Monthly Archives: August 2010

>Middletown Special Budget Meeting: 15 Minutes Will Getcha 11.79% Municipal Tax Increase

>I wasn’t able to make it to last nights special budget introduction meeting in Middletown, I had a prior commitment that I needed to attend. However, even if I had been able to attend I may not have gotten there in time anyway, by all accounts the meeting lasted only 15 minutes. It was called to order at exactly 6pm and was over by 6:15pm, I’m told.

Given the fact that there was a major power outage just prior to the start of the meeting, which made traveling the roads nightmarish for many, it is outrageous to think that the Township would not have held up the meeting for a short while to allow people to get to Town Hall in order to hear the presentation of the amended Municipal Budget.

But I guess when you have to announce something as painful as a 11.79% increase to the municipal tax rate the sooner that you can get the meeting over with the better.

From what I have been told by a few that were in attendance, it was like mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Town Administrator Tony Mercantante and CFO Nick Trasente had this big secret to keep. None of the 3 wanted to directly answer questions about the resolution that was introduced for the purpose of amending the proposed budget, which originally had called for a 13.87% tax increase.

When asked directly, by what percentage the tax increase to the Municipal budget was going to be, Scharfenberger kept responding “2.9%” (which has been Scharfy’s standard line). The question was repeated a few more times for clarification at which point Nick Trasente stepped in and told the questioners that the information was in the resolution document and that they were still making adjustments before the budget would be formally introduced on Sept. 7th at the next meeting (Township Workshop meeting).

At that point the meeting ended abruptly some 15 minutes after it started.

You can see the resolution for yourself >>> Here

The major change proposed to the budget is that the Township will be collecting an additional $5.3M from property taxes instead of $5.5M that was proposed earlier. So the Municipal tax rate will be increasing by 11.79% instead of 13.87% and most certainly NOT the 2.9% that Scharfenberger wants all to believe.
I hope to have audio of the meeting soon so that I can hear for myself what took place. When I have the audio I’ll post it here on the blog for others to listen to also.

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Filed under budget resolution, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Nick Trasente, special budget meeting, tax increase, Tony Mercantante

>NJPP Monday Minute 8/30/10: AND THEN THERE WERE TEN The gradual (and inevitable) decline of dual office holding in New Jersey

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Senate President Stephen Sweeney recently announced his retirement – from his other elected office, Director of the Board of Freeholders in Gloucester County.

That the ranking Democratic lawmaker in the state could hold two elected offices at once is unthinkable in almost every other state in the nation. Not so in New Jersey. Here, dual office holding has traditionally been viewed as a peculiarity, much like buying tags to use the public beaches or not being able to pump your own gas.

At least one of those traditions will end, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Sweeney’s retirement reduces to ten the number of dual office holders remaining in New Jersey, all of whom are covered by a special provision in the law that ended the practice more than two years ago.

Lawmakers in Trenton in 2007 voted to ban dual office holding for all state, county and municipal elected officials. However, the amendment to the law exempted those members of the Legislature who were already serving in another elected office on the day it took effect, Feb. 1, 2008. This ” grandfathering” allowed 19 of the 120 members of the Legislature to continue to hold dual offices – a practice outlawed in almost every state, as well as in federal law.

Before the law was rewritten in 2007, New Jersey statute explicitly permitted dual office holding. The law was originally written and enacted by the Legislature in 1962 in a direct response to a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in 1961 that barred a Morris County freeholder from also serving as a mayor in Dover Township.

Chief Justice Joseph Weintraub, writing for the unanimous court, said: ” As government becomes more complex and additional roles are assigned, the opportunities for dual office-holding must inevitably diminish. What remains constant is the demand of sound public policy that the incumbent in public office shall act with undivided devotion to duty. “

For nearly 50 years, elected officials in New Jersey have flouted that ruling. The singular argument for holding dual offices was that the people had the right to elect whomever they wanted to as their representative, and if it didn’t bother voters why should it bother others?

In One to a Customer, our 2006 report written by Tom O’Neill, NJPP considered the practice of dual office holding and found that it often insulated the office holder from accountability; frustrated the democratic system of checks and balances and inflated pork barrel spending. The report concluded: ” By creating a class of elected officials whose entire lives are embedded in politics and government, dual office holding raises the stakes of politics unacceptably high and erodes the idea of the citizen-legislator. It encourages expensive, cut-throat campaigns and protects elected officials from competition. Perhaps most serious for the long term well-being of New Jersey, it strengthens the most counter-productive aspects of our home-rule tradition. “

There is a growing, bi-partisan consensus in Trenton that the practice should end entirely.

Gov. Christie campaigned for election on a platform that included outlawing all dual office holding immediately, including for those grandfathered into the legislation. ” Dual office holding is simply wrong,” he said. A spokesman for the governor recently suggested that the governor was poised to announce a new package of legislation to address enduring issues, like dual office holding as well as a perhaps even larger ethical conflict, dual public employment.

Sweeney’s announcement last week did not come as a complete surprise. He has been promising to give up his post as Director of the Board of Freeholders since the dual-office holding ban was enacted.

Sweeney, who lists his occupation as an organizer for the International Ironworkers Association, has served on the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders since 1997. He became director in 1998. Three years later he was elected to the state Senate, and earlier this year was chosen by members of the Senate to serve as Senate President.

The timing was also opportune. The board, which oversees Gloucester County government, has come under scrutiny after being accused of more than 50 violations of the state’s open meetings law. State Superior Court Judge Francis J. Orlando Jr., who sits in Camden, has appointed an independent monitor to observe the freeholders’ meetings for six months and report back to him.

Regardless of the timing, Sweeney’s decision also sets a good precedent and should prove to the holdouts that giving up the authority of a local office will not diminish the power of a state office.

With Sweeney’s retirement, there are 10 dual office holders left in Trenton. They are:

Sen. Nicholas Sacco, D-Hudson, elected to the Senate in 1993. Sacco has been mayor of North Bergen since 1991, following six years serving as a city commissioner. He also has a full-time job as assistant superintendent in the North Bergen School District.

Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, appointed to the Senate in 2003, after serving two years in the Assembly. Sarlo has been mayor of Wood-Ridge since 2000, after serving the previous five years on the town council. He chairs the powerful Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean, elected to the Senate in 1993, after serving six years in the Assembly. Singer has been a committeeman in Lakewood since 1980 and served as mayor four times, most recently in 2009.

Sen. Brian Stack, D-Hudson, elected to the Senate in 2007, after serving four years in the Assembly. Stack has been mayor of Union City since 2000. At one point, in 2003-04, Stack held three elected posts: Mayor, Freeholder and Assemblyman.

Asm. John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, elected to the Assembly in 2001. Burzichelli has been mayor of Paulsboro since 1996.

Asm. Ralph Caputo, D-Essex, elected to the Assembly in 2007, after serving previously from 1968 to 1972. Caputo has been a freeholder in Essex County since 2002. One of the last “grandfathers” allowed by the legislation, Caputo sought and won re-election to his freeholder post in 2008.

Asm. Ronald Dancer, R-Ocean, appointed to the Assembly in 2002. Dancer has been mayor of Plumsted since 1990.

Asm. Joseph V. Egan, D-Middlesex, elected to the Assembly in 2001. Egan has been a city councilman in New Brunswick since 1982, but is not seeking re-election and his term will expire in January.

Asm. John McKeon, D-Essex, elected to the Assembly in 2001. McKeon has been mayor of West Orange since 1998 and was a council member for six years prior to his election as mayor.

Asm. Gary Schaer, D-Passaic, elected to the Assembly in 2005. Schaer has been a city councilman in Passaic since 1995, serving as council president for ten years. He served as acting mayor for 10 months in 2008, after Mayor Samuel Rivera pled guilty to attempted extortion in 2008.

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Filed under duel office holding, Gov. Chris Christie, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Stephen Sweeney

>New Tea Party Parody Commercial: Dick Armey, Matt Kibbe and FreedomWorks Get Help From Gadfly Actor and Ex-Tea Party Victim D.C. Douglas

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For Immediate Release:

Actor and voice over talent D.C. Douglas has, once again, offered to help the Tea Party movement with another video; a commercial for Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe’s book, “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto.”

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) August 26, 2010

D.C. Douglas, a veteran character actor and voice over artist, has offered to help Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe sell their new book, “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto,” by producing an internet commercial that Mr. Douglas feels captures the true essence of Matt Kibbe and the FreedomWorks modus operandi.

In April of this year, D.C. Douglas became a target of a FreedomWorks effort to get Mr. Douglas fired from his voice over job on a new GEICO campaign. He had upset Matt Kibbe with a sarcastic voicemail message he left on the FreedomWorks press line. Through hundreds of harassing phone calls, FreedomWorks prevailed and Mr. Douglas was replaced. Initially, Mr. Douglas was perturbed. But after some reflection and meditation, he realized he needed to help their movement – not fight it.

A month later, Mr. Douglas produced a Tea Party PSA that went viral and inspired thousands of people to look at FreedomWorks differently. He also gained over a thousand new fans and many other jobs in the process.

“After seeing Matt Kibbe trying to sell his master’s new book on Fox News recently, I kinda felt sorry for him,” Mr. Douglas confides. “Matt does actually think for himself sometimes, but he has no personality to speak of, really, to express himself. He sorta comes off like Igor asking you to donate your brain to his friend, Dr. Frankenstein. It’s a hard way to go through life. And he does seem kinda melancholy. So I decided to pitch in.”

Mr. Douglas took out time from his schedule to write and produce a spec commercial for Dick Armey, Matt Kibbe and FreedomWorks to promote their new book, “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto.” The commercial went live on August 25th.

“I know they probably won’t purchase it from me because they are fiscally responsible. Plus, they need to use most of their funds to step up their grassroots work for BP,” Mr. Douglas surmises. “But even my putting it on the interwebs for free is a small stepping stone to their stated goal of taking over the Republican Party in a hostile manner. And since they all have NRA memberships, I expect a huge shoot-out! I am so rooting for FreedomWorks!”

Mr. Douglas’ FreedomWorks commercial can be seen on YouTube and his personal blog: http://www.DCDouglasBlog.com.

Mr. Douglas can also be seen as the Captain of the Titanic II in the much anticipated and mocked B-movie, “Titanic II,” which was released on August 23rd.

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Filed under D.C. Douglas, Dick Armey, GEICO, Matt Kibe, political parody, Tea Party, video, YouTube

>Saturday Morning Cartoons:Yippee, Yappie and Yahooey – The Volunteers

>Why is it always so hard to find good help?

Pass the Pop Tarts and enjoy a cartoon before hitting those streets everyone.

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Filed under Hanna-Barbera, Saturday morning cartoons, Yippee Yappiee Yahooey

>President Obama’s Weekly Address 8/28/10: The End of Combat Operations in Iraq

>With the end of combat operations in Iraq days ahead, the President salutes our troops for their service and pledges to fulfill America’s commitment to them as veterans. 90,000 troops have left Iraq since the President came into office, and by the end of next year even the troops taking part in the non-combat mission will be home. The administration is upholding the sacred trust with our veterans by building a 21st century VA, making it easier for veterans with PTSD to receive the benefits they need, funding and implementing a Post-9/11 GI Bill, and devoting new resources to job training and placement to help those veterans looking for work in a tough economy.

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

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Filed under ending combat, GI Bill, Iraq War, Job Training, President Obama, PTSD, Verterans, weekly address

>APP Editorial: Beck’s rally not about honor

>The following editorial is from today’s edition of the Asbury Park Press. A simple Amen is all that needs to be said.

It’s hard to guess exactly what Glenn Beck is thinking today in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, on the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech.

Is his “Restoration of Honor” rally a way to honor America’s military, or is it rather, as Beck originally put it, a matter of “reclaiming the civil rights movement” — which begs the question: From whom does he intend to take it back, and whom would he like to see get it?

There is no shortage of angry, doughy, white guys in this country who feel shortchanged and cheated and, rather than looking in the mirror, prefer to blame every failure and setback in their lives on those with more melanin than their own pasty selves.

Beck may be a fool — a man who believes that President Barack Obama has a deep-seated hatred of white people, a man who, 30 years late, hears Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” and can’t tell the difference between a patriotic protest song and anti-American propaganda, a man who never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like — but he’s not stupid. He’s got red meat to hand out to the crowds.

But most Americans know he’s a clown. What Beck carries in his heart is no dream. It’s a nightmare.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Glenn Beck, Linclon Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr., Washington DC

>It’s Official, Special Budget Meeting Scheduled For Monday In Middletown

>It’s Official! Monday night August 30th during a special meeting of the Middletown Township Committee, the Township operating budget will be introduced to the public.

The following announcement was posted on the Township’s website:

August 30, 2010 Special Meeting

Notice is hereby given that an “Open Public Meeting” of the Township Committee of the Township of Middletown is hereby scheduled for:

Date: Monday, August 30, 2010

Time 6:00 PM Budget Meeting

Place: Middletown Town Hall

Conference Room
One Kings Highway
Middletown, NJ 07748

KNOWN ACTION ITEMS:
Introduction of Amendment to the 2010 Municipal Budget (Public Hearing to be held September 7, 2010 at a Regularly Scheduled Workshop Meeting)

These items are subject to change, information will be updated on our website.

I would expect the meeting to be short in length with not much oppertunity for the public to make comments – that will have to wait until the workshop meeting on Sept. 7th.

That however, shouldn’t be a reason for interested parties to stay home. This meeting is of significant importance to residents who feel that they are being taxed out of their homes by the Republicans that sit in the majority on the committee, the new tax rate will be announce and residents will then be able to figure out what their property taxes for 2010 will end up being.

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Filed under Middletown, special budget meeting, Taxes