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

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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

Someone Please Dial Whine-1-1; Middletown Republicans Are In Need Of A Waaambulance!!

Every year since 2006, Middletown Democrats have been gathering at local intersections around Middletown showing their support for their candidates during campaign season and every year there has been a cry baby letter to the editor issued by the some connected Republican boot licker stating how these Democrats are running out in traffic, causing disturbances and posing a hazard to drivers.

This year is nothing new, Middletown Democrats were out again this past weekend showing their support for their Candidates Jim Grenafege and Carol Fowler and within hours a recycled letter to the editor made it’s way onto the pages of the Atlantic Highlands Herald condeming the democrats and misleading readers.

This letter written by Republican Monmouth County Committeeman Peter Van Nortwick, who also happens to be the appointed Vice-President of the Poricy Park Conservancy and holds various other appointed positions throughout the county, should be arrested for false allegations and charged with plagiarism for putting his name on a letter that has now been rewritten 6 or 7 times over the past 5 years by various other Middletown Republicans !

After all, Middletown Democrats are just exercising their first amendment rights to free speech and to peaceably assemble. Why do Peter Van Nortwick and other Middletown Republicans what to violate their constituional rights by stopping them from doing so; do they hate the constitution ?

Note to Middletown Republicans: Stop your whining over nonsense and address real quality of life issues that effect Middletown like cronyism, taxes, high density housing, taxes, pet projects, nepotism, taxes, roads, brush and leaf pick-ups, the state of education,taxes……

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, Carol Fowler, Democratic Candidate, Jim Grenafege, letter to the editor, Middletown Republicans, Waaambulance

>Is A Scharfenberger Recall Effort Possibly Underway In Middletown?


Ever since the news broke about Gerry Scharfenberger being appointed by Governor Christie to a $95,000 a year job as the new Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy and then keeping it quite by lying to the press when asked by several local news organizations such as the Asbury Park Press,Two River Times, Greater Media’s the Independent and about his current employer during this past election season, I’ve been receiving a ton of emails and comments left on this blog from friends and other Middletown residents that are upset at being deceived once again by the master of deception himself, Gerry Scharfenberger.

These people, some of whom voted for Scharfenberger, are angry and want to know what can be done about overturning the outcome of Tuesday’s election due to the fact that if they had known in advance about Gerry’s new position in Trenton it may have changed their votes.

But what really has them upset is his lame excuses for not making the appointment public knowledge back in August when he accepted the job. Scharfenberger has been quoted as saying “”I just assumed that everyone knew.” by the Asbury Park Press and “I wasn’t go to promote it to help my election, which I thought would be unfair.” by the Atlantic Highlands Herald.

Many of these people think that keeping this information from the public, while not illegal, was unethical and the equivalent to fraud. They are thinking of taking action against Scharfenberger by starting a Recall campaign against him.

When I heard this for the first time, I thought it was an intriguing idea so I looked up the Recall Provision in the NJ State Constitution to see what it would entail.

Article 1, section 2b explains what needs to be done in order to recall a local public official as follows:

The people reserve unto themselves the power to recall, after at least one year of service, any elected official in this State or representing this State in the United States Congress. The Legislature shall enact laws to provide for such recall elections. Any such laws shall include a provision that a recall election shall be held upon petition of at least 25% of the registered voters in the electoral district of the official sought to be recalled. If legislation to implement this constitutional amendment is not enacted within one year of the adoption of the amendment, the Secretary of State shall, by regulation, implement the constitutional amendment, except that regulations adopted by the Secretary of State shall be superseded by any subsequent legislation consistent with this constitutional amendment governing recall elections. The sufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds procedurally required shall be a political rather than a judicial question.

After reading the provisions it seems that all which is needed is to collect Scharfenberger is the signatures from 25% of all the registered voters in Middletown on a petition, which would be about 12 thousand or so, within 160 days. It seems doable but I doubt that it is plausible, recall efforts very seldom work, many signatures are challenged and thrown out by the powers that be and it is extremely time consuming to gather all those signatures

So we are probably stuck with him until he either resigns on his own from the Township Committee or is eventually thrown out of office by the voters after the next election. With that being said though, if anyone truly wants to start the recall effort, I’d sign my name to it.


Filed under Asbury Park Press, Atlantic Highlands Herald, Gerry Scharfenberger, Governor Christie, Middletown NJ, Middletown Township Committee, recall petition

>Letter: Middletown Needs Less Partisanship

>This letter to the editor appears today in the Atlantic Highlands Herald:

Dear Editor,
My favorite quotes come from a founding father and former president, Thomas Jefferson, “the greatest good we can do is to heal party divisions and make them one people”. I believe that thought was intended to be translated right down to the local levels. That would mean our political parties would actually be working for the betterment of the people they serve regardless of party affiliation. Unfortunately, I have yet to see that happen in Middletown, my local neck of the woods.
I would then suppose the next thing the residents could hope for in our governing body is a system of checks and balances. Well folks, we don’t have that either and that most certainly is not in our best interest.
On numerous occasions, Democrat Sean Byrnes has made motions that would well serve our residents. Sound ideas and advance planning need to be acted on in a non-partisan environment for the good of the community. Sean’s motions are never seconded and they die right there in the workshop – never discussed publicly. This is not the kind of governing the founding fathers planned for us.
Mary Mahoney an accomplished business woman, community advocate, civic leader, and long term Middletown resident has courageously stepped up to the plate as Mr. Byrnes running mate. Something few of us would be willing to do during these difficult economic times.
Please help restore a system of checks and balances to Middletown’s governing body by casting your vote this November for Byrnes and Mahoney.

Mary Ellen Hintz
Lincroft, NJ

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, Byrnes and Mahoney, letter to the editor, Middletown