8 Daniel Drive, Middletown, NJ 07748
MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP, MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ: Middletown committeemen Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short decided not to cooperate with the politics of parties over people at the April 20th session of that governing body.
The Middletown Committee’s Republican Majority adopted, by a vote of 3 to 2, a resolution they received from the New Jersey Assembly’s Republican Office that did not constructively criticize the governor’s spending plan – the resolution was just politics as usual.
“I’m not a fan of the governor’s budget, but this resolution was created for clearly political reasons,” said Byrnes, who is also running for a 3-year seat on the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders this year.
Byrnes noted that the proclamation adopted by the Middletown Committee did not offer any actual recommendations. Instead, it sought no tax increases, program cuts, personnel cuts or any other belt-tightening measures. In addition, the document was filled with partisan references geared to an election season instead of the kind of work government should be accomplishing when convened. “I expected a comment about a magic wand somewhere,” Byrnes said.
Byrnes faulted Gov. Corzine for not making the tough choices that should have been made in the spending plan this year, especially in the current economic environment. Some of the ways that Byrnes recommended should have been explored on the state level included: reigning in high-paying salaries for top state officials, examining ways to fundamentally revisit the organization of state government and the way it offers services, and exploring consolidation of services.
Otherwise, without this kind of thoughtful approach to critiquing the state budget, complaints about the spending plan lack real seriousness where it involves a subject that warrants it.
Short similarly criticized the language of the resolution, noting that state spending has to be examined in the context of the plan and government spending has to be reined in realistically. He stressed that much more work could be to improve the lot of state taxpayers, but noted that political posturing isn’t the way to achieve it.
Rather than engage this line of discussion, committee Republicans offered criticism without anything constructive in their arguments. Republican Committeeman Anthony Fiore criticized the financial subsidies that cities like Camden, Newark and Jersey City receive. He offered that more of an emphasis should be placed on suburban towns by the state.
Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger defended adopting the Assembly GOP resolution through his criticism of universal preschool in New Jersey.
Middletown Democratic Chairman Joe Caliendo noted, “If Republicans either in Trenton or Middletown want to make a change to give taxpayers a better break, they are going to need to have actual ideas of their own – not just criticisms. Democrats do not need to change parties to say what they think – because party lines aren’t what is going to change things for the better.”
Caliendo explained that it is not enough for Scharfenberger or anyone else to point to Trenton and say that the state government is the sole problem with what is wrong in Middletown. “When someone is usually wrong they look to shift blame from themselves. The Middletown Committee has been Republican controlled for 28 years and if there is a problem in this town with the budget and its oversight it isn’t Trenton’s fault. It is the fault of the people in charge of the town, and they happen to be Republicans,” Caliendo said.
He added that, where it involves Trenton, it was not Jon Corzine that created the state’s fiscal crisis. Rather, Caliendo noted that it was former Gov. Christine Todd-Whitman who did more to place the Garden State into the red than all of New Jersey’s governor’s combined, and she happened to be Republican. “If the Republican Party could stop lying, then Democrats wouldn’t have to keep telling the truth about them. There are things that could have been done better in this year’s state budget but it takes real recommendations to make changes and not just posturing by the GOP,” Caliendo concluded.