Category Archives: recycle to save

>APP Editorial: Send them an e-mail

>No matter how Gerry Scharfenberger and Tony Mercantante tray and spin the fiasco of last weeks ill advised, late night “Robo calls” to residents, they just need to admit those calls should not have been made in the first place. It doesn’t matter if the calls were supposed to be place at 6:45 pm or not. The message was not important enough to use the reverse 911 system when other means of communicating with residents about the new “Recycle to Save” program had already been done.

Evidently the Asbury Park Press seems to agree, below is their editorial that ran this past Saturday condemning them for using taxpayer-funded Robo calls to inform residents of this program:

Late-night phone calls are hardly ever good news. Nobody calls you then to tell you you’ve just won a million bucks.

A ringing phone after bedtime can be nerve-wracking. On Wednesday, the nerves of thousands of Middletown residents were wracked by an automated phone call between 10 and 11 p.m. with a recording of Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger reminding them of the importance of recycling.

Some residents who didn’t pick up the first time — perhaps because they were asleep — were called repeatedly until they answered the phone. We suspect most people were less than appreciative of the message.

The late calls were the result of a glitch in the taxpayer-funded service — one that should be reserved for emergencies and urgent notifications.

Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante said the calls were scheduled to go out at 6:45 p.m. So, dinner hour would have been a better time to waste the taxpayers’ time and money?

Glitches happen. They’re excusable. What isn’t are robocalls — late at night, at dinnertime or any other time of day — whose message could easily be communicated in other non-obtrusive ways.

Those leaving comments online had a full things to say themselves about it:

jerseyswamps wrote:
Is that what that was! Now I’m really angry! I heard it was some kind of BS recording and hung up. Nice job, Mayor. Way to earn good will. BTW, ANY politician that sends me a robo call at anytime goes way down on my list of who to vote for. 10/16/2010 7:27:16 AM

mkm586 wrote:
Obama Park Press, we agree, rarelt but thanks. Don’t stop there, turn Penton loose to investigate further. Get my old friend Lisa Kruse and the spirit of Randy Brahmier to help if necessary. They worked when the Press actually was part of political accountability. Was it the reverse 911 system? Is that legal? Who authorized it? If there is a third party company involved who are they? What are they paid? What action is being taken and to correct this from happening again? What punitive action is being taken…if any? And what exactly was the “glitch”? Were not talking about a few dozen calls but thousands. Get us some answers. While you’re at it what’s up with those millions the town borrowed years ago for the football field that never was? Like I said my Dad didn’t get a call apologizing his taxes went up 13%. Obama Park Press, Judy’s gone their fair game, time to follow through!!! 10/16/2010 7:53:06 AM

TheStupidHurts wrote:
I support anything that will get people to vote against scharfenberger, it’s a rare talent to be an abomination to both left and right.
10/16/2010 8:01:27 AM

Ignore_The_Lies wrote:
Schools are doing the same thing with “robo-calls”. The idea of notifying parents of a scheduling change due to a storm is one thing – pestering them about upcoming “events” such as football games and fund raises is another.

If there are 3 people I absolutely HATE in this world they are (1) the jerk that came up with voicemail, (2) the jerk that came up with automated “phone trees” (“Press 1 for billing… Press 2 to report a leak…”), and (3) the jerk who came up with the bright idea to use an automated “emergency notification system” for HORSEPUCKY. 10/16/2010 9:55:13 AM

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, editorial, Gerry Scharfenberger, recycle to save, Robo-calls

>APP: Late-night automated call irks Middletown residents

>Evidently those late night “Robo” calls made by Gerry Scharfenberger late Tuesday night that informed Middletown residents about the virtues of recycling cardboard and junk mail, pissed off an awful lots of residents, so much so that the phone lines down at Town Hall were flooded with complaints all day Wednesday and sparked an article that appears in today’s Asbury Park Press.

What bothers me here is, instead of taking full responsibility for placing these calls using the reverse 911 system (that should only be used in emergencies in the first place), the mayor and Town Administrator Tony Mercantante, blamed the phone service they used to place the calls. They said it was a “glitch” in the program, that the phone calls were scheduled to go out at 6:45pm and not the late hour that they did.

Another thing that bothers me is why were these calls made now, 3 weeks before the election? The “Recycle to Save” program has been in effect now for two months, residents have already been notified several ways about it. Was a late night phone call really necessary? I mean come on, I received my Middletown Matters Newsletter in the mail Wednesday morning. It devotes almost the entire front page to it (I’ll make sure that it makes it into the recycling bin when I throw it out).

Mercantante is quoted as saying “The whole Township Committee agreed to this, I don’t think it was done politically at all.” is a snow job in itself. From what I have been told there was no discussion prior to these calls being made, other than the initial discussions that took place months earlier, that calls to residents could be made to inform residents of the recycling changes It was never discussed that Gerry Scharfenberger would be making these calls. The calls should have been made by Ted Maloney the Director of Public Works, if calls were going to go out in the first place. Can you blame people for thinking that this call was politically motivated, to somehow give Scharfenberger a boost in his re-election campaign?

Here are a few reader comments that were posted on the APP website after the article so far this morning:

jerzyguy wrote:
Did he use the reverse 911 phone system to make these calls? I thought that was paid for by the taxpayers to alert them of emergencies. I guess using a taxpayer funded emergency phone system to tell people to vote for you would not be wise, so tell them to recycle. Maybe the Mayor thinks he should be recycled. That might be the hidden message to get people to vote for him. 10/15/2010 8:43:14 AM

breaker123 wrote:
The Mayor steps in it again. Check out MMM, he actually said the calls were Sean Byrnes’ idea.
They may or may not have been, but to do this 3 weeks before an election when it was not an emergency is suspicious. Why wasn’t it done 2 months ago when the recycling went into effect? Its already been printed in the Middletown Matters. BYW that was filled with propaganda and spin making our budget problems sound like eveything is hunky dory in Middletown. This was a thinly veiled campaign tactic pure and simple. 10/15/2010 8:59:15 AM

10centsworth wrote:

Yeah right,tell us another ridiculous story and think we are all ignorant.
This reaks,reminds of a little kid screaming for something it wants so bad it can’t behave
Nobody is fooled by the nonsense in this community…especially at election time !!!!
10/15/2010 9:04:46 AM

10centsworth wrote:

Recycling cardboard was Sean’s idea…
THE ROBO Calls are the mayor’s idea,another ridiculous attempts to annoy the voters of Middletown any way he can . .
We all are aware he wants something he may not get this time.
GROW UP SCHARFEY !!! 10/15/2010 9:13:02 AM

TrainedInvestigator wrote:
You know…when the phone rings at 9:47 p.m. and you look down at the caller i.d. on the phone to see that it is Middletown Township (fearing bad news) only to learn this was a recorded message spouting some drivel about recycling….you are truly left to wonder. I will certainly remember this call when I vote in Novemeber.
10/15/2010 9:21:56 AM

10centsworth wrote:
BTW….remember the use of the e-mail system at Monmouth University during election season for political purposes during a prior campaign. Didn’t learn your lesson yet,huh???
Using taxpayer dollars,for political propaganda enclosed in tax bills,town newsletters,etc. is questionable also.
The lawyer for this township is paid by the residents here to protect THEM (the taxpayers) in situations like these abuses. Why isn’t that happening? 10/15/2010 9:26:23 AM

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Gerry Scharfenberger, recycle to save, Robo-calls

>Scharfenberger Robo Calls Residents at 10:30 PM To Explain The Importance Of Recycling

>It seems as though I am not the only resident in Middletown to receive a “Robo” call from mayor Scharfenberger last night (mine came just before 9pm) many others received them also, some as late as 10:30 pm. I have been the recipient a number of emails this morning complaining about this Robo call.

The thinly veiled campaign phone call to residents was disguised as a public service message from the mayor, informing residents about the the importance of recycling and the Township’s Recycle to Save program.

One emailer said that they went to Town Hall, ran into Heidi Blunt, the Twp Clerk, and complained about the phone call that they received from Gerry Scharfenberger at 10:30pm last night. She was told by Heidi Blunt that she had received many complaints today from people being called late at night about this. Blunt stated however, that an outside company was outsourced for this process and that they(township) were looking into the problem today to prevent this from happening again.

Another wanted to know if “…those robo-calls have a cost associated with them?” and that they had “..already sent a message to GS via his election website (since I couldn’t find an email address/fax for the Mayors office) expressing my extreme displeasure… last night was such a thinly-veiled campaign message that it sent me over the edge…”

A few emailers are wondering what was so important about the recycling message that it necessitated a Robo call in the first place, after all the Townships newsletter Middletown Matters already devoted a full page to the Recycle to Save program in its latest issue that has been showing up in residents mail boxes along with a half page commentary by Scharfenberger himself talking about the budget as well as the recycling issue.

The one emailer raises a good point, what was the cost of these phone calls? The timing and necessity of the Robo call raises the specter of Gerry using taxpayer dollars to fund a portion of his re-election campaign which is of course unethical and illegal.

I would like to know the cost to the township was for last night’s phone call and if Gerry Scharfenberger has any intention of reimbursing the taxpayers for them.


Filed under Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Matters, recycle to save, Robo-calls, taxpayers