Daily Archives: May 26, 2009

Middletown GOP Candidate Massell Proposed Tax on Homeowners Who Cut Down Trees

Middletown Planning Board member and GOP Candidate for Township Committee, Steve Massell, recently proposed to the township committee that homeowners should be taxed for cutting down trees on their properties.

During the public comments portion of the May 18th Middletown Township Committee Meeting, Massell read from a front page article of the Asbury Park Press, the first paragraph of a story entitled “Justices OK tree-clearing fee in Jackson”.  
The paragraph stated that the “The state Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Jackson’s tree-removal ordinance, which requires property owners to replace any healthy tree taken down or pay into a fund dedicated to planting trees and shrubs on public property.”
Massell said that he was upset at seeing sections of town “clear-cut” by developers in order to build housing developments like Harmony Glen, which is off of Harmony road, behind the Shoprite. He felt that by charging homeowners upwards of $800 per tree (to be put in a general fund for tree and shrub replacement like the Jackson tree-removal ordinance calls for), would be a good way to dissuade developers from building in town. He never thought of the cost to the average homeowner that would like to build a single family home on a private lot or the homeowners that would like to expand their existing homes. Deputy Mayor Scharfenberger pointed out to Mr. Massell that as a member of the planning board, he should be aware that the township already has ordinances in place to force developers into replanting a certain number of trees that had been clear-cut once a new development has been completed.
Steve Massell then left the podium, mumbling to himself something about how he still thought it would be a good idea if the township committee considered the Jackson ordinance, which surprises me. One would have thought that Massell would have first talked about this with his fellow GOPers before presenting his idea in front of the committee, after all Pam Brightbill and Tony Fiore sit on the planning board with Massell.
I have a couple of things I would like to point out to Steve Massell:
First, as a Planning Board member, you have a say in how builders develop property in town. When a builder brings prints to the planning board for approval why don’t you insist that a property could not be clear-cut? Have builders submit plans that leave some trees and shrubbery in place, I am sure that an architects could handle planning such a development.
Second, in the winter 2005 edition of Middletown Matters, then Mayor Tom Hall address the issue in the Mayor’s Message titled “Keeping the trees was not an option for the Crestview Drive & Route 35 site”.

He stated, “…can’t help but notice a new landscape. The stretch of woods located next to the revamped shopping center has been replaced with a barren, unattractive construction site.” “…I share the sentiments conveyed by many in phone calls, letters and conversations: I’d rather keep the trees. However, that’s simply not an option.” 

So Steve, before you propose a tax on residents make sure that you do your homework first and check with the other members of your party before presenting such an idea, particularly since as a Planning Board member, you can already take steps against clear-cutting

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Filed under clear-cutting, developments and builders, Gerry Scharfenberger, Harmony Glen, Middletown Matters, Pamela Brightbill, Steve Massell, Tom Hall, Tony"the fibber"Fiore

Who is Sonia Sotomayor?

by Eric Zimmermann

 May 1, 2009

Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor is name most talked about as Justice Souter’s possible replacement.

What do we know about her?

Originally appointed to the federal court by President George H.W. Bush, Sotomayor was elevated to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton. Born in 1954, she’s a graduate of Yale Law School and served as assistant district attorney for New York County from 1979-1984.

In the next few days and weeks, we’re likely to hear a lot more on Sotomayor’s legal opinions, which will become fodder in a possible confirmation battle.

As a preliminary sketch, here are a few of the more colorful cases Sotomayor helped decide. NOTE: I am not a lawyer, so I can’t speak to the constitutional significance of each of these decisions.

In 2004, a panel of judges including Sotomayor revoked the citizenship of Jack Reimer, then 96, when it came to light that Reimer had served in the German Army in WWII. Here’s the twist: Reimer was originally drafted into the Russian Army, but was captured by the Germans in June 1941. He was forced to train as a guard and, prosecutors alleged, helped clear Jewish ghettos forcibly. Prosecutors alleged Reimer had misrepresented his wartime activities when he originally applied for a U.S. visa under the Displaced Persons Act.

Here’s how Sotomayor ruled:

“As an initial matter, Reimer argues that it would be unjust to consider his wartime conduct ‘assistance’ in persecution, contending that he was obliged either to go along with the commands of his superiors or face death himself,” Sotomayor wrote. “This argument, however, is plainly foreclosed by Fedorenko. There, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that those forced into the Nazis’ service should not be held responsible for their conduct, reasoning that, if Congress had intended for visas to be withheld from only those who voluntarily assisted in persecution, it would have stated so in the [Displaced Persons Act].”

In September 2003, Sotomayor joined in a ruling that upheld the constitutionally of so-called “perp walks” for alleged criminals. As long as there is not an “an inherently fictional dramatization” involved in the scene, the court ruled, perp walks could continue.

“The image of the accused being led away to contend with the justice system powerfully communicates government efforts to thwart the criminal element, and it may deter others from attempting similar crimes,” wrote Judge Fred Parker.

In 2004, Sotomayor joined a ruling that upheld a law targeted at the Ku Klux Klan that would ban mask-wearing in public.

“The masks that the American Knights seek to wear in public demonstrations does not convey a message independently of the robe and hood,” the court decided. “That is, since the robe and hood alone clearly serve to identify the American Knights with the Klan, we conclude that the mask does not communicate any message that the robe and the hood do not. The expressive force of the mask is, therefore, redundant.”

This is only a tiny glimpse of Sotomayor’s legal philosophy. Stay tuned as operatives on both sides of the fight dredge up past opinions of all the possible nominees.

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Filed under citizenship, Eric Boehlert, Jack Reimer, Justice David Souter, KKK, Ku Klux Klan, nazi, New Jersey Supreme Court, perp walk, SCOTUS, Sonia Sotomayor, The Hill, Zimmermann

Sotomayor to be Obama’s Choice for Supreme Court

News is coming fast and furiously, the AP and the Today Show have just announced that Sonia Sotomayor will be President Obama’s choice to succed retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justic David Souter. 

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Filed under Associated Press, Justice David Souter, President Obama, Sonia Sotomayor, Today Show, U.S Supreme Court

Odds on Favorite For Obama’s Supreme Court Pick

Just posted on Political Wire:

The White House will announce President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court at 10:15 am.

The Intrade political futures markets predict Obama will pick Elena Kagan, followed by Diane Wood, Sonia Sotomayor and Jennifer Granholm.


It is interesting to me that there are no men begin mentioned to replace Justic David Souter. We’ll just have to see later this morning.

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Filed under Diane Wood, Elena Kagan, Jennifer Granholm, Justice David Souter, President Obama, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justice, U.S Supreme Court

Obama to Announce Supreme Court Pick Today

 

A short while ago ABC News’s George Stephanopuolos announced on his Twitter page that President Obama will be making an announcement today, between 10:00 – 10:30 am concerning his choice to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court left by Justice David Souter. 

According to his latest entry  “… the rollout out team is ready to go when Obama pulls the trigger, and administration official tells me “stay on your toes.”
Who will it be? Stay tuned

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Filed under George Stephanopoulos, Justice David Souter, President Obama, Twitter, U.S Supreme Court