Category Archives: Middletown Human Rights Commission

FOUR LITTLE WORDS THAT SAY A LOT ABOUT HOW THE TOWNSHIP DOLES OUT APPOINTMENTS: “When they asked me.”

by guest blogger Linda Baum

Quote of the day goes to Brock Siebert, who, when asked when he knew he’d been appointed as a Library trustee by the Township Committee, replied, “When they asked me.” I think that confirms that the Township does not require the submission of a board membership application as a pre-requisite for appointment. In fact, I checked. There is no application for Mr. Siebert on file with the Township.

In Kevin Penton’s 1/2/12 APP article “Advocate is not reappointed” about the dwindling membership on the Middletown Human Rights Commission (MHRC), Mayor Tony Fiore is quoted as saying he is unaware of any other Township resident who had expressed an interest in serving on the Commission, besides Dr. Schwebel, whose term expired at the end of 2011. Fiore is implying that a lack of willing candidates is the reason no appointments were made. However, as Brock Siebert’s appointment to the Library Board demonstrates, the Township will seek out candidates who haven’t necessarily expressed an interest in appointment. So Mr. Fiore’s excuse about the MHRC vacancies doesn’t fly. In fact, Dr. Schwebel knows at least one other person who applied but never received a response.

If you would like to see the MHRC survive and are interested in serving, you can find the board membership application….. Here

You may not hear back from the Township, but at least Mayor Fiore can’t say he didn’t know you were interested.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Board of Trustees, Carolyn Schwebel, Linda Baum, Middletown Human Rights Commission, Middletown Library, Tony Fiore

Martin Luther King and Middletown Human Rights

It is sad that at a time when we are remembering the civil rights efforts of Martin Luther King the Middletown Township Committee has taken steps to dissolving the Middletown Human Rights Commission (MHRC).

At the 2012 reorganization meeting the Middletown township committee added no members to the MHRC, which had only six members of a required eleven. Instead, the committee actually removed two, leaving only four!

Mayor Fiore commented that there are vacancies because he knows of no one interested in MHRC appointment. That is untrue; I know of at least one man, Jim, who applied a year ago and never had any response. He assumes that they checked his voter registration and threw out his application when they saw he was a Democrat. A former MHRC member commented two years ago, as a reason for not seeking reappointment, “There have been township people who have expressed interest in joining the MHRC and who many months ago have even submitted to the Township Committee a form expressing their interest. Yet the Township Committee still has not done anything to fill any of the many vacancies.”

Almost none of our members were appointed because they had specifically applied for the MHRC. They were put on as neighbors of a mayor or from a general talent bank application. Often they did not even know what the MHRC was about when they came to us as new appointees.

The mayor’s comment that many people have left MHRC is also not true. In 2011 just one member left, due to serious family illness and another in December 2009 out of frustration with the township committee, In a letter to them he noted, “The MHRC is the oldest human rights commission in the state of NJ. If done properly, it can have a significant positive impact on the quality of life in Middletown, yet because of the attitude and inaction of the Township Committee, I feel that I have been wasting my time being a member of the MHRC. The Middletown Township Committee doesn’t seem to care about the existence of the MHRC.”

Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive our darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Sincerely,
Carolyn Schwebel
Ex-chair, MHRC

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Filed under Carolyn Schwebel, Martin Luther King Jr., Middletown Human Rights Commission

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

Middletown Human Rights Commission Being Abolished by Attrition

In a response to my earlier post “Political Affiliations Over Participation Matter More When It Comes To Board Appointments“, Mrs. Carolyn Schwebel sent out a letter to numerous friends and supporters that concurs with much of what I posted. It seems that because Mrs. Schewebel has been an outspoken member of the Middletown Human Rights Commission, who has held the Township of Middletown accountable for its lack of attentiveness to the various issues concerning people with disabilities, the Human Rights Commission is dying a slow death and it seems that she will not be reappointed to the commission.
Here is what she wrote:

At the last Middletown Township committee meeting, a frequently outspoken resident commented that she had applied to be on the Library Board, the mayor told her that she had as much chance of being appointed as he had in getting her vote in the last election. His comment sounds like a quid pro quo to me, and reflects the political connection requirement for appointments to Middletown’s boards and commissions. A Library Board member has just been removed for presenting a minority view.

The Middletown Human Rights Commission (MHRC) had only six members of the required eleven seats. and unanimously asked the Township Committee to appoint new members in January 2012. No answer was received. Another member and I, whose terms ended in 2011, received no “thank you letter,” although the other members did, and no mention of being reappointed.

The resolutions for Middletown’s January 1, 2012 reorganization meeting show appointments to all boards and commissions except the Bayshore Village Senior Citizen Housing Corporation , which has no vacancies, and the Middletown Human Rights Commission. Neither I nor the other commissioner has been reappointed, although I have been the chair, with perfect attendance for many years.

It is of note that both MHRC members who were not reappointed have spoken out to advise the Township Committee. Both also have disabilities and use wheelchairs. Less than three years ago, Middletown settled a civil rights case of disability discrimination. An Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility suit has existed since 2004, with consent orders in 2006 and 2007 being unfulfilled by Middletown.

A Chinese aphorism recently in the New York Times stated that, “You cannot wrap a fire with paper: the truth will come out.”

It’s too bad that this type of stuff goes on, it just adds credence to what many already know which is, if you’re not one of the chosen elite in Middletown you need not apply.

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Filed under advisory boards and commissions, Carolyn Schwebel, Middletown Human Rights Commission, Middletown NJ

Concerns and Advice for the Middletown Administration

by Carolyn Schwebel

Since I have been unable to attend township committee meetings, following are some of my own thoughts, concerns, and suggestions regarding Middletown matters. I am speaking for myself only.

Township committee meeting locations:

“It’s Your Town” reported about the May 3, 2010 Middletown Committee workshop meeting that “The workshop meeting was held in the Conference Room, which was filled to overflowing. People were sitting on the floor due to the lack of seating for the public and the room temperature was excessive because the day was unusually hot. The overflow crowd was remanded to the hallway for the duration of the meeting.”

A speaker at the May 3, 2010 meeting recommended moving workshop meetings from this small room to the courtroom when a prescribed number of people attend. I make the same request or else that all meetings be held in the larger room. If you want to keep the informal flavor for workshop meetings, there is no need to sit on the dais; the tables below it could be used. Otherwise, there are signs of disrespect for the citizens attending, ADA problems, including reduced hearing of the meeting, lack of proper seating, and probably violation of fire codes for maximum capacity of the small conference room.

Current revision efforts of Middletown Human Right’s Commission (MHRC) mission statement:

These revisions of the mission statements for the commissions and boards that “currently do not have clear definitions” were described by your attorney at the May 3, 2010 meeting as necessary for the Citizen Services Act. My review of that act, P.L. 2009, c.141, which provides revisions to NJSA 40A:9.12, and of the DCA advisory for it revealed that information required for a township directory should include C.40A:9-9.2 Directory of local authorities, boards, commissions…(f) the appointing authority and the enabling statute, ordinance, or resolution, if any.”

Nothing indicates that existing resolutions must be revised; Unilaterally changing the MHRC mission statement, which is part of its official bylaws, appears to be a violation of the bylaws procedures and Robert’s Rules of Order. For those boards and commissions that have no mission statements, rather than being written solely by an attorney, the mission statements should include input from members of the boards or commissions.

MHRC membership:

The MHRC membership requirement is set in resolution and bylaws at eleven members. We are deeply grateful for the four new members on 2010. Discussion by the Township Committee to reduce that number by nearly one-third is, however, unwarranted. Under P.L. 2009, c.141 when commission vacancies occur they must be filled in a timely manner:
“C.40A:9-12.1″h. Upon the removal of such officer for cause in accordance with law, or for any other reason prescribed by law. Whenever any of the above shall occur the appointing authority shall forthwith fill the office for the unexpired term in the manner prescribed by law…” (emphasis added).

To comply, please appoint members to our four remaining vacancies as soon as possible, preferably some with citizens who are racial minorities, since at present there is none in the membership.

Another committee may not be needed:

Creation of a Military Affairs committee, as suggested by the mayor, is surprising, since I had heard that the township committee was seeking to reduce the number of boards and commissions. Attention to our veterans is very important; in fact, as our minutes confirm, the MHRC has been looking at human rights issues for returning veterans for over a year. Due to a storm, we had to cancel a meeting at which an active, recent disabled veteran, head of a local VFW, would meet with us. He is scheduled for our September meeting. You are welcome to attend. The appointment of a recent veteran to the MHRC could help us with our goal of assisting veterans. We also have counseling and other helpful resource numbers for veterans.

Lack of response from Township Committee to MHRC requests for input:

Four years ago, in July 2006 (attached), MHRC sent a request to the Township Committee for suggested projects for the MHRC. No answer was ever received. Once again, a month ago, on April 12, 2010, our letter including the same request was hand-delivered to Town Hall for the Township Committee. We have not received a response, as of today, despite follow-up calls. Also, our vice chair and I made at least a dozen contacts by phone, e-mail, and in person to schedule the final part of the SPCA food drive, a publicity photo with the mayor to reemphasize for the public the continuing need for pet food and to provide positive image for the township in the media.

On each of these issues, we were not afforded the courtesy of a response. It is important that all members of the community, including volunteers, be given respect by the Township Committee and other leaders.

I will happy to discuss any of these items with you.

Cordially,
Carolyn Schwebel

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Filed under Carolyn Schwebel, Middletown Human Rights Commission, Middletown Township, Middletown Township Committee

Middletown Human Rights Commission to be "Reconstituted"

I have received word that there will be some changes made to the Middletown Human Rights Commission (MHRC)as well as the Safety Commission after the February, Middletown Township Committee meeting.

It seems as though the Mayor and Deputy Mayor have decided to downgrade the commission. The MHRC will no longer be called a “commission”, instead it will be delegated as an “advisory” board, there by limiting its powers. 
What is interesting about the timing of this decsion is that the changes to the MHRC will not take place until after the February 4, 2009 conciliation meeting with the NJ Division on Civil Rights, which found “Probable Cause” that Middletown (mayor & attorney) retaliated and discriminated against former Chairperson Carolyn Schwebel by removing her from MHRC a year ago.
Below is an excerpt from email to members of the MHRC from a felllow commissioner :
Dear Fellow Commissioners,

First, I would like to wish everyone and their families a prosperous, healthy, and Happy
New Year.


I received a letter today concerning the Middletown Human Rights Commission and another letter concerning the Safety Council which I am also a member. Both letter read alike. 

Appointments to both have been delayed until the Township Committee Meeting in February 2009.

…The pertinent language of the letter is as follows:

[…The Township has recently chosen to review your board membership and structure for future service to the Township. Due to this review process appointments to your board will be held over until our February 2009 Regular Meeting.

You will be notified of action to be taken on your appointment prior to the February
meeting. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at your
convenience. …].

This just seems like another example of the abuse of power that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Middletown seem to think is within their rights. The mayors seems to think that they have some kind special powers over the Township, when in actuality they do not.
The Mayors and Deputy Mayors are appointed by their fellow committee members to those positions to act as figureheads to facilitate township business, they have no more or less powers to act then the other members of the township committee.
It will be interesting to watch the outcome of this following the February township meeting.  

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Filed under Carolyn Schwebel, Middletown Human Rights Commission, Middletown Township, Middletown Township Committee, NJ Division on Civil Rights, Safety Commission

>Middletown Human Rights Commission to be "Reconstituted"

>

I have received word that there will be some changes made to the Middletown Human Rights Commission (MHRC)as well as the Safety Commission after the February, Middletown Township Committee meeting.

It seems as though the Mayor and Deputy Mayor have decided to downgrade the commission. The MHRC will no longer be called a “commission”, instead it will be delegated as an “advisory” board, there by limiting its powers. 
What is interesting about the timing of this decsion is that the changes to the MHRC will not take place until after the February 4, 2009 conciliation meeting with the NJ Division on Civil Rights, which found “Probable Cause” that Middletown (mayor & attorney) retaliated and discriminated against former Chairperson Carolyn Schwebel by removing her from MHRC a year ago.
Below is an excerpt from email to members of the MHRC from a felllow commissioner :
Dear Fellow Commissioners,

First, I would like to wish everyone and their families a prosperous, healthy, and Happy
New Year.


I received a letter today concerning the Middletown Human Rights Commission and another letter concerning the Safety Council which I am also a member. Both letter read alike. 

Appointments to both have been delayed until the Township Committee Meeting in February 2009.

…The pertinent language of the letter is as follows:

[…The Township has recently chosen to review your board membership and structure for future service to the Township. Due to this review process appointments to your board will be held over until our February 2009 Regular Meeting.

You will be notified of action to be taken on your appointment prior to the February
meeting. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at your
convenience. …].

This just seems like another example of the abuse of power that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Middletown seem to think is within their rights. The mayors seems to think that they have some kind special powers over the Township, when in actuality they do not.
The Mayors and Deputy Mayors are appointed by their fellow committee members to those positions to act as figureheads to facilitate township business, they have no more or less powers to act then the other members of the township committee.
It will be interesting to watch the outcome of this following the February township meeting.  

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Filed under Carolyn Schwebel, Middletown Human Rights Commission, Middletown Township, Middletown Township Committee, NJ Division on Civil Rights, Safety Commission

Thanks Mr. Mayor, But No Thanks!


The following is a letter by Carolyn Schwebel in response to a recent letter sent by Middletown’s Mayor Scharfenberger to local papers, that expressed his endorsement of Deputy Mayor Brightbill and Tony “the Fibber” Fiore for Township Committee:

Thanks, Mayor Scharfenberger for the much-needed levity in your letter endorsing candidates. I was incredulous when I read that one reason that you are endorsing Tony Fiore is that he has been a “recreation and human relations commissioner.” You dare to say that as a positive while you have tried to use the Middletown Human Rights Commission for political purposes and are even now seeking to weaken or destroy it?

Your letter further states, “You have told me that you want honesty..” Indeed we do, and open government, and respect for citizens. Knowing that, then why were you dishonest about admitting that you had asked the Middletown HRC to have a meeting about a publication that has criticized you?

I agree with you about the “importance of good government in Middletown.” Why instead of providing it have you and your majority violated state and federal regulations? First, you illegally retaliated against me by removing me from the MHRC due to a civil rights lawsuit.

Second, Middletown has made none of the accessibility changes you agreed to do by August 2006. Even worse, your lawyer now suggests that the township has done all they can and that the buildings were compliant when built. Meanwhile, a young wheelchair user cannot travel to her shopping center because of three high curbs on the busy route!

Third, despite my clear information to you and all town officials you persist in violating the N.J. Open Public Meetings Act, which requires that all meeting notices be published in two papers 48-hours before the meeting! Your administration arrogantly refuses to give proper notice to residents about special meetings, including the July 31, 2008 MHRC meeting and the September 30, 2008 special township committee meeting. As a result, any action taken at those meetings, including your vote to appeal the Mountain Hill Town Center decision to the NJ Supreme Court is illegal and must be repeated at a properly noticed meeting!

Sadly, we taxpayers will need to pay for correcting all of your above violations.

I must, therefore reject your recommendation to vote for your deputy mayor, who clearly supported all of these violations. Instead, I urge all who want truly honest, fair, and open government in Middletown to vote for Pat Walsh and Jim Grenafege for the Middletown Committee.

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Filed under Carolyn Schwebel, letter to the editor, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Human Rights Commission, Pamela Brightbill, Tony"the fibber"Fiore

Thanks Mr. Mayor, But No Thanks!


The following is a letter by Carolyn Schwebel in response to a recent letter sent by Middletown’s Mayor Scharfenberger to local papers, that expressed his endorsement of Deputy Mayor Brightbill and Tony “the Fibber” Fiore for Township Committee:

Thanks, Mayor Scharfenberger for the much-needed levity in your letter endorsing candidates. I was incredulous when I read that one reason that you are endorsing Tony Fiore is that he has been a “recreation and human relations commissioner.” You dare to say that as a positive while you have tried to use the Middletown Human Rights Commission for political purposes and are even now seeking to weaken or destroy it?

Your letter further states, “You have told me that you want honesty..” Indeed we do, and open government, and respect for citizens. Knowing that, then why were you dishonest about admitting that you had asked the Middletown HRC to have a meeting about a publication that has criticized you?

I agree with you about the “importance of good government in Middletown.” Why instead of providing it have you and your majority violated state and federal regulations? First, you illegally retaliated against me by removing me from the MHRC due to a civil rights lawsuit.

Second, Middletown has made none of the accessibility changes you agreed to do by August 2006. Even worse, your lawyer now suggests that the township has done all they can and that the buildings were compliant when built. Meanwhile, a young wheelchair user cannot travel to her shopping center because of three high curbs on the busy route!

Third, despite my clear information to you and all town officials you persist in violating the N.J. Open Public Meetings Act, which requires that all meeting notices be published in two papers 48-hours before the meeting! Your administration arrogantly refuses to give proper notice to residents about special meetings, including the July 31, 2008 MHRC meeting and the September 30, 2008 special township committee meeting. As a result, any action taken at those meetings, including your vote to appeal the Mountain Hill Town Center decision to the NJ Supreme Court is illegal and must be repeated at a properly noticed meeting!

Sadly, we taxpayers will need to pay for correcting all of your above violations.

I must, therefore reject your recommendation to vote for your deputy mayor, who clearly supported all of these violations. Instead, I urge all who want truly honest, fair, and open government in Middletown to vote for Pat Walsh and Jim Grenafege for the Middletown Committee.

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Filed under Carolyn Schwebel, letter to the editor, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Human Rights Commission, Pamela Brightbill, Tony"the fibber"Fiore

>Scharfenberger, Brightbill seek to destroy Human Rights Commission

>To The Editor:

Carolyn Schwebel has been a dear friend of mine for many years. Carolyn serves on the Monmouth County Human Rights Commission and she is a former Chairperson of the Middletown Human Rights Commission.

Carolyn is no longer a member of the commission in Middletown anymore, and that is a shame. In fact, the commission is about ready to be shutdown by Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger and Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill. I don’t know why, but it feels like retribution for doing the job she was appointed to do.

The Middletown Human Rights Commission had previously been working on issues relative to township housing and handicapped access issues. These issues, while challenging, should not be silenced with the wave of a bureaucratic wand, which I think Mayor Scharfenberger and Deputy Mayor Brightbill are doing.

The mayor recently tried to use the commission to accomplish his political retribution, but they stood above the fray and stayed true to their original mission. For this, commission members should be complimented.

The commission should never be forced to become political. But, some people want to use them as a political force even though they truly are trying to maintain their status as protecting human rights in Middletown. Just because Mr. Scharfenberger and Mrs. Brightbill can not control the commission, they have now decided to completely destroy it.

All I have to say is that, after I am elected as a Middletown committeewoman in November, regardless of what Mr. Scharfenberger or Mrs. Brightbill have done, I will not stop lobbying until this commission is back and bigger than ever.

I will also seek to fill all of the seats that have been left empty on the commission, which the mayor and deputy mayor have left vacant because they cannot find people that will tow their line. I do not need people to tow my line. I welcome diversity and input and neither myself or my running mate, Jim Grenafege, need to dictate what other people think in trying to help our community.

Patricia A. Walsh
Democrat for Twsp. Committee

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Filed under Carolyn Schwebel, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Human Rights Commission, Pamela Brightbill, Patricia Walsh