Category Archives: Robo-calls

Taxpayers First ??? Not in “Your Middletown”

by guest blogger Linda Baum

If you’ve been driving anywhere in Middletown, you can’t miss the big red and white signs that claim Mayor Fiore puts “taxpayers first”. That’s been the line for years now. That the Republican majority continues to use it shows their arrogance. Sadly, they have managed to keep so many of us in the dark.

I suppose they should feel confident. Remember last year when our Republican-controlled Town Committee left you with the impression that a 13.4% municipal tax increase was just 2.8%? They had at their disposal all sources of communication coming out of Town Hall – the town’s own newspaper, press releases, robocalls, and a tax information sheet all delivered straight to your home and paid for with your tax dollars. You were probably scratching your head back then. And I bet, like me, for a while you were uncertain of your own basic math skills. And that was the idea – not to inform, but to mislead. That is not how you serve taxpayers. What they did was deliberate and dishonest, and completely self-serving.

The Republican party’s control over information in Middletown has gone on for years. If you have ever asked a question at a Town Committee meeting, you may have experienced that first hand, and it has never been more true than it is now that an all-Republican committee sits on the dais.

Residents have just two opportunities each month – the first and third Monday — to connect with our representatives, but they don’t seem to want to talk to us. If you’ve been brave enough to stand at the microphone and ask nearly anything, you’ve most likely been made to feel like an annoyance. You’ve got just five minutes – that’s the rule. Use it or lose it, and no second chances after you sit down. If you aren’t satisfied with the answer you get, they may invite you to stay after the meeting when no one else is there to hear them. Or you can always try again at the next town meeting, if you don’t mind being scolded for being repetitive. I was, and my question went unanswered to boot.

It would be downright comical if it weren’t true. If you don’t believe me, then grab your popcorn and come down to Town Hall. You’ll have to catch the live show because town meetings aren’t televised in Middletown like they are in so many other towns. That’s for lack of funds, supposedly, but let’s see what the story is in 2014 when $200,000 in grant money becomes available from Comcast specifically for that purpose. What excuse will our Republican majority give then for continuing to keep us in the dark?

You won’t find much information about what was discussed at meetings in the Town’s meeting minutes, either. If you really want to know what happened, read “It’s Your Town Hall”, newsletter that are written by town resident Don Watson, who took it upon himself to attend town meetings and to keep others informed about what’s going on. If you want to be included in his distribution, send an email to Itsourtown@yahoo.com.

If taxpayers were really first, governmental proceedings would be accessible to all residents no matter what their schedule or ability to attend meetings, including those who are disabled or have limited mobility. And by the way, those folks are still waiting for the Township to fully comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Money is lacking, town officials say, among other reasons given for delays. However, since that law was enacted, our republican-controlled town committee has poured money into a host of costly unnecessary projects when better less-costly alternatives existed – the Pool Club and Arts Center are examples. Taxpayers are not only paying the debt for these purchases, but hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual upkeep as well.

And did you know that the town’s appointed engineer – the same firm now for 40 years –pockets about $1 million dollars a year in taxpayer funds awarded to them as no-bid contracts? Think how much tax relief could have been provided by putting those engineering contracts out to competitive bid. That’s money that could have been returned to you or used for other purposes. If taxpayers were really first, our republican majority would have done just that. Instead, members of that same engineering firm can be seen celebrating with republican candidates every year on election night. If it sounds like pay to play, that’s because it is. And you’re paying for it.

Somebody is first in Middletown, but not taxpayers. Not in a very long time. On November 8th, you can change that.

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Filed under americas with disabilities act, Arts Center, Middletown NJ, municipal tax rates, Robo-calls, Swim Club, tax increase, tax payers first

New Robo Call From Concerned Citizens Of Middletown Attacks Sewerage Authority (TOMSA)

The mysterious group calling themselves the Concerned Citizens of Middletown sent out yet another a robo-call earlier today. This time to target of the message was the patronage pit known as the Middletown Sewerage Authority (TOMSA).

TOMSA Commissioners are a who’s who of Middletown Republican cronies that consist of former mayors and Middletown Republican Party officers that receive a $1750 yearly stipend that counts toward State pension credits and medical benefits.

Below the audio player is the transcript of the call

http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf

Have you heard that for 30 years your sewerage fees paid for stipends, a Cadillac health care plan and state pension credits for loyal members of the Middletown Republican party?

Similar abuses existed at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority until the squandering of money and the rampant hiring of family and political cronies was stopped by Governor Christie.

Why isn’t Middletown following the Governor’s lead and reforming the Middletown Sewerage Authority?

Paid for by Concerned Citizens of Middletown

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Filed under Concerned Citizens of Middletown, Middletown Sewerage Authority, Robo-calls, TOMSA

Perfect Timing As Latest Robo-Call Counters RedBankGreen Fluff Piece On Bamm Hollow Development

Earlier today I was surfing my favorite website and found a fluff piece on RedBankGreen.com concerning some old news about the redevelopment of the Bamm Hollow Country Club in Lincroft. I was going to post about it but I got dragged away until now, which as circumstances will have it was a good thing, because an hour or so later after reading how Township “OFFICIALS TOUT BAMM HOLLOW OPEN SPACE“, the telephone rang.

On the other end of the phone was another robo-call issued by the group calling themselves “Concerned Citizens of Middletown”. It stated how the addition of 500 homes in and around Lincroft is will be eroding the quality of life of residents in Middletown.

I copied the message off of my answering machine and have it posted below, along with a transcript for anyone interested in hearing it.

It must have been a slow news day for Dustin Racioppi and the RedBankGreen, as I said the story is old and is reporting on what was said in May when the court case was settled.

Middletown, as Township Attorney Brian Nelson (how come Township Administrator Tony Mercantante or Assistant Administrator James Van Nest didn’t talk to RBG about this?) would like everyone to believe, did not win big.
Bam Hollow was originally zoned for 50 homes. The original proposal was to increase it to 200 homes. The Plannig Board said no and Bamm Hollow sued for 1,200. The Township setteld for 190. So who actually won big time here?
Brian Nelson and friends were not going to win the lawsuit, which is why they settled. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting it, so it is apparent who won big time. The lawyers hired by the Township to fight a losing battle. the open space would have been there
regardless.

(Concerned Citizens Robo-Call #6: Eroding the Quality Of Life)
http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf

Have you heard the quality of life in Middletown, according to Money Magazine, has dropped 39% during the past four years?

Poor planning and dense re-zoning by Middletown politicians led to approval for over 500 new homes in Lincroft and Bamm Hollow.

Increased density will further erode our declining quality of life, and compete with homeowner’s unable to sell their homes in this dismal economy.

It’s time to clean house and throw-out incumbent politicians.

(Paid for by Concerned Citizens of Middletown)

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Filed under Bamm Hollow Country Club, Brian Nelson, Concerned Citizens of Middletown, Dustin Racioppi, open space, RedBankGreen.com, Redevelopment Lincroft, Robo-calls, Tony Mercantante

Subject of Latest Robo-Call From Concerned Citizens Deals With AVAYA and COAH

Earlier today I received yet another robo-call from the group calling themselves Concerned Citizens of Middletown.

The content of this robo- call that was left on my answering machine ~1:30 pm, seems to be geared towards what is going on in Lincroft concerning the redevelopment of the AVAYA sight that will consist of 342 units of high density housing if built.

The timing of this latest robo-call seems to have been planned to correspond with the next Middletown Planning Board meeting scheduled for tomorrow night, where according to the agenda for the meeting, approval of the project may be finalized.

I’m sure that this call (the 5th) will be just as controversial as the others that have gone out in the past by the group Concerned Citizens of Middletown.
Tony Fiore and others associated with the Middletown GOP swear that Concerned Citizens of Middletown is nothing more than the a front name used by the Middletown Democrats to stir up trouble and controversy, which as far as I know, is not the case.
I am sure that one day soon the mystery of who is behind the group will be answered, but until then I’m going to sit back and enjoy the speculation. It’s fun to see Fiore and the others squirm a bit and point fingers while trying to explain that the messages being left on answering machines all around town have no merit and shouldn’t be paid attention to.

Below is the message that I recorded again off of my answering machine followed by a transcript of the call:

http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf

Have you heard? Because The Middletown Township Committee failed to fulfill it’s COAH obligations, the Township had to solicit bids to develop housing projects throughout Middletown?

As a result the AVAYA site in Lincroft will become a multi-family housing project that will impact the residents of Lincroft and the Township.

The influx of new residents will have an adverse affect; roads will need to be widened, sewer and water lines will need to be installed and over crowding of local schools will take place, all at a cost to our quality of life.

Paid for by
Concerned Citizens of Middletown.

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Filed under Avaya, COAH, Concerned Citizens of Middletown, Four Ponds Housing Development, Lincroft NJ, Middletown GOP, Middletown Planning Board, Middletown Township Committee, Robo-calls, Tony Fiore

>Tony Fiore Respondes to Latest Robo-Call

>Over on his “new” blog provided by Middletown-Patch, Middletown’s acting mayor Tony Fiore, has addressed the latest robo-call that was sent out by the group Concerned Citizens Of Middletown, that talked about the amount of debt the Township is carrying. If you ask me, Fiore’s response just lends credence to the message that went out last Friday.

His answer is the same stock answer that has been given many times before but only this time he providers a true debt number of $72million that so many before him have been reluctant to confirm!


And how is it that Mr. Fiore is so sure who is responsible for these robo-calls when so many (myself included) do not? He blames the Middletown Democrats for placing them, which if that was the case, I think I would know about it. It seems to me that these robo-calls have struck a nerve and seem to be factual based by his response to them.

Also I believe, the point of how much debt the town can borrow itself into, is a silly one; who cares what a towns’ or persons’ credit card limit is when it is already difficult to meet the minimum payments on the balance!

Middletown hasn’t had it debt rating updated in several years, It has been shown recently that credit rating agencies like Moody’s and Standard & Poor aren’t worth much. After the financial meltdown of the past few years, many of the investments that caused the near collapse of the economy were rated A, AA, or AAA from both of these institutions. Knowing that why would anyone want to tout how special they are? They’re not.

On the final point about the blocking of a return phone number, I don’t know what Fiore is talking about, unless he wants to incite others into believing that these messages have no integrity, which I’m sure is his intent, he is living up to him nick-name of the “Fibber”. Every call that I have received by Concerned Citizens of Middletown, including Friday’s, had a return number left on my caller-id.
True it wasn’t a Middletown phone number or one from the immediate area (I think it was Dunellen), but there was in fact a phone number associated with the call.
On a side note – I don’t know how Fiore’s blog on Middletown-Patch works, but this posting was dated Tuesday May 24 at 12:58 PM, right in the middle of a busy work day. Doesn’t Tony have a job that he needs to attend to at 1pm in the afternoon? True, he may have been on his lunch hour but I think not. Working on Township business (which this clearly is), on company time is a No-No as everyone knows.
I wonder what his employer would think????

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Filed under blog, bonding debt, Concerned Citizens of Middletown, debt service, Middletown NJ, Middletown Patch, Moody's, Robo-calls, Standard and Poors, Tony Fiore

>New Robo Call From Concerned Citizens Of Middletown Received Over The Weekend

>A new robo call was issued over the weekend by the group calling themselves Concerned Citizens of Middletown. I received the call Friday when I check my messages on the answering machine.

This latest call talks about whether or not you fell stressed because you can’t make ends meet and have to live within a budget, something that the Middletown Township Committee has a hard time doing. The Township is currently $73 million in debt according to the message and will have to borrow more money to pay for tax appeals.

Listen to it and please comment, I am interested in seeing what readers think of this latest call that went out to residents. If you have a hard time hearing the audio (I tapped it off the answering machine), I transcribed the message below.

http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf

Hello, I am a middletown resident, stressed like you, and needing to cut my budget.

Have you heard the Township Committee cannot live within its budget?

They raise taxes, then borrow more money to cover poor planning.

Our debt level, currently at 73 million will have at least an additional 6 million to cover the tax appeals from the last re-evaluation.

Can your budget survive this kind of borrowing? Mine can’t.

Paid for by Concerned Citizens of Middletown.

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Filed under Audio clips, bonding debt, borrowing, budgeting, Concerned Citizens of Middletown, poor planning, Robo-calls, stressed out

>Ringing Controversy; Concerned Citizens of Middletown Robocalls Strike A Nerve

>It seems that the latest round of Robocalls that went out yesterday afternoon by the group calling themselves “Concerned Residents of Middletown” have struck a nerve with some sitting on the Township Committee who say that the calls don’t ring true.

In a column published this morning over at Redbankgreen.com, Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore and his Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill question the legitimacy of the group Concerned Residents of Middletown and it’s message.

It appears to be just another desperate attempt by the Middletown Democrats to spread misinformation to the taxpayers,” Fiore is quoted as saying in reference to who he thinks is behind the calls. He adds “the real truth will come out. The information they’re pointing out is just not accurate,” when referencing that the Townships budget will be introduced next week.

As if that has any real barring on the truthfulness of the messages contained in the robocalls. Remember last year how Mayor Scharfenberger and those sitting on the Committee, other than Democrat Sean Byrnes, insisted that the Township tax increase was only 2.8% when the proposed budget for 2010 was introduced in last June, when in actuality the municipal tax rate increased by 13.9%.
I think the people lacking credibility on budget issues are those that sit on the Township Committee. The real truth behind the budget numbers and any proposed tax increase which will be presented next Monday night, wont really be known until revised tax bills are sent out to residents, after the budget is adopted later in the year, just as it was last year. When residents looked at their tax statements expecting to see only an increase of 2.8% in the municipal rate, they were stunned by the difference.
Before passing judgment on these robocalls, it is important to see if the message included in them pan out as describe. Only then can we tell who was spreading false information to residents.

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Filed under 2% cap, Concerned Citizens of Middletown, Middletown Township, Pamela Brightbill, proposed budget, RedBankGreen.com, Robo-calls, tax increase, Tony Fiore