While watching the video pay attention to who speaks and who doesn’t speak from the dais, Township Attorney Brian Nelson is sitting next to mayor Tony Fiore. Nelson is an appointed official, not an elected official, yet he speaks as if he is!
Category Archives: Newsletter
Together with Ranking Democrat Ed Markey and the staff of the House Committee on Natural Resources, I have worked for more than a year to gather and analyze data about safety and environmental violations committed by oil and gas companies. Our report, “Drilling Dysfunction: How the Failure to Oversee Drilling on Public Lands Endangers Health and the Environment,” has just been released, and its findings are alarming.
The report finds that from 1998 to 2011, more than two thousand violations were handed out by the U.S. Department of Interior to oil and gas companies drilling on taxpayer-owned lands. More than 500 of these violations were classified as “major” by committee staff, including 293 violations related to non-functional blowout preventers and 113 citations for deficiencies in casing and cementing programs.
Yet the enforcement of safety rules was erratic and inconsistent, and all told, the Interior Department collected only $273,875 in fines. That’s roughly equal to a single minute’s worth of oil company profits – the equivalent of levying a 10-cent fine against someone who earns $50,000 a year.
Can anyone seriously argue that these fines are sufficient to deter wrongdoing or that they reflect the very real risks that drilling poses to the environment and public health?
The Longest-Serving Representative with an Unbroken 100% Environmental Rating
The League of Conservation Voters has just announced its 2011 National Environmental Scorecard, and I was pleased to see that they have once again recognized my efforts to protect the environment and public health with a 100 percent rating.
Long before coming to Congress, I was committed to protecting and sustaining our environment – our air, water, land, and the complex web of life. It is that commitment that is reflected in the League of Conservation Voters’ rating. In fact, I am now the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives to have received a 100 percent rating in each year of service.
Too often in 2011, the privileged interests at oil companies and corporate polluters fought to weaken the laws that protect our natural resources, seeking to exploit a public trust for private gain. We must all work to ensure that, in 2012, they do not succeed.
Member of Congress
Here is another edition of the It’s Your Town newsletter, it covers the January 17th, 2012 Middletown Township Committee meeting. As readers of the blog know from listening to audio clips posted last week, this meeting was very eventful.
A a late notice stating that the Township will not open the Swim & Tennis Club this year was posted to the Township’s website on Friday 13th, heading into the long Martin Luther King 3-day holiday weekend and apparently, from the sentiment of the members present at the meeting, they weren’t informed previously of the dire financial situation of the Swim Club, over two dozen people voiced their concerns to the Township Committee.
There were a few Swim Club members who questioned the expenses incurred by the Township on behalf of the Middletown Arts Center (MAC) in relation to those incurred to operate the Swim Club. They were told by Mayor Fiore and Township Attorney Brian Nelson, that the MAC was on the way towards profitability and that the utility expenses were down dramatically to only $30 to $40K per year! Attached to the newsletter are the actual figures for the past five years so you can determine for yourself what is accurate.
Regardless, when the Club closes, all Middletown residents will be responsible for repaying the original bond used to purchase the Club instead of the member fees stated in the Pool Club ordinance.
Read this edition of the newsletter ….Here
Committee comments #1
Committee comments #2
What about the kids?
Tom Wilkens comments
As always, if you wish to subscribe to the newsletter and receive in your inbox send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday, I joined the nation’s top library official, Susan Hildreth of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), to visit public and school libraries in Monroe, East Brunswick, and Princeton.
America’s libraries are more widely used today than at any other point in history, with more than three quarters of Americans having visited a library in the last year. Yet these are trying times for libraries.
As Director Hildreth and I saw in our visits, New Jersey libraries are working hard. In Congress I have introduced the Workforce Investments through Local Libraries (WILL) Act to integrate libraries into our job training efforts. My bill has been endorsed by the American Library Association, and I am very hopeful that it will be passed into law as Congress works to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act later this year.
Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.
At a time when inequality runs rampant and when so many across America are seeking work, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of equality, social justice, and economic opportunity resonates still after half a century. As Dr. King said in 1961:
“I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream—a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality. That is the dream.”
Earned Income Tax Credit Offers Support to Working Families
One of America’s most important anti-poverty programs is also among the least recognized: the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. In 2010 alone, the EITC lifted 5.4 million people, including 3 million children, above the poverty line.
The EITC is a refundable tax credit – that is, when the size of the credit exceeds the amount of taxes owed, a taxpayer receives the excess as a refund. It originated in the 1970s as a compromise between Democrats and Republicans who had differing views about the best way to fight poverty. Democrats had long supported lifting families out of poverty through the enactment of a strong minimum wage; Republicans had long argued that a high minimum wage would lead employers to hire fewer people.
The EITC provided financial support to working families, as Democrats desired, while avoiding any wage distortions in the labor market that Republicans feared. Presidents from both political parties have embraced and expanded the EITC for more than three decades.
Yet this tradition of bipartisan support has fractured in recent years. Republicans have increasingly attacked as “lucky duckies” the low-income families whose tax burdens are greatly reduced or eliminated by the EITC. Meanwhile, as the minimum wage has stagnated and our economy has faltered, the EITC has been forced to bear more and more of the burden of combating poverty – yet its increased importance has not been matched by increases in the tax credit’s size. Congress and the states should do more to support working families.
The IRS offers further details about the EITC, and a tool to help determine whether you are eligible, on its website.
Member of Congress
A new year and a new addition of It’s Your Town newsletter is now available.
This first issue of 2012 covers the annual Reorganization meeting of the Middletown Township Committee which took place on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, 2012 and includes all of the resolutions that appoint people to various Boards, Commissions and Committees in town. However, of all the appointees listed only about 25 were present to be sworn in.
This issue is the 56th newsletter published since the first issue debuted back in December of 2009 which covered the December 7th Township Committee Workshop meeting.
Due to the time that it takes to put the newsletter together, it’s author Don Watson, has decided that he will be take a break from writing it on a regular basis shortly. The next issue that will cover the January 17th Middletown Township Committee meeting may be the last issue for a while.
But don’t fret over the loss of the newsletter, Don Watson still plans on keeping the public informed of what transpires down at Town Hall. Don plans on videotaping the bi-weekly township meetings and posting them online so that resident can watch the Middletown Township Committee in action for themselves instead of reading about them.
The Township Committee meetings have often been described as the “best show on earth” by Don who now feels that the newsletter, which is written very matter of factly, hasn’t been conveying properly what really goes on at Township meeting. He feels, why write about a meeting when he can provide people the opportunity to watch them?
Don will be announcing soon via email to all those that have subscribed to the newsletter,when and where they will be able to see the recordings. If possible I will also post the videos here for reader of the blog to look at.
So until then, enjoy reading the last few issues of It’s Your Town newsletter by clicking onto the link.
The latest and last edition of “It’s Your Town” newsletter for the year, which covers the Middletown Township Committee meeting for Dec. 19th, 2011, is now available for your reading pleasure.
The Holiday season is upon us and in full swing which means that I have been a little busy over the past few days getting the house in order and my shopping taken care and wrapping, so I’ve been a little behind in my blogging.
Here is the latest issue of It’s Your Town Newsletter which covers the December 5 th Middletown Township Committee Workshop meeting. For those in attendance, it was a very short meeting lasting less than 30 minutes and seemed as a nuisances for those that represent the people of the township to be sitting there. Committeeman Settembrino never once pulled his nose away from his iPad, I witnessed him constantly tapping and scrolling between screens.
Also a special meeting of the Township Committee was scheduled for Monday, December 12 to adopt a resolution to accept the vendor for the MCIA bid proposal that was to be awarded for the Township’s solar project. This meeting however was canceled later in the week without explanation.
The current edition of It’s Your Town Newsletter is here and covers the only Middletown NJ Township Committee meeting that took place for the month of November held on November 21,2011.
The bill lists that were included with this edition did not scanned well therefore some of the pages are missing information on the left side of the page.
You have often heard me say that the American Dream belongs to all of us. Occupy Wall Street has, over the past month, gained the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans who seem to be saying the same thing. They are expressing many different ideas but are united by a conviction that is impossible to deny: that unless we act now, America will no longer be a land of equality, that our middle class will not have a fair shake, and that Washington’s policies will tilt ever more fiercely in favor of the most privileged among us.
The protestors feel in their gut that our nation is less fair and equitable than it was a generation ago, and the evidence proves them right. Nearly 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. The typical working-age family’s earnings are no higher today than they were almost two decades ago. And according to one study by a Federal Reserve economist, inequality has become so entrenched that a poor family would need nearly 10 generations – more than 200 years – to achieve middle-class income.
Put another way, if you are poor today, then you may reasonably hope that your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren will finally climb into the middle class. Is that what the American Dream has come to?
Yet despite the tremendous challenges facing ordinary families, today is a good time to be very wealthy. Over the past three decades, the after-tax income of the top one percent of Americans has nearly tripled.
This explosion in inequality was not a freak occurrence beyond the influence of policymakers. Rather, it was the direct result of policy run amok: decades of tax cuts for the very wealthy and a determined strategy of taking cops off the beat on Wall Street. I have fought tooth and nail against these policies, with some success – most notably the passage of last year’s Wall Street reform bill and the creation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But too many in Congress are clinging to the failed ideologies that led to this crisis and are abandoning ordinary Americans who, through no fault of their own, cannot find a job or pay their mortgage.
Those people of privilege who disparage or dismiss the demonstrators as unfocused, naïve rebels without a cause seem to miss the point. Mystified, they say, “What are these demonstrators talking about? Our success shows the reality of the American Dream. We have made it through our work and wit.” Some politicians, clueless, want to pursue policies that would exacerbate these inequalities. Yet the truth is that runaway inequality has dampened America’s growth and weakened America’s society. If we fail to restore the American Dream to all of our citizens, the cost to our country – economically and in our individual freedoms – will be enormous.
It is no wonder that people are frustrated, angry, and disillusioned. What is astonishing, and alarming, is that so many in Congress have ignored their plight for so long.
Member of Congress
Here is the latest edition of the It’s Your Town Hall newsletter covering the 10-3-11 Middletown Township NJ Committee Workshop meeting.
There was some discussion when Linda Baum asked about principal repayments for the bonds and notes the Township has outstanding. She wanted to continue the discussion, but it was terminated due to the 5-minute rule. See inside for more details.
For those that are new to this there are links within the newsletter that will bring you to that ordinance or resolution. At the end of that resolution or ordinance there is a link to bring you back to where you were reading. In the case of the bill list there is a link on each page.
If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter and receive via email, contact Mr. Don Watson at email@example.com and requests to be put on the mailing list.