Category Archives: Republican Majority

Letter: Blame mayor, GOP rule for tax hikes in Middletown, New Jersey

The letter below was written by Linda Baum and appears online today at the Asbury Park Press:

The letter “Fiscal discipline puts Middletown on track” (Oct. 21) implies residents should be concerned about the leadership of Democratic representatives who have consistently voted against the tax hikes and irresponsible pet projects that are a heavy burden on Middletown residents.

Democrats didn’t raise municipal property taxes more than 22 percent in three years. Tony Fiore did.

Republicans have held a majority on the Township Committee for decades and therefore can’t blame anyone else for the mess they’ve made. Mayor Fiore helped to create many of the problems we now face.

No one would argue that these are difficult times, but the economic climate cannot be blamed for the result of so many years of mismanagement. Our taxes went up every year, long before the downturn.

Fiore acts as if conforming to a tax cap is the goal. It’s a ceiling, and there are many ways around it, such as taking $750,000 over the last two years from the Sewerage Authority, which can raise our sewer fees to recoup without any annoying tax cap to worry about. Let’s not forget last year’s 13.4 percent municipal tax increase, which blew well past the cap and required a state waiver.

Further, the $4 million reduction in this year’s budget isn’t the spending cut Fiore would like everyone to believe. The budget reduction results mainly from the disappearance of surplus revenue.

Most of those reserves went to pay for tax appeals, which could have been avoided had there been more attention to fair distribution of revenues over the years. That’s the very foundation of municipal government and speaks of the real problem — an absence of foresight and planning.

Residents deserve much better.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, letter to the editor, Linda Baum, Middletown Township Committee, Republican Majority, tax hikes

Letter: Middletown needs balanced Twp. Committee

The letter below appears in this weeks edition of the Independent.

I ’ve heard so many people say with defeat, “It didn’t used to be like this.” They are talking about our town officials’ apparent disregard for the residents they serve.

Middletown has been ruled for many years by a Republican majority. Our five-member Township Committee is all-Republican this year, and many residents would agree that things seem worse than ever .

There is a saying: If you keep doing the same thing, you can expect the same outcome. If we want to make things better in Middletown, we need to choose better representatives who put residents above all.

OnNov. 8, we fill twoTownship Committee seats. It’s our chance to put some balance back on the dais. But we need to vote in both Democratic candidates, not just one. We need two people who together guard our interests in order to make a real difference.

One reason is because it takes two votes to get any issue discussed — one committee member to make the motion, and another to second it. Without that critical second vote, an idea — no matter how good — dies on the vine.

There is a long list of issues that our Republican officials refuse to have a conversation about. And right now, they don’t have to. We can’t force them. They can do just exactly as they please, without any justification, no matter what it costs you. And if you’ve been paying attention to your tax bills, I don’t need to tell you what the price has been.

There’s another reason why having two Democratic representatives is so important. It takes four votes out of five to approve new debt. Three alone can’t do it, certainly not without having a real conversation about it first.

Paul J. Jansen

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Filed under Democrats, letter to the editor, Middletown Township Committee, Republican Majority, the Independent

>Letter: Middletown Township Committee continues to routinely demonstrate great insensitivity to the present economic circumstances

>The following letter was writen and sent to me by Mr. Jeffrey Blumengold

As Labor Day approaches, I watch with some irony as the Middletown Township Committee continues to routinely demonstrate, both in words and in deed, great insensitivity to the present economic circumstances impacting our local citizens and community as a whole.

We all know friends and neighbors who are now unemployed or under-employed. Many of our residents are struggling at this time to maintain their standard of living. Yet, just when they least need it, the Township Committee, lacking any meaningful fiscal oversight or discipline, has delivered another financial burden to their doorstep — a large local property tax increase!
This is a special community, which is why I chose to move here with my family over twenty years ago. I had an opportunity over the last year to observe our Township Committee in action as it deliberated over turf fields and bonding issues. Although members of the Committee encouraged participation, sadly, after nearly a year of attending these meetings, I have come to conclude that the Committee itself is dysfunctional, at best.

Why? Several reasons: First, the necessary information that would allow a Committee Member to properly consider proposed resolutions is not disseminated evenly to all Committee members. As best I can tell, there is little, if any, communication across party lines. As a result, few matters are thoroughly discussed beforehand by the group as a whole. After attending many meetings, instead of collaboration, I observed rolling of eyes and disdain for fellow Committee members. Even though these individuals serve residents as Committtee members, they clearly remain political adversaries.

Second, unfortunately, due to the political breakdown of the current Committee, the majority rules. I have witnessed the exchanges, and I conclude that these meetings are often nothing more than a routine gang up by party members along party lines, rather than a transparent group of leaders, seeking to do what is right for those represented. At the last meeting, I was stunned by the lack of respect accorded to Committeeman Sean Byrnes, who as best as I can observe, continues to ask reasonable questions that are essentially ignored by the rest of the group. This open display of behavior, in public, is despicable.

From the vantage point of a concerned resident, the Committee has become a non-functional political machine, seeking to maintain the status quo, rather than taking on the tough job of careful collaboration, consideration and transparent debate on the serious issues facing our Township. We, as voters, elected these leaders to make the hard choices, so critically called for, especially in these unprecedented, difficult economic times.

I was disappointed to see that the latest focus of our Mayor is on re-writing State laws on how our schools are funded. While such discussions make for interesting debate, they are a needless distraction at a time when our residents need relief from onerous taxes. We need leadership, not a distracting debate over whether we should utilize property taxes, or sales and income taxes, to fund our schools. From my perspective, the current majority lacks the will to do what is necessary in these difficult times.

Jeffrey Blumengold
Lincroft, NJ

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Filed under economy, letter to the editor, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Republican Majority, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase

Middletown Republicans Put Politics Front and Center, Adopt NJ State Republican Party Resolution Condemning Corzine Budget

Contact: Joe Caliendo, Chairman, Middletown Democrats

8 Daniel Drive, Middletown, NJ 07748
Tel: 732-299-6470

Press Release

MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP, MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ: Middletown committeemen Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short decided not to cooperate with the politics of parties over people at the April 20th session of that governing body.

The Middletown Committee’s Republican Majority adopted, by a vote of 3 to 2, a resolution they received from the New Jersey Assembly’s Republican Office that did not constructively criticize the governor’s spending plan – the resolution was just politics as usual.

“I’m not a fan of the governor’s budget, but this resolution was created for clearly political reasons,” said Byrnes, who is also running for a 3-year seat on the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders this year.

Byrnes noted that the proclamation adopted by the Middletown Committee did not offer any actual recommendations. Instead, it sought no tax increases, program cuts, personnel cuts or any other belt-tightening measures. In addition, the document was filled with partisan references geared to an election season instead of the kind of work government should be accomplishing when convened. “I expected a comment about a magic wand somewhere,” Byrnes said.

Byrnes faulted Gov. Corzine for not making the tough choices that should have been made in the spending plan this year, especially in the current economic environment. Some of the ways that Byrnes recommended should have been explored on the state level included: reigning in high-paying salaries for top state officials, examining ways to fundamentally revisit the organization of state government and the way it offers services, and exploring consolidation of services.

Otherwise, without this kind of thoughtful approach to critiquing the state budget, complaints about the spending plan lack real seriousness where it involves a subject that warrants it.

Short similarly criticized the language of the resolution, noting that state spending has to be examined in the context of the plan and government spending has to be reined in realistically. He stressed that much more work could be to improve the lot of state taxpayers, but noted that political posturing isn’t the way to achieve it.

Rather than engage this line of discussion, committee Republicans offered criticism without anything constructive in their arguments. Republican Committeeman Anthony Fiore criticized the financial subsidies that cities like Camden, Newark and Jersey City receive. He offered that more of an emphasis should be placed on suburban towns by the state.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger defended adopting the Assembly GOP resolution through his criticism of universal preschool in New Jersey.

Middletown Democratic Chairman Joe Caliendo noted, “If Republicans either in Trenton or Middletown want to make a change to give taxpayers a better break, they are going to need to have actual ideas of their own – not just criticisms. Democrats do not need to change parties to say what they think – because party lines aren’t what is going to change things for the better.”

Caliendo explained that it is not enough for Scharfenberger or anyone else to point to Trenton and say that the state government is the sole problem with what is wrong in Middletown. “When someone is usually wrong they look to shift blame from themselves. The Middletown Committee has been Republican controlled for 28 years and if there is a problem in this town with the budget and its oversight it isn’t Trenton’s fault. It is the fault of the people in charge of the town, and they happen to be Republicans,” Caliendo said.

He added that, where it involves Trenton, it was not Jon Corzine that created the state’s fiscal crisis. Rather, Caliendo noted that it was former Gov. Christine Todd-Whitman who did more to place the Garden State into the red than all of New Jersey’s governor’s combined, and she happened to be Republican. “If the Republican Party could stop lying, then Democrats wouldn’t have to keep telling the truth about them. There are things that could have been done better in this year’s state budget but it takes real recommendations to make changes and not just posturing by the GOP,” Caliendo concluded.

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Filed under budget resolution, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Jon Corzine, Joe Caliendo, Middletown, Middletown GOP, Middletown Township Committee, Monmouth County, Patrick Short, Republican Majority, Sean F. Byrnes