Monthly Archives: November 2010

>Transparency Once Again Turns Opaque in Middletown; APP: Middletown missed loan deadline for dredging of lake

>Very interesting article that was online at the Asbury Park Press the other day which I have been meaning to post about. One of the big issues of this past years election was the issue of Shadow Lake and whether or not the lake was going to be dredged any time soon, according reporter Kevin Penton it now doesn’t seem likely to happen before 2012.

It seems as though, the low cost loan that Middletown had planned to apply for that would cover some of the costs of dredging was never applied for. The loan application needed to be handed in by Oct. 4th to meet the deadline for possible funding and it was never sent.
What I find most disturbing about this, is how Gerry Scharfenberger and other Middletown GOP members (remember Tony Fiore’s letter) mislead many residents that live by and around Shadow Lake into believing that dredging was eminent if only they could get approval from the DEP to bury the contaminated spoils in near by Stevenson Park.
Scharfenberger attended a number of meeting with residents of Shadow Lake Village while campaigning in October and never once mentioned that funding for the dredging of the lake was a problem. He lead all to believe that as soon as the DEP agreed to Middletown’s demand of using Stevenson Park as a dumping ground for the spoils the project would begin.
With this latest revelation about the dredging of Shadow Lake, it is sad to say once again that transparency of those in charge in Middletown is sorely lacking and is turning, as resident Jim Grenafege has said at many Township meetings this year, opaque.
It just goes to show that Republicans in Middletown will do and/or say anything in order to retain their position of power in town even if it means that they have to deceive others to get it.
My thanks go out to Kevin Penton for following up on Shadow Lake and bringing this information to light, it shows residents that those elected in Middletown like to play fast and loose with certain information that they deem a possible threat to them.
Eventually residents will wise up and show the likes of Gerry Scharfenberger and the others the view form the other side of the doors at Town Hall, the view looking in from the outside.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, dredging, Gerry Scharfenberger, kevin penton, NJDEP, Shadow Lake

>It’s Your Town Newsletter Volume 2, Issue 25, 11/15/10 Now Available

>This edition of It’s Your Town Newsletter covers the November 15,2010 Middletown Township Committee Meeting.

This is the largest newsletter edition of them all. Something new that the town has done is the reformatting of the bill list. Since there are still two lists of bills for the month and both were voted on as a single list, you will get to see the difference in the reporting of information. The old format and the new are included in this newsletter.

This meeting was the first Committee meeting since the election and many Committee members reflected on the campaign. Also of note were the residents that stood and questioned the Mayor over his lack of integrity for not disclosing his appointment to a State position by Governor Christie that comes with a $95,000 a year salary.

Read all about what went on down at Town Hall >>>> Here

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Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, Its Your Town, Middletown, New Jersey, Newsletter

>If you have kids in the Middletown school system is Vinnie Brand the most dangerous person in Middletown?

>

After posting last week about the possible resignation of Middletown Schools Superintendent Karen Bilbao, I was somewhat surprised by the chatter that it created. The post was easily the most popular posting since the Nov.2nd general election and caused enough buzz that Jennifer Bradshaw of the Asbury Park Press followed up on it by asking Bilbao if the rumor of her leaving was true. Bilbao denied the rumor and stated that she was staying, which I believe is good news for the school district.
When I stated above that I was surprised by some of the chatter that surrounded t Bilbao’s possible resignation, I was referring to not only private emails and comments that I received but also postings in other forums. The blog posting caused a string of comments on the NJ.com Middletown readers forum, which I encourage readers to stop by sometimes and take a look at. The forum, when concentrating on issues that directly effect Middletown, is a great place to gage what people are really thinking and feeling about all things Middletown.

One poster who seems to have his finger on the pulse of what goes on at Middletown Board of Education meetings goes by the screen ID of 7vens. This person wasn’t surprised to hear about Bilbao’s possible resignation considering what Bilbao has had to deal with since May, when new members of the BOE arrived on the scene.

7vens’s posts on the forum are extremely critical of new BOE member Vinnie Brand and his colleagues Aveta and Mascone, calling Brand “the most dangerous man in Middletown” for his displays of ignorance and power plays on board issues.
7vens accuses Brand of violating the codes of ethics that all BOE members must adhere to when he bases his votes on Governor Christie’s recommendations as opposed to what is in the best interests of students amongst other things.
I wonder how many………

by 7vens, 11/19/10 4:51 PM
Re: Karen Bilbao Resigns!? by 7vens, 11/19/10 4:51 PM
of the mothers that were spreading the RUMOR were at the BOE meeting?

Oh, I know, none. She did not resign at the BOE meeting. She has a contract. The BOE would have to let her out of it with a vote. She would not be able to leave at the end of the month as Middletown Mike said. My guess would be a minimum of 60 days.

If she is a smart as she appears to be, she will leave. When the power shifts to the new guys the administrators are going to leave in droves. They, Vinnie and friends, just don’t understand that people are not going to work in Middletown when they can go elsewhere and work for a BOE that is not anti administration for more money.

We already lost a great BA. Vinnie made a motion to reduce his pay and he took a job a few days later for $9000 more in Toms River. He saw the handwriting on the wall and he is just the first of many.

There were only 3 qualified applicants for his replacement after posting the job twice. They found someone, negotiated a salary and Vinnie wanted to offer her $8,000 less. She already said that she would not take the job for less than she negotiated for. If Vinnie had his way, they would have had to post the job again. Take a less qualified person and pay for the interim until the next BOE meeting when they could approve the new hire.

When the board was looking for the replacement for the assistant BA, who is leaving, Vinnie suggested that we don’t need an assistant BA, in a district with a $140 million budget. Then he asked what the BA did. I am not making this up. If you have kids in this school system Vinnie Brand is the most dangerous man in Middletown. Ignorance and power is a tough combination to beat.


This is the beginning of the end for education in Middletown. If you can afford it, send your kids to RBC ASAP.

25669.4.3.1.
/\ The real problem /\
by 7vens, 11/20/10 10:24 AM
Re: Karen Bilbao Resigns!? by 7vens, 11/20/10 10:24 AM
Are the idiots like the triumvirate of ignorant posters above…

… who slander the administrators by calling them corrupt without an iota of evidence. They are using the same logic that they use to group all Mexicans, Muslims and Blacks together.

The problem Is that these ignorant morons vote and their votes carry as much weight as an informed person’s vote. The BOE is about to be taken over by people that represent ignorant voters.

Vinnie Brand met three times with members of the township committee before running for the BOE. He never met with BOE members or administrators before running. In fact, by his own admission, he NEVER ATTENDED A BOE MEETING BEFORE HE WAS ELECTED. Vinnie is a politician, not an educator.

He suggested that the school district should leave all of the handling of the $140 million budget in the hands of one person. He suggested that the BA does not need an assistant. Then he asked what the BA did. He has no idea what administrators do, but he wants to eliminate them.

Middletown has been warned by the County superintendent of schools that if they eliminate any more administrators that they could be placing the safety of our students at risk. Vinnie Brand chooses to ignore this information in the interest of saving literally a few dollars per household. The county superintendent also warned that any further reduction of administrators could make it impossible to provide an adequate education for the students. Vinnie Brand thinks he knows more than educators about educating.

Viinie Brand stated that his reason for voting down proposals was that the BOE should be doing what Governor Christie suggested. This is a clear violation of the code of ethics that all board members are sworn to uphold. Board members are obligated to leave their political affiliations behind make decisions based on what is best for the students, not what is best for their political futures. He constantly hinders the board’s ability to run an effective meeting with his political grandstanding. There are over 600 school districts in New Jersey. Middletown is in competition with these districts for administrators. All things being equal, qualified superintendents and Business Administrators with experience in a large K-12 district are difficult to find. These people do not need Middletown, Middletown needs them. Vinnie has already started fostering an adversarial relationship with Middletown’s administrators. Once the balance of power is turned over to Vinnie and his pals the good administrators will leave for greener pastures. It’s already started to happen and it will only get worse.

Vinnie and his cohorts know absolutely nothing about educating children. They are shameless politicians who make decisions about our children’s futures based on politics. If you have children in Middletown’s schools, Vinnie Brand is the most dangerous person in Middletown.


Wrong.
by 7vens, 11/20/10 1:06 PM
Re: Karen Bilbao Resigns!? by 7vens, 11/20/10 1:06 PM
Members of the BOE are elected. Once elected the code of ethics dictates that they are to vote based on what is best for the education of the children specifically without regard to political affiliation. You are factually dead wrong on this and you need to read the code of ethics:

“I will refuse to surrender my independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups……”

“I will make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children”

For Vinnie Brand to publicly state at a BOE meeting that he is casting his vote based on the recommendations of the Governor to cut costs is not voting based on what is best for the children. What will he do if the next Governor is a Democrat? We he cast his vote on that Governor’s recommendations? No. He is a politician in a position that is by definition apolitical.

If you think that it is going to be easy to replace our superintendent you are sadly mistaken. Who in their right mind is going to want to work for a school board that is openly hostile towards administrators? She may not be leaving at this moment but how can she stay? Why would she stay? Once the balance of power shifts to the inexperienced politicians they will vote to reduce her salary. These guys, BAM, ran on a platform of reducing administrative costs, even though they have no clue what administrators do. They are ignoring the warnings of the county superintendent regarding the SAFETY of our children. Middletown has one of, if not the highest, administrator to student ratios in the state.

They are putting politics before the SAFETY of our children. It’s an abomination I just hope that we are never here talking about a tragedy that occurred because of a lack of administrative oversight. It is a very real possibility and they are ignoring the advice of experts in education.


Other posters on the forum have had similar concerns, so I encourage readers to check them out to form their own conclusions.
I myself haven’t been to a BOE meeting this year so I cannot personally substantiate whether or not 7vens comments are gross exaggerations or are closer to the truth. What I can say about the Brand allegations is that I have heard similar rumblings from others over the past few months and up until this point haven’t mentioned these rumbling because I don’t generally comment on the BOE.
I’ve stated before that those that run and oversee the school system have a hard job and I feel that they act in the best interests of the students, even though I may not always agree with some of their policies, the points that were brought up by 7vens over at NJ.com however are different. If board members are showing themselves to be more concerned over politics than the well being of the students in the district (which my kids happen to be) than it is important to speak out it, especially if those politically motivated board members like Vinnie Brand would cause the resignation of a very qualified and highly thought of school superintendent as Karen Bilbao.
If Vinnie Brand or any other member of the Middletown Board of Education wishes to address this situation, I would be glad to hear from them and post their response, board members and administrator need to be partners in the education process not adversaries.
And to answer the headlines question, I don’t think so.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Middletown Board of Education, NJ.com, resignation, Superintendent Karen Bilbao, Vinnie Brand

>NJPP Monday Minute 11/22/10: Giving Thanks

>
This week, most of us will enjoy a fabulous Thanksgiving feast. Our holiday will be marked by an abundance of family and football and food, all in joyous testament to the good fortune we enjoy. Our tables will be set so full that by Sunday surely there may be recriminations over the monotony — if not the extravagance — of all the leftovers from a 26-pound turkey with all the trimmings.

We must indeed find time this week to give thanks for our good fortune. We must be mindful of the shared spirit of that first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation, nearly 400 years ago, when the Pilgrims celebrated the harvest in community with the Wampanoag people.

And we must also recognize that these times are not plentiful for every one of us.

In fact, 24.1 million Americans are living in poverty, more than at any time in our nation’s history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The economic recession has kept unemployment over 9.5 percent for more than a year. Home foreclosures are at record levels. Homelessness is on the rise. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reported that 50 million Americans, including 17 million children, do not have consistent access to a nutritious, well-balanced diet.

This lack of plenty is evident at food pantries across New Jersey, which are seeing a 30 percent increase in demand over last year, according to Anthony Guido of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. That’s all the more remarkable considering that the Community FoodBank assisted 1,600 agencies in distributing 35 million pounds of food to 830,000 people last year, a 45 percent increase from 2005.

“Times are tough all around,” Guido told WBGO radio. “Our agencies will give out the food as soon as we can get it to them. That means as soon as we collect it and bring it into the food bank, it goes right back out to the charities in need.”

The need could have been much greater.

Amid all the budget trauma in New Jersey, the Christie administration and the Legislature protected state funding for a vital initiative in the Department of Agriculture called the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP). The SFPP is a supplement to the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which last year supplied about 12 million pounds of food to nearly 400,000 households in New Jersey.

Begun in FY2007 with a budget of $3.9 million, the SFPP provides state tax dollars to the Community FoodBank in order to buy food in bulk quantities to be distributed at local food pantries. In January, as he was leaving office, former Governor Corzine added $3 million more to the fund for FY2010. Governor Christie shaved off a token $100,000 from that total in his first budget, but continued the program at the more substantial level of $6.8 million for FY2011. The SFPP allows for the purchase of 9.7million pounds of food for distribution at local pantries.

Thirty-eight states invest in emergency food and nutrition programs. A study by the California Association of Food Banks earlier this year showed New Jersey was fourth among states in its funding of emergency food programs, with an annual expenditure of $22 per household. Massachusetts was first at $62, followed by New York at $36 and Pennsylvania at $32 per household.

Even so, New Jersey could improve. In 2007, only 59 percent of New Jerseyans eligible for food stamps received them, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and there are 324,000 New Jersey households that are “food insecure,” meaning that all household members do not have access to enough food for an active, healthy life at all times.

That first Thanksgiving in the autumn of 1621 was a three day harvest festival, not unlike others in ancient times or other cultures. We should all keep foremost in our minds that the gathering of Pilgrims and Native Americans offered a chance for the entire community to join in the feasting and partake of the bounty that the harvest offered.

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Filed under Community Food Bank Of New Jersey, food banks, hunger, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Thanksgiving

>Saturday Morning Cartoons: Tom Turkey & His Harmonica Humdingers

>With Thanksgiving just around the corner, why not a cartoon featuring good ol’ Tom Turkey himself?

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>President Obama’s Weekly Adress 11/20/10: New START Treaty "Fundamental" to Security

>The President says ratifying the New START, a pivotal treaty with Russia on nuclear weapons, must happen this year. He explains that failure to ratify the treaty this year would not only mean losing our nuclear inspectors in Russia, but also undermine the international coalition pressuring Iran, put at risk the transit routes used to equip our troops in Afghanistan, and undo decades American leadership and bipartisanship on nuclear security.

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

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Filed under Afghanistan, Iran, President Obama, Russia, START Treaty, weekly address

>APP: Middletown superintendent says she’s not leaving

>According to the article below that has been recently posted on the Asbury Park Press website, it seems that Karen Bilbao is denying that she has resigned as Middletown School Superintendent.

Bilbao blames the shoolyard rumors on an announcement made by board attorney Christopher Parton who at the end of the public portion of Wednesday nights school board meeting announced that board was entering into executive session to discuss the Superintendent’s contract. She thinks that those in attendance may have gotten the wrong impression from this announcement and jumped to the conclusion that she was leaving.

This very well could be so, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. However when I reached out to third party contacts they reported back that one board member confirmed the resignation, while a second board member would neither confirm nor deny it.

Being that this all happened during executive session, the board members were very upset that this news leaked out.

Whatever the true story is, I hope that it all works out for the best in the end. If Bilbao is staying as Superintendent, she has a lot of hard work ahead of her putting a budget together that will be in compliance with the new mandated 2% state cap, while trying to oversee contract negotiations with the teacher’s union in the next couple of months that could turn ugly (Which I certainly hope doesn’t turn out to te the case). It wont be easy.

If she is leaving, then I wish her all the best as she either enters into a new job position or into retirement to take advantage of current benefits before the new pension/benefits rules kick in, that have cause so many teacher and administrator to retire before they had planned to. She has performed admirably in her duties since becoming Middletown’s Superintendent, she deserve better than what she has had to put up with over the past year.

MIDDLETOWN — Superintendent of schools Karen Bilbao says she is not leaving her post in the public school district.

Following a Nov. 17 board of education meeting, it was widely rumored that Bilbao resigned her position in executive session that night.

On Friday afternoon, Bilbao said that she had heard the rumors and that they were not true.

Her rumored departure may have stemmed from an announcement by the board attorney at the end of the Nov. 17 public meeting.

“It seems to be that Chris Parton at the end of the meeting announced that the board was going into executive session (to discuss) the superintendent’s contract,” she said.

From there, someone may have “jumped to conclusions” that she resigned, Bilbao said.

Bilbao has been superintendent of schools since 2008 and served as interim superintendent from 2006 to 2008.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Karen Bilbao, Middletown Board of Education, resignation, retirement, rumors, Superintendent Karen Bilbao