Daily Archives: December 27, 2010

>I Find It Hard To Believe, Where Are All The Snowplows?

>That this last blizzard of 2010 took anyone one by surprise. It had been the talk of all the local weatherman for days leading up to Christmas, they all said that it was going to be a big one, at least 12 inches or more.

So after spending a better part of the day shoveling out my cars (yes I said shoveling, because the fuel line ruptured on the snow thrower), I took one of the cars around the corner just to see how things were. I was astonished to find that not one of the streets in my neighborhood had been plowed! Where are the snowplows!
Many cars look as if they were stuck after neighbors pulled them out of the driveways, in order to clear them and were then unable to get them back in. I myself almost got stuck around the corner from my house before I was able to make it back safely to my driveway.
And if you think the streets and peoples driveways are a problem, then you might as well forget about sidewalks getting cleared anytime soon. If the clean up after this storm is like the last blizzard that hit back in February, once trucks make it out, they will be running so fast down each street that the snow flying off their plows will be thrown-up onto the sidewalks, making it almost impossible for residents to clear.
I understand that Middletown got hit pretty hard with this storm, by all accounts nearly 21 inches of snow fell around town, but unlike other storms that hit earlier this year plow trucks were on the road most of the night and day clearing streets. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen it like this.
Was there no money left in this years budget to cover snow removal expenses after making such big deal about how $900K had to be added to the 2010 budget for winter storms that hit January and February? After all, whatever the cost of the clean-up of this storm winds up being, it will be rolled into the 2011 budget anyway, so why not get all available crews out there plowing and clearing streets like was done earlier in the year. It couldn’t have been a lack of contractors available because I witnessed over a dozen of them driving up and down Main Street looking for work.
The next time I see one of them I think I will have them stop.
(The picture above was taken from an upstairs window earlier this morning, but it doesn’t do justice to what it actually looks like on the ground)

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Filed under blizzard, Middletown, snow blowers., snow plows

>The Last "It’s Your Town" Newsletter For 2010 Is Available For Reading

>The last issue of the year of It’s Your Town newsletter has be published and is ready for downloading. The issue of the newsletter covers the last Middletown Township Committee meeting that took place on Monday, December 20th.

It was a very quick meeting, lasting only 1 hour. But even though it was short, a few major things took place.

Committeeman Sean Byrnes was recognized by the Township for his 3 years of service on the Committee and a resolution that Byrnes introduced to televise the meetings was tabled for further discussion by Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore and the Committee (which means that it will never be discussed again unless residents continue to push for it).

The Committee also agreed to retire a dozen or so different bond ordinances that still have funds associated with them. The funds will be used to pay off the bond debt that these and other bonds have generated over the years.

I hope that everyone that has downloaded or have received copies of the newsletter via email over this past year, have enjoyed reading it, an awful lot of work goes into producing it. The newsletter is the closest representation of what actually happens at Township Committee meetings that residents have available to them without actually being there.

The author, Don Watson, does an outstanding job at maintaining a non-partisan and unbiased approach to writing the newsletters and should be commended for his efforts at informing the public on what is happening down at Town Hall.

It is, after all, your town!
If you would like to be put on to an email list to have the It’s Your Town newsletter sent to your inbox send a request to: itsourtown@yahoo.com

You can download the newsletter >>> Here

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Filed under bond debt, Its Your Town, Middletown, New Jersey, Newsletter, refinance bond debt, Sean F. Byrnes

>NJPP Monday Minute 12/27/10: To Insure Promptness: Tips for the Holiday Season

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As the holiday season winds down, many have said thanks by tipping the people who take care of them during the year. These are the people who take care of their children, clean their houses and cut their hair. They are the people who walk their dogs, deliver their newspaper and prepare and serve their food. And, because many of these people are only guaranteed a fraction of the full minimum wage from their employer, they rely on these tips to help them make ends meet.

Tipped workers earn less than one-third the $7.25 an hour New Jersey state and federal law guarantees to minimum wage workers. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers to pay workers who rely on tips as a major source of income as little as $2.13 an hour, as long as the worker earns at least the full minimum wage when his or her hourly wage and tips are averaged over a full work week. The definition of a tipped worker is one who earns at least $30 a week in tips. That includes waiters and waitresses, bartenders and parking lot attendants whose wages averaged about $11 an hour in 2009 when tips were included.

The problem with a job that relies on tips is that workers can see wide fluctuations in their income, which can make it difficult to pay their bills. All but two states, including New Jersey, have established a minimum wage for tipped workers to help alleviate the problems associated with these fluctuations. Because New Jersey has not established a minimum wage for tipped workers, the state’s rate defaults to the federal standard of $2.13 an hour, a wage that was last raised in 1991 and is the same in New Jersey as it is in Mississippi. Imagine living in New Jersey on a Mississippi wage that has not increased in 19 years.

The last time New Jersey addressed the issue of minimum wage workers was in 2005 when it raised the wage for most workers to $7.15. At the same time, it established the New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Commission to report on the adequacy of the wage and the condition of minimum wage workers. The commission issued two reports – the first in December 2007; the second a year later. Both reports recommended that New Jersey’s minimum wage be raised (first to $8.25 an hour, then to $8.50) and adjusted annually to reflect increases in the cost of living, as has been done in 10 other states.

But New Jersey lawmakers have failed to act. Only because the federal minimum wage increased in July 2009 did New Jersey’s minimum wage workers receive a 10-cent increase, which increased the hourly wage to $7.25. Perhaps frustrated by the state’s inaction, the Minimum Wage Advisory Commission has not met since 2008.

Today 14 states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages than New Jersey does. On January 1, three more states will provide a more generous wage than New Jersey currently does. A minimum wage worker in New Jersey who works full-time 52 weeks a year earns $15,080 annually, barely above the federal poverty level for a family of two ($14,570) and less than the federal poverty level for a family of three ($18,310) or four ($22,050). Supporting oneself or one’s family on salaries like that is especially difficult in New Jersey which now has the fifth highest cost of living in the country.

Raising wages for the lowest-paid workers helps sustain consumer spending and will boost the economic recovery. Minimum wage increases go directly to workers who spend the additional money immediately – on food, rent, gas and clothing. Without action by New Jersey lawmakers, the value of New Jersey’s minimum wage will continue to erode, making it even harder for minimum wage workers to make ends meet. And, without the establishment of a statewide minimum wage for tipped workers, the people who depend on tips to pay their bills will continue to fall into deeper and deeper poverty.

In this season of giving, New Jersey owes it to these workers to raise the minimum wage; to restore its value; and to establish a minimum wage for people who rely on tips to supplement their income. The minimum wage was set up to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable workers. It’s time for this to actually mean something.

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Filed under hourly wage, minimum wage, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, part-time work, Tips