Monthly Archives: May 2011

>The Marble Of Our Heroes’ Headstones

>Have you ever wondered where all the marble comes from that makes the headstones for so many of the fallen heroes that rest in our National Cemeteries? Serena Altschul from the CBS Sunday Morning Show, traveled to the mountains in Danby, Vermont to find out in order to commemorate our country’s war dead this Memorial Day.

Featured in the story are Cpl Frank W.Buckles (Feb 1901 – Feb 2011) -who was last known survivor of World War I and 1st LT Daren M. Hidalgo (Mar 4 1986 – Feb 20 2011) – who died while serving and protecting our country in Afghanistan. Each have recently received their headstones made from marble quarried from the Danby mountains.

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Filed under national cemeteries, West Point

>Saturday Morning Cartoons: Sam the Eagle Stars & Stripes FOREVER!

>OK, so this Saturday Morning Cartoon isn’t exactly a cartoon, it’s still fun to watch and has a patriotic theme heading into Memorial Day.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend and remember those that went before us and who gave their lives, so that we may all enjoy the freedoms that most of us take for granted.

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Filed under Memorial Day, Sam the Eagle, Saturday morning cartoons

>President Obama’s Weekly Address 5/28/11: Vice-President Biden on the American Auto Comeback

>Vice President Joe Biden delivers the Weekly Address, celebrating the success of the American auto industry in the wake of Chrysler paying back their loans.

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Filed under Auto Industry, auto industry bailout, Chrysler, General Motors, President Obama, repayment of loans, the White House, Vice-President Joe Biden, weekly address

>Clarification on Main Library Parking Lot Engineering; Main Library Parking Facts

>I received the following from Middletown Library Director Susan O’Neal, who after reading comments about the Library left on this blog, felt it necessary to clarify a few points about the the Main library’s parking lot expansion project.

For several years, I have been informing the library Board of Trustees that the growth in library usage was creating a shortage of parking. My observations were that a shortage could pop up almost any day and time, and I recommended a parking capacity and usage study to be put into the Board’s capital projects plan. By last fall, it was at the top of the list of things that we needed to do. As with all of our capital projects, the library intended to use its reserves, not to ask the Township for funding.



In the Summer of 2010 I was authorized by the Board to send out RFP’s, Requests for Proposal, to engineering firms for an assessment of a number of parking lot matters. They included:



a study of parking lot use and capacity,
addition of more handicapped parking stalls,
safety of pedestrian crossing the lot,
the possibility of a drop off lane near the entry,
short term parking,
widening the parking stalls, and the
possibility of adding a drive up pick-up window.

Multiple proposals were received, and two firms were selected to be interviewed by the full Board. These firms represented the two lowest proposals in terms of cost. They were DW Smith and Maser Consulting. DW Smith had been the engineer who designed and carried out the water remediation project at the back corner of Main in 2009. Mayor Scharfenberger was present for the DW Smith presentation, but had to leave before the Maser presentation. The contract was awarded to Maser Consulting, in the approximate amount of $29,000. [I’m writing this from home so I only remember the approximate amount]

Maser conducted a comprehensive traffic and use study in AUgust and September 2010; I met with them several times to discuss library needs, etc. and they made and revised plans for a few months. In January, 2011, three proposals were reviewed by the Board at their meeting. Frankly, this presentation did not go well. The Maser team followed Mr. Settembrino’s layout of his four point plan for library finance, which had everyone on the board stunned. The main problem, though, was that additional parking in 2 of the 3 proposals would cover additional land with pavement and would generate storm management and environmental approvals that skyrocketed the costs. I asked Maser for a 4th plan that would avoid these issues and costs and get the maximum parking out of it that we could.

The 4th plan was reviewed by me, Tony Mercantante, Ted Maloney and one of the Maser engineers. Tony mentioned that including this project in the Town’s 2012 Capital Improvements Projects might get the library better pricing. This is the germination of the inclusion of this project in the Transfer of Library reserves to the Township settlement. At this time it was obvious that refinement of the last design, specifications for bidding, and the permissions and tests needed would require additional engineering work. Maser asked if they should prepare a proposal for these next steps, and I said yes.

The proposal came in on May 13, several days before the library board meeting. We were all informed by Committeeman Settembrino that all further engineering work on on the library parking lot would be conducted by the Township Engineer of record, that is T&M. The Board briefly discussed this at their meeting.

The next engineering work to be done will build on the Maser study, not duplicate it, as some have asserted incorrectly.

The Middletown Library will be expected to use the services of T&M if the project is in the Township’s CIP list for next year [and presuming T&M is the Township engineer in 2012]

The Library will be expected to pay all hard [construction] and soft [design, project supervision, permits, testing] that the Township engineer dictates is required.

And ultimately, maybe this is all moot. The library faces a huge cut in its operating budget next year, unless the TC is willing to provide more than the minimum funding level, and thus support the library at close to the 2011 level. A close analysis of our fiscal position is forthcoming. It is my personal belief as the Administrator of the Library, that the library should not undertake debt financing for this project, but rather maintain it’s prior practice of saving until enough cash reserves are available, and then proceeding. This will be the Library Trustees’ decision. I believe the problem of not enough parking will continue to grow, as library business is on a significant upswing. It is unclear to me whether the TC will provide permission for the library to proceed with any capital improvement project in the future unless it is totally under their control, except, of course, for the payment.

Lastly, I hope that in the length and detail of this explanation, it is not lost on the reader that the library’s plans included addressing numerous safety issues, not just additional parking. We DO need more handicapped parking, we DO need to eliminate the double parking in the lot for pickups and dropoffs, we DO need to add more safety measures for pedestrians who have to cross a traffic lane to enter the building!!

We have nearly 2,000 visitors per day at the library. Their safety is of keen importance to us.

Susan O’Neal, Library Director


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Filed under Board of Trustees, Library Facts, Maser engineering, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, parking lot expansion, Susan O'Neal, T and M Engineering, Ted Maloney, Tony Mercantante

>Socialism is all around us

>Lawrence O’Donnell on last night’s The Last Word points out how Bill O’Reilly is a “Socialist” like the rest of us.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Filed under Bill Maher, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, Lawrence O'Donnell, Medicaid, Medicare, MSNBC, socialism, socialist, The Last Word, us military

>Tony Fiore Respondes to Latest Robo-Call

>Over on his “new” blog provided by Middletown-Patch, Middletown’s acting mayor Tony Fiore, has addressed the latest robo-call that was sent out by the group Concerned Citizens Of Middletown, that talked about the amount of debt the Township is carrying. If you ask me, Fiore’s response just lends credence to the message that went out last Friday.

His answer is the same stock answer that has been given many times before but only this time he providers a true debt number of $72million that so many before him have been reluctant to confirm!


And how is it that Mr. Fiore is so sure who is responsible for these robo-calls when so many (myself included) do not? He blames the Middletown Democrats for placing them, which if that was the case, I think I would know about it. It seems to me that these robo-calls have struck a nerve and seem to be factual based by his response to them.

Also I believe, the point of how much debt the town can borrow itself into, is a silly one; who cares what a towns’ or persons’ credit card limit is when it is already difficult to meet the minimum payments on the balance!

Middletown hasn’t had it debt rating updated in several years, It has been shown recently that credit rating agencies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor aren’t worth much. After the financial meltdown of the past few years, many of the investments that caused the near collapse of the economy were rated A, AA, or AAA from both of these institutions. Knowing that why would anyone want to tout how special they are? They’re not.

On the final point about the blocking of a return phone number, I don’t know what Fiore is talking about, unless he wants to incite others into believing that these messages have no integrity, which I’m sure is his intent, he is living up to him nick-name of the “Fibber”. Every call that I have received by Concerned Citizens of Middletown, including Friday’s, had a return number left on my caller-id.
True it wasn’t a Middletown phone number or one from the immediate area (I think it was Dunellen), but there was in fact a phone number associated with the call.
On a side note – I don’t know how Fiore’s blog on Middletown-Patch works, but this posting was dated Tuesday May 24 at 12:58 PM, right in the middle of a busy work day. Doesn’t Tony have a job that he needs to attend to at 1pm in the afternoon? True, he may have been on his lunch hour but I think not. Working on Township business (which this clearly is), on company time is a No-No as everyone knows.
I wonder what his employer would think????

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Filed under blog, bonding debt, Concerned Citizens of Middletown, debt service, Middletown NJ, Middletown Patch, Moody's, Robo-calls, Standard and Poors, Tony Fiore

>Obama Can Challenge Meaning Of ‘Irish-American’

>

This past Monday President Obama made a historic visit to the country of Ireland, while there he addressed a crowed estimated to be 58,000 strong and spoke of his own Irish heritage.
My friend Sean Dunne, who some may remember ran for the NJ Assembly 2010, wrote the following article about Obama’s visit to Ireland and what it means to be “Irish American”. The article was posted on line on the Irish news website the Independent

By Sean Dunne
Monday May 23 2011

PRIOR to his visit, Barack Obama’s Irish heritage has been largely, and perhaps unsurprisingly, ignored by the American public.

But his time here can’t only open up the ways in which he is perceived by other Americans, it can also challenge the narrow definitions often employed when we discuss what it means to be Irish-American.

It is impossible to ignore the significance of his speech to the Irish public, where he will address an audience within close proximity to the statue of the great ‘liberator’, Daniel O’Connell. An American president, with Irish and African heritage, is in many ways a vindication of many of O’Connell’s arguments against racial oppression in the US. Obama can today build off of those arguments.

In 1963, John F Kennedy began what has become a tradition among American presidents when he made the first presidential trip to Ireland.

Kennedy’s visit was significant for Irish-Americans and Ireland, as his Irish Catholic identity was a significant element in both the support and criticism he received.

He won the presidential election less than 100 years after some states granted Irish-Americans the right to vote, and his election was viewed as a symbol of achievement and hope.

Now Obama also has the potential to make significant contributions to the discussion of what it means to be Irish-American.

The identity of Obama has been subject to challenges during his political career. Many questioned whether he was even a US-born citizen. This frenzy resulted in the president releasing his long-form birth certificate last month.

It is instructive to place the questions surrounding Obama’s identity in the context of how an American has been defined.

Noah Webster’s dictionary in 1828 defined an American as “a native of America; originally applied to the aboriginals, or copper-coloured races, found here by the Europeans, but now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America”.

The opportunity to become “real” Americans was extended to the large numbers of Irish immigrants in the 19th Century, when the Democratic Party recruited them.

The Democrats reached out to the Irish community and promised that they would be treated similarly to other Europeans. In return, they were asked to support Democratic politicians and the racial discrimination that aided their party. O’Connell implored the Irish in the US to reject this arrangement. Many ignored O’Connell’s pleas, but not all of them did.

In the 1870 Federal Census, it was reported that 12pc of the African-American community in New York City defined themselves as Irish-African-American.

This level of intermarriage between the Irish and African-American communities portrays how diverse the Irish diaspora had become. However, this statistic should also reflect how the Irish heritage of large numbers of Irish-Americans is ignored, as many are simply defined as “black”.

For Obama and his mantra of “change we can believe in”, this is a change he can accomplish.

Sean Dunne of Holmdel NJ, is an author and academic, is a member of the US Democrats living abroad in Ireland. This article was published prior to President Obama’s historic visit to Ireland online @ Independent.ie



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Filed under blip.tv, College Green, Dublin Ireland, irish heritage, President Obama, Sean Dunne, the Independent, Topgold