Daily Archives: May 12, 2009

Coast Guard “KIDS DON’T FLOAT” Program Comes to Monmouth County

Now that spring has sprung and the weather is warming up boat owners are prepping their vessels for the summer boating season that will offically kicks off over Memorial Day weekend.

I recieved the following press release from the United States Coast Guard Auxillary that stresses the importance of wearing life jackets while out on the water, particluarly children.

The release announces details of this years “Kids Don’t Float” program that will be instituted in Monmouth County for the first time by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, based at the USCG Station on Sandy Hook: 

KIDS DON’T FLOAT, but if the US Coast Guard Auxiliary has its way they will. For many years the US Coast Guard and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary have been educating the public on the importance of all boaters using lifejackets, most especially children. In the State of New Jersey it is the law that children 12 years of age and younger must wear a lifejacket at all times while underway on the deck of any boat.

However preaching the obvious and getting results are two different things. Ten years ago a group called Safe Kids USA in Homer Alaska worked with the Coast Guard Auxiliary to establish a program of installing lifejacket loaner stations at local marinas. The concept is simple; they erected a rack on the waterfront and hung child size lifejackets on hooks. Boaters with children heading out on the water who did not have lifejackets could simply borrow one from the rack. It was understood that upon returning, the lifejacket would be returned to its hook ready for use by the next child.

The program was so successful that there are now 400 such sites across Alaska and the program has spread across the nation. Division 2 of District 1SR of the Coast Guard Auxiliary based at USCG Station Sandy Hook is instituting the KIDS DON’T FLOAT program here in Monmouth County. The first lifejacket station will be established at the Atlantic Highlands Marina, Atlantic Highlands, NJ.

The station and lifejacket rack will be erected on the waterfront in time to coincide with National Safe Boating Week May 16-23 2009. A ceremony establishing the station will be held on Saturday 16 May to kick off the program. The Division Honor Guard, local dignitaries, members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Active Duty Coast Guard representatives will join the boating public for this event.

Atlantic Highlands will be the first such station in our area and if as expected the program is successful other local marinas will receive stations too. The program will begin with six lifejackets available in children’s sizes. It is anticipated that the supply of jackets will grow through donations of local businesses and individuals. While it might be thought that offering these jackets for free with no deposit might lead to loss of the property, the experience in other areas has been that the supply of jackets actually tends to grow.

Nothing is more important to most of us than the safety of our children especially when they are engaged in as stimulating and satisfying an experience as boating. We invite and encourage all who are interested in boating and our kids to join us on Saturday, May 16th at 11 a.m. on the launch ramp at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina to launch this program. This will also be a great opportunity for people to visit with their neighbors who are members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and arrange for your complimentary Vessel Safety Check. Lets all start the season right for a fun and safe summer on the water.

For more information contact:

Bill Szilasi
Staff Officer – Public Affairs
Division 2, District 1 (SR)
(732) 275-6201

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands, Kids Don't Float, life jackets, National Safe Boating Week, Sandy Hook, United States Coast Guard Auxillary

Does A Cap On Legal Expenses Mean More Money For Lawyers Or Less? In Middletown There Is No Such Thing As A Cap!

If a township issues an ordinance or resolution to cap the legal expenses that an individual lawyer (who also happens to be on a $50,000 retainer) at $310,000 a year, doesn’t that mean that said lawyer doesn’t receive reimbursement for fees that exceed the $310,000 mark during that year?
I thought so, but apparently some of members of the Middletown Township Committee think otherwise.
Township Attorney Bernie Reilly, who until this year was the only Municipal Attorney in town, has been designated to handle all of the Townships litigation needs while new kid on the block and political cronie Brian Nelson, deals with municipal matters.  Each has been given the same deal with the Township, a $50,000 retainer and a cap on legal expenses of $310,000.
When Nelson was designated as Municipal Attorney and Reilly as Litigation Attorney, there were immediate objections by Patrick Short and Sean Byrnes, the Democrats that sit on the Township Committee.  In a time of economic stress and with a projected $3 million budget shortfall,they questioned how could the Republican majority justify doubling the expenses that the township pays in legal counsel.
They answered by saying, the expenses for each lawyer were capped at $310,000 each and because of Nelson limited roll as just “Municipal Attorney”, he should not exceed the cap on legal counsel that was in place. Their argument was the same for Reilly.
Well guess what, here we are 5 1/2 months into 2009 with no budget in place and the township committee slips in Resolution. 09-137  which authorizes the payment of an additional $7,041 to Bernie Reilly for work done in 2008.
How is this possible if there is a cap in place, a cap that Reilly agreed to no less? Unbelievable.
This is the game that the Middletown GOPers play to keep their buddies employed. They set a price, but have no intentions on holding their cronies to it. With the employment of two special litigators Nelson and Reilly, the potential to exceed the $310,000 amount stated in the resolutions voted on at re-org day is obvious now.
This is what keeps the tax rate on the upward spiral year after year (9.2% proposed for this year). If the town operated legally and stopped frivolous law suites against their adversaries (the Azzolina’s and Schwebel’s) there would be no reason for half the lawsuits brought on. 
And if this was not enough the Township also authorized the additional payment of $12,000 to The Special Construction Litigation Lawyer,Paul A. Sandars III of the law firm  of Lum, Drasco & Potisan LLC  for ongoing legal work on the Cultural Arts Center.  
Their legal work was capped at $45,000 by the township committee in Resolution 8-026 last year.
You can read more about this at MiddletownMusing, where Pat Walsh picks it a part.

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Filed under attorney fees, Bernie Reilly, Brian Nelson, Cultural Arts Center, Middletown GOP, resolutions and ordinances