Category Archives: kevin penton

What I Learned; Ted Gets An Assistant, Janet Gets A Raise And Gregg Takes The Money

Kevin Penton of the Asbury Park Press had a small article posted online last night about the future of Middletown’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

The article didn’t contain anything that we didn’t already know about how the department will be restructured. Middletown’s Department of Public Works headed by Ted Maloney, will take over the maintance of the township’s parks and Janet Adams, the director of the Tonya Keller Community Center will oversee how township parks and beaches are used by various groups.

What I did learn from the article is that Middletown will be hiring Ted Maloney an assistant director, Janet Adams will get a nice raise and former Director of Parks and Recreaction Gregg Silva, who retired on January 1st while under an unspecified investigation, will walk away with a big fat lump sum payment from the Township for unused sick and vaction days!

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Public Works, Gregg Silva, kevin penton, Ted Maloney, Tonya Keller Center

Quote Of The Day #2: “You can say it’s political…”

Our second quote of the day comes from newly reappointed Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore, from statements made to reporter Kevin Penton in todays Asbury Park Press concerning the appointments of members to (or lack thereof) the Middletown Human Rights Commission and its former Chairperson Carolyn Scwhebel.

“You can say it’s political, you can say it’s personal choice,” Fiore said. “She doesn’t work well with the town.”

Mrs. Scwhebel recently sent a letter to the editor, Middletown Human Rights Commission Being Abolished by Attrition, to local publication (this blog included) that expressed her concerns at not being reappointed to the commission.

And when you consider what went on during the last Township Committee meeting of 2011 back on Dec.19th, Fiore’s comments only reinforce what I wrote about in the post Political Affiliations Over Participation Matter More When It Comes To Board Appointments, when discussing an appointment to the Middletown Library Board (listen to the audio).

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, blog, Board of Trustees, Carolyn Schwebel, kevin penton, Middletown Human Rights Commission, Middletown Library, Quote of the day, Tony Fiore

APP: Middletown places Parks and Recreation director on administrative leave

Only a few hours after last night’s Middletown Township Committee meeting was over, Kevin Penton of the Asbury Park Press posted online his story about Middletown’s Park and Recreation Director Gregg Silva being placed on administrative leave.

In my earlier blog post on the subject, Penton was one of the journalist that I eluded in the post, that had tried to contact Township Administrator Tony Mercantante for a comment about Silva last week.
After last night’s Township Committee meeting, I noticed that Kevin Penton had approached Mr. Mercantante and was speaking to him for a prolonged time. When Penton exited Town Hall, I nodded to him and asked if he had heard anything new concerning Gregg Silva. He started to say that he had sent Mercantante an email last Thursday but he hadn’t checked to see if he received a response or not. He was about to say more but a gentleman interrupted him and started asking him about Middletown’s Shadow Lake, so we never finished our conversation.
It is apparent however from the article, Penton spoke to both Mercantante and soon to be ex-mayor Tony Fiore (who refused to comment), about Gregg Silva. Unfortunately, as expected, Mercantante didn’t say much to Penton other than confirm that Silva was placed on administrative leave:

Gregg Silva is still a township employee and is receiving pay while an investigation proceeds, said Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante, who declined to specify the details of the inquiry.

“At this point, he is not in his office,” said Mercantante, referring to Silva. “We’ve agreed for him not to come in until we look at a few issues.”

Mercantante declined to specify when Silva was placed on administrative leave, saying it occurred within the last 30 days. A date for the leave to expire has not been set, he added.

You can read what Kevin Penton wrote …Here, but remember where you read the details about Silva’s administrative leave first.

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Filed under administrative leave, Asbury Park Press, Gregg Silva, kevin penton, Middletown Parks and Recreation, Tony Fiore, Tony Mercantante

>APP: Middletown board hears controversial housing plan

>The Asbury Park Press this morning has a good write up on last night’s Middletown Planning Board meeting with some additional background information that pertains to the Bam Hollow development and how 1200 housing units were originally scheduled to be built there.

The article was written by Kevin Penton and is a pretty accurate description of what went on durning the discussion of the Avaya redevelopment hearing last night.

You can also checkout the raw video from last night’s Middletown Planning Board meeting that I have posted in the previous post.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Avaya, Bam Hollow, kevin penton, Lincroft NJ, Middletown NJ, Raw Video

>APP: Middletown deal with police saves jobs; 9 other workers let go

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Below is what the Asbury Park Press is reporting about the deal that was struck between Middletown and it’s Police Unions, it’s pretty much what I had posted last night with a few more detail concerning the PBA agreement and additional information about those who were laid off in Parks & Recreation.

Four police officers won’t have to turn in their badges as a result of a last-minute deal struck Friday between the township and the Superior Officers Association.

However, the township’s savings from a new four-year contract for the 21 members of the association does not help the nine Parks and Recreation Department employees who were laid off Friday, said Anthony Mercantante, township administrator.

Township officials gave the local Policemen’s Benevolent Association until Monday to vote on a separate contract, which could save the jobs of six police officers, Mercantante said.

“This agreement saves jobs,” said Mayor Anthony Fiore, referring to the superior officers’ pact. “This should serve as a model for the Legislature or for other towns that can’t get things done.”

As part of the deal, Superior Officers Association members will get a 1.5 percent raise in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 2 percent raises in each of the contract’s subsequent years, Mercantante said.

Middletown will realize savings by association members either paying a larger percentage of the costs of an existing health plan or choosing to enroll in a new, more restrictive plan that will be cheaper for the township, Mercantante said. Association members who opt for the township’s top health plan will have to pay 25 percent of its cost, as opposed to 1.5 percent of their salaries, Mercantante said. Members can also choose a plan with more restrictions and continue to pay 1.5 percent of their salaries, he said.

The township’s layoff plan had included the demotions of one lieutenant and three sergeants to the patrol division, which would have led to the layoffs of four other officers, said Fred Deickmann, Superior Officers Association president. The agreement means the superior officers will not be demoted, he said.

“This is a fair deal for these trying economic times,” Deickmann said. “We’re glad the collective bargaining system worked.”

Of the 16 non-police employees facing termination, nine were laid off, three retired and four were shifted to different positions, Mercantante said….

read more >>> Here

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, kevin penton, layoffs, Middletown NJ, Middletown Parks and Recreation, Middletown Police

>APP: Middletown’s layoff plan uncertain until today’s deadline

>Kevin Penton of the Asbury Park Press has been all over the Middletown layoff story since word of yesterday and today’s special Middletown Township Committee meetings were announced. Yesterday there were three articles posted online updating the situation.

According to Penton, no deal had been struck between Middletown and it’s Police unions, which was why yestderday’s special meeting was cancelled, however further negotiations seem to be ongoing and the Township is hopeful that it will be able to proceede with today’s special Committee meeting scheduled for 5 pm.

The spectre of layoffs will hang over the township until today’s deadline, as
municipal and police union officials failed to strike a deal on Thursday.

With Middletown’s layoff plan scheduled to take effect on Saturday,
officials from the township, the Policemen’s Benevolent Association and the
Superior Officers Association have been in talks this week on how to reduce
expenditures, Mayor Anthony Fiore said.

To meet the legal notification requirements in case a deal is struck, the Middletown Township Committee scheduled 5 p.m. meetings for Thursday and today.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, today’s meeting is on, said Cindy Herrschaft, Middletown’s public information officer.

Middletown’s original layoff plan called for the elimination of 26 positions, including 10 police officers and 13 employees in the township’s Parks and Recreation Department.

But with some employees agreeing to retire, the number of positions to be eliminated through layoffs has decreased, Fiore said….


Read more >>> Here

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, kevin penton, labor unions, layoffs, Middletown PBA, Middletown Police

>APP: Middletown assessor to get $15G payment for reassessment work

>So what do you know, I guess someone over at the Asbury Park Press has been reading my blog.

In today’s paper APP report Kevin Penton has written an article about the $15,000 bonus that Tax Assessor Charles Heck will be receiving for doing his job.

Two things that stand out in the article are that no one would make themselves available for comment other that Tony Fiore; not Township Administrator Tony Mercantante or Charles Heck himself, would comment.

Secondly is the arrogance of Fiore himself. Fiore is quote, “Let’s face it, without this money, there would have been no incentive for them to do the work.” referring to Heck and his assistant working extra hours for the bonus, instead of doing what would be expected from someone who earns $108,572 from the tax payers of Middletown.

Lets face it, Heck has a very cozy job, so cozy that he is able hold similar positions in town other towns, which has increased his salary and benefits to over $164,000 according to Data Universe , so let’s not try and kid anyone. Heck should not be getting anthying extra from the Township for doing a job that he is already highly paid to do.

Any money that the Township has realized as savings from Heck’s work should go to saving jobs, not lining Heck’s pockets. For Fiore to justify Heck’s bonus by stating ,”To spend $20,000 to save $50,000, that’s a pretty good spend.” as he did at Monday night’s Township Committee meeting is asinine. The whole $50,000 belongs to taxpayers and should be used towards saving jobs,services or paying off debt. Not for lining a political flunky’s pockets.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, bonuses, Charles Heck, kevin penton, Middletown NJ, stipend, tax assessor, Tony Fiore, Tony Mercantante

>Transparency Once Again Turns Opaque in Middletown; APP: Middletown missed loan deadline for dredging of lake

>Very interesting article that was online at the Asbury Park Press the other day which I have been meaning to post about. One of the big issues of this past years election was the issue of Shadow Lake and whether or not the lake was going to be dredged any time soon, according reporter Kevin Penton it now doesn’t seem likely to happen before 2012.

It seems as though, the low cost loan that Middletown had planned to apply for that would cover some of the costs of dredging was never applied for. The loan application needed to be handed in by Oct. 4th to meet the deadline for possible funding and it was never sent.
What I find most disturbing about this, is how Gerry Scharfenberger and other Middletown GOP members (remember Tony Fiore’s letter) mislead many residents that live by and around Shadow Lake into believing that dredging was eminent if only they could get approval from the DEP to bury the contaminated spoils in near by Stevenson Park.
Scharfenberger attended a number of meeting with residents of Shadow Lake Village while campaigning in October and never once mentioned that funding for the dredging of the lake was a problem. He lead all to believe that as soon as the DEP agreed to Middletown’s demand of using Stevenson Park as a dumping ground for the spoils the project would begin.
With this latest revelation about the dredging of Shadow Lake, it is sad to say once again that transparency of those in charge in Middletown is sorely lacking and is turning, as resident Jim Grenafege has said at many Township meetings this year, opaque.
It just goes to show that Republicans in Middletown will do and/or say anything in order to retain their position of power in town even if it means that they have to deceive others to get it.
My thanks go out to Kevin Penton for following up on Shadow Lake and bringing this information to light, it shows residents that those elected in Middletown like to play fast and loose with certain information that they deem a possible threat to them.
Eventually residents will wise up and show the likes of Gerry Scharfenberger and the others the view form the other side of the doors at Town Hall, the view looking in from the outside.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, dredging, Gerry Scharfenberger, kevin penton, NJDEP, Shadow Lake

>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

APP Monday Night Follow-Up: Middletown Examining Residents’ Plan For Ballfields

I was happy to see that Kevin Penton and the Asbury Park Press wrote a follow-up article that appeared in print today about the events that transpired during Monday night’s Middeltown Township Committee meeting.

Today’s article gave a better depiction of the events that went down Monday night then the first article that was published yesterday.
In this article Penton has quotes from Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, who many feel is the real person behind the West Front Street field proposal.
In the article Mercantante is quoted as saying “If it fits, it fits, but that is yet to be determined.“, which was in reference to the multipurpose field, two baseball fields and 221 parking spaces depicted on the plan which was presented by Alan Vrable on behalf of the River Plaza/Lincroft Chargers Pop Warner Football team that plays it games at Trezza Field, to the Township Committee.
Vrable told Mercantante and the Township Committee that the plan for Trezza Field was based on the 2007 T&M Engineering wetlands study, the same study that the township used to determine that Trezza field was not a viable location for the field upgrade and which made the Township decide to build the sports complex at West Front Street instead.

The article also went on to state:

“Middletown’s analysis of the residents’ plan will include a cost estimate for earth disturbance so parking spaces can be added to Trezza Field, Mercantante said. The residents’ plan eliminates a playground and a basketball court that are currently at the site, he said.” …

And concludes with words from Mayor Scharfenberger about how the Committee would take a serious look at the plan and determine if the plan was a viable alternative or not.
On the surface you may want to take what Mercantante and Scharfenberger had to say at face value and give the the benefit of the doubt, but after thinking about the quotes I was left to think that this just may be lip service.
Mercantante didn’t seem convinced that the plan would work and seemed to question the fact that the plan as presented by Alan Vrable eliminated a playground and a basketball court in favor of parking.
Would eliminating a playground and a basketball court be considered a viable alturnative by Mayor Scharfenberger? I don’t know.
Also I would like to point out that in both of Kevin Penton’s articles on the meeting he quoted Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore who was not there but was on the phone from Orlando Florida attending a work related continuing education class, about how the closing down of CMX Engineering was just a little speed bump in the road and that it wouldn’t hold up the process of deciding about the installation of the fields.
But what stood out to me during Fiore’s comments wasn’t what he had to say about CMX but what he said about the field installations in general, which was that the Committee would listen to “OUR” engineers and “OUR” professionals when determining what would be the best location for the installation of turf fields.
With this all being considered, I wonder if Mercantante, Scharfenberger and Fiore meant what they said, because if they do except the plans that were presented on the behalf of the Chargers than they would be admitting that their engineering firm gave them bad advice or is incompetant and they would be throwing them under the proverbial bus if they don’t proceed with the exsisting plan for building the sports complex at West Front Street.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, kevin penton, Lincroft, Mayor Scharfenberger, Pop Warner, sports complex, Tony Mercantante, West Front Street