By Alfred Lambremont Webre, JD, MEd
In 1971-72, while I was General Counsel and Assistant Administrator of the New York City Environmental Protection Administration (now called a “Department”) under Mayor John V. Lindsay, I was invited to speak to a group calling themselves the “Delaware Valley Industrial Engineering Association.”
At the time, I was often in the New York city newspapers, especially the New York Post, whose then environmental reporter Steve Lawrence, reported widely on the my activities enforcing the New York City air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution and solid waste laws and regulations with the half-dozen activist environmental lawyers in my office. Invitations for me to speak publicly on environmental issues were frequent, and when I was invited to speak by this organization, I accepted.
“Delaware Valley Industrial Engineering Association.”
On the day of my talk, a representative of the organization came my office on the 23rd floor of the New York City Municipal Building and together we set off in his car. He was a middle-aged bureaucrat-type; very different from the community-based environmental groups I often spoke to.
On the trip to the venue of the talk, we exchanged pleasantries. The representative was, however, mostly silent and unlike the environmental activist group representatives I was used to dealing with.
The car trip grew much longer than expected. I queried my host where we were going and he would simply smile and say something like “We will get there soon.”
According to one source, the Delaware Valley is “The Delaware Valley is a term used to refer to the metropolitan area centered on the city of Philadelphia in the United States….The Delaware Valley is composed of several counties in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey…The majority of the region’s populace resides in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.”
Delaware Valley and DARPA Project Pegasus
Andrew D. Basiago, a Washington-state attorney and childhood participant in DARPA Project Pegasus (1968-72), has stated that many of the East-coast U.S. functions of DARPA’s Project Pegasus were centered in New Jersey in the 1971-72-time period.
We finally arrived several hours later at a nondescript office building and entered a hall on one of the upper floors of the office building. There was a lectern at the front of the hall, where I would speak.
There were about 50 or so people in the audience of the hall, all expecting me. The people in the audience were not at all like the community-based environmental activist audiences I usually spoke to in New York City at that time. The people in this audience were all male, dressed uniformly in shirts with ties or suits.
Smirks on the faces of the bureaucrats
As I approached the podium and was being introduced, I scanned the audience. I would make out a noticeable smirk on the faces of a number of the audience members. This was unusual, as environmental audiences at the time did not smirk, were not dressed in bland office garb, and were not uniformly male bureaucratic types.
As I spoke, I felt that I was being observed and measured for performance in a way that was unspoken and did not relate at all to the content of my talk, which was the urban environmental agenda of the early 1970s.
At the end of the talk I was asked a few perfunctory questions and then soundly applauded, which surprised me. I was given a mug with the words “Delaware Valley Industrial Engineering Association” on it. I kept the mug in my NYC EPA office as a memento.
If I were to summarize how I would characterize the experience at the time, I would say “cognitive dissonance.” The audience and the true purpose in inviting me to speak did not add up and in my judgment had nothing to do with my role as a crusading environmental lawyer.
In researching this article, I was not able to locate a “Delaware Valley Industrial Engineering Association,” and I doubt that such an organization ever existed except as a cover for a DARPA covert time travel surveillance event of Alfred Lambremont Webre.
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