>APP: Late-night automated call irks Middletown residents

>Evidently those late night “Robo” calls made by Gerry Scharfenberger late Tuesday night that informed Middletown residents about the virtues of recycling cardboard and junk mail, pissed off an awful lots of residents, so much so that the phone lines down at Town Hall were flooded with complaints all day Wednesday and sparked an article that appears in today’s Asbury Park Press.

What bothers me here is, instead of taking full responsibility for placing these calls using the reverse 911 system (that should only be used in emergencies in the first place), the mayor and Town Administrator Tony Mercantante, blamed the phone service they used to place the calls. They said it was a “glitch” in the program, that the phone calls were scheduled to go out at 6:45pm and not the late hour that they did.

Another thing that bothers me is why were these calls made now, 3 weeks before the election? The “Recycle to Save” program has been in effect now for two months, residents have already been notified several ways about it. Was a late night phone call really necessary? I mean come on, I received my Middletown Matters Newsletter in the mail Wednesday morning. It devotes almost the entire front page to it (I’ll make sure that it makes it into the recycling bin when I throw it out).

Mercantante is quoted as saying “The whole Township Committee agreed to this, I don’t think it was done politically at all.” is a snow job in itself. From what I have been told there was no discussion prior to these calls being made, other than the initial discussions that took place months earlier, that calls to residents could be made to inform residents of the recycling changes It was never discussed that Gerry Scharfenberger would be making these calls. The calls should have been made by Ted Maloney the Director of Public Works, if calls were going to go out in the first place. Can you blame people for thinking that this call was politically motivated, to somehow give Scharfenberger a boost in his re-election campaign?

Here are a few reader comments that were posted on the APP website after the article so far this morning:

jerzyguy wrote:
Did he use the reverse 911 phone system to make these calls? I thought that was paid for by the taxpayers to alert them of emergencies. I guess using a taxpayer funded emergency phone system to tell people to vote for you would not be wise, so tell them to recycle. Maybe the Mayor thinks he should be recycled. That might be the hidden message to get people to vote for him. 10/15/2010 8:43:14 AM

breaker123 wrote:
The Mayor steps in it again. Check out MMM, he actually said the calls were Sean Byrnes’ idea.
They may or may not have been, but to do this 3 weeks before an election when it was not an emergency is suspicious. Why wasn’t it done 2 months ago when the recycling went into effect? Its already been printed in the Middletown Matters. BYW that was filled with propaganda and spin making our budget problems sound like eveything is hunky dory in Middletown. This was a thinly veiled campaign tactic pure and simple. 10/15/2010 8:59:15 AM

10centsworth wrote:

Yeah right,tell us another ridiculous story and think we are all ignorant.
This reaks,reminds of a little kid screaming for something it wants so bad it can’t behave
Nobody is fooled by the nonsense in this community…especially at election time !!!!
10/15/2010 9:04:46 AM

10centsworth wrote:

Recycling cardboard was Sean’s idea…
THE ROBO Calls are the mayor’s idea,another ridiculous attempts to annoy the voters of Middletown any way he can . .
We all are aware he wants something he may not get this time.
GROW UP SCHARFEY !!! 10/15/2010 9:13:02 AM

TrainedInvestigator wrote:
You know…when the phone rings at 9:47 p.m. and you look down at the caller i.d. on the phone to see that it is Middletown Township (fearing bad news) only to learn this was a recorded message spouting some drivel about recycling….you are truly left to wonder. I will certainly remember this call when I vote in Novemeber.
10/15/2010 9:21:56 AM

10centsworth wrote:
BTW….remember the use of the e-mail system at Monmouth University during election season for political purposes during a prior campaign. Didn’t learn your lesson yet,huh???
Using taxpayer dollars,for political propaganda enclosed in tax bills,town newsletters,etc. is questionable also.
The lawyer for this township is paid by the residents here to protect THEM (the taxpayers) in situations like these abuses. Why isn’t that happening? 10/15/2010 9:26:23 AM

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Gerry Scharfenberger, recycle to save, Robo-calls

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