Daily Archives: December 19, 2011

MIDDLETOWN SEWERAGE AUTHORITY (TOMSA) BOARD MEMBER SOON TO JOIN THE LIBRARY BOARD ??

by guest blogger Linda Baum

TOMSA and the Library – two topics I write about often. The differences are innumerable. Now, though, they may have something in common.

In my 11-28-2011 post, “The $500,000 Raid on the Library Won’t Be the Last — The Township Committee adds two additional Library Board members, sets the stage for majority control in 2012”, I speculated that the new members of the Library Board would be well-entrenched members of the Republican Party who are already serving on other boards or commissions.

Fast forward to the Library Board meeting on Wednesday, December 14th. I arrived late to find two other visitors in attendance. One was APP reporter Kevin Penton, who attended the November Board meeting as well. The other fellow, dressed to the nines in suit and tie, looked oddly familiar. He obviously recognized me as well and tried to hide his face. It dawned on me that I know him from the TOMSA Board meetings. I decided to try out a maneuver I learned from Pat Parkinson when I attended my first TOMSA Board meeting. I said, “Hi. I’m Linda Baum, and your name?” He had his guard up and replied dryly that it was nice to meet me but that he chose not to give his name, stating his right to privacy as a member of the public.

Putting TOMSA Board members’ names with their faces has been a struggle because there are no name plates at TOMSA Board meetings even though it’s typical practice by other boards, including the Library Board. So I’m not sure who the man is, or whether he is a TOMSA Board member or perhaps one of TOMSA’s professionals or high-level employees. However, I’m told he fits the description of TOMSA Board alternate member Emil Wrede, who is also a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The man, whoever he was, left early. So did Committeeman Settembrino. At the end of the meeting, I told the Board that they had probably just met one of their newest members. Wendy Latona, Library administrator, said she already suspected as much because he came in the day before to ask for a copy of a resolution. She didn’t say which one, but he obviously obtained it on the spot. In contrast, I have yet to receive even a phone call from TOMSA in response to my own information request.

I guess we will have to wait until Township Reorganization Day on Sunday, January 1st at noon to find out, with certainty, who the new appointees are. Another date to keep in mind is the Township Committee’s regular meeting at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, December 19th, when there will be a hearing on the Township ordinance increasing the membership on the Library Board. See you there.

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Filed under board members, guest blogger, Linda Baum, Middletown Library, Sewage Authority, TOMSA

Middletown Director of Parks & Recreation Placed on Administrative Leave By Township

Early last week I received an email from someone that wanted to know if I had heard or knew anything about Middletown’s Director of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs, Gregg Silva, being investigated by the Township of Middletown for some wrong doing and as a result of the investigation has been placed on indefinite administrative leave(fired?) by his bosses at Town Hall.

This person also informed me that as a result of Silva being placed on indefinite leave, rumors were running rampant that Middletown’s former mayor/deputy mayor, the soon to be departing Township Committeewoman Pamela Brightbill, be will replacing Silva as the new Director of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs.

I responded by saying I hadn’t heard anything about Silva’s current troubles or the rumor about Brightbill, but I would make a few inquiries and get to the bottom of it as best I could. So I sent out a few emails and made a couple of phone calls to some people that I know to see if they had heard anything themselves.

It didn’t take long to get a response.

From what I have gathered, it seems that Gregg Silva is most definitely on administrative leave and has been for over two weeks. The leave has been technically without pay (he is being allowed to use accumulated sick time) while he is under investigation by the Township.

What did he do wrong that has caused the Township to place him on leave? If you know anything about Gregg Silva, it could be just about anything, he has a long history of engaging in questionable practices. But what seems to have been the last straw was the building of a private memorial, on Township property, on the grounds of Croydon Hall in Leonardo.

A few months back a Township teenager, who grew up in the Leonardo section of Middletown, passed away as a result of a car accident while traveling down Chapel Hill Rd. The teenager, Daniel Piano, by all accounts was a great kid who had a lot of friends and a very loving family.

As a result of his passing, his friends built a makeshift memorial at the site of the accident but it wasn’t a place that Daniel’s mother wanted to go or thought that others should go to either because of the nature of the road, Chapel Hill Road is very busy and is dangerous for people to stand on the side of. So she had the idea to ask the “Township” for permission to build a memorial for Daniel on the grounds of Croydon Hall, seeing how it was a place that her son spent many happy hours of his life playing and hanging out there.

After receiving permission from Gregg Silva to build the memorial, Mrs. Piano went about the business of arranging for the construction of Daniel’s memorial, the building of which was covered by private donations and volunteer labor.

You can read all about it in an article that was posted online at the Two Rivers Times.

So then, why would Gregg Silva be placed on indefinite leave of absence with his job in jeopardy if he received permission from the Township, to allow the construction of the Daniel Piano Memorial on the grounds of Croydon Hall? Well, evidently he never asked his superiors if it was alright for the memorial to be built. He took it upon himself to OK it without the consultation of others and that is where the trouble now lays.

If Gregg Silva would have first spoken to Township Administrator Tony Mercantante first, I am sure that the memorial would not have been allowed to be built. But now that it has been built the Township has to deal with any potential repercussions that might be a result of the memorial being built, namely others that may want to build similar memorials to loved ones that have passed.

As unlikely as that may seem, by giving the go ahead to the Piano family to built the memorial, Gregg Silva inadvertently set a precedent within Middletown that would allow for these types of memorials to be built in other parks throughout the Township. If the Township denies other the right to privately construct such memorials it could lead to lawsuits that would be costly to Middletown taxpayers.

As for the Brightbill taking over for Silva rumor, at this time from what I have been able to gather, it is still just a rumor but could have legs for a variety of reason, which I will save for another post.
In an effort at full disclosure on my part, everything that I have written here I have heard from others. I just want it to be known that I sent Township Administrator Tony Mercantante an email last week seeking comment but I haven’t heard back from him as of yet. From what I understand, I was not the first to try and contact him last week on this subject. Two real, non-blogging journalist (I don’t consider myself a journalist) have either spoken to Tony directly ( I was told the conversation was short, curt and ended with Mercantante stating that Silva was under investigation and the investigation was being handled in-house) or sent him, like myself, and email. If I hear back from Mr. Mercantante later on this subject, I’ll post an update.

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Filed under administrative leave, Chapel Hill Rd, Croydon Hall, Daniel Piano, Gregg Silva, Leonardo NJ, Memorial, Middletown Parks and Recreation, Pamela Brightbill, Two River Times