Monthly Archives: February 2011

>Arrogance Prevails In Audio Of Library Director’s Address In Front Of Middletown Committee

>It’s been almost week now since the last Middletown Township Committee meeting took place and the controversy over reserved library funds have not died down, if anything as the calendar gets closer to March 15th and the Middletown Township Committee needs to produce a proposed budget to the State, the rhetoric could heat up even more than it already has.

As I stated in an earlier post, during public comments at last weeks Township Committee meeting, Library Director Susan O’Neal, spoke about the virtues of the library and attempted to talk about the perceived surplus funds that the Township insists are available for it’s taking, but when she was badgered and talked down to rather arrogantly by appointed mayor Tony Fiore, she ended the discussion and sat down.

Fiore was waving in the air a piece of paper that he claimed was a 2008 MTPL Foundation IRS 990 form that showed the Library held in excess of $350,000 (but he didn’t present it to O’Neal), he wanted to know how much was currently in this account. O’Neal stated that she thought there was $35,000 available as per the 2010 IRS 990 form. Fiore then wanted to know what happened to the surplus funds, what were they used for?

Ms. O’Neal said that NO portion of municipal funds are included in the Library’s surplus, at which point Township Attorney Brain Nelson, attempting to interject himself into the conversation, rose from his chair next to the Mayor waved his finger at O’Neal and said that her statement was false.

It was at this point that Director O’Neal ended her discussion, probably feeling somewhat frustrated and intimidated by the aggression shown to her by both Tony Fiore and his “goon” Attorney Brian Nelson.

The below 10 minute audio clip is from Tuesday night’s meeting and captures Susan O’Neal’s entire 10 minute address in front of Township Committee. To hear the exchange between Tony Fiore, Susan O’Neal and Nelson as described above, you will need to advance the audio to about the 7:50 mark.

It doesn’t shed a very good light on Fiore or Nelson,it just adds to the perspective that Township Committee and it’s attorney are arrogant and don’t care to hear about the truth or worry about how they chose to intimidate others when they have their minds made up.

http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf

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Filed under Brian Nelson, budget deficit, Library Reserves, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, surplus funds, Susan O'Neal, Tony Fiore

>Library Director Issues Update On Library Reserves Issue

>Middletown Library Director Susan O’Neal, earlier today posted the following update on the issue of Library Reserve funds on the main page of the Middletown Township Library’s website:

The Library “giveback” issue is now so full of rumors that it is difficult to know where to begin. One of the troubling issues is that some are casting the library as uncooperative. Not true.

So, I’ll start with last year, when members of the Township Committee, Pam Brightbill and Sean Byrnes came to library board meetings and asked the Trustees to consider giving some of its reserves to the town. The Trustees listened, and made a quick response to sponsor one of the summer concerts of the Parks & Recreation Department. We followed up with a letter to the Mayor [dated June 10,2010] indicating the Board’s willingness to provide some assistance, and asked four questions which were germane to the Board’s deliberations. There was no response to the letter [which we will post on this website] These questions were not answered by August, when Mayor Scharfenberger attended the library board meeting, and he was asked again for a response. None followed, and the library pressed on in memos and finally, in November, a meeting was held with Library Trustees, Mr. Mercantante and Mr. Trascente. But questions of the Board were not completely answered. In fact, the inability of the library to get any reconciliation of the small budget surplus of 2008 and 2009 kept our 2010 budget in flux for the entire year. And, without the information it asked for, the Trustees could not make an informed decision about making a contribution to help the Township.

So now we get to late 2010, and the law on libraries returning some surpluses changes from libraries “may” return surpluses to “must” return surpluses that are not restricted for capital projects, or are from per capita state aid funds. Immediately, the request turned into a demand, and for much much more than the law would allow. By the library’s calculations of the official “Proposed Transfer Form” of monies, the Middletown Library has $262,453 in funds which must be returned.

The Trustees of the Library are negotiating in good faith with the Township on this matter and will do what they are able to do legally.

Susan O’Neal, Director

p.s. By the way, the NJ State Library has informed us that ALL of the dozen or so libraries that have given back funds to their municipalities have followed the procedures outlined in the law. The MTPL will do the same.





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Filed under budget deficit, Library Reserves, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, NJ State Library, surplus funds, Susan O'Neal

>It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 3, Issues 3 & 4- 2/07/11 & 2/22/11; Issue 4 Contains Latest News On Fight For Library Surplus Funds

>The latest editions of the It’s Your Town Newsletter are now available for reading.

It has been a crazy couple of weeks, so I never got around to posting Issue #3 of the newsletter a couple of weeks ago.
Issue #3 contains information about the proceedings of the February 7th Middletown Township Committee Workshop meeting, while Issue #4 deals with what happened during last Tuesday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Middletown Township Committee.
It should be noted for those that have not been able to attend meetings of the Township Committee yet this year, there is a stark contrast as to how these meetings are now being conducted with a 5-0 Republican super majority controlling the Township Committee this year and how meeting had been conducted during the past 4 years when a Democrat sat on the Committee.
Very little to no discussions take place between Committee members about proposed ordinances or resolutions, massive consent agendas that contain several or more items are passed without public discussion and meetings have been over very quickly.
It seems that local government transparency has taken a step backward this year.
Issue #4 of the newsletter should be of particular interest to readers who have followed the news of how the Township Committee has been attempting to extort surplus funds from it’s public library, which is in clear violation of state statute.
During public comments Library Director Susan O’Neal, spoke about the virtues of the library and attempted to talk about the perceived surplus funds that the Township insists are available for it’s taking, but when she was badgered and talked down to rather arrogantly by appointed mayor Tony Fiore, she ended the discussion and sat down.
Resident Melanie Elmiger also spoke on the Library and asked why was Committeeman Settembrino appointed to the Library Board, what qualifications did he have to serve on the Board and whether or his presence on the Board was in conflict with his position as a Township Committee person.
Read Issue #3 >>>> Here Read Issue #4 >>>> Here

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Filed under budget surplus, Its Your Town, Kevin Settembrino, Middletown Library, Newsletter, surplus funds, Susan O'Neal, Tony Fiore

>Sunday Must Reading

>

I’ve come across a few articles posted on different websites over the past couple of days that should be must reading for those that support the rights of union members, both public and private, to engage in collective barganing.

They deal with what is going on in Wisconsin and public opinion on what’s happing, not only in Wisconsin , but also across the country. These posts can be found on Forbes.com’s Policy Page blog by Rick Ungar, ThinkProgress.org and from the Washington Post’s Plume Line blog by Greg Sargent.

Rick Ungar’s post over at Forbes is titled “The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Tax Payers Actually Contribute Nothing to Public Employees Pensions” informs us that public employees in Wisconsin fully fund their own pension system… the state adds no tax payer money to the fund contrary to what people have been hearing.

“Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining
agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans.
Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the
impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from
taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and
health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state
workers. “

Over at ThinkProgress they post, “Top 10 Disastrous Policies From The Wisconsin GOP You Haven’t Heard About” where they talk about how:

“…Walker’s assault on public employees is only one part of a larger political program that aims to give corporations free reign in the state while dismantling the healthcare programs, environmental regulations, and good government laws that protect Wisconsin’s middle and working class. These lesser known proposals in the 144-page bill reveal how radical Walker’s plan actually is…”

And Finally Greg Sargent’s Plume Line post over at the Washington Post, “Public employees not such an easy scapegoat after all” informs us that according to recent Gallup Poll “…Public employees are turning out to be far harder to scapegoat in the public mind than many predicted…”

* Among those who make less than $24,000 annually, 74 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 14 percent who favor it.
* Among those who make $24,000 to $59,000, 63 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 33 percent who favor it.
* Among those who make $60,000 to $89,000, 53 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 41 percent who favor it.
* Among those who make $90,000 and up, 50 percent favor the proposal, versus 47 percent who oppose it.
Sargent concludes:
“…For all the attention being lavished on the likes of Chris Christie and his supposedly successful formula of targeting public employees as the new “welfare queens,” the bigger and more interesting story is that they aren’t turning out to be such easy targets, after all.”
Take a look at these articles and see what you think, I really believe they are must reads. If the radical right-wing and the GOP are successful in stripping public workers of their rights, it wont be long before they attack private sector worker looking to eliminate overtime, health, pension and other long standing rules.

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Filed under Forbes.com, Gallup poll, Gov. Chris Christie, Gov.Scott Walker, Greg Sargent, labor unions, public employees, Rich Ungar, Think Progress, Washington Post, Wisconsin

>Free Seminar: "How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment"

>

If any one is interested:
Monday, February 28, 2011
7:00pm – 8:30pm
Monmouth County Library, Headquarters
125 Symmes Road
Manalapan, NJ 07726

On Monday, February 28, 2011, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, the Freehold Township Democratic Club presents a free seminar on how to appeal your property tax assessment. The seminar will be held at the Monmouth County Library, Headquarters, 125 Symmes Road, Manalapan, NJ 07726. Our speaker will be Beverly Bova-Scarano, Former Commissioner of the Monmouth County Board of Taxation, Past President NJ Association of County Tax Board Commissioners & Administrators, and Licensed Residential Real Estate Appraiser, State of NJ. This event is free and open to the public! Light refreshments will be served and handouts will be provided. Topics to be covered include:

*How to avoid common mistakes

*Understanding property assessment appeals

*Just how many comparables do you really need?

*What to expect at the property assessment appeal hearing . . . if it goes that far

RSVP’s are appreciated but not necessary. Please RSVP by calling 732-616-8855 or emailing vegand@verizon.net. Please park in the side lot, off Alexandria Drive.

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Filed under board of taxation, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Library, Seminar, tax appeals

>What’s The Big Deal At Brookdale ?

>Evidently it is the salary and perks that the community college of Monmouth County is giving it’s School President Peter Burnham.

Burnham’s total compensation package for leading Brookdale over the past 20 years is roughly $300K a year. He currently receives a $1,500 monthly housing allowance, drives a 2010 Ford Expedition that the college purchased for $42,815,is provided with a membership to the Navisink Country Club, and can be reimbursed $20K per year to send his kids to private colleges on top of a $216K base salary.

That’s not to shabby if you ask me, but am I surprised or outraged at hearing the news? No, not really. His compensation doesn’t seem that far off from what other college presidents receive throughout the state or country.

College Presidents, like school district superintendents, are a special breed that are highly sort after. Someone like Peter Burnham, who has presided over an institution for 20 years and has oversaw it’s large expansion during that time while maintaining it’s academic level, which by the way, is considered far more superior than many other colleges in the state, probably deserves much of what he receives in compensation.

The only reason why Burnham’s compensation has come to light and has now been scrutinized is because he had the gaul to blame the Monmouth County Freeholders for a 8% hike in tuition which was planned for, but now rescinded under pressure, for the coming year.

Burnham embarrassed the Freeholder Board with his comments, so in retaliation Freeholder John Curly released information on Burnham’s salary and perks to embarrass Peter Burnham and Brookdale’s Board of Directors in return so that he could cover his ass and those of his colleagues on the Freeholder Board. After all, it is the Freeholder Board that appoints
Brookdale’s trustees and should have been overseeing/approving contracts for Burnham over the years. If his compensation wasn’t considered outrageous previously, why is it now? Politics, that’s why.

This was an underhanded and despicable move by Curly, to score political points and encourage others to voice outrage against Brookdale and Burnham, which it has. News out today is that Governor Christie will now be focusing his attention on Burnham’s employment contract and those of other public college presidents around the state.

Now, before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I am writing this because I support tuition hikes on students or think that it is appropriate that Peter Burnham receives such generous perks, I do not. I feel that before any costs are passed on to students in the form of tuition or fee hikes, all attempts to reduce costs should be made first.

I’m a big believer in honoring contracts that were negotiated in good faith, as it seems that Burnham’s was. If John Curly or other members of the Freeholder Board had a problem with Burnham’s contract previously they should have spoken before now, to claim ignorance of it is skirting their own responsiblity over it.

That said, it seems that regardless of the method used to achieve the means, it happens to be good news for those who attend Brookdale, the cost of their continuing education will not be rising next year.

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Filed under Brookdale Community College, budget cuts, Freeholder John Curly, Peter Burnham, salary and compensation, tuition hike

>President Obama’s Weekly Address 2/26/11: Traveling the Country, Winning the Future

>WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Obama said that he expects Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress to find common ground as Congress focuses on a short term budget next week. The President will consider any serious ideas to reduce the deficit, regardless of which party proposes them. In fact, the President has already proposed freezing domestic spending, which would cut the deficit by $400 billion and bring this kind of spending to the lowest level, as a percentage of our economy, since the Eisenhower administration. But, cutting investments in education and innovation would hinder our ability to out-compete the rest of the world. While the President recognizes that everyone needs to be willing to sacrifice, we cannot sacrifice our country’s ability to win the future.

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

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Filed under deficit reduction, federal budget deficit, President Obama, spending cuts, weekly address