RESIDENTS’ BUSINESS PLAN TO OPERATE POOL CLUB PROFITABLY

Several members of the Middletown Swim and Tennis Club have been working hard behind the scenes to salvage the municipal pool club and protect our community asset from the Township’s misguided and rash plan to close and auction this valuable taxpayer asset.

At it’s January public meeting, the Middletown Township Committee announced the 2012 Middletown Swim and Tennis Club was in jeopardy of not opening due to their claim the pool club ran a deficit for the last three years of their 15-year ownership. The Township Committee cited a drop in membership for it’s revenue shortfall and said they would listen to any viable solution in order to open the swim club this Summer.

The SOS Committee (Save Our Swim Club) was formed to do just that. This group, comprised mostly of local business people, professionals, teachers and residents, collected financial records and Township documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Their finding showed a slight drop in membership but a sustainable membership base all the same.

The SOS Committee has developed a business plan – not only to operate the complex budget – but also provide a surplus necessary for future upgrades, ADA requirements and possible expansion. The plan includes moderate increases for cabana members with separate fees for membership. The SOS business plan also includes modified fees for the swim team, swim lessons, tennis lessons, day camp and daily day passes. Recommendations by the SOS Committee include ways to generate additional memberships and revenue through concession rentals and controlling daily attendance traffic into the pool club.

However, on February 6, 2012 the Township Committee held a planning meeting with motions to dissolve the pool club utility and set into motion the sale of the pool club property with deed restrictions, over continued pleas to slow the process, allowing more time for all interested parties to present their proposals on managing the pool club. They only sprung the news on the 1100+ members early this January in a press release. Prior to the Jan. 6th Town Hall meeting, there was no mention of the Pool utility dissolution…

The SOS Committee has found a sympathetic ear on the Township Committee noting with just 10 years left on the bond service, the annual payment will reduce by $100,000.00 in just 5 years allowing the Middletown Swim and Tennis Club to run at a surplus of over $150,000.00 per year with an operating season only 80 days long. This is even before proposed cost-saving and added revenue plans that the SOS committee has prepared. It does not make any sense why the Township of Middletown should make such a hasty and abrupt decision without looking for solutions. The Township has mismanaged the club for the past 3-4 years and instead of taking the steps to correct their mistakes, they are now looking to sweep all of the problems under a rug. How can we let this happen to our community? Aren’t our children, seniors and families worth it?

The next and most important meeting regarding the Pool Club will be held at Middletown’s Town Hall onTuesday, February 21st at 8:00pm. All Residents and Pool Club members are highly encouraged to attend.

For more information, e-mail: MiddletownSOS@gmail.com or visit our
Save the Middletown Swim and Tennis Club” page on FaceBook

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Filed under business plan, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, pool club members, press release, save our swim club committee

President Obama’s Weekly Address 2/18/12:Continuing to Strengthen American Manufacturing

WASHINGTON, DC— In this week’s address, President Obama spoke to the American people from the Boeing Plant in Everett, Washington about our efforts to strengthen American manufacturing and job creation here in the United States. He described how we can support businesses like Boeing, which is hiring thousands of Americans across the country, through steps like removing tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas and giving them to companies that create jobs at home. The President is committed to continue assisting businesses in selling their products around the world, and the United States is on track to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports within five years. The President believes that by boosting American manufacturing and supporting our job creators, we can create an economy that’s built to last.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player5x2.swf

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Filed under corporate tax breaks, economy, Job creation, Manufacturing, President Obama, small businesses, weekly address

Congressman Frank Pallone’s Statement on Payroll Tax Cut, Unemployment Insurance and Medicare Doc Fix

WASHINGTON D.C.—On Friday, February 17, 2012, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives on the extension of the Payroll Tax Cut, Unemployment Insurance and Medicare doctor’s payment fix. The bill will continue vital programs that provide tax cuts averaging $1,000 for more that 160 millions Americans, extend unemployment insurance payments for those who are out of work through no fault of their own and ensure that doctors can continue to treat Medicare patients. While the extensions of the programs are critical, Congressman Pallone expressed his disappointment that the programs have been saved by cutting benefits to federal workers and payments to hospitals and nursing facilities.

The following is the statement Congressman Pallone delivered on the House Floor:

Thank you, M. Speaker. Today’s payroll tax conference agreement will provide $1,000 in the pockets of more than 160 million Americans and ensure that approximately 3.5 million Americans will continue to benefit from much needed unemployment insurance. We have also protected seniors’ ability to see their doctors with an SGR fix through the end of the year.

Despite these critical provisions, this is a difficult vote to take. I am greatly disappointed over how these extensions are offset. First, the unemployment extension is paid for on the backs of middle class Federal workers. These hardworking men and women continue to be targeted in this Congress – but yet they are not the reason for our nation’s deficits. Meanwhile, my Republican colleagues refuse to require the wealthiest few to pay their fair share.

Secondly, the SGR fix is being paid for with critical health care dollars. In fact, the bill slashes one of the most important investments this country has ever made in preventive health. That is extremely short-sighted. We cannot continue down that path or we will never address the real cost concerns of our health care system.

Sadly, the bill also manages to cut from one provider – hospitals and nursing homes – to help pay for another – physicians. We cannot rob Peter to pay Paul and our health care system cannot sustain further provider cuts. Meanwhile, there is still no permanent solution to an ongoing SGR problem that cannot continue to be kicked down the road again.

I will vote in favor of this bill, but I do so with grave reservations. Thank you.

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, House Floor statement, Medicare, payroll tax, tax cuts, unemployment benefits

As A Matter Of Fact…Reality Check: Income Taxes Don’t Impede Economic Growth

by Jon Whiten | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

As Gov. Chris Christie prepares to unveil the specifics of his proposed 10-percent income tax cut at next week’s budget address, he’s working under a key tenet of conservative economics: that high tax rates harm economic growth.

There’s just one problem, according to a new national report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP): that tenet doesn’t match up with reality.

These claims are based largely on misleading analyses generated by Arthur Laffer, long-time spokesman of a supply-side economic theory that President George H. W. Bush once called “voodoo economics” because of its bizarre insistence that tax cuts very often lead to higher revenues. Recently, Laffer’s consulting firm has been very successful (with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity, and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page) in spreading the talking point that the nine states without personal income taxes have economies that far outperform those in the nine states with the highest top tax rates.

In reality, however, residents of “high rate” income tax states are actually experiencing economic conditions at least as good, if not better, than those living in states lacking a personal income tax.

The report pits the nine “high rate” states identified by Laffer (a list that includes New Jersey) against the nine states that don’t have a broad-based personal income tax in three categories: growth per capita, median family income and unemployment rate.

From 2001 to 2010, the “high rate” states have seen stronger growth per capita and less erosion of median family income, while the average unemployment rate has been the same as the un-taxed states.

The bottom line, according to ITEP?

“There is no reason for states to expect that reducing or repealing their income taxes will improve the performance of their economies.”

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Gov. Chris Christie, income taxes, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), New Jersey Policy Perspective

Gary Carter, Hall of Fame Catcher and Mets Star, Dies at 57

From the New York Times:
Gary Carter, the slugging catcher known as Kid for the sheer joy he took in playing baseball, who entered the Hall of Fame as a Montreal Expo but who most famously helped propel the Mets to their dramatic 1986 World Series championship, died Thursday. He was 57.

The cause was brain cancer, which had been diagnosed last May.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/?emc=na

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Filed under brain cancer, Gary Carter, NY Mets, NY Times, The Kids

Congressman Pallone Calls for Less Restrictive Flounder Quotas for Commercial and Recreational Fishermen

2012 summer flounder quota is 26 percent lower than 2011

WASHINGTON D.C. — Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) on Wednesday submitted a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) expressing disappointment in the reduced 2012 quota limits for summer flounder stock in the recently released interim specifications. The Congressman requested that NMFS approve a quota that is less restrictive. The proposed 2012 quota represents an approximate 26 percent reduction from 2011, which would significantly impact the recreational and commercial fisherman whose livelihoods depend on a fair flounder quota.

For years, fishermen in New Jersey have sacrificed catch and complied with strict quotas approved by NMFS to rebuild the flounder stock. Recently, NMFS declared the summer flounder stock rebuilt, but fishermen will still face restrictive fish quotas rather than benefitting from years of limited access to fish stocks.

New Jersey fishermen have abided by restrictive quotas long enough, waiting for the full flounder stock to be rebuilt,” said Pallone. “Now that the stock is rebuilt, it is critical to approve a less drastic flounder quota for 2012 so fishermen and related businesses do not suffer economically and can continue to operate.”

In the long term, in order to lift the burden on fishermen, Pallone has introduced the “Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding Americas Fisheries Act,” which will give the Department of Commerce the necessary authority to ensure that the nation’s fisheries are managed in a scientific way that protects fishermen and jobs.

“I hope the National Marine Fisheries Services will support my bill to create flexibility in managing fisheries so that both fishermen and fish are protected for the future,” said Pallone.

The following is the text of Congressman Pallone’s letter to NMFS:

February 16, 2012

NOAA Fisheries Service
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910


Dear Acting Assistant Administrator Rauch:

As you are aware, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently released interim specifications for the summer flounder stock for 2012. While I realize these specifications are interim and based on recommendations from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, I have concerns with the proposed reductions in quota.

The proposed specifications represent an approximately 26 percent reduction over last year’s quota which will have a significant impact on the regions recreational and commercial fishermen and related businesses. Particularly during these difficult economic times with American families struggling, the National Marine Fisheries Service must consider the economic and social impact of such a drastic decision.

As you are aware, NMFS recently declared the summer flounder stock as rebuilt. This is not an accomplishment that has come without pain. Recreational and commercial fishermen have sacrificed catch and complied with strict quotas that were based on an arbitrary rebuilding timeline. Fortunately, in the case of summer flounder, a 3 year extension reduced the annual pain that was inflicted. Still, fishermen were promised that this rigid rebuilding timeline would yield greater fishing opportunities once a stock was rebuilt.

As indicated by this year’s summer flounder quota reductions, it appears that fishermen are not benefiting as promised from these years of restrictive policies. This is in part due to the continued reliance on an overly precautious approach to management which unnecessarily places the burden on fishermen. I have proposed H.R. 3061, the Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding Americas Fisheries Act, which will provide the Department of Commerce with the necessary authority to ensure that our nation’s fisheries are managed in a sound scientific way that also protects fishermen and their contributions to our economic vitality.

I believe that it is critical that NMFS support these efforts to create flexibility in managing fisheries so that both fishermen and fish are protected. I ask that NMFS further evaluate its options for the upcoming summer flounder fishing year and approve final specifications that are not as drastic as those currently proposed.

Thank you for considering this letter.

Sincerely,

FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, fisheries, fishermen, flounder qoutas, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

Randall Gabrielan To Be Honored At The March 21st Meeting Of The Library Board

by Linda Baum

At last night’s Library Board meeting, the Board voted unanimously to present a plaque to former Board president and 25-year trustee Randall Gabrielan for his years of dedicated service and to rename the Library’s New Jersey room in his honor.

The New Jersey room is home to the many fine histories authored by Mr. Gabrielan, Monmouth County Historian, so it is a fitting tribute that the room should bear his name. A duplicate of the plaque will be on display at the Library.

The presentation will be made at the Board’s March 21st meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the Library’s main branch. Please mark your calendars and join me and many others in recognizing a lifetime of service and achievement.

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Filed under Board of Trustees, lifetime achievement, Middletown Library, Randall Gabrielan

It’s Your Town – Video Newsletter 2/6/12

As I announce last month, the It’s Your Town newsletter was going to be changing. It’s author Don Watson, had decided that it was time to stop writing about what goes on at Township Committee meetings each month and start showing residents what actually happens during Township Committee meetings.
Mr. Watson has announced he will no longer be presenting the newsletter in its current form recapping Middletown Township Committee meetings as he has done for the past few years. Instead however, it is with great delight that he now will present video recordings of the Middletown Township Committee meetings
Below is the first video which he recorded held on Monday, February 6, 2012.
“… It was an impressive meeting to launch the first recording. The Middletown Swim and Tennis Club community showed up to make their case for keeping the club off the auction block. The mayor thanked the past president of the library board, Randall Gabrielan, for his years of service. This of course was after the mayor asked for Mr. Gabrielan’s resignation the previous week. Also, something that rarely happens, the Committee voted on each new resolution individually.”, Mr. Watson stated in an email announcing the format change to subscribers of his newsletter.

It is hoped that this video starts a new era in Middletown, an era of transparency. This first recording shows what really goes on at Middletown Township Committee meetings. If readers of this blog take the time to watch this video and any videos that come later they will see and hear how our Township Committee deals with its citizens.
… Current and previous Middletown Committees said the people who want meetings recorded have a political agenda. They said recording the meetings would cost too much. They said giving the public video access would allow them to grandstand. You decide if videotaping the meetings is worthwhile..., Finally, I want to extend my personal thank you to the many concerned citizens who made this recording possible with their support. By uniting we triumphed over those who said it couldn’t be done. Many thanks. And as always, thank you all for taking an interest in your local government.”, stated Watson.
Don Watson will be offering the Township Committee a copy of this recording with the hope that they will post it on our Township’s public television access stations.
The video runs over two and a half hours, the first few minutes of the video you will hear a lot of noise. There are no guns being fired. It is a malfunction of the sound system.
As a companion to the video Mr. Watson has put together a PDF document that contains the meeting agenda and the resolutions that were voted on during the meeting. A box around an item is a link, bringing you further into the document to that resolution or ordinance. At the end of the resolution there will be a link bringing you back to the agenda. It is a little easier to follow along when you can see what is being voted on.

While watching the video pay attention to who speaks and who doesn’t speak from the dais, Township Attorney Brian Nelson is sitting next to mayor Tony Fiore. Nelson is an appointed official, not an elected official, yet he speaks as if he is!

It should be pointed out that although Nelson isn’t an elected official, he is a high ranking member of the Middletown GOP who makes a living off the taxpayers of the Township.
Watch closely for the arrogance and distain he shows for those that stand in front of the Committee. He rolls his eyes, laughs and snickers at the very residents that he makes his living off of.

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Filed under Don Watson, Its Your Town, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Randall Gabrielan, video newsletter, workshop meeting, YouTube

January 18th meeting of the Middletown Library Board sets the tone for the year. The Demands, the Numbers, and the Possibilities Part 3

by guest blogger Linda Baum

This is part 3 of my 3-part post on the 1/18/12 meeting of the Library Board. The next Library Board meeting is this Wednesday, February 15th at 7:30 p.m.

PURCHASING RESOLUTIONS — SERVICE CONTRACT FOR LIBRARY ATTORNEY

New Board member Michael Convery, an attorney, had many questions about the legality of resolutions and whether or not there was a need to bid out contracts. Ms. O’Neal noted that libraries have a statutory exemption from purchasing laws for books and materials. “Where is the list of exempt services?,” he asked. In the statute, he was told.

Mr. Convery suggested having an attorney sign off on resolutions and the vendor list. Ms. Murray went a step further and suggested that an attorney be present at all Board meetings. The new Township appointees agreed.

Those in the audience whispered, “Didn’t they want to reduce expenses???”

The other Board members felt that there was little need to have an attorney sit in on regular meetings – one could always be consulted if an opinion was needed.

Some background: While “major” boards, such as the Planning Board, may have a lawyer present at each meeting due to the nature of their work, “minor” boards, such as the Historical Commission, do not. The Library Board used to have an attorney at meetings at one time, but there was little need in view of the low hazard operation, and the regular attendance of a lawyer was eliminated.

Vivian Breen suggested, somewhat facetiously, that they seek pro-bono services – maybe attorney and former Board member Gregory Milne would be willing to donate his time. There was no response from the new trustees. (That was also how things went at the Township Committee meeting the night before when residents offered their free services to renovate the pool club. That offer fell on dead ears, too.)

When it was time to award the contract for attorney services, experience in library law took a back seat to hourly fee, office location, and labor law experience.

In my 1/9/12 post, “Attorney representing TOMSA and the Township also seeks appointment as Library Attorney at the January 18th Meeting of the Library Board”, I mentioned that experience in library law was a requirement for the job, or at least had been considered important in the past.

The new Township appointees didn’t feel knowledge of library law was necessary. Mr. Convery was particularly insistent about that, seeming to ignore that all of his earlier questions required response from someone with an understanding of the statute. He and others felt that an interpretation of the library law could be provided by any attorney. Labor law experience was seen as more important.

While applicants without library law experience had lower fees, Mr. Gabrielan pointed out that they might bill significantly more hours while they are getting up to speed on matters an experienced attorney would already know.

Ms. O’Neal suggested that the Board might lower its costs by issuing a new RFP to hire an attorney on a retainer. The new Board members declined to do that for now, opting instead to pay by the hour in case the Board decides at a later date that attorney attendance at meetings is not necessary, or at least that was a reason given. (I found it odd that the new Township appointees, after having shown uniform support to have an attorney at meetings, wouldn’t opt for a less costly fee arrangement and wanted wiggle room to change their minds about attorney attendance. That is surprising considering how critical they were of the Board, and its president in particular, for not having had an attorney at meetings in the past.)

Attorney Richard Leahey’s local office was touted as a plus by the new trustees, who pointed out that it would mean fewer hours billed for travel time to Board meetings. (I wondered if the push to have an attorney at meetings was in part so that they could make a stronger case to keep the contract local…)

Leahey lacks library experience, but his rate was among the two lowest, matched by McOmber & McOmber, P.C., also local and lacking in library experience. While the two candidates seemed “neck and neck” for a while, the service award went to R. Armen McOmber, whose application indicated he would provide service personally. Mr. Leahey’s work for the Township was mentioned as a possible conflict and factored into the Board’s decision.

The Library’s budget was amended to increase the amount budgeted for attorney services from $4,000 to $10,000, in part to account for the fact that this is a labor contract negotiation year.

THE BY-LAWS

On the agenda was the formation of an Ad-hoc By-laws Review Committee to update the by-laws for the increase in the Board’s membership.

Mr. Convery was very critical of the by-laws. He called them “terrible” but wasn’t specific. I don’t have a lot of patience for such vague criticism and look forward to hearing what specific changes he feels are necessary, and who will benefit

Mr. Gabrielan explained that the by-laws, which were last revised ten years ago, were simple by design and, while needing update in a few areas, met the needs of this type of operation.

(Add by-laws review to the list of things this year’s legal counsel will be billing for. I wonder if the $10,000 budget will be enough.)

PURCHASING RESOLUTIONS — BOOKS & MATERIALS

There were numerous purchasing resolutions on the January agenda, and that’s normal. The Library’s ongoing operation requires purchasing year-round. Ms. O’Neal noted that there are seasons of publishing – different items are ordered at different times of year — and that the Board reserves money at the end of the calendar year to allow for that.

Ms. O’Neal said that vendors have specialties in terms of what they provide, so different materials are ordered from different vendors, all of which were selected for their preferential discount schedules. She also noted that the Library has people who specialize in knowing what materials are required for specific subject areas.

The new Township appointees were hesitant to approve the purchases, one of which was an order of about $200K from the Library’s primary vendor. They had questions about how to review the orders and accounting. And that’s reasonable – they are new to this and there is a lot to know. The Board discussed training that would be available so that the new members could familiarize themselves with Library operations.

To me, the new Township appointees seemed conflicted between the need for continuity of Library operations and their apparent charge to cut the budget.

Mr. Gabrielan pointed out that these were pro-forma resolutions that the Board passes annually as part of normal operations for all New Jersey libraries, and he asked that the new members trust management and the other more experienced Board members.

The response from the new Township appointees was a blunt, “No.” And then they brought up Mr. Gabrielan’s books and then the accusations flew. They said, no one’s accusing anyone of anything, but…

Vivian Breen raised her voice, “This library has not been a problem. You’re
making this a problem, and it isn’t.”

Lawrence Nelsen harped, “No one had a problem with Bernie Madoff, either.” Audience members gasped.

“That’s totally different,” replied Ms. Breen, with restraint, considering.

Ms. Murray said, “We don’t feel there is a problem, but I don’t think it’s fair to invalidate our opinions because we don’t feel more comfortable.”

“But you’re invalidating what we’ve been doing for years,” said Ms. Breen, her voice elevated

.

Ms. Miloscia said that not everything needed to be ordered in February, but that they needed to start ordering. “Otherwise, you’re going to paralyze the Library,” she said.

Ms. Breen offered an analogy: “If you bought a supermarket, and you took over as boss, you would have to [continue]…purchasing cans to stock shelves until you figured out what was going on or you would go out of business.”

After discussion, the purchase resolutions were approved by the full Board.

For comparison, consider that the Township’s January bill list was approved by unanimous vote, and without any public discussion, by the Township Committee on January 17th, Ms. Murray’s first regular meeting as Committeewoman.

Note also that at the TOMSA Board’s February 9th meeting, a no-bid $343K engineering contract was approved without comment by the Board, who, coincidentally, voted at that meeting to approve their own salaries, a perk no other board in town gets. No other board in town gets the free medical benefits or pension credits either. Perhaps Mr. Nelsen should take a look over there.

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Filed under board attorney, Board of Trustees, budget cuts, by-laws, Lawrence Nelsen, Linda Baum, Middletown Library, service contracts, Stephanie Murray, Susan O'Neal

2012 KaBoom Fireworks Display Cancelled

Redbankgreen.com and Middletown Patch are both reporting today that this years KaBoom fireworks display over the Navesink has been cancelled. Security costs and inadequate funding for the event is sighted as the reason for the demise of this years upcoming event. RedbankGreen is also reporting that the Rumson fireworks display may be cancelled as well.

I am sorry to hear about this, there aren’t many places in the area that people can go watch a 4th of July fireworks display anymore. Personally, I haven’t seen the KaBoom display in years because I have avoid they area because I didn’t want to get all mixed up in crowd and then have to fight all the traffic. The last time I went it took nearly two hours to get out of town.

Still I hate to see it go, I guess if I want to get my fill of some fireworks I’ll just have to head over to the Keansburg boardwalk on a Friday night during the summer and catch them.

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Filed under 4th of July, Fireworks, KaBoom, Keansburg Boardwalk, Middletown Patch, RedBankGreen.com, the Navesink River