Category Archives: Randall Gabrielan

Randall Gabrielan To Be Honored At The March 21st Meeting Of The Library Board

by Linda Baum

At last night’s Library Board meeting, the Board voted unanimously to present a plaque to former Board president and 25-year trustee Randall Gabrielan for his years of dedicated service and to rename the Library’s New Jersey room in his honor.

The New Jersey room is home to the many fine histories authored by Mr. Gabrielan, Monmouth County Historian, so it is a fitting tribute that the room should bear his name. A duplicate of the plaque will be on display at the Library.

The presentation will be made at the Board’s March 21st meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the Library’s main branch. Please mark your calendars and join me and many others in recognizing a lifetime of service and achievement.

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Filed under Board of Trustees, lifetime achievement, Middletown Library, Randall Gabrielan

It’s Your Town – Video Newsletter 2/6/12

As I announce last month, the It’s Your Town newsletter was going to be changing. It’s author Don Watson, had decided that it was time to stop writing about what goes on at Township Committee meetings each month and start showing residents what actually happens during Township Committee meetings.
Mr. Watson has announced he will no longer be presenting the newsletter in its current form recapping Middletown Township Committee meetings as he has done for the past few years. Instead however, it is with great delight that he now will present video recordings of the Middletown Township Committee meetings
Below is the first video which he recorded held on Monday, February 6, 2012.
“… It was an impressive meeting to launch the first recording. The Middletown Swim and Tennis Club community showed up to make their case for keeping the club off the auction block. The mayor thanked the past president of the library board, Randall Gabrielan, for his years of service. This of course was after the mayor asked for Mr. Gabrielan’s resignation the previous week. Also, something that rarely happens, the Committee voted on each new resolution individually.”, Mr. Watson stated in an email announcing the format change to subscribers of his newsletter.

It is hoped that this video starts a new era in Middletown, an era of transparency. This first recording shows what really goes on at Middletown Township Committee meetings. If readers of this blog take the time to watch this video and any videos that come later they will see and hear how our Township Committee deals with its citizens.
… Current and previous Middletown Committees said the people who want meetings recorded have a political agenda. They said recording the meetings would cost too much. They said giving the public video access would allow them to grandstand. You decide if videotaping the meetings is worthwhile..., Finally, I want to extend my personal thank you to the many concerned citizens who made this recording possible with their support. By uniting we triumphed over those who said it couldn’t be done. Many thanks. And as always, thank you all for taking an interest in your local government.”, stated Watson.
Don Watson will be offering the Township Committee a copy of this recording with the hope that they will post it on our Township’s public television access stations.
The video runs over two and a half hours, the first few minutes of the video you will hear a lot of noise. There are no guns being fired. It is a malfunction of the sound system.
As a companion to the video Mr. Watson has put together a PDF document that contains the meeting agenda and the resolutions that were voted on during the meeting. A box around an item is a link, bringing you further into the document to that resolution or ordinance. At the end of the resolution there will be a link bringing you back to the agenda. It is a little easier to follow along when you can see what is being voted on.

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!

It should be pointed out that although Nelson isn’t an elected official, he is a high ranking member of the Middletown GOP who makes a living off the taxpayers of the Township.
Watch closely for the arrogance and distain he shows for those that stand in front of the Committee. He rolls his eyes, laughs and snickers at the very residents that he makes his living off of.

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Filed under Don Watson, Its Your Town, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Randall Gabrielan, video newsletter, workshop meeting, YouTube

January 18th meeting of the Middletown Library Board sets the tone for the year. The Demands, the Numbers, and the Possibilities Part 1

by guest blogger Linda Baum

This is my second post about the 1/18/12 Library Board meeting. See my January 24th post to read about the controversy over the Board’s leadership. A lot has happened since the January meeting, as you all know. Library Trustee Sherry Miloscia resigned from the Board for personal reasons effective January 20th. Trustee and Board President Randall Gabrielan resigned from the Board effective February 7th. Seven out of nine members remain, and the Township Committee now has majority control of the Board with 4 out of 7 votes. If they fill the two empty seats, the Township will have 6 out of 9 votes and a two thirds majority.

******

The January 18th meeting was the first for the newly expanded 9-member Board. The five new faces on the Board presented a challenge for Library Director Susan O’Neal, who is to be commended for responding to a great many questions with patience, good humor, and

expertise.
Throughout the meeting, there was harsh, often aggressive criticism from the new Township appointees, who had clearly decided in advance what their collective approach would be. They seemed ready to air all of their complaints on day one. There wasn’t time for all of it at that meeting, but “just wait till the next meeting”, as an anonymous commenter on this blog warned.

The next Library Board meeting is this Wednesday, February 15th at 7:30 p.m. at the main branch on New Monmouth Road. I encourage you all to attend. (FYI, the meeting actually begins at 7:00 p.m., but the Board will go into closed session for about a half hour right after the meeting is called to order.)

Much was discussed at the January meeting, which ran almost 5 hours. Since there is incorrect information “out there”, I wanted to provide all the facts, making this my longest post by far. I organized topics by heading to make things easier for readers, and had to break up the post into three separate parts for the blog, each still long. This is part one.

THE PARKING LOT EXPANSION

Early in the meeting, it was announced that resources now exist for the parking lot expansion that was put on hold last year. The initial traffic study for the lot expansion has already been completed by Maser Consulting. The key parts of the project are improvements in safety (more lighting, traffic calming, crosswalks), more handicapped spaces, a drop off zone for short term parking, and additional parking spaces (approximately 35 more spaces).

The project is expected to cost roughly $122K-150K. Available monies include reserves, largely from expense savings that the Library was able to achieve last year, plus state aid monies.

Recall that per the 2011 agreement with the Township, the Library has two options for paying for capital improvements – they can pay cash or pay the debt service on bonds/notes issued by the Township. Libraries are not allowed to themselves issue debt, so the two payment options may not represent anything new. The Board has always preferred to save up until they have enough money for a project rather than to incur debt and pay interest. The Township does the opposite.

Also, the Library is now required to use the Township’s consulting engineer, T&M Associates, for any engineering work. T&M is not on retainer with the Township, so will bill for its services. Since the work is being directed to T&M without competitive bidding — the Library Board would normally request bids/quotes for this job — the cost could be higher than what the Library would otherwise pay.

THE POSSIBILITIES: “Restricting” about $150,000 in reserves for the lot expansion is to be discussed at the Board’s February 15th meeting. Since, by law, library reserves that are restricted for capital projects cannot be taken by the Township, the new trustees are sure to be opposed to it. I suspect they will make the case for allowing the Township to sell bonds/notes to raise money for the work. I suppose the new trustees could take a different tack and say the lot expansion isn’t necessary. However, part of the reason for the project is to improve safety, and I don’t think the Township would want to be seen as being against that.

Aside from leaving more reserves on the table for the Township’s use, the Township would benefit from the debt sale in several ways that I won’t get into here.

THE NUMBERS: If the Library pays cash for the lot expansion, their current budget will show the total cost of the project, or about $150,000. If the Library pays debt service, the budget for each of the next 20-25 years will show the lower debt service payment, say $15,000. The latter option results in a higher budget in future years, but a budget cut of about $135,000 for the current year.

A $135,000 cut in the Library budget increases the “take” by the Township by MORE than $135,000 — by $162,000. Here’s why. Per law, the Library can keep a portion of its unrestricted reserves equal to 20% of its annual budget. If the budget is cut, that “frees up” some additional reserves on top of the amount cut from the budget. In short, for every $1 cut from the Library’s budget, the Township increases its take by $1.20. A CAVEAT: The new Board could vote to hand over 100% of the Library’s reserves to the Township. If so, then one dollar cut from the library’s budget is just one dollar of reserves available for the taking.

State aid monies are off limit to the Township, so would remain with the Library. Any restricted reserves are protected, but can always be unrestricted by a willing Board.

THE 2012 BUDGET

Ms. Murray objected to the 2012 budget being approved in December before the new Board came in and said that it should be re-opened.

Ms. O’Neal pointed out that the Township typically requires the Library Board to have the budget for a year in place by October of the prior year. The Township didn’t need the Library’s 2012 budget as early as usual, so the Board had a couple of extra months to incorporate more finalized information. So the December approval was later, not earlier, than usual. Ms. O’Neal emphasized that the budget was adopted in line with required procedure, not in anticipation of a different point of view, as has been suggested by anonymous commenters.

Board president Randy Gabrielan advised that the budget is a planning document only that is not written in stone.

And while it wasn’t said, the budget for a year is supposed to be ready before the start of that year — that is the way most well run organizations do it, even if the Township doesn’t.

Because the January agenda was already full, Mr. Gabrielan suggested that a detailed discussion about finances be postponed until the February 15th Board meeting.

Marjorie Cavalier suggested that specific financial issues might be better handled by an ad-hoc committee. There was agreement that the Finance Committee would be reconstituted, and Ms. Murray will be on it.

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Filed under Board of Trustees, Finance Committee, library board, Linda Baum, Middletown Library, Randall Gabrielan

Breaking News – Randall Gabrielan Resigns As President Of Middletown Library Board

It has come to my attention that Middletown Library Board of Trustees President Randall Gabrielan has sent a letter to Middletown mayor Tony Fiore and the Township Committee, stating his intentions of resigning his postion on theMiddletown Library Board of Trustees as a result of inappropriately signing off on purchase vouchers for a number of local history books written by him and that were directly sold through him, to the library.

In the letter sent to mayor Fiore, Gabrielan states, “… after the reading of a far-reaching interpretation in a decision of the Office of Administrative Law in a Local Finance Board case, I understand that signing vouchers for my minor sales constitutes a violation as the small amounts involved do not matter. Accordingly, I here by resign as president and trustee of the Middletown Township Public Library effective this date.”

More on this news later….

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Filed under Board of Trustees, Middletown Library, Randall Gabrielan, resignation

Library Board Treasurer Sherry Miloscia Resigns

According to tonights article posted online at the Asbury Park Press, Middletown mayor wants library chief to resign for selling his own books to library, board treasurer Sherry Miloscia has resigned her position as Treasurer of the Middletown Library.

According to the APP, Miloscia resigned shortly after Tony Fiore sent his letter of wrong doing to the library board accusing Board President Randall Gabrielan of unethically and inappropriately selling books to the library and asking for his resignation as President of the Library Board of Trustees.
The APP’s article has a little bit more information pertaining to the book sales in question that have been going on for the past several years and were apparently OK with the Township Committee because nothing was ever said or acted upon until know even with Committeeman Kevin Settembrino sitting on the the Library Board as the Mayor’s Designee last year .
The article states:

Of each of the $20 to $30 books that the library purchased, Gabrielan said he ultimately received 40 percent. Of the $778.45, 40 percent would total $311.38.

With Sherry Miloscia’s resignation, it seems that Tony Fiore and the Middletown GOP have gotten what they wanted even if Randall Gabrielan doesn’t resign his position. Once they appoint their hand picked replacement of Miloscia, they will have wrestled control away from the protectors of the library so that they will have free access to any and all surplus or reserved funds that the library may be able to accumulate for a rainy day and redirect it for their own purposes.

UPDATE :

The APP has edited it’s story for the todays morning printed edition.

As it turns out Sherry Miloscia DID NOT resign after Fiore sent his letter to the Library Board but resigned on on January 20th, which was before the letter was sent.
Below is the edited version appearing in print today:

On Jan. 20, a couple of days before Fiore sent his letter, board treasurer Sherry Miloscia resigned from her unpaid position, she said.

Miloscia, whose signature also appears on several of the invoices, did not comment beyond specifying when she resigned. Her term was due to expire at

the end of the year.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Board of Trustees, Kevin Settembrino, Middletown Library, Randall Gabrielan, resignation, Sherry Miloscia, unethical behavior

"Political Retaliation" In Play Against Middletown Library Board President

Middletown’s acting Mayor Tony Fiore has asked the President of the Middletown Library Board to resign his position as Board President according to an article posted on Middletown-Patch this morning.

According to Middletown-Patch, a letter was sent to Library Board President Randal Gabrielan last Wednesday requesting his resignation for questionable inappropriate and unethical behavior pertaining to books purchased by the Middletown Library that were penned by Gabrielan.

Randal Gabrielan is the Monmouth County historian and writes books about the history of Monmouth County and its towns. The books are available at many book sellers throughout NJ.

Where the supposed ethical violations come into play in this case is that as Library Board President, Randal Gabrielan signs all the purchase vouchers for the library, including the vouchers that pertain to the books that he has written.

To Fiore and Co., this is a major issue that requires Gabrielan to step down from his position, even though this has been going on for years with the knowledge and approval of the Township and the fact that the library would have purchased the books for its collection anyway.
Randal Gabrielan states in the article that this is “political retribution” for his vocal stance opposing the Township’s money grab of nearly $500,000 last year and for the failure of one of the Township Committee’s hand picked, newly appointed Library Board of Trustees members not being able to dethrone him as Board President at the Library’s January 18th Board meeting, which was the first board meeting after the Middletown Township Committee expanded the membership of the board from 7 members to 9 members to gain greater control over the library’s finances.
“This request for resignation is an act of political retaliation prompted by my opposition in 2011 to the Township Committee’s demand that the library turn over surplus funds (which did not come from municipal appropriations) to the township and the failure of the mayor’s new expanded library board of trustees to elect one of their number, none of whom has any library board experience, to the presidency of the board at the January 18th library board meeting,” According to Gabrielan’s statement posted on Middletown-Patch.
I think that before looking at Mr. Gabrielan, Tony Fiore should be looking closer to home for ethical lapses and request a certain Planning Board member to step down…..

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Filed under Board of Trustees, ethical violations, Middletown Library, Middletown Patch, Middletown Township Committee, Randall Gabrielan, resignation request, Tony Fiore

Presidency of Middletown Library Board sought by new Board member; Proof of Politicalization

By guest blogger Linda Baum

Last Wednesday’s Library Board meeting (1/18/12) started at 7:00 p.m. and ran over four and a half hours. This was the first meeting of the new 9-member Board, five of whom are new appointees.

Sixteen members of the public attended the meeting, in whole or in part, and it was a veritable “who’s who” of the Republican Party. Among others, there were Committeeman and former Library Board member Kevin Settembrino, Committeeman and Deputy Mayor Steve Massell, Emil Wrede (TOMSA Board), James Hinkley (TOMSA Board), Tristen Nelsen (former Township Committee candidate), and some others sitting with them. I caught what I can only describe as “knowing” glances that told me many there were not strangers to each other. I leave to you to decide whether their purpose in attending was to support, to intimidate, or simply to be informed.

There were some regular folks at the meeting, too – we were discernable by our much more casual clothing.

Things began on a cordial note, with introductions and brief backgrounds. That was followed by a discussion of expenses and service contracts, which I’ll address in a separate post. Overall, the new Board members were very critical of Library operations, even accusatory.

When it was time for the election of 2012 officers, Ms. Sherry Miloscia presented the Nominating Committee’s recommendation of Mr. Randall Gabrielan as president, Ms. Vivian Breen as vice president, and Ms. Marjorie Cavalier as treasurer. There was no recommendation for the office of secretary because the original nominee, Ms. Rachel Raymond, the School Superintendent’s alternate for the prior year, was not reappointed to the Board for 2012. Ms. Miloscia found that out just five days before this meeting and had then contacted new Board member Lawrence Nelsen to offer him the role of secretary, but he turned it down, saying he didn’t feel qualified.

Committeewoman Stephanie Murray took issue with the use of a Nominating Committee – commonly used by many boards – and was fast to make her own nomination when informed that taking additional nominations from the floor was routine procedure. She started right at the top, recommending newcomer Lawrence Nelsen for president. She turned to him and said, “Would you do it? Would you do this?,” as if it had never been discussed. He agreed, of course, and didn’t seem surprised, but many of the public attendees were amazed at the audacity.

Ms. Miloscia asked Mr. Nelsen why he felt qualified to be president when he said he didn’t feel qualified enough to be secretary. Mr. Nelsen denied saying that. “Yes you did,” she replied.

Ms. Murray felt that a person with a financial background should be president — Mr. Nelsen is an accountant. Others pointed out that the treasurer’s position would be a good place for an accountant concerned with finances to start. The treasurer’s position was available, but Mr. Nelsen wasn’t interested in it.

The reasoning that the Board needs a president with financial experience is not supported if you consider that the Library Board drafted and approved a budget that, despite a reduction in the Township appropriation, still managed to maintain services, employment and most materials.

Something I think was being overlooked is that Board membership provides each trustee the opportunity to oversee operations, whether that person is an officer or not. That participation is precisely the reason given by the Township for expanding the Board.

New Board member Michael Convery asked, “Why do you think Larry can’t be president?” The experienced Board members explained that the position of president requires a lot of knowledge and a lot of time, and that the need to provide guidance to an inexperienced person would put an unfair burden on the Library Director. The many answers and lengthy explanations Ms. O’Neal was required to provide to the new members at this Board meeting is evidence of that.

In short, having an inexperienced person as Board president could hamper Library operations. Therefore, the new trustees did not appear to be acting in the best interest of the Library.

It was suggested that the new members could consult with any respected source, including the New Jersey Library Association, and would be told of the importance of experienced leadership.

I wondered what the president’s rights and responsibilities are that made the position so sought after. I have been provided this explanation:

The president is the first among equals as the Board’s link to the Director on situations where library operations meet library policy, which is set by the Board. The president is the primary Board source for the Director on matters of economic, political, social, employment and legal concerns that impact the library. It is important that the president recognize and honor the distinction between the Trustee’s role of oversight and the Director’s role of management and that the president not attempt to interfere in library operations. In order to fulfill this role, it is essential that the president be knowledgeable and experienced in these matters, qualities that have become even more important in today’s challenging environment.

Also, I am told that the president’s role at meetings is similar to the mayor’s — he sets the tone and guides discussion but has an equal vote.

Ms. Breen pointed out to Ms. Murray that she would not expect to be mayor her first year as a committeewoman. She replied, “No, and I wouldn’t want to,” but seemed to miss the point that Mr. Nelsen was too inexperienced to be president.

The new Board members expressed concern about Mr. Gabrielan’s length of service as president, made reference to the size of the budget, and fell just shy of accusing him of wrong doing. The criticism was unfounded, in my opinion. It was an unfair attack on the character of a man who is well-regarded as a dedicated servant. But that accusatory tone underscored the meeting. Later on, Mr. Nelsen twice referenced Bernie Madoff. That comment offended many of us.

The new members also expressed some frustration with the materials they were provided and felt some information was missing. That drew a sharp response from the others, who asked what they were referring to. The Library Director did her best to explain the information provided and some differences between business in January and the other months of the year.

A woman sitting near me who was a former library employee felt strongly that the problem was that the new Board members were unfamiliar with library operations.

It seemed to me there was a lot of posturing going on by the new members. Last year the Library was villanized, and it seems the stage is being set for that again. I am reminded of that saying that the truth of an accusation doesn’t matter because the damage is done when the accusation is made.

Perhaps in an attempt to quell the accusation and argument, Ms. Breen suggested making Mr. Nelsen vice president. I thought that was a generous concession considering his lack of experience with library matters.

Mr. Convery asked if the election of officers needed to take place right then and was told that there was a need to have officers in place for financial matters and for continuity of operations. The Library’s by-laws call for elections at the January reorganization meeting because terms expire then. (Note that the Township Committee elects its officers in January as well.)

In the end, Mr. Gabrielan was elected president by a vote of 5 to 4. The four new Board members voted as a block for Mr. Nelsen. The deciding vote for Mr. Gabrielan was cast by new Board member Cynthia Wilson, the School Superintendent’s appointee.

While Mr. Convery said that his reason for wanting to delay the vote was to get to know people before voting, I wonder if that was his motive. Had the vote been delayed until the end of the meeting, for example, the outcome would have been different because two of the Board members who voted for Mr. Gabrielan didn’t stay for the whole meeting. Those early departures, at this meeting or any future meeting, change the make-up of the Board. Late arrivals or absences would have the same effect.

After the debate over the presidency, the other officers were selected quickly. Mr. Nelsen was elected vice president; Ms. Cavalier was elected treasurer, and Ms. Breen secretary – each held the same post last year.

As vice president, Mr. Nelsen will run meetings in the absence of Mr. Gabrielan, who has had a near perfect attendance record. Also, the VP title puts Mr. Nelsen in line for the presidency in 2013, when he is certain to get it because the new Board members will have the five votes they need next year with the Township’s replacement of Ms. Miloscia, whose term expires at the end of this year.

With one more voice, the Township’s new appointees will be able to elect to any office any candidate they choose, award contracts as they choose, make employment decisions, and unrestrict any amount of Library reserves for Township use.

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Filed under Board of Trustees, Lawrence Nelsen, Library Reserves, Middletown Library, Randall Gabrielan, Republican Party, surplus funds, TOMSA, Tristan Nelsen