie to clinch a spot in the playoffs, and are still very much in contention for the Supporters Shield, or at least for first place in the Eastern Conference.


The match was sold out at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. I watched it at home on television with my wife. The announcing team on MSG Network stated during their broadcast that when they arrived at the stadium at 3:30 PM, all the ticket windows had large signs hanging which read: Sold Out.


The crowd was a major factor in this game, I could see that the noise disrupted the Revolution and their ability to communicate on the field. The Red Bulls jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Fabian Espindola, and New York dominated the first half of play.


Controversial call


In the second half, around the 85th minute, the referee called a handball in the penalty area on Red Bulls defender Jamison Olave. The replays showed that the ball clearly hit Olave on the shoulder and the ball never contacted his arm. The fans booed loudly as Lee Nguyen stepped up and kicked a penalty shot by Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles to tie the match at 1-1.


New England suffered a setback a few minutes later when Andy Dorman was ejected from the match with a straight red card. The Revolution would have to play a man down the rest of the way.


However, Diego Fagundez capitalized on a mistake by Red Bulls defender David Carney, and shot the ball past a diving Luis Robles for their second goal of the match. Carney completely mishandled the ball, and should have cleared it out of the Red Bulls end, instead he tried to cut the ball back inside to the middle of the field. This miscue had the Red Bulls suddenly trailing 2-1.


I was in shock, this type of performance was indicative of other Red Bulls teams in the past, but not this team under Head Coach Mike Petke.


Cahill strikes again


The Red Bulls bounced back after conceding the goal, and they continued to attack the Revolution goal, which was more representative of the competitive team that they have been all season long.


New England goalkeeper, Matt Reis, had been very good after conceding the early goal to Espindola. He made two fantastic saves on Thierry Henry, and kept the Revolution alive in this game to allow them to be in position for the win.


In what would be the last play of the match, the Revolution would find themselves down two men, one because of the before mentioned red card, and another player was off the field getting treatment for an injury. The Red Bulls took advantage, and on a recycled corner kick, Tim Cahill put the ball past Reis and into the net! The Red Bulls tied the match 2-2 on the last play before the referee was going to signal the end of stoppage time, and New York clinched a playoff spot!


The fans at Red Bull Arena exploded, and I was elated at home, Cahill again came up with a clutch goal at exactly the right time. The Red Bulls regained the lead for the Supporters Shield with the tie, and they have a bye week before going to Houston to play the Dynamo on October 20th.


New England played well in the second half and could have really used the win, now they will have to play very well in their remaining games to keep their playoff hopes alive. They are currently 3 points out of the 5th and final spot in the East.


Supporters Shield – added importance


The New York Red Bulls clinched a spot in the playoffs but they have plenty of motivation to play hard the rest of the regular season because the standings are so tight in the Eastern Conference and for the Supporters Shield.


The Supporters Shield has added importance this year because the team that wins it will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and including the MLS Cup Championship Game. In prior years the MLS Cup Championship was played at a neutral site predetermined by the league.


The ability to have home field advantage for the playoffs and the championship game is critical for the Red Bulls because they are a much better team at home than they are on the road.


The Seattle Sounders, who could edge out the Red Bulls for the Supporters Shield have one of the best home field advantages in MLS. Real Salt Lake is also in the race and they have a unique advantage at home because of the thin air from the altitude there.


The Red Bulls have to finish strong this season to insure that they will not be travelling much in the playoffs as the quest continues to bring the MLS Cup to New York for the first time.