Category Archives: editorial

APP Editorial: Shameful start out of the box

Here is an editorial that the Asbury Park Press has gotten right and if you read the comment posted by readers afterwards, they all seem to agree:

The new 5-0 Republican majority on the Monmouth County freeholder board got off to a disgraceful start this week: Its first order of business was rescinding its tough 2008 pay-to-play campaign finance restrictions. Welcome back to the world of one-party rule.

The old ground rules, passed in response to Operation Bid Rig, a sting targeting money laundering and political corruption that led to the arrests of 13 politicians in the county in 2005, was a huge step in putting an end to the sort of legal bribery that allowed graft to flow freely.

The freeholders now seem to believe that graft and corruption are a thing of the past. Either that or they want to cement their one-party grip on the board, briefly lost the past few years, by ensuring campaign contributors are aptly rewarded when it comes time to handing out contracts.

Under the previous rules, individual contributions were capped at $300, while a firm’s contribution was limited to $2,600. Candidates could not accept a contribution from another county’s political party in excess of $2,600 per election.

Now that those rules have been rescinded, the board will be guided by the state’s lenient “fair and open” bidding process for counties and municipalities, which state Comptroller Matthew Boxer has said is anything but.

In a commentary in the Press last year, Boxer wrote, “The pay-to-play law presents few, if any, real obstacles to local government entities seeking to reward politically favored vendors with public contracts … a series of fatal flaws have essentially rendered the pay-to-play law meaningless at the local government level.”

What reason did the freeholders offer for changing their minds? Freeholder Lillian Burry, who voted for the tougher pay-to-play regulations in 2008, said they made sense then: “It appeared at the time to be a very necessary thing for us to do,” Burry said.

But now? Burry says the 2008 rules may be “too harsh” and proved “very confusing to the professionals.”

The freeholders apparently would have us believe that the people who want to do business with Monmouth County were absolutely flummoxed by the 2008 county standard, and could not fathom the differences between the county’s rules and the “fair and open” process.

If the freeholders adequately educated potential contract bidders to those differences and they still couldn’t get it, those aren’t the sort of people the county should be hiring in the first place.

What is clear is the freeholders’ action was shameless. They should reinstate the tougher pay-to-play rules. If they don’t, citizens should express their disgust at the polls.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, editorial, Lillian Burry, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Operation Bid Rig, pay-to-play

APP Editorial "Decency absent in GOP mailing" Slams 11th District GOP Candidates For Smear Against Rival Gopal

Today’s edition of the Asbury Park Press contains an editorial slaming 11th District GOP Assmebly candidates Caroline Casagrande and Mary Pat Angelini for the over the top and deceitful campaign mailer sent to district residents attempting to smear their Democratic opponent Vin Gopal, by insinuating that he is corrupt because he once worked as a campaign manager for former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas, as a 20year old college intern.

Vas and another campaign aid Raymond Geneske, were convicted and sent to jail for various campaign offenses which Gopal had nothing to do with.

The recent campaign flier approved by Republicans Caroline Casagrande and Mary Pat Angelini in the 11th District Assembly race seeking to smear Democrat Vin Gopal was beyond the pale — even by New Jersey standards.

It used reckless innuendo in attempting to portray Gopal as corrupt because he once was campaign manager for disgraced former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas.

Although the ad was produced by the Republican State Committee, Casagrande and Angelini both signed off on it. And, on Friday, both said they stood by it. That’s almost as disturbing as the mailer itself, which tried through deliberate misdirection to suggest that Gopal was mixed up in a campaign money laundering and fraud scheme.

Gopal was campaign manager for Vas in 2006 as a 20-year-old political science major at Penn State University, for which he received course credit and a modest salary. His chief job was organizing volunteers and answering phones. He had nothing to do with any illegal money.

On one side of the mailer, which showed dollar bills swirling in a clothes drier, it read, “To you, this might look like someone illegally laundering money. To Vin Gopal, it looks like pay day.”

On the flip side, it said, “Corrupt Political Bosses. Money Laundering. Fraud. It’s just another day at the office for Vin Gopal.”

Further down, it had an April 2011 newspaper headline proclaiming, “Aide to former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas pleads guilty to money laundering.” The text of the story, which was covered with another headline, would have identified the aide as Raymond Geneske. The mailing implied it was Gopal.

“We didn’t say he went to jail. He was the campaign manager of a corrupt campaign,” said Tom Fitzsimmons, District 11 GOP campaign spokesman. “Everything in the mailer is 100 percent true.”

Maybe so. But it was a clear attempt to portray him as corrupt.

While the Gopal campaign has sent out some hard-ball negative mailings of its own, none of them have been in the same league as what the state Republican committee created and the candidates approved.

The mailer lacked a complete sense of decency and fair play, further contributing to voters’ cynicism and disgust with politicians who will do anything to win election.

The Republicans do not seem to care. Voters should when it comes to weighing their options for the Assembly seats at the polls on Tuesday.

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Filed under 11th Assembly District, Asbury Park Press, campaign mailer, Caroline Cassagrande, editorial, Mary Pat Angelini, Vin Gopal

APP Editorial: Obama’s stature compromised

The editorial below is from today’s Asbury Park Press, needless to say I am in full agreement!

President Barack Obama has revealed himself to be a man unwilling to fight for the principles in which he has said he believed.

The protracted debt ceiling/deficit reduction battle reveals, more starkly than ever, this president’s inability to stand firm. The United States may avoid a default, but the battle will end not with a bang, but with a whimper. Sadly, this is now the defining moment of Obama’s presidency.

How many times during the last six months has Obama capitulated to the 80 unreasoning Tea Party members of the House of Representatives and their right-wing echo chamber on talk radio and cable TV?

First, he allowed the debt ceiling talks to be linked to deficit reduction, then he abandoned even the idea of revenue increases. He gave away the store and alienated his base, and still the radical fringe frames the debate, now by demanding more cuts and an unnecessary constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, which would hamstring the government in the wake of major events. He could have stood up at any time, holding the 14th Amendment option in his pocket as a last resort. Now he just waits like the rest of us to see what happens next.

The president gave in and gave in, and he has lost whatever good will the great middle had for his attempt to be the rational one in the argument. Americans cannot respect a president who runs up the white flag of surrender.

And this obscene sausage-making is only the latest in a long line of appeasements: on health care, on Guantanamo Bay, on civilian trials for terror suspects.

We teach our children the fine art of compromise, but if you compromise away your values, you’ve lost something you cannot get back by barter.

We don’t want to elect some “philosopher-king” out of Plato. We want a leader with fire in his belly, who at least puts up an honest struggle based on core principles, who, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “spends himself in a worthy cause … and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

So many thought that Barack Obama might be just that man. It looks as if we were wrong.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, debt ceiling, debt deal, editorial, President Obama, Tea Party

On income taxes and job creation, history debunks GOP views

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
Sunday, July 17, 2011

We’re used to politicians stretching the truth, but this is getting ridiculous. For months now, congressional Republicans have refused to support any debt ceiling and budget deal that would raise taxes on the wealthy because, these economic wizards tell us, the rich are “job creators.”

Tax increases would discourage these job genies from expanding their businesses. Unemployment, already at 9.2 percent (which says something about the job-creation myth, doesn’t it?), would get even worse, they insist. The problem with this economic philosophy? It’s garbage.

Even Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, knows that: “The rich are always going to say, ‘Just give us more money and we’ll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you.’ But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.”

The American public, it seems, is catching on, even if Republicans want to twist the truth about that, too. Speaker of the House John Boehner keeps insisting, “The American people don’t want us to raise taxes.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says, “This economy is ailing and we don’t believe, nor do the American people believe, raising taxes is the answer.”

Think again. Americans believe Congress should raise taxes on the wealthy.

A new Quinnipiac survey asked voters if they support a budget deal with only budget cuts or a blend of cuts and taxes on corporations and the rich. Only 25 percent said cuts only. Sixty-seven percent want cuts and a tax increase on the wealthy.

Republican leaders are not only misrepresenting what the American people want, they’re covering up Republican numbers, too. In a recent Gallup poll, only 26 percent of Republicans favored lowering the debt with cuts alone. In just about every poll — ABC News, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters — Americans want spending cuts and they want the wealthy to pay a larger share.

But maybe the American people are wrong. Let’s check the history. Did giving the wealthy a break with the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 help create jobs? Uh, no. From the end of the 2000-01 recession, just when the first Bush tax cuts took effect, until the beginning of the Great Recession, the economy grew at a slower pace than in any postrecession recovery period since World War II. Pay, adjusted for inflation, fell. And it took 39 months to get the number of jobs back to where it was before the 2000-01 recession.

Despite the same promises of jobs, the economy limped along. And the additional tax cut in 2003 didn’t rev it up, either.

President Bill Clinton faced vociferous opposition to his 1993 budget plan, which raised the top tax rates from 31 percent to 39.6 percent. Republicans called it the “Kevorkian Plan.”

So, what happened? Unparalleled economic growth. The nation’s unemployment dropped from 6.9 percent to 4 percent. The deficit shrank, and in 1998, the federal government boasted a surplus for the first time since 1969.

It seems the economy can survive a tax hike on the wealthy after all. And the tax hike did wonders to reduce the deficit as well, as designed.

More evidence: During the 1950s and early 1960s, when America experienced sustained growth, marginal tax rates on the rich were the highest they’ve ever been — 91 percent for the top bracket. (Even President Ronald Reagan, the Republican economic poster boy, raised taxes after he cut them.)

But Republicans keep chanting the same nonsense — without offering historical evidence to back it up. Instead, they want to bring the nation to the brink of default while protecting corporations (who are sitting on billions in profits) and fat cats — while everyday Americans are squeezed by high gas and food prices, plunging home prices and lower wages.

Let’s call the job-creator stuff what it is: a myth.

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Filed under Bill Clinton, Bush Tax Cuts, Congressional Republicans, Conservatives, debt limit, editorial, Eric Cantor, great recession, John Boehner, President Obama, tax cuts, the Star-Ledger, unemployment

>NY Times: Gov. Christie Abandons a Good Idea

>The following editorial was published yesterday in the NY Times, people should read it before falling for his claim to be an advocate for the environment:

Running for governor in 2009, Chris Christie vowed to become “New Jersey’s No. 1 clean-energy advocate.” That was a hollow promise. As governor, Mr. Christie proceeded to cut all the money for the Office of Climate and Energy. He raided $158 million from the clean energy fund, meant for alternative energy investments, and spent it on general programs. He withdrew the state from an important lawsuit against electric utilities to reduce emissions.

On Thursday, he took the worst step of all: He abandoned the 10-state initiative in the Northeast that uses a cap-and-trade system to lower carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. The program has been remarkably successful, a model of vision and fortitude. Lacking that, Mr. Christie has given in to the corporate and Tea Party interests that revile all forms of cap and trade, letting down the other nine states trying to fight climate change.

The system works by requiring utilities to either lower their emissions or buy allowances to pollute. Money from the allowances goes to states for clean-energy programs. Since it began in 2008, the system has created more than $700 million for these programs; New Jersey has spent some of its share on helping cities become more energy-efficient. Greenhouse emissions from power plants in the region went down about 12 percent from 2008 to 2010 for many reasons, including lower natural gas prices. Programs like the regional initiative are estimated to have produced more than 10 percent of that decline.

Mr. Christie has already demonstrated his disdain for the program’s goals by spending $65 million of the state’s $100 million share from the allowances to pay down New Jersey’s deficit. He claimed this week that the program was not working, a notion that was quickly refuted by five other governors. “Governor Christie is simply wrong when he claims that these efforts are a failure,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland. He said they had an equivalent effect of taking 3,500 cars off the road in his state.

For now, at least, the far right has killed cap and trade nationally, but the idea is far from dead. Several Western states are gearing up for a cap-and-trade program; California has been particularly aggressive. The Northeast state compact will survive Mr. Christie’s exit. It is New Jersey that will be the poorer, with less to invest in smarter energy programs, more carbon dioxide and a leadership vacancy at its helm.

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Filed under cap and trade, carbon dioxide emissions, clean energy, editorial, Gov. Chris Christie, greenhouse gasses, New Jersey, NY Times, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

>Monday Night: Scharfenberger Is Tongue Tied

>As promised, this is the last video clip from the November 15th, 2010 Middletown Township Committee meeting. Resident Paul Jansen read into the record, the Asbury Park Press editorial “Tongue tied for a reason” which lambasted Middletown”s mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger for not disclosing his new job as Director for the Office of Planning Advocacy until after the November 2, 2010 election.

Again, throughout Jansen’s address, just like the others, Scharfenberger’s body language tells a story. He is clearly agitated with the proceeding during the night, which he should have been and keeps his head down seemingly writing (doodling) on some type of paper until Mr. Jansen is finished.

I only point this out because this type of body language displayed by Scharfenberger is at many meetings where residents have a difference of opinion from him. When he has had enough, he interrupts to interject the 5 minute rule (times up,sit down) as seen in other videos, or he tries his other method at silencing those at the podium, offer to speak with them after the meeting, which seldom happens due to the late hour in which the meetings generally finish, often after 11pm.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, editorial, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Paul Jansen, Tongue tied for a reason

>Planners question credentials of Middletown committeeman coordinating N.J. policy

>Wow, what an article in today’s Asbury Park Press written by Kevin Penton, to go along with the Press’s editorial about Middletown’s mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger.

Kevin Penton really delved into the story by asking those that deal with the Office of Planning Advocacy, if they thought that Middletown’s Scharfenberger was qualified to head the department, the consensus of those asked seems to be a resounding NO and they question his appointment.

Here are a few excerpts from the article, but make sure that you read follow-up and the article in it’s entirety to get the full impact of what was written:

“Digging up rocks doesn’t make you a planner,” remarked Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The only science being conducted in this office is political science, not real science.”

...Just like former Gov. Jim McGreevey and Gov. Jon S. Corzine before him, Gov. Chris Christie hired a politician who lacks state accreditation as a licensed planner to direct what is now the Office of Planning Advocacy, said Charles Latini, president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Planners Association…

…”The administration seems to be moving slowly and deliberatively in specific areas,”… “The planning community doesn’t have a clue where they’re going.”…

Shawn Crisafulli, a spokesman for the Department of State… did not answer how many candidates were considered for Scharfenberger’s position, whether he had to undergo an application and interview process or was simply appointed, and whether the state advertised the open position….

…That a politician, rather than a planner, was chosen to head the agency that coordinates planning for New Jersey demonstrates what anyone looking at the Office of Planning Advocacy needs to know about its future priorities, said the Sierra Club’s Tittel….

…”It’s disgraceful,” said Tittel, who is concerned the Office of Planning Advocacy may become further politicized under the Department of State. “They really want to play politics and not do planning, which is supposed to be their jobs.”…

…Carlos Rodrigues, who worked in the Office of Smart Growth from 1994 to 2004, said when the state needed a director for the agency in the past, it conducted national searches, seeking experienced professionals with planning backgrounds.

“It was taken seriously,” said Rodrigues, a senior fellow with the Regional Planning Association. “Now we have a mayor as the head of the office? That’s a really, really bad idea. It’s ridiculous.”…

…Latini said he does not understand how the state permits anyone without a planning accreditation to be able to head the Office of Planning Advocacy…

…Rodrigues said the Christie administration needs to decide whether it is taking the Office of Planning Advocacy, and its cost to taxpayers, seriously.

“If you’re not going to fix it, then get rid of it,” Rodrigues said. “It’s an embarrassment the way it is, a complete sham.”…


Amazing isn’t it, how does Christie get a way with appointing Scharfy to such an important position as this, with no experience or certification in planning, when the state of the economy is in need of experienced people to help nurture its growth while the state is trying to recover from this devastating national recession?
Instead of stepping down from Middletown’s Township Committee as some have proposed, maybe Gerry should give up his new job and go back to being an archaeologist. I’m sure that some private sector firm could use someone who’s PhD thesis was on the composition of Colonial era glass (or something to that effect) and leave the planning of the recovery of the state’s economy to someone more qualified in that field.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, editorial, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, kevin penton, Middletown, Office of Planning Advocacy