Category Archives: Atlantic Highlands Herald

Secret Public Hearing at Middletown Sewerage Authority

The following letter appears online at the Atlantic Highlands Herald:

At its 12/7/2011 Board meeting, The Middletown Sewerage Authority (TOMSA) held a public hearing on its 2012 budget, but didn’t bother to tell the public.

I attended that meeting and was caught by surprise when, at the start of the meeting, TOMSA Executive Director Pat Parkinson asked awkwardly if there were any public comments on the budget. He never bothered to announce that it was a public hearing. Such an announcement is protocol at hearings and typically includes mention of when notice was provided to the public in line with statutory requirement.

Not realizing it was a hearing and not prepared for it, I said nothing, and the Board quickly moved to adopt the budget by unanimous vote while I was still scratching my head.

After the meeting, I did an online search of public notices and found none about the budget hearing. Because the public wasn’t notified of the hearing, TOMSA’s 2012 budget is subject to legal challenge. It seems appropriate, then, that a new hearing be scheduled. The public deserves a real opportunity, and has a legal right, to review the numbers and ask questions.

Linda Baum
Middletown, NJ

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, letter to the editor, Patrick Parkinson, public hearing, TOMSA

Letter: Statistics Meant to Mislead Middletown Residents

The following letter appears online at the Atlantic Highlands Herald:

Middletown residents are being misled by the Republican Party once again. As they’ve done many times before, Middletown Republicans are misrepresenting information for their own benefit.

At issue now is the inappropriate use of “per capita” (per person) statistics.

At the candidates forum in Lincroft on October 27th, Stephanie Murray spouted some of the same per capita statistics that appear in Michael Vitkansas’s October 26th letter. The statistics are a recycled version of what we’ve heard in the past from the Town’s Republican officials.

Ms. Murray compared Middletown’s spending per capita to Hazlet’s. Hazlet’s statistic is higher, she points out.

But hold on a minute. Middletown’s population is enormous. There are close to 67,000 residents, far more than in neighboring towns. Further, not all town expenses increase with population – for example, we still have only one town hall and one municipal court, the same as Hazlet. With so many people in Middletown to share those fixed costs, the overall cost per resident drops.

Therefore, it’s inappropriate to compare per capita statistics for towns of different sizes and populations. To do so is deceptive.

Besides a large number of residents, something else that reduces spending per capita is inadequate funding of core services, but I bet Ms. Murray won’t be pointing that out.

Mr. Vitkansas talks about Middletown’s small workforce per capita, but fails to mention that nearly the entire staff of the Parks and Recreation Department was laid off this year.

If the real picture were as rosy as Republican candidates would have you believe, they wouldn’t need to mislead you by pulling statistics out of a hat.

Linda Baum
Middletown, NJ

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, letter to the editor, Linda Baum, Middletown Republicans, per capita statistics, Stephanie Murray

Letter: Derailed Fiscal Policy, Empty Promises, Unfulfilled Expectations in Middletown

The following letter also appears online today over at the Atlantic Highlands Herald. This letter, written by Middletown Democratic candidate for Township Committee, Jim Grenafege, is an expanded version of the letter that I posted earlier today and appears online over at the Asbury Park Press.

This version of Mr. Grenafege’s letter is much more hard hitting than what appears on the APP. Compare the two and let me know what you think, this newer version is much more hard hitting and has more specifics.

In his October 18, Atlantic Highlands Herald letter, “Real Solutions to Real Problems Needed to Put Middletown on Right Track”, Mayor Fiore admitted that Middletown government is derailed. I could not agree more.

True to form, he falsely blames years of excessive spending; unnecessary bonding; escalating taxation and debt, all cradled in Republican mismanagement, on the Middletown Democrats who somehow magically made elected Republicans spend our tax dollars. This is just more empty rhetoric to go with decades of empty promises, failure to openly communicate and thwarted taxpayer dreams: no flood control along the Bay Shore; no turf fields; a lake yet to be dredged; a $400 thousand master recreation plan gathering dust; high density housing zoned in Lincroft and planned development of open space at Bamm Hollow.

After Mr. Fiore strong-armed $500 thousand from library funds; took $350 thousand, for the second year in a row, from sewerage authority fees; used $1.3 million in public education funds; his so-called fiscal discipline required a 12% tax increase to cover $45 million of a $62 million budget. This lack of incumbent Republican fiscal discipline has Middletown looking at a projected $2 million shortfall for the 2012 Middletown budget.

Ask Mayor Fiore if he has a real solution. Past Republican practice points at raising taxes. During his term, he has contributed 22% to a 40% increase in taxes over the last five years. Past practice also points at adding to our $70 million in debt, which has increased 66% over the same five years.

Finally, at least $2.4 million of $4 million in “cuts” claimed by Mayor Fiore was onetime nonrecurring expenses that were never part of the 2011 budget.

In closing, Mr. Fiore notes that Middletown has been repeatedly named one of the Top 100 Places to Live by Money Magazine; but, Fiore fails to note that Middletown’s standing in the Magazine’s quality-of-life survey has eroded by 39% during the last four years.

Put a stop to over 30 years of poor fiscal policy and borrowing, empty promises and unfulfilled expectations. Please help our community get back on track: vote Grenafege and Fowler on November 8.

James Grenafege
Middletown Township Committee

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Atlantic Highlands Herald, Avaya, Debt, Democratic Candidate, Jim Grenafege, letter to the editor, Middletown Township Committee, mismanagement, Tony Fiore

Letter: Taxes Sky High in Middletown

The Following letter to the editor appears online today over at the Atlantic Highlands Herald:

Have you heard that the Middletown’s mayor and his running mate want to hold the line on taxes? Hold it where, exactly? Somewhere in the stratosphere?

I think the joke’s on us. Municipal taxes have gone up over 22% just during Mister Fiore’s 3-year term in office. Mr. Fiore voted for tax increases every year. Based on his record, I think we can expect more of the same.

Republican candidates keep talking about making Middletown an affordable place to live, and then keep doing the opposite once they’re elected. You’d think they’d be too red in the face to keep talking about it.

Mr. Fiore doesn’t seem to feel responsible for our high taxes since he is always talking about forces beyond his control. Well, that doesn’t inspire my confidence in his ability, and I won’t be voting for him.

I think it’s time we had representatives who stopped making excuses and brought sound judgment to the job. Jim Grenafege has been a voice of reason for many years now. He is both informed and vocal about issues that are important to residents. Jim strongly supports televising town meetings so that we can all see what our local government is doing. He also feels the Township desperately needs the oversight of a Finance Committee, which almost every other town has. After seeing taxes double in such a short time, I have to agree with him.

Please join me in supporting Jim Grenafege for Middletown Township Committee this Election Day.

William G. Butler
Middletown, NJ

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, Carol Fowler, Finance Committee, Jim Grenafege, letter to the editor, property taxes, Tony Fiore

Letter: Middletown Hides Mismanagement

The following letter was posted online at the Atlantic Highlands Herald

Mayor Fiore is good at one thing and one thing only—raising Middletown’s taxes. Since being in office he has raised our taxes 22.3%.

Municipal mismanagement is rampant in Middletown. Yet the Mayor has been effective in keeping all this from the residents. When asked repeatedly to have the Township Committee meetings televised, he refuses, saying he doesn’t want to spend money. Yet, his record of spending money is off the charts. Perhaps he wants to hide the truth about the state of operations in Middletown.
We need better leadership and management in Middletown. Let’s stop the escalating taxes and mismanagement. Middletown residents, please get out to vote and elect Jim Grenafege and Carol Fowler to the Middletown Township Committee. They are fiscal conservatives. They have proven methods to reduce waste and inefficiencies. They know how to set demanding goals to ensure that the township is managed both effectively and efficiently.

Marilyn Tuohy
Pt. Monmouth, NJ

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, Carol Fowler, Jim Grenafege, letter to the editor, Middletown Township, mismanagement, rising tax rate, Tony Fiore

Letter: Fowler Deserves Support in Middletown Election

The following letter appears online at Atlantic Highlands Herald today:

To The Editor:

I want to comment on Carol Fowler who is running for Township Committee in Middletown. I met her when she interviewed my father-in-law for the National Guard Militia Museum in Sea Girt about 10 years ago. She quickly became a family friend who was included in family gatherings because of her friendly nature and her selfless desire to make other people’s lives better. I find her to be honest, trustworthy and very responsible in everything she does. It is time that people of Middletown elect someone who is not a career politician but just plain “Folks” like you and me. She will bring a breath of fresh air to the township committee that has been a one party rule for far too long. I support Carol and hope Middletown voters will also get to know her as I have.

Jeff Demos
Middletown

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, Carol Fowler, Democratic Candidate, letter to the editor, Middletown Township Committee, National Guard Museum

Middletown Democrats Get Thumbs Up

I received the following letter yesterday, it has also been posted over at the Atlantic Highlands Herald.

I would like to respond to Peter Van Nortwick, whose letter – Middletown Democrats Pose Traffic Hazard – is just plain ridiculous. No one was blocking traffic or running into the street. Some did cross the street, however, because that’s how you get to the other side.

Cars were not screeching to a halt or narrowly dodging pedestrians. But many motorists did show their support by beeping their horns as they passed by. They cheered, waved, and gave us thumbs up. Except Committeeman Settembrino, who didn’t use his thumb.

Mr. Van Nortwick is right about one thing. We were effective at getting people’s attention. Everyone’s except the cops’. They saw no problem.

Linda Baum
Middletown, NJ

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, letter to the editor, Linda Baum, Middletown Republicans, Peter VanNortwick, sign waving, thumbs up, traffic hazard