Monthly Archives: May 2010

Video CBS Sunday Morning: Lest We Forget

The following video was part of this morning’s CBS Sunday Morning Show. It documents the unselfish family tradition of Wayne Van Dornen and his efforts at placing flags at the grave sites of veterans near his home town of Clyde, Ohio.

The tradition started with his uncle and father, both WWII Vets, and now include 3 generations of Van Doren family members who placed over 1,000 American flags at McPherson cemetary alone last week.

“..When the Van Doren brothers returned from World War II they volunteered to place flags on Veteran’s graves near their home in Clyde, Ohio and has now become a family tradition…”

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Filed under CBS News, Lest We Forget, Memorial Day, Sunday Morning, Van Doren family

President Obama’s Weekly Adress: 5/29/10 Honoring the Fallen

Ahead of Memorial Day, the President asks all Americans to join him in remembering and honoring our men and women in uniform who have died in service to the country.

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Filed under Memorial Day, President Obama, weekly address

How Many Emails Did Middletown Receive When It Requested Resident Input Into Defeated School Budget? Not Close To 700 That Scharfenberger Stated

Well it seems that Middletown’s sorry excuse for a Mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger, has been caught yet again in a gross exaggeration of facts, which leads to the impression that the additional $500K over and above the previously agreed to $1.6M worth of budget cuts that the Board of Education presented to the Middeltown Township Committee back on May 3rd and May 6th was politically motivated.

This latest example comes from the many emails that were sent to the township’s website, after Sharfenberger came up with the brilliant idea to fore go an open public meeting to discuss further budget cuts that should be made to the Middletown school budget which was defeated on April 20th.
Scharfenberger stated at the May 17th Township Committee meeting and was quoted by all of the local newspapers that cover Middletown, that some 700 emails were sent to him via the suggestion portal that was set up on the township website for residents to voice their opinion on what items should or should not be cut from the school budget. Three days later a press release was posted on the township website stating that thanks to the residents for their input and that only 600 emails were gathered. Now after obtaining a copy of all those emails from the Township, I come to find out that the really number of emails sent in by residents was 501.
That’s a pretty big difference if you ask me, more so if you consider that many of the emails seem to be duplicates or have nothing whatsoever to do with suggestions on how to trim the defeated school budget, like spam and self indulgent compliments on defeating the budget. After looking through them, it really looks as if only 300 or so could be considered as legitimate.
Which leaves the question of exactly how many residents sent suggestions to the portal? Were only 50, 100 or 501 residents responsible for sending them all of those emails? We’ll never know for sure because only a small percentage of residents decided to sign their names to them, which was after all their prerogative, considering that the Township suggested that comments be left anonymously.
For anyone interested in reading all those emails themselves you can do so by clicking >>> Here

Note: For those that thought that their comments and suggestions would be kept confidential I am sorry to inform you otherwise, your comments are part of the public record for all to see whether you supported further school budget cuts or requested that the budget should stand as was at the time of the April 20th vote. Anyone could submit an OPRA request and receive the same information that I have.

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Filed under emails, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middeltown Board of Education, Middletown Township, Middletown Township Committee, OPRA, OPRA requests, school budgets

Middletown school board to vote on final spending plan

Good job by Jennifer Bradshaw of the Asbury Park Press reporting on the Middletown school budget that will be voted on at tonights Board of Education meeting (I included her report at the bottom of this post).

The meeting agenda and resolutions were posted on the BoE website late Monday afternoon , I didn’t see them posted until shortly after noon yesterday, but I was unable to post about it until know.
There are a number of things that I found interesting and that pertain to tomorrow night’s meeting that will be open for discussion:

  1. The Meeting Agenda – Page 5 of the agenda lists the reductions in the budget that the BoE will be moving forward with. As Jennifer Bradshaw reports in the article below the BoE did not follow the township committees suggestion to eliminate two vice principals, an assistant business administrator or a directors position for a savings of $347,000. Instead they found savings (breakage) from teachers that announced their retirements since the budget was first proposed.
  2. Personnel Committee Report – This report lists the names of district employees that have announce their retirements, resignations or leaves of absences and contains the resolution which authorizes the further reduction of the work.
  3. Certified Staff – This is a list of all the certified staff members that are being recommended for rehire with their salaries( I was happy to see some names that I am familiar with and disappointed in not seeing others)
  4. Tenured Transfers Reassignments – A list of tenured teachers, guidance counselors and CST’s that have been transferred to other schools or who have had their positions within the school district reassigned
  5. Superintendent Compensation Freeze – Superintendent Karen Bilbao has forgone her contracted raise for the upcoming year and due to the recent change in state law will be contributing 1.5% of her salary towards health benefits. Currently Bilbao contributes $1,200 towards her benefits, that will now increase by $463 for a total of $1,663 inwhich she will have to pay towards her benefits.

I have to give the Board of Education some kudos here because unlike the Gerry Scharfenberger and the Township Committee, in a true showing of transparency, the BoE released the revised budget with all of the important information that pertains to it before their open public meeting tonight. By doing so, the BoE has allowed those interested in their child’s education to see how the additional cuts to the budget will effect them and then allow those parents a chance to speak informatively at the meeting.

The Board of Education should also be commended at this time for not presenting a “doomsday” budget even though funds are tight and the budget is bare-bones, I didn’t see anything about the need to cut sports programs or extracurricular activities at this time, which is a good thing. But we’ll have to wait it out to be sure.

MIDDLETOWN — The Board of Education will vote on the final school budget numbers at its 7:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday night in the auditorium of High School North, 63 Tindall Road.

As part of a more than $2 million reduction ordered by the Township Council, $150,000 will be through a change in nursing services; $803,000 will be through a change to the district’s health insurance carrier; $58,117 savings came from the elimination of a night watchman position; $136,796 through reductions to individual school budgets; $250,000 was saved through salary breakage related to six retirements; $140,000 through attrition; and $16,204 through the elimination of a PR position.

Administrative position cuts suggested by the council do not appear on the final cuts — the council had suggested the elimination of two vice principal positions at the high schools, for a savings of $130,000 each, the elimination of an assistant business administrator position for a savings of $91,000, and the elimination of a $126,000 director position.

The final numbers will have a 2.2 percent increase on township taxes, according to the agenda….

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, budget cuts, Middletown Board of Education, school budgets, Superintendent Karen Bilbao

It’s your Town Newsletter Volumn 2, Issue 10 For 5/17/10; Resolution 10-151 Outlining Defeated School Board Budget Cuts Included

The latest edition of It’s Your Town Hall Newsletter is >>> Here.

In this edition the township bill list for the month is includes which makes the newsletter rather long. Also included are ordinances and resolutions that were voted on during the May 17th 2010, Middletown Township Committee meeting. These are at the end of the newsletter and can be reached using the links provided. The links are underlined in blue. There are links in the resolutions to bring you back to where you were originally.
Perhaps the most controversial resolution of the year, Resolution 10-151, which instructs the Middletown Board of Education to cut an additional $2.1M from its previously defeated school budget is also included. You can read what members of the Township Committee had to say about this resolution when it was introduced and voted on, as well as comments from members of the public that expressed concerns over the size and necessity of the additional spending cuts imposed.

As always, if you would like to be placed on a mailing list to have the It’s Your Town Newsletter sent to your inbox, send an email to and request it.

It is important for everyone to know how our local government is being run and most of all, how our tax dollars are being managed.
Correction – At the top of page 2 of It’s Your Town Newsletter the statement attributed to Deputy Mayor/Committeeman Tony Fiore is not accurate, it should read as follows:

“Committee looked very hard and tried not to cut that which would impact the children.”

“Committee looked very hard and tried not to cut that which did not impact the children.”

It was pointed out to me that a double negative was used in the sentences which
altered the meaning of what was said at the meeting. Sorry if there was any confusion.

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Filed under budget cuts, Its Your Town, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown NJ, Newsletter, resolutions and ordinances, school budgets

NJPP Monday Minute 5/24/10: Stand Up rally brings record crowd to Trenton to protest budget cuts

In the largest rally ever seen in Trenton, 35,000 New Jerseyans from all walks of life came together last Saturday to protest Gov. Christie’s proposed budget cuts that will harm the state’s working families, children, seniors and schools.

The crowd was a diverse mix of community activists, union members, and even parents and children who cheered loudly when speakers criticized Christie’s plans, saying that the state’s most needy residents would suffer the most.

Over 100 community organizations endorsed the rally, among them faith-based organizations, environmental advocates, direct service providers, represents of Latino and African-American groups and children’s advocacy organizations. Community turnout for the rally was coordinated by Better Choices for New Jersey with a clear message to the governor and Legislature: stop the cuts and restore the tax on New Jersey’s highest income earners.

The Legislature last Thursday approved a bill to restore the income tax surcharge on those making $1 million or more. The Governor wasted little time vetoing it on the same night.

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, protest rally, Trenton, union members

Primary Challenger Avallone Responds To Scharfenberger, While Gerry Ducks From Debate

In yesterday’s Asbury Park Press, in an article about the Middletown Primary, Mr. Scharfenberger is quoted as saying that ” I have a lot to learn”. This is actually pretty funny, because for the past 2 weeks, I have written letters and called his office almost daily for a debate or a meet and greet.

To date, I have not had the decency of a return call. If I have “so much to learn” why is Mr. Scharfenberger afraid to debate me!

It’s probably because, I have a MBA; I have been a resident of Middletown for over 25 year’s; I have owned and managed a business for over 22 year’s; have had to meet a payroll every Friday for 22 year’s; have had to balance a budget for 22 year’s; and been an active member of the community and our church.

What have we had with Mr. Scharfenberger in charge; a municipal tax rate that has gone up 16% over the last three year’s.

And, he thinks “I have a lot to learn”.

There is still plenty of time left before the June 8th primary, and I challenge you Mr. Scharfenberger to a debate. In fact you can name the venue, you can pick the moderator, and you can select the questions. Just let me know where and when. I will be there, and this time I hope you show up!

Tony Avallone

Republican Candidate for Middletown Committee

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, debate, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Tony Avallone

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Baby Huey – Quack-A-Doodle-Doo

Let’s blop ourselves down on the easychair and breakout some “Quakers”, It’s cartoon time!

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Filed under Baby Huey, Saturday morning cartoons

President Obama’s Weekly Address: 5/22/10 BP Spill Independent Commission

The President announces that the independent commission he created for the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling will be chaired by former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham and former EPA Administrator Bill Reilly. He promises accountability not just for BP, but for those in government who bore responsibility.

Learn more about the government response >>> Here
Learn more about the commission >>> Here

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Filed under BP Oil Spill, Deepwater Horizon, disaster response, EPA, independent commission, offshore drilling, President Obama, weekly address

Scharfenberger’s Green Initiative: Buy 5 New Trucks With SnowPlows While Laying Off 40 Employees

Gerry Scharfenberger likes to think of himself as the father of the Middletown Green Initiative, after all it was his idea even though there isn’t much to show for it except for the promise to turn off some lights and eventually install a few solar panels on the top of the Arts Center.

That was until now.

The Township has just taken possession of 5 brand new,beautiful Chevy Sliverado pick up trucks equipped with snowplows at a cost of $33K each.

Can someone tell me what he and the Township Administrator must be thinking when they purchase over $160K worth of trucks when the Township started the year with a $5M budget deficit? Do they think that the road to fiscal responsibliity must be driven down in trucks that cost the taxpayer $33K each?

How is a purchase like this justified when the Township has plans to layoff about 40 employees? Who is going to be driving these trucks? Maybe the Township will have the laid off employees use them to drive to the unemployment office. I am sure that the Police Department is glad that they agreed to a salary freeze for this year. We need to save every penny possible so that purchases like this can be afforded. At $33K each this totals well over $160K, which is the equivalent of salaries for 4-5 average employees on the Township payroll.

The Mayors’ Green Initiative should be about saving the green not spending it, especially since the Township does not have it to spend.


Instead of parking these new vehicles in the Public Works Yard they are located in the school parking lot at Croydon Hall. They have not been registered yet, either.

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Filed under Chevy Silverado, Green Initiative, layoffs, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown