Category Archives: Patricia Walsh

Letter: "Let’s talk about simple courtesy"

If you saw a woman sitting on the floor in a public meeting, what would you do? Offer her a seat? Move to a location that had enough seating for the public attending the meeting?

If you were at the Middletown Township Committee meeting you would have seen nothing done. The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Township Administrator, all men, saw this woman sitting on the floor because there was no room for the public in an over-heated committee meeting room. Meanwhile there was a fully air-conditioned courtroom down the hall with plenty of seating for everyone attending the meeting to sit down.

I can’t say what was more appalling. Seeing the men in charge of the meeting have so little concern for residents that they will not even have a meeting in a place were the public who wants to can attend or that these men could completely lack the simple courtesy, as to leave a woman sitting on the floor.

I can bet that you could not even fit a wheelchair in the room making the meeting a violation of handicap access laws.

But the most absurd comment was said to me when I questioned the Township Administrator about how he could let a woman sitting on the floor, leave people standing in the halls and sending one reporter out of the room because he felt light-headed.

“If you had said something we would have moved the meeting.” he said. ‘

I know the men in charge of the meeting have that responsibility or should have at least a simple sense of common courtesy to move the meeting so appropriate seating was available. And if they do it again, I will be speaking up now that I know that at least one man will act on the suggestion. I am fairly certain that there are a several mothers out there that would completely disapprove of how their sons lack of courtesy.

But the disrespect and lack of courtesy shown to that woman and the rest of the residents who were left standing in the hall was simply inexcusable.

Pat Walsh

Middletown Resident

Note – I was breifly at last nights Township Workshop Meeting and can verify what Mrs. Walsh has written above. Once again the small Town Hall Conference Room was packed to over capacity with an overflow of approx. 10-12 people standing outside in the hallway (myself included). There is no good reason why the workshop meetings can not be held in the court room like other meetings are other than the powers that be do not wish to do so hoping that it will discourgae others from participating and joining n the discussions.

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Filed under letter to the editor, Middletown Township, Patricia Walsh, Town Hall, workshop meeting

All Candidates For Middeltown Board Of Education Urge Approval of School Budget At Friday’s Forum And Other Observations

Friday morning I attended the Middletown Board of Education’s Candidate Forum at Panera Bread in Middletown. This last of three forums was hosted by Stephanie Murray of the Middletown Mornings organization. When I got there Friday morning I didn’t quiet know what to expect in the respect of turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised to see over thirty people in attendance.

Ms. Murray opened the forum by having each candidate take a minute and a half to introduce themselves and explain why they felt they should be elected to the BOE this year.

Six of the seven candidates were in attendance and in order of their opening remarks are:

Patricia Walsh
Dawn Diorio
Gerry Wexelberg
Michael Mascone
Vincent Brand
Leonora Caminiti

Chris Aveta, who is running on the same ticket as Mascone and Brand was not in attendance Friday morning.

I recorded the meeting in its entirety and was going to break it all down into individual questions and answers, but because I have been hit with some kind of “Bug” that attacked me late Friday night and have been in bed since, I have decided just to post the whole recording.

It runs for 46 minutes but seems to play faster than that. The meeting was fast paced and kept all of those there engaged.

For me the only real news that came out of the forum was that each candidate agreed that the this years school budget should be passed by voters on Tuesday. Failure to pass the budget would only mean more drastic cuts that would penalize students and teachers alike.

After the forum was over I mingled amongst the crowd and spoke to a few candidates. I had a very nice conversation with Mike Mascone and Vinnie Brand, both of whom were polite and cordial but who took exception with me for my earlier blog post that accused them and their running mate Chris Aveta of being lap dogs for Middletown Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore and the Middletown GOP.

Each profess that they had only met Fiore no more than three times and wouldn’t even recognize him if the saw him in the street, which I took with a grain of salt put didn’t pursue.

I told each of them that my problem wasn’t with them as individuals but with the perceived endorsement of Fiore, who signed Brand’s and Aveta’s school board petitions.
Brand thought that it wasn’t a problem and that Tony Fiore (or anyone else for that matter) should be able to openly endorse his candidacy if they so chose.
I disagreed with that statement and I let them know that for years the Middletown GOP has tried to gain influence over the Middletown BOE to varying degrees of success. And when they did gain control several years ago with their “Back To Basics” slate of candidates it was a disaster. The expansion and upgrades to Bayshore, Thorne and Thompson Middle Schools were over budget and wrought with problems, and contract negotiations ended when over 200 teachers were sent to jail.
In my opinion, there is no room for partisan politics on the school board and just having the Deputy Mayor’s signature on both Brand’s and Aveta’s petitions is enough to raise doubts in my mind and others.
Fiore’s signature on those petitions poison Brand’s, Mascone’s and Aveta’s candidacy for the board of ed no matter how sincere Vinnie Brand’s and Mike Mascone’s insistence to me that they are there own men and that they would not be influenced in any way by Fiore or other members of the Middletown GOP.
With that being said, listen to the audio and make up your own mind, but most importantly vote “YES” for the budget and vote for the candidates that you think will be the best representative for your and your child’s best interests on Tuesday April 20th

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Filed under Candidate Forum, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown GOP, Middletown Mornings, Panera Breads, Patricia Walsh, Stephanie Murray

Taxes and Middletown, Perfect Together

As anyone who follow this blog knows, I am no fan of the Middeltown GOP and their bond, spend ,tax and then blame others, policies. 

Since late February, I have been pointing out that the Middletown Republicans, who have controlled  the township committee for the past 20 some odd years, have been planning a 9.2% municipal tax increase this year in order to plug a $2.4 million hole in the township budget that has not been adopted yet. This budget shortfall is approximately the same as last years, when the township used  a couple of one shot revenue gimmicks in addition to a 7.2% tax increase balance the budget.
In order to keep Middletown running for the past 5+ months, temporary budget resolutions have needed to be passed by the township committee. At last count, nearly 50% of  the expected operating expenses for the township for fiscal year 2009 have already been spent or have been allocated  to be spent. 
Now, how will it be possible to cut $2.4 million from the last remaining 50% of budget to avoid a 9.2% rate increase?  You can’t, unless your willing make very hard choices. Choices that the Republicans in town have refused to make for the past 20 something years.
That is why, with this years increase, Middletown’s tax rate will have risen 25% over the past 4 years.
At some point you need to look in the mirror and stop blaming others for your short comings. 
Like Middletown, other municipalities around that state, as well as along the bayshore, have been saddled with reduced aid and unfunded mandates from Trenton. However the impact has not had nearly the same adverse effects as here, because instead of blaming others, these towns  looked at themselves and made choices that dealt with the problem instead of playing the avoid and blame game. 
There are two other very good posts today from Pat Walsh’s Middletown Musings blog and Matt Morehead’s A Voice for Youth blog that address Middletown’s budget dealings. 
Walsh’s talks about the townships use of deferred school board taxes, while Morehead’s post asks why other towns in the area have been able to keep their tax rate stable while Middletowns has skyrocketed. 
    

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Filed under A Voice for Youth, Bayshore, Matt Morehead, Middletown, Middletown GOP, Middletown Musings, municipal tax rates, Patricia Walsh, tax increase, Trenton

Now it’s the community’s job to cut the township budget ???

If you are a Middletown resident then you must again take a look at Pat Walsh’s Middletown Musings blog.

Pat responds to the township press release of April 24th, were the Mayor stated that  she and the Township Committee are committeed to seek further reductions in the 2009 proposed budget.
The one problem though is that Mayor Pam wants the residents to come up with further budget cuts themselves so that she and her GOP buddies cans wipe their grubby little fingers clean of a 9.2% tax increase.
For some one who promised to be fiscally conservative and campaigned on a platform to Not raise taxes, Pam Brightbill has done just that in her 4 years on the committee.  When this rate increase goes into responsible effect on July 1st, Pam and Co. will have risen the municipal tax rate by 25% during her time in office.
  

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Filed under budget cuts, Middletown GOP, Middletown Musings, Pamela Brightbill, Patricia Walsh, press release, Walsh

Gerry, The Want To Be Assemblyman, Sure Does Love To Write Letters

Gerry Scharfenberger, the Middletown GOP deputy-mayor, sure does love to write letters to the editor.

The “Want to be Assemblyman” has a penchant, a real knack so to speak, for the written word. 
It is a bit unfortunate though that most of what he writes about are gross exaggerations or half truths.  If you paid much attention to him or his letters, you’d think that all of Middletown’s problems were caused by Democrats in Trenton and the only way to fix Middletown was to get rid of  Governor Jon Corzine and all those terrible, liberal,unfunded mandate happy democrats.
It doesn’t seem to matter to him that most of todays problems started with Christie Whitman when his beloved Republicans controlled Trenton and it also doesn’t matter that none of his letters offer solutions or tell us how he would fix a problem, they are just rants about how the democrats are the problem.
His latest letter was posted at the Atlantic Highlands Herald this past Friday, it’s more of the same rhetoric  that we’ve come to expect out of him, blame,blame,blame and no solutions.
So I was quite happy to see that Pat Walsh decided to take on Gerry’s letter on her Middletown Musings blog.  She did a good job so I have decided to copy and post it her blog entry here with Pat Walsh’s comments in blue. :
There goes Gerry again, who hasn’t met an adjective he doesn’t like. He pounds his usual themes always concluding that the problem is OVER THERE… He never seems to get that he has a responsibility in this as a township committee member. Bloated government… what about two township lawyers in one year? 9But for Gerry the issue is personal, if Chris Christie succeeds then Gerry plans to move up to the legislature. Sorry Middletown, then we will have three legislators who have brought ZERO dollars back to our town.

Reversing Course on Bloated State Government

For the second year in a row, Governor Corzine has delivered a crushing blow to Middletown by proposing another enormous cut in municipal aid. (2%) It should be noted that the very term “municipal aid” is actually a misnomer. In reality, this is money sent to Trenton by Middletown residents in the form of income taxes, sales taxes, corporate taxes and any number of other fees and taxes. The tiny portion of the money that is returned to Middletown and other suburban towns helps pay for essential services and infrastructure maintenance. As a result of this punitive move by the governor, the pressure on local property taxes intensifies exponentially.

COMMENT: The crushing blow to taxpayer’s is the addition of a second lawyer to the township budget, the purchase of a new township property adding to our already bloated debt service, The hiring of a lobbyist at 60K, bonding for the Shadow Lake project only to admit that it will never get off the ground becuase the plan was flawed. Gerry, like his favorite candidate CC seems to have forgotten about the 7.6 Billion dollar hole in the budget created by the recession. just a hint, essential services do not include hiring all your GOP cronies to the Sewerage Authority with free health benefits and pensions. The only reason the tax pressure has intensified exponetially is that the GOP committee members can stop spending money.

What is most frustrating is that the governor has chosen to preserve billion dollar, elective spending programs such as COAH, schools construction, universal pre-school, Abbott funding, FMLA and aid to distressed cities, among others. The latter saw a staggering $127 million sent to Union City, Jersey City, Camden, Newark, Paterson, Asbury Park and Bridgeton in 2008. With the current economic situation and suburban towns struggling to maintain basic services, it is patently unfair for the state to take even more of our tax dollars to fund these programs.

COMMENT: Hey Gerry, Let’s just guess what happens if even one municipality goes under? The bonding rating for all would increase exponentially putting asll towns in even worse shape. It is patently unfair that you will take 6 months to produce a budget, which you have already spent 40% of before you even start making cuts, while democrats are struggling to find areas of the budget to save the taxpayers money’

To make matters worse, the governor has burdened Middletown with millions of dollars in unfunded mandates, which are state-ordered spending decrees with no state funding to meet the mandate. This places suburban towns in the precarious position of putting the health, safety and quality of life of every taxpayer in jeopardy through Draconian budget cuts to try and offset the loss of municipal aid that is, simply put, the residents’ own money to begin with.

COMMENT: The reason Middletown finds itself is a precarious state has something to do with the draconian spending that the GOP has hoisted upon us. Lats years increase alone was 7.1%and even with the new tax rate I bet Middletown will participate in the Pension Deferral program even though none of its legislators voted for it. That means that the decrease we might have seen in our taxes next year due to a decrease in the amount of Debt Service will disappear.

Clearly, New Jersey cannot continue down this road of skyrocketing taxation and wasteful spending on ill-advised government programs. Our only hope is for every taxpayer to make their voices heard this November and reverse the course of our current unsustainable, bloated state government.

COMMENT: Clearly Middletown cannot continue down the road od skyrocketing tax increases imposed on us by GOP governmentusing our precious tax dollars on wasteful spending like two township attorneys.( one of whom only recently came off the cushy Sewerage Authority.) The unsustainable and bloated local government has to change it ways or be replaced. Clearly Gerry needs to start taking responsibility for his own decisions that have left Middletown with hugh tax increases.

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, COAH, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Jon Corzine, Middletown, Middletown Musings, New Jersey, Patricia Walsh, Trenton Democrats, unfunded mandates

Sunshine Award goes to Sean Brynes and Pat Short

From Pat Walsh’s Middltown Musings

Democratic Township Committeemen Sean Brynes and Pat Short are to be honored with the “SUNSHINE AWARD” during this sunshine week for their successful efforts at shedding light on the Middletown Township Committee agenda.

Sean authored the resolution which sought to put the agenda material on the website . Not only did they convince there fellow committee members to approve the resolution, they have also managed to have a binder containing the agenda material placed at the meeting as well. For their combined support of bringing the sunshine law to life in Middletown they are to be commended.

Considering that Middletown residents have been left in the dark for the past 20 years by the GOP this is an astounding feat. On Monday nights agenda was a “resolution for the expenditure of funds” with no amount listed and no idea what the funds were being expended for. That method of hiding how they spend out tax dollars has finally ended thanks to their efforts.


I have to caution all of you that I still remain somewhat skeptical that the majority will adhere to the spirit of the law and this resolution. The GOP Majority has a nasty habit of dropping resolutions on the agenda and the democratic committeemen as they are literally walking in the door to a meeting.

I will wait to see how they live up to this ordinance before I will be convinced.

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Filed under committee agenda, Middletown, Middletown Democrats, Patricia Walsh, Patrick Short, Sean F. Byrnes, sunshine laws

Middletown to put proposed resolutions online

From yesterdays Asbury Park Press – comment to follow:

Residents soon may be able to read the details of proposed resolutions and ordinances before attending Township Committee meetings. But once a meeting begins, a new ordinance will regulate how they can record the proceedings.

Officials plan to speak with at least one volunteer who has said he is willing to scan copies of the proposed resolutions and ordinances onto Middletown’s Web site the Friday before a Township Committee meeting, said Anthony Mercantante, the township’s administrator.

During its meeting on Monday, the Township Committee voted unanimously to institute the new online policy.

For months, Committeemen Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short advocated for the information to be posted on the Web site, saying it would allow residents to be better informed before attending meetings. Currently, only a one-sentence description of each proposed resolution or ordinance is posted on the site.

But Township Clerk Heidi Abs repeatedly said her office was already overwhelmed with work and could not find the time to do the scanning without additional manpower.

Bernard Reilly, Middletown’s former township attorney, had also said there could be legal issues in posting information that could be withdrawn or amended before the start of a meeting.

During a committee meeting earlier this month, Mercantante suggested hiring a part-time employee to do the scanning. But Short said it made more sense to find a volunteer to do the work.

“We’re talking about someone scanning documents for a couple of hours twice a month,” Short said on Tuesday.

Mercantante hopes someone will be trained and able to do the scanning in time for the April 6 Township Committee meeting.

Also on Monday, Middletown Township Committee voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance that prohibits residents from using video devices — including cell phones — to record the meeting from the room’s front half when there are more than 30 people in the room.

Township Committeeman Anthony Fiore — who voted to approve the ordinance along with Mayor Pamela Brightbill and Deputy Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger — said its objective is to prevent video equipment from getting in the way of people who wish to see what is going on.

“I don’t think any of us object to anybody videotaping the meetings,” Fiore said.

Byrnes said he does not understand how someone using a handheld camera while sitting on one of the room’s benches could pose an obstruction to someone else.

After Scharfenberger said he had received several complaints, Short asked him to enumerate them. Scharfenberger did not answer.

“We just put something in law just speculating that there will be a problem,” said Short, who noted that the only person he had ever seen recording meetings was Patricia Walsh, a Middletown Board of Education member who unsuccessfully ran against Brightbill and Fiore in 2008.

During the meeting, Walsh commended Township Committee for approving the new online policy but criticized members for the video recording ordinance.

“If I were grading you on open and transparent government, I’d give you an F,” Walsh said.


 I assume that the resolutions are typed on the computer. why can’t they just be copied and pasted to the Web site instead of printed and scanned back in by a volunteer? 

As for the video taping or recording of meetings, the ordinance that past on a strictly party line vote is an obvious attempt at trying to stop people from their rights to information. It is interesting that when pressed by Patrick Short, Deputy Mayor Scharfenberger could not or would not name one resident that complained about being distracted from the proceedings due to  Pat Walsh videoing them. It is a clear sign of partisen politics at its worst.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Middletown, Middletown Democrats, online policy, Patricia Walsh, Patrick Short, resolutions and ordinances, Sean F. Byrnes, sunshine laws, Video taping or recordings