Category Archives: Hazlet

Hazlet Committee To Hold Open School Budget Discussions; Why Not Middletown

According to the article posted on the Asbury Park Press website it was announced at last night’s Hazlet Township Committee meeting that there will be an open and transparent public meeting before its next scheduled committee meeting to discuss proposed cuts to the township’s school board budget.

What a novel idea! Why can’t Middletown do the same? Could it be that Mayor Scharfenberger is afraid that the meeting will get out of hand and uncontrollable like the ones that had angry residents protesting the installation of turf fields at West Front Street Park?
At Monday night’s Township Workshop meeting after being questioned by a resident, former mayor Pam Brightbill stated that she was against holding a public meeting on the school budget, which runs contrary to what School Superintendent Karen Bilbao stated after learning that the school budget had been defeated two weeks ago.
Why wouldn’t you want residents input on something that will have such a large and potentially adverse effect on the lives of so many people that live in the community?
I think instead, Scharfenberger and Brightbill would rather lurk in the shadows and issue inflammatory press releases and letters to the editor, taking a page out of Chris Christie’s playbook by stroking the anger of residents against the teachers union in order to gain some sort of political advantage come November.
They didn’t even tell other members of the Township Committee that they planned to meet with four members of the Middletown Board of Education before the workshop meeting Monday night.
Committeeman Sean Byrnes was never informed of the meeting but found out about it over the weekend because someone from the Board of Education asked if he would be there. And newly elected Committeeman Steve Massel announced during the workshop meeting that he had not been informed of any meeting either.
So what are Scharfenberger and Brightbill up to? Why the need for secrecy, is it because there really isn’t anymore dollars left in this bare-bone school budget left to cut after Governor Christie already eliminated $11M from it and they are afraid that if they hold open meetings people will see through the ruse of pitting residents against the teachers and their union.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see, just like those other members of the Middletown Township Committee, until after Gerry and Pam meet with members of the Board of Education once again later today to hear what type of cuts THEY recommended to the school board.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, budget cuts, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, Hazlet, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Township Committee, Pamela Brightbill, school budgets, Sean F. Byrnes

Vincent Solomeno for Freeholder: My statement from the hearing: Why I oppose the Monmouth County budget.


Vincent Solomeno, Candidate For Monmouth County Freeholder, attended the March 9th 2010 public hearing on the proposed Monmouth County Budget at the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury.

Solomeno read into the record the following statement as to why he opposes the proposed budget that the Freeholders have offer-up. The statement can also be found at his facebook site:

Good evening, my name is Vincent Solomeno, and I’m a property taxpayer from Hazlet. I first want to thank the professional staff for the time spent preparing this budget proposal.

That said, members of the Board, it is my hope that you reject this proposal. Monmouth County residents simply can’t afford this level of spending. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and produce a budget with significant savings.

This is no normal time—the worst economy in generations. Clearly, the status quo is unacceptable.

Yet as I read the budget proposal, a number of areas go unaddressed—areas that if cut can result in significant savings for taxpayers. Unfortunately, this budget is more of the same, when that’s exactly what we can’t afford.

This budget does not consider the potential savings of combining the purchasing departments of the county and the parks system—a redundancy which costs taxpayers money.

This budget does not consider the savings to be had by combining our two motor pools.

And at a time when many private-sector workers are seeing their salaries cut or their wages frozen, this budget does not consider the savings to be had by freezing the salaries of non-contractual personnel earning over $100,000.

The important question I hear from my neighbors is, “Why?”

Why doesn’t this budget end the practice of awarding no-bid contracts for professional services? Doing so would increase efficiency, guarantee transparency, and save taxpayer dollars.

Why doesn’t this budget honor the intent of the cap law? Monmouth County families know it’s time to do more with less. You wouldn’t hand a credit card to a shopaholic, so why, in these economic times, should the county spend significantly above the cap, when all it means for residents is higher taxes and more spending?

I understand the enormity of the task before you. We may disagree over specific priorities, but we all know—just like Monmouth county families know—that in this time of stagnating wages, layoffs, and rising property taxes, it’s time to make tough choices.

This budget doesn’t make those tough choices. We don’t live in a fairy tale, and we can’t wish our problems away. We simply can’t afford tax increases year after year. Enough is enough.

Monmouth County families are struggling. We owe it to them to cut this bloated budget and bring them real property tax relief. I hope you have the courage to do just that.


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Filed under budget meeting, Democratic Candidate, Facebook, Hazlet, Monmouth County Freeholder Candidate, Vincent Solomeno

Solomeno First To Throw His Hat In The Ring For Dems In Monmouth County Freeholders Race

Hazlet Resident Vincent Solomeno, has become the first Monmouth County Democrat to officiall announce his intentions to seek the Party nod to run along side Freeholder John D’Amico.

Solomeno made his announcement with a brief posting on his Facebook page that simply stated “Vincent Solomeno is running for monmouth county freeholder.” this afternoon after posting earlier in the week that he had a big announcement to make on Friday.

Last night he posted the following Youtube video:

For those of you who do not know Vincent, he was named one of “50 Rising Stars in New Jersey Politics” by Politicker New Jersey, he has managed or worked on local, state, and national campaigns. He has worked for Congressman Frank Pallone.

In 2006, Vincent became a Truman Scholar and in 2007, he was selected as a J. William Fulbright Scholar to the Netherlands where he earned a Master of Arts in European Studies at the University of Amsterdam. A Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG), he is a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve and is training to become a Combat Engineer.

So when Vincent has an opinion about something it’s worth listening to, he is not some loony liberal trying to push mandates down our throats. He is an extremely intelligent and distinguished member of the Monmouth County community who’s thoughts and ideas should be considered.

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Filed under Democrat, Freeholder Candidate, Hazlet, Vincent Solomeno

Letter: Brady and Tinker Kick-Off "Silly Season" In Hazlet

I know October is the silly season of local politics, but Republicans Jim Brady and Dave Tinker are playing fast and loose with the facts in their campaign for Hazlet Township Committee. They recently dropped a flier on my doorstep which — in addition to attacking Democratic Mayor Kevin Lavan and Deputy Mayor Joe Belasco — sets forth their so-called “mission” for Hazlet.

A laundry list of banal generalizations, in it they promise to “lower taxes, less government spending, stop overdevelopment, preserve open space, promote green technologies,” and “promote government reform.” All important issues. So important in fact, that Mayor Lavan and Deputy Mayor Belasco have been working on them since their election three years ago.

After three years of Republican mismanagement that saw double-digit increases in municipal taxes, Lavan and Belasco stabilized them. As a result, homeowners saw the lowest municipal tax growth in a decade.

And while Republicans talk about reducing spending, Lavan and Belasco have actually done it. By aggressively pursuing shared service agreements, they saved over $200,000 through the elimination of the Hazlet Sewerage Authority, outsourced the health department to Monmouth County for a savings of $260,000 annually, and reduced salary and utility costs by shortening the township workweek from five to four days.

Lavan and Belasco also put the brakes on overdevelopment. They took builders to court to protect quality of life and secured record amounts of grant funding to preserve what little is left of Hazlet’s precious open space. They did more than simply list these issues in a flier around election time, they delivered results and improved the life of our community.

Unfortunately, Mr. Tinker and Mr. Brady are recycled candidates touting a recycled way of doing business. When Republicans last controlled the Township Committee, they raised taxes, increased spending, sold open space, recklessly borrowed millions for the new town hall, and most damning, found themselves ensnared in an FBI investigation that led to the arrest of their hand-picked mayor on charges of corruption.

Every time they run for an office, Tinker and Brady say anything to get elected. It comes as no surprise that their recent flier is consistent with that track record. Which is a shame, because a lot remains to be done for the people of Hazlet. Mayor Kevin Lavan and Deputy Mayor Joe Belasco are working to stabilize property taxes, preserve open space, and improve recreation for young people. They deserve three more years to complete what they set out to do.

Vincent Solomeno
Hazlet

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Filed under Democrat, Hazlet, Opinion letter, Vincent Solomeno

>Democrats on right side of affordable housing debate; Republicans only offer re-establishment of regional contribution agreements

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The following commentary appeared in today’s Asbury Park Press and was written by Vincent Solomeno. Vincent is a life long bayshore area resident and a Monmouth County Democratic committeeman from Hazlet.

For those of you who do not know Vincent, he was named one of “50 Rising Stars in New Jersey Politics” by Politicker New Jersey, he has managed or worked on local, state, and national campaigns. He has worked for Congressman Frank Pallone.

In 2006, Vincent became a Truman Scholar and in 2007, he was selected as a J. William Fulbright Scholar to the Netherlands where he earned a Master of Arts in European Studies at the University of Amsterdam. A Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG), he is a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve and is training to become a Combat Engineer. 

So when Vincent has an opinion about something it’s worth listening to, he is not some loony liberal trying to push mandates down our throats. He is an extremely intelligent and distinguished member of the Monmouth County community who’s thoughts and ideas  should be considered:

Democrats must be able to transform the statewide mandate of the Council on Affordable Housing or else be ready for Republican criticism that may diminish Democratic support among suburban voters.

Ex-Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan recently traveled to Freehold to stump for votes in his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor. He likened his campaign to the American Revolution and compared Gov. Jon Corzine and the Democratic majorities in the Legislature to the tyrants of Europe and Asia.

The 21st-century Gen. George Washington continued with a blistering attack on COAH and promised that, when the general election is through, the self-financed Corzine will be living in one of the program’s 40,000 units.

November’s election not only will determine who occupies the front office in the state Capitol. It will test New Jersey Republicans’ ability to make inroads into the Democrats’ legislative majority. Unless Democrats present a compelling narrative for affordable housing, COAH and its cumbersome regulations have the potential to unite the feuding factions of the GOP and erase Democratic gains in suburban battlegrounds.

From a policy perspective, the need for affordable housing remains as clear today as it was when the Supreme Court ordered state action on the issue in 1984. According to the U.S. Census, New Jerseyans pay 30 percent or more of their income for housing, the fourth highest percentage in the nation. However, members of both parties recognize that in its current form, COAH often results in continued overdevelopment and an increase in property taxes.

Democrats in the Legislature have indicated their willingness to take on the challenge. As chairman of the Economic Growth Committee, Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, introduced legislation (S2485) that directs the state Housing Commission to consider the impact of its assessments on local property taxes.

Lesniak also wants COAH to provide housing not only to low-income individuals, but to those in the middle class who do not qualify for the program but nonetheless struggle with New Jersey’s high cost of living. Called “work-force” housing, the change would allow individuals such as secretaries, firefighters and recent college graduates to qualify for assistance.

In his recent State of the State address, Corzine indicated his willingness to “allow for maximum flexibility and ample time for collaborative review” of affordable housing plans. The governor and Democrats will face the challenge of articulating the need for COAH regulations to a public leery of continued development.

Affordable housing may be an issue that Republicans can use to their advantage, but thus far they have offered no policy alternative other than S2292, a bill re-establishing the regional contribution agreements that circumvented the intent of affordable housing in the first place. Their advocacy of a return to the failed status quo does nothing to address the real problem.

New Jersey is a “blue” state and New Jersey Republicans are a party rife with ideological divisions. Criticism of COAH presents them with an issue they can rally around. However, they will need more than rhetoric and stale policy to convince voters they can solve the problem. Democrats have demonstrated a willingness to ease the burden on municipalities without abandoning a commitment to providing affordable housing. The remaining challenge for lawmakers is to deliver reform.


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Filed under Affordable housing, Asbury Park Press, COAH, Frank Pallone, Fulbright Scholar, Gov. Jon Corzine, Hazlet, Monmouth County Democrats, RCA's, State of the State Address, Steve Lonegan, Vincent Solomeno

Democrats on right side of affordable housing debate; Republicans only offer re-establishment of regional contribution agreements

The following commentary appeared in today’s Asbury Park Press and was written by Vincent Solomeno. Vincent is a life long bayshore area resident and a Monmouth County Democratic committeeman from Hazlet.

For those of you who do not know Vincent, he was named one of “50 Rising Stars in New Jersey Politics” by Politicker New Jersey, he has managed or worked on local, state, and national campaigns. He has worked for Congressman Frank Pallone.

In 2006, Vincent became a Truman Scholar and in 2007, he was selected as a J. William Fulbright Scholar to the Netherlands where he earned a Master of Arts in European Studies at the University of Amsterdam. A Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG), he is a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve and is training to become a Combat Engineer. 

So when Vincent has an opinion about something it’s worth listening to, he is not some loony liberal trying to push mandates down our throats. He is an extremely intelligent and distinguished member of the Monmouth County community who’s thoughts and ideas  should be considered:

Democrats must be able to transform the statewide mandate of the Council on Affordable Housing or else be ready for Republican criticism that may diminish Democratic support among suburban voters.

Ex-Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan recently traveled to Freehold to stump for votes in his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor. He likened his campaign to the American Revolution and compared Gov. Jon Corzine and the Democratic majorities in the Legislature to the tyrants of Europe and Asia.

The 21st-century Gen. George Washington continued with a blistering attack on COAH and promised that, when the general election is through, the self-financed Corzine will be living in one of the program’s 40,000 units.

November’s election not only will determine who occupies the front office in the state Capitol. It will test New Jersey Republicans’ ability to make inroads into the Democrats’ legislative majority. Unless Democrats present a compelling narrative for affordable housing, COAH and its cumbersome regulations have the potential to unite the feuding factions of the GOP and erase Democratic gains in suburban battlegrounds.

From a policy perspective, the need for affordable housing remains as clear today as it was when the Supreme Court ordered state action on the issue in 1984. According to the U.S. Census, New Jerseyans pay 30 percent or more of their income for housing, the fourth highest percentage in the nation. However, members of both parties recognize that in its current form, COAH often results in continued overdevelopment and an increase in property taxes.

Democrats in the Legislature have indicated their willingness to take on the challenge. As chairman of the Economic Growth Committee, Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, introduced legislation (S2485) that directs the state Housing Commission to consider the impact of its assessments on local property taxes.

Lesniak also wants COAH to provide housing not only to low-income individuals, but to those in the middle class who do not qualify for the program but nonetheless struggle with New Jersey’s high cost of living. Called “work-force” housing, the change would allow individuals such as secretaries, firefighters and recent college graduates to qualify for assistance.

In his recent State of the State address, Corzine indicated his willingness to “allow for maximum flexibility and ample time for collaborative review” of affordable housing plans. The governor and Democrats will face the challenge of articulating the need for COAH regulations to a public leery of continued development.

Affordable housing may be an issue that Republicans can use to their advantage, but thus far they have offered no policy alternative other than S2292, a bill re-establishing the regional contribution agreements that circumvented the intent of affordable housing in the first place. Their advocacy of a return to the failed status quo does nothing to address the real problem.

New Jersey is a “blue” state and New Jersey Republicans are a party rife with ideological divisions. Criticism of COAH presents them with an issue they can rally around. However, they will need more than rhetoric and stale policy to convince voters they can solve the problem. Democrats have demonstrated a willingness to ease the burden on municipalities without abandoning a commitment to providing affordable housing. The remaining challenge for lawmakers is to deliver reform.


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Filed under Affordable housing, Asbury Park Press, COAH, Frank Pallone, Fulbright Scholar, Gov.Jon Corzine, Hazlet, Monmouth County Democrats, RCA's, State of the State Address, Steve Lonegan, Vincent Solomeno

>Thank you, Congressman Pallone

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While surfing through Blue Jersey earlier today, I happened to come across a post written by a friend of mine, Vincent Solomeno.

Vincent has been a very active and successful Democrat in the bayshore for almost a decade. He got his start in 2000 when he managed his first successful Democratic campaign for Borough Council in Union Beach in over a decade. He then served as Executive Director of the Union Beach Democrats. Afterwards he moving to Hazlet to manage several campaigns, including Mayor Kevin Lavan and Committeeman Jim DiNardo’s.
 Vincent penned the following piece in support of Congressman Frank Pallone’s efforts to ensure that uninsured children have access to quality healthcare:
“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
– Vice President Hubert Humphrey
In Washington, Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6) is fighting for the progressive agenda. On Wednesday the House of Representatives approved, by a 289 to 139 margin, a record expansion of the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Capitol Hill watchers expect the bill to easily pass through the Senate and reach President-Elect Obama’s desk within days of his inauguration. In addition to reauthorizing a program that presently covers seven million children, yesterday’s expansion will provide four million more with access to basic medical care.
This victory has been long coming. Both Democrats and a minority of Republicans attempted in the previous Congress to pass similar legislation, only to have their work vetoed twice by a President more interested in providing corporate welfare than extending health care to the children of the poor.

New Jerseyans should take pride in the knowledge that Congressman Pallone has led the House’s efforts toward passage of the expansion. As Chair of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, he helped draft the legislation and went to the floor to shepherd it through to final approval. Pallone’s work is consistent with his progressive principles and a reflection of his long held commitment to providing access to health care for all Americans.

The child health bill provides $32 billion to insure a total of 11 million children whose families lack the resources to pay for preventative and emergency care. Moreover, the legislation removes the discriminatory clause that excluded the children of legal immigrants – first generation Americans – from coverage.

With the economy entering recession, more than 2.6 million people lost their job last year alone – the highest one year loss since 1945. Experts estimate that for every 1 percent increase in the number of jobless, 1.5 million people lose health coverage. 47 million Americans are uninsured. Sadly, 9 million are children, and according to a recent report, 273,000 of them are from New Jersey.

Thanks in large measure to the work of Congressman Pallone, our country is one step closer to reducing that number. In doing so, we guarantee access to basic medical care for those who need it the most: our children.

Vincent Solomeno
  

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Filed under Blue Jersey, Children's Health Insurance Program, Frank Pallone, Hazlet, Jim DiNardo, SCHIP, Subcommittee on Health and Energy, uninsured Americans, Union Beach, Vincent Solomeno