Category Archives: Jim Grenafege

>It Was Grenafege Vs. Scharfenberger In A Heated Exchange During Budget Meeting

>One of the more lively exchanges that took place during Tuesday night’s budget adoption meeting in Middletown, was the heated words that flew around the court house between resident Jim Grenafege and mayor Scharfenberger.

There has been bad-blood between the two that dates back to 2008 when Jim Grenafege ran on the Democratic ticket for a seat on the Middletown Township Committee.

Durning that campaign Scharfenberger, who is a part-time adjunct professor at Monmouth Univeristy, was caught using the Monmouth University’s email system to send out false and misleading campaign information about Grenafege and his running mate to Republicans and their supporters in Middletown.

Scharfenberger’s ethical lapse nearly cost Monmouth University its IRS tax exempt status and was in clear violation of Monmouth University’s Guidelines for Political Activity.

To this day it isn’t exactly clear what disciplinary actions, if any, Monmouth University took against Scharfenberger. And since this time, whenever Jim Grenafege stands in front of the Township Committee to address a concern that troubles him mayor Scharfenberger usually looks away and ignores him, that was until Tuesday night.
Dustin Racippio from the website caught the exchange and wrote about in his column:
“…Frustration mounted when resident Jim Grenafage, a meeting regular, criticized the committee for lacking transparency — a common complaint at the meeting — and accused it of withholding information from committeeman Sean Byrnes, the body’s lone Democrat.

Scharfenberger, clearly chafed by the “heavy accusation,” uncharacteristically let his frustration show, and got into a back-and-forth of raised voices and finger pointing with Grenafage.

“There’s much more of an effort to keep things opaque than to bring transparency to the town,” Grenafage said….”

If you would like to listen to it for yourself I have the audio posted below. I hope to have an expanded sound bite soon of the exchange because much of what is not captured in this piece of audio was very insightful and at some point should be looked into.


Filed under budget meeting, code of ethics, Gerry Scharfenberger, IRS Tax Exemption, Jim Grenafege, Monmouth University,

Middletown Township Still ‘Crunching The Numbers’ As Budget Gap Widens

Excellent article written by Ryan Fennell of the TRT, the kid reports it straight with no spin and consistantly reports on important aspects of the Township Committee meetings without having to resort to press releases issued after the meetings are over.

By Ryan Fennell
The Two River Times

MIDDLETOWN – While no specifics have been released regarding the 2010 budget, the Middletown Township Committee intimated on Monday night that layoffs were imminent in order to bridge the estimated $4 million shortfall in revenue.

The Middletown Township Committee entered this year facing an approximate $4 million shortfall, which Committeeman Sean Byrnes now estimates to be closer to $6 million, in revenue for the 2010 budget. Since that time the Committee has hired a new CFO and consistently pledged to the township’s residents that it was “looking at everything.”

“We are now almost three weeks into April and we know as a Committee that we have a significant shortfall in revenue this year,” Byrnes said. “The news is only getting worse and as of right now I don’t think we’ve really executed on any plans. Our ability to see any kind of savings is hampered by the fact that time is passing.”

Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger said that he has been in contact with Governor Chris Christie’s chief of staff and has been assured that legislation is being crafted that would ease the situation for the township.

“He assured me that the ‘mayor’s toolbox’, so to speak, that will allow us to absorb some of these cuts is still in the process of being formulated. We’re hoping this will provide some relief and extensive policy out of Trenton that will allow us to get back on track.” Middletown resident Jim Grenafege was not satisfied with the explanation and challenged the committee to offer concrete solutions or information regarding the budget. “Its just week after week there is nothing concrete happening,” Grenafege said.

He asked that the committee provide numbers associated with proposals that have been offered by the committee that could potential cut the budget.

“We have a relatively new CFO and he’s still crunching the numbers,” Scharfenberger said. “We can’t quantify anything that’s been proposed when I don’t have the numbers to quantify it against. These are sound proposals. There’s no sense speculating.”

Grenafege charged that the committee was speculating with the proposals. “They’re speculation with no numbers associated with it. It’s disingenuous to make these proposals without saying and here’s what we expect to save.”

Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante said that there are concrete things happening regarding the budget. “We’ve discussed a lot of options for saving money. A lot of them are painful. A lot of them are painful to individual people. It wouldn’t be fair to speculate publicly about some of the things happening.” Resident Jeff Blumengold asked why the committee hasn’t at least started cutting the “low hanging fruit.”

Scharfenberger noted that Middletown operates on a workforce of approximately 340 employees which costs the township $872 per person, a low figure for a municipality it’s size.

“There’s not a lot of low hanging fruit,” Scharfenberger said.

Scharfenberger also pointed out that the Township experienced 15 retirements since January and could see as many as 20 by year’s end. Scharfenberger said that these retirements have affected the budget and eliminated areas to cut.

“We had no idea that was going to happen,” Scharfenberger said of the retirements. However, the Committee had expected and even encouraged its employees to retire in May 2009.

On May 18, 2009 the Committee unanimously adopted an ordinance entitled “Early Retirement Incentive for Eligible Township Employees.”

The ordinance encourages employees eligible to retire under the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) with the offer of health benefits upon retirement after 15 years of service with the township, lowered from 20 years of service.

According to the ordinance any employee who is eligible to retire who has 15 years of service shall have the entire cost of health benefits assumed by the Township of Middletown upon retirement. The ordinance has a “sunset provision” that sets December 31, 2010 as the expiration date.

“The process is the problem,” Byrnes said. “There is no process in place to get ahead of the things we’re talking about. We knew it was going to be bad. It’s very, very frustrating. I can’t fathom how we haven’t planned out for the problems we’re facing.”

“Now we will lay off people and those numbers are probably going to be bigger than they needed because we’re starting later than we should have,” Byrnes added.

“The silver lining in all the bad news we’ve been confronting is that people are starting to engage,” Byrnes said. “People seem to be paying more attention to what’s going on. That’s a good thing. Part of the problem of what we’re in now is people didn’t pay attention and that is the key to getting out of the very dire situation we find ourselves in.”


Filed under budget cuts, Budget Shortfall, Gov. Chris Christie, Jim Grenafege, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown, Ryan Fennell, Sean F. Byrnes, Two River Times

Listen to Bob Brown, Democratic Candidate For NJ State Assembly District 13, In the Morning On NJ 101.5, Then Watch On The Strategy Room

Tomorrow is the last big day of campaigning for candidates and the two Democratic challengers for the State Assmebly out of district 13 are no exception.

Bob Brown will once again be featured on the NJ 101.5 radio station in the morning with host Jim Gearhart sometime between the hours 8am and 10am. Bob Brown, as some of you will recall, was a guest of Jim Gearhart 2 weeks ago and made such an impression on him, that Jim Gearhart endorsed him for State Assembly.
At 1 pm, Bob Brown will be making yet another appearence on Fox News’s “Stragey Room”. He will be sitting in on the segment ” News W/A View” hosted by Brian Kilmeade. Bob will be joined by guests Mike Baker-Former CIA Operative and President of Dilligence LLC and Bill Daly-Former FBI, Sr. VP of Control-Risks.
In the meantime Jim Grenafege, Bob Browns running mate in the 13th district, will be hitting up the local trian stations in the morning, meeting some hungry customers in a few local diners and then start knocking on doors throughout the district in a last minute push for votes.

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Filed under 13th Assembly District, Bob Brown, Jim Gearhart, Jim Grenafege, Strategy Room

13th District Assembly Race Up For Grabs; Poll Shows Brown Up On Thompson, Within Striking Distance of Handlin

It seems as though an upset is in the making in the 13th legislative district, according to a recent poll.

According to this poll, Democratic challenger Robert “Bob” Brown, has opened a commanding lead over Republican incumbent Sam Thompson and it has the Thompson/Handlin campaign scrambling for last minute cash to flood mailboxes throughout the district with campaign literature. Thompson/Handlin campaign signs have also been flooding the area within the past 24 hours since the results of the poll has been know to the campaign.

Both men, Brown and Thompson reside in Middlessex’s Old Bridge Township, and it is in Old Bridge where Thompson has lost a significant portion of his base to Bob Brown.

Brown in the mean time, has also been polling very strong throughout the rest of the district, thanks inpart to two major endorsments by the Newark Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine and NJ 101.5 Morning Show host Jim Gearhart:

Paul Mulshine said…. “Bob Brown is the sole democrat worth a damn in this state…..” (October 19, 2009)

Jim Gearhart added “I endorse Bob Brown completely” (Oct. 22,2009)
Thanks to these endorsements Brown is also within striking distance of the other incumbant in the race, Amy Handlin. And what makes this poll even more eye opening is that Brown’s coattails seem to be extending towards his running mate Jim Grenafege, who is also within striking distance of Thompson.
You can learn more about both Bob Brown and Jim Grenafege by watching their campaign video’s (below) or by logging onto their website

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Filed under 13th Assembly District, Bob Brown, Democratic Candidate, Jim Grenafege, Monmouth County, opinion poll, Paul Mulshine, Republican Candidate, Sam Thompson

Randy Bishop, Candidate For NJ State Assembly District 11- Answers 10 Questions

Randy Bishop is the former Mayor of Neptune Township and is currently seeking 1 of 2 seats in the NJ State Assembly out of the 11th District.

Randy is the 4th State Assembly Candidate to return my questionnaire and by doing so he has joined his runningmate Rick Bolger, Jim Grenafege from Disitrict 13 and Independent Candidated Sean Dunne aslo from the 13th district as responders.
As I read through Randy’s responses I have a sense that the most important thing to him is public service.
As a small business owner and head of the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce, it is import to him that businesses not be strangle to the point they cannot exist.
1. What is your motivation for seeking a seat in the NJ State Assembly and can you tell us a little about yourself ?

I have been in public service from my participation in boards, my time as head of the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce and my time as committeeman and Mayor in Neptune Township. I believe that public service is the highest calling and that working to make a difference is what keeps us going and looking for solutions.

2. As you meet residents throughout your district what seems to be the greatest concerns they are expressing and how do you plan to address them?

Residents of this District are frustrated by high property taxes, the question of can they remain in a place they love or are they being priced out. I believe that we need to restructure government and am a believer in a State Constitutional Convention. There are those, mostly people who have power and do not want to give it up, but the system is broken. Layering patches on a broken system will not fix the underlying problems and that is what the legislature is tasked to do.

3. What do you hope to accomplish once you are elected to the State Assembly?

Bring back to this District the information, the help and the voice that it has been lacking in Trenton. Oddly, we hear so much that things cannot get done by the current Assembly persons because they are in the minority. Actually having served in the minority, I have still been able to raise issues, propose solutions and work toward making things better.

4. What is it that makes your district unique and how does that uniqueness impact your campaign?

This district is very diverse having some of the most urban areas in all of Monmouth County and as such has a unique set of challenges. While you look for solutions you must make sure that the one thing you think will solve one issue will create another somewhere else. But across all of this district it is common that we need job creation, less burden on businesses and equal educational opportunities for all of our residents.

5. If elected, how would your professional background enhance your ability to be an effective State Assembly representative?

As a small business owner and as a municipal elected official, I see what the edicts of Trenton do to the people of this district. I believe that I know challenges facing especially small businesses by owning one and by being the head of a Chamber of Commerce. We cannot continue to strangle the business community to the point they cannot exist or suffocate the residents under this tax burden.

6. Do you have any thoughts on how to contain the growth of state government?

We really must look at integration of functions. Each department replicates work in other departments. Also, I believe we must get back to what are we required to do, what do we need to do and make sure we are not funding the things we like to do. I also believe that it is time to end unfunded state mandates to municipalities.

7. Is there any aspect of state government that you believe there is a need to be expanded upon?

There are currently no needs for expansion that I can see..

8. Why should residents of your district trust you to represent them in the legislature?

I have a record of service, of creativity in problem solving that I feel the residents can trust. Its not just that I say what I will do, I do it.

9. Why do you identify yourself as a Democrat as opposed to a Republican or Independent?

I have always believed in the ideals and values of the Democratic Party. That doesn’t always mean I agree with the leaders and have stood up against them at times. I will always fight for those who need a voice. Government for most of us should just get out of the way. But sometimes, government is the only way to bring about an equitable solution.

10. Is there anything that is important to you that hasn’t been asked, that you would like to address?

Just that experience matters. Not experience in Trenton today, but experience in the trenches bot in business and in politics. I have worked in Washington DC on Capitol Hill, I have worked in start-up companies and in corporate America and now in owning my own business. I believe this gives me a unique view on problem solving and on working toward solutions.

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Filed under Candidates, Jim Grenafege, NJ State Assembly District 11, property taxes, Randy Bishop, Rick Bolger, Sean Dunne

Jim Grenafege, Candidate For NJ State Assembly For District 13 Answers 10 Questions

Middletown resident Jim Grenafege, a Democrat, is running for a seat in the NJ State Assembly
out of District 13.
Mr. Grenafege is the third candidate to respond to my questionnaire so far. Rick Bolger Assembly Candidate for district 11 was the first followed by Independent candidate Sean Dunne who is also running in the 13th.
Reading through Mr. Grenafege’s answers, it struck me at how well thoughtout his answers were. I thought that if he was given the space to answer the APP Tax Crush questions the same way that I have given him here, he would have certainly gained the APP’s endorsement over Amy Handlin or Sam Thompson.

1. What is your motivation for seeking a seat in the NJ State Assembly and can you tell us a little about yourself?

Operation Bid Rig exposed a corrupt person on the Middletown Township Committee, which motivated me to become actively involved in trying to influence the workings of local government. My dissatisfaction with soaring property taxes and how public business was being conducted grew as a result of my perception of a lack of openness, transparency, leadership, effective management and genuine commitment to serve more than just special political interests. I was asked to run locally last year and was invited to run at the state level this year.
I have business experience as a consultant and corporate human resources manager. My broad professional experience acquired working for major corporations includes employee relations, labor relations and management development. Over the course of my career, I have partnered with corporate executive officers, and senior and middle managers. I have a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. from Montclair State University. I am committed to tax and ethics reform.

2. As you meet residents throughout your district what seems to be the greatest concerns they are expressing and how do you plan to address them?

Almost everyone I meet is overwhelmed with property taxes; and disgusted with corruption and mismanagement at all levels of government. Many residents comment on isolated ineffective leadership and a lack of good jobs. Reducing the size and cost of government by eliminating positions; freezing salaries, capping benefits and changing pension entitlements are necessary tax relief requirements. Changing how education is funded is critical: Michigan implemented an approach that cut property taxes in half. Corruption is addressed by imposing severe financial and incarceration penalties; term limits; technological transparency and mandatory ethics training for all employees and outside service providers.

3. What do you hope to accomplish once you are elected to the State Assembly?

Reduce the size and cost of government, and create an ethical transparent culture focused on serving public needs and not the wants of special external and internal interests. Create an economy and jobs aligned with 21st century needs. Environmental imperatives cannot be ignored. Clean energy is very important and clean water is critical to our well being in the immediate future.

4. What is it that makes your district unique and how does that uniqueness impact your campaign?

A significant portion of the district lies along the Bayshore, so there are infrastructure issues around flood control management that must be addressed.

5. If elected, how would your professional background enhance your ability to be an effective State Assembly representative?

I have always worked in client and customer sensitive roles in industries with a strong emphasis on service. I am an innovative leader with strong facilitation skills, which enhances my ability to work collaboratively with diverse interests to set goals and design action plans to achieve desired results. My private sector business experience, especially my work as a corporate human capital manager and career management consultant is particularly germane in this uniquely challenging employment and economic environment.

6. Do you have any thoughts on how to contain the growth of state government?

Cap salaries and benefits. Implement a hiring freeze and reorganization — led by professionals who have been successful with similar projects in the private sector — that includes agencies and authorities, which initially reduces the overall size of government, by 15%. Remove the perks and benefits that attract people to government employment for self-serving reasons. Term limits for elected as well as appointed officials, should produce representation that is committed to public service.

7. Is there any aspect of state government that you believe there is a need to be expanded upon?

Yes. There needs to be an initiative that will create greater transparency in government through the use of technology. At all levels of government residents need to have on-line access to see how their tax dollars are being spent. It is time to televise state; county and municipal representatives at work.

8. Why should residents of your district trust you to represent them in the legislature?

I am not a career politician primarily concerned with re-election who is financially tied to special interests and hidden agendas. I set high standards and expect and deserve the same from elected and appointed public officials. Most of all I require integrity and ethical behavior of myself and those that I work with.

9. Why do you identify yourself as a Democrat as opposed to a Republican or Independent?

I am a Democrat with an Independent orientation. What appeals to me the most about the Democratic Party is its being anchored in the middle-class, its commitment to cultural diversity and reducing poverty, supporting those who are most vulnerable in our society, and its commitment to protecting the environment and our natural resources.

10. Is there anything that is important to you that hasn’t been asked, that you would like to address?

There is deep need to get more citizens involved in the democratic process at all levels of government, especially at the local level. If people want to have an impact on how their taxes are invested in maintaining and improving the quality of life they expect and deserve, then they must do more than vote at every given opportunity; they need to show-up regularly at local government meetings and demand accountability from their elected employees.

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Filed under 13th Assembly District, Democratic Candidate, Jim Grenafege

13th District Assembly candidates cite economy, corruption in election campaigns


Two years ago, Republicans in Monmouth County had a tough fight on their hands as voters threw their support behind many Democratic candidates in a backlash against corruption charges touching a number of local and county Republican officials.

Still, in the 13th Assembly District, covering parts of Monmouth and Middlesex counties, Republican incumbents Amy Handlin and Sam Thompson hung on to their seats.

This year, independent candidate Sean Dunne and two Democrats, Robert Brown and James Grenafage, seeking Assembly seats in the 13th District have to contend with voter disgust over high property taxes and a collapsed economy — issues Republicans have pinned on Gov. Jon Corzine, the head of the Democratic ticket.

“People are upset with government as a whole,” said Brown. “We’ll be lucky if 50 percent of the voters come out in this election.”

But Brown said Democrats have made enough inroads into Monmouth County politics the past two years — he points to the first Democratic-controlled freeholder board in 23 years — to give him and his runningmate a good shot at unseating the incumbents.

Heading into Election Day as relative unknowns, the three challengers are trying to paint Handlin and Thompson as has-beens who have failed to respond to the needs of their constituents, particularly during the economic crisis.

For their part, Thompson and Handlin are telling constituents a vote for Democrats is a vote to continue Democratic policies they say have made life miserable for the average New Jersey resident.

“If they think the country, the state, the county or the town is going in the wrong direction, I should think they should feel there’s a need for a change,” Thompson said. “The Democrats have been in charge.”

A retired communications director for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Thompson, 74, said he’s in full agreement with former state treasurer John McCormac’s assessment that New Jersey has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. He said the state needs to prioritize its spending and think twice before providing funding for such things as stem cell research or local theaters.

“We’re the loyal opposition,” he said. “Most of the things they’re unhappy about we’ve been fighting against.”

Handlin, seeking her third term, got her political start in 1987 with her election to the Middletown Township Committee. Elected to the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders in 1989, she held that seat until winning her state Assembly seat in 2005 after defeating longtime Republican incumbent Joseph Azzolina in the GOP primary.

An associate professor of marketing at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, Handlin, 53, has positioned herself as a corruption buster who has sponsored several pieces of legislation aimed at tightening laws governing political contributions and strictly curbing dual office holding.

She touts a constitutional amendment to limit the growth of the state budget to the rate of inflation and she supports a two-thirds vote of the state legislature to impose new taxes or raise existing ones.

She also wants state government to submit all bond and borrowing proposals to voters for approval.

Brown, 54, is a former Old Bridge police officer-turned attorney. He retired from the force after being shot in the hand and the shoulder by an assailant and uses his law practice to help disabled public employees gain disability benefits.

Grenafege, 60, is a career transition consultant who said the limping economy has made job creation and retention a priority for him and Brown. They’ve proposed expanding NJ STARS, a program providing tuition assistance for college students in certain areas of study, for advanced degrees.

They want the state to explore obtaining renewable energy through wave power and advocate redirecting a portion of revenue from the state sales tax to help reduce the school portion of property taxes.

Brown is pushing for an expansion of the “Senior Freeze” program, which freezes property taxes to certain residents over 65, to include empty-nesters.

Dunne, a Holmdel resident who has made anti-corruption the cornerstone of his campaign, calls himself “the best fighter that money can’t buy.”

He argues for term limits and contends his incumbent opponents have not pushed through meaningful legislation to combat corruption.

A graduate of James Madison University in Virginia, Dunne, 32, lived for nearly 10 years in Ireland, where he managed a sheep farm in County Kerry. A sociologist who has taken time off to write a book, Dunne participated in the European Union’s Rural Environmental Protection Scheme by advising farmers on how to use their land without damaging the local environment.
Dunne said he decided to get into politics because he doesn’t want to sit in an ivory tower when it comes to studying the ills of society. He said he wants to give voters a true third-party option.

“I strongly believe it can’t go on like this with the duopoly situation of Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “I have yet to meet someone who disagrees with my position — it’s getting people to move their eyes from the Republican, Democratic ticket. We need more choices because the choices are getting closer and closer together.”

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Filed under 13th Assembly District, Bob Brown, Jim Grenafege,, Sean Dunne