Category Archives: Peter VanNortwick

Middletown Democrats Get Thumbs Up

I received the following letter yesterday, it has also been posted over at the Atlantic Highlands Herald.

I would like to respond to Peter Van Nortwick, whose letter – Middletown Democrats Pose Traffic Hazard – is just plain ridiculous. No one was blocking traffic or running into the street. Some did cross the street, however, because that’s how you get to the other side.

Cars were not screeching to a halt or narrowly dodging pedestrians. But many motorists did show their support by beeping their horns as they passed by. They cheered, waved, and gave us thumbs up. Except Committeeman Settembrino, who didn’t use his thumb.

Mr. Van Nortwick is right about one thing. We were effective at getting people’s attention. Everyone’s except the cops’. They saw no problem.

Linda Baum
Middletown, NJ

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, letter to the editor, Linda Baum, Middletown Republicans, Peter VanNortwick, sign waving, thumbs up, traffic hazard

Middletown’s Byrnes Responds to Republican’s Criticism Over "No" vote on COAH Resolution

I write in response to the recent letter of Mr. Peter VanNortwick criticizing Pat Short and me for our vote against a recent COAH Resolution, 09-128, abolishing the Council on Affordable Housing. Initially, I would challenge Mr. VanNortwick to substantiate the quote attributed to Mr. Short. His assertion that Mr. Short opposed the Resolution because it eliminated a “handout to some of the residents of the town” is absurd.

This Resolution had a political objective. The Republicans at the local and county level have been working for the better part of the last year to make COAH a lightning rod for this year’s election. Conjuring up images of local communities overrun with “low income” outsiders and decrying the conversion of our pastoral Township into an “urban” landscape, locally elected officials have roundly criticized Trenton for its COAH legislation and will no doubt deem all locally elected Democrats guilty by association. The sponsor, Deputy Mayor Scharfenberger, no doubt hoped that Mr. Short and I would vote no to the gross exaggerations contained in the Resolution. He got what he wanted.

For the record, Mr. Short and I share many of their concerns regarding COAH, but found the error-ridden Resolution to be political hyperbole. Mr. Short and I voted in support of Middletown joining the state-wide litigation challenging the most recent COAH legislation. We too feel the implementation strategy pursued by the State is unworkable and unfair to Middletown. The Middletown Township Committee also voted 5-0, 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats, in support of the Affordable Housing Plan submitted by Middletown Township to the State. Mr. Short and I have also consistently expressed in our public comments our dissatisfaction with the most recent legislation implementing the Supreme Court’s affordable housing mandate. From my perspective, if we cannot overturn the most recent round of legislation, then the State should impose a three year moratorium on its implementation. Requiring implementation of these new State requirements at a time when we are suffering through the worst financial crisis in 50 years makes little sense. This would give municipalities, developers and taxpayers a breather while our economy hopefully rebounds a bit.

The Resolution cited by Mr. VanNortwick and introduced by Deputy Mayor Scharfenbeger, however, is flawed. It attempts to play on people’s fears and grossly overstates the impact of COAH. As an example, the Resolution approved by our Township Committee states that “approximately 10,000 more units of housing would have to be approved for construction in the Township of Middletown” requiring Middletown to “forfeit any reasonable zoning principles, land use regulations and open space preservation efforts”. There are no plans to build anywhere close to 10,000 units of housing and we continue to preserve open space. I vigorously objected to this ridiculous assertion when the Resolution was passed. I am heartily in favor of debate, and our Township Committee has come a long way in the past two years in terms of debating Township issues out in public, but it is a dangerous precedent to fill official Township resolutions with gross exaggerations and distortions in order to achieve political ends. If I am mistaken, I would encourage Mr. VanNortwick to review our Affordable Housing Plan and show me where the 10,000 new units of housing are going.

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Filed under COAH, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Republicans, Patrick Short, Peter VanNortwick, Sean F. Byrnes

Middletown GOP, Once Again Taking Where None Is Due.

Once again members of the Middletown GOP are trying to take credit for other peoples efforts. Mayor Brightbill, her buddy Gerry and other members of the ruling party in Middletown want to mislead the public into believing that they had something to do with a $610,000 windfall made available to the township through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program by writing “letters to the editor” squawking about how brilliant and insightful the Middletown Republicans are, which in reality is utter nonsense.

These letters are a clear fabrication and blatant attempt to deceive the public by deflecting attention away from the fact the Middletown Republicans are planning to raise the municipal tax rate for the 4th time in 4 years. This current rate increase, as it stands now of 9.2%, would bring the total rate increase to 25% during this 4-year period.

A letter written by GOP supporter Peter VanNortwick, which appeared in various local publications, congratulated Mayor Brightbill and Deputy Mayor Scharfenberger for securing a $610,000 U.S. Department of Energy grant even though they knew nothing about it. The Mayor and her deputy, admitted as much at the Bayshore Neighborhood Meeting that took place on March 26th.

When a subsequent letter writer of the democratic persuasion pointed out the real story behind the grant, that it was New Jersey’s very own Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez who created the EECBG program back in 2007 (The Program was authorized in Title V, Subtitle E of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), and signed into Public Law (PL 110-140) on December 19, 2007. The program however remained unfunded until The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 appropriated $3.2 billion for it) and that these funds were granted to over 60 towns, 10 counties and the state itself. The letter writer also added that the township didn’t apply for these funds in advance.

The writer then concluded, “This is typical of how the Republican Party has been operating for years. They will take credit for something that they had no idea about to make people think that they are doing a service for the public. It is too bad that they feel the need to hide behind such lies. I hope this author will think hard when trying to give credit to someone that does not deserve it.”


Not to be outdone, Monmouth County Republican Committeeman (and local GOP tool) Michael Vitkansas, wrote a reply in which he started off by disparaging democrats and then stated, “the township administrator had just received word that Middletown had gotten a $610,000 grant for money-saving energy programs in Middletown. The Township Committee was told about the award at that meeting. Director of Planning Jason Greenspan went on to explain how Deputy Mayor Scharfenberger and he had discussed the merits of applying for the grant back in 2008 and decided that they should give it a try.”

Mr. Vitkansas, in his partisan, republican zeal, unfortunately did not get the facts straight.

While Mr. Vitkansas was correct in stating that the township committee had just heard the good news from the Township Administrator about the grant, he failed to mention that the Administrator and the Director of Planning were totally unaware of the windfall until a reporter called questioning what the township had in mind for the grant, just before the neighborhood meeting started.

As it also turns out, his statement also turns out to be false because the Director of Planning, Jason Greenspan, could not have talked about this particular grant before because the EECBG program, even though it was created in 2007, is new and was never funded before this year. Jason Greenspan might have applied for something, but it could not have been for this program. As Gerry Scharfenberger mentioned at the meeting, they apply for so many grants, it is hard to say what they apply for. They just roll the dice by applying for everything, as they should, and hope something comes their way.

If you don’t believe what I have written then listen for yourself, the following audio clip is from the March 26th Bayshore Neighborhood Meeting. You can clearly hear Mayor Pam and Deputy Gerry saying it themselves.

Read the Robert Menendez press release announcing the funding >>> Here

Read the Rush Holt press release announcing the amount Monmouth County and Middletown will be receiving >>> Here

To read about the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program 

click >>> Here

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Filed under Bayshore Neighborhood Meeting, Gerry Scharfenberger, Michael Vitkansas, Middletown GOP, Pamela Brightbill, Peter VanNortwick, republican supporters, Rush Holt, US. Sen. Robert Menendez