Category Archives: televised meetings

NO TV FOR YOU!

(click image to enlarge)

In the name of open and transparent government, many towns throughout the area televise their township committee meeting, Middletown however does not.

What are Tony Fiore and the Middletown Republican majority trying to hide, why wont they agree to televise Middletown’s Township Committee meetings?

It’s already been determined that there has been grant money available in the past to do so. It has been said that an informed electorate is a knowledgeable electorate.

Are the Middletown Republicans afraid to televise meeting because they worry about what voters will learn if the channel of their televisions are tuned into a Township Committee meeting? Indifference by some, arrogance by other, a township attorney who speaks instead of letting duly elected officials answer questions and who sneers and snickers at residents who address the Committee, are just a small sample of what residents would learn if they could watch township meetings in the comfort of their homes.

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Filed under Middletown Democratic Club, political cartoons, televised meetings, Tony Fiore

An Open Letter to Middletown Residents From Carol Fowler

I am a mother of two whose family goes back four generations in Middletown and whose children were educated in our Middletown schools. For the first time in my family’s history, I see families being priced out of our Township, because of our soaring taxes. As our incomes have remained flat, we have seen steady, significant municipal tax increases exceeding 40% in the last 6 years. If you believe every municipality has experienced these increases, think again. While many of our surrounding towns have had minimal or no increases in taxes, over the last six years, our elected officials have burdened our citizens with a dramatic tax increase unmatched by our surrounding communities. Many members of the next generation of Middletown children cannot afford to live here. Poor management of our local government produced these unnecessary tax hikes. I am running for office to reverse this trend.

We must start by reducing taxes by cutting our debt, which has mushroomed over the last decade under the current regime from $48million to $72 million. Over the last decade, our Township Committee has overspent its way through an $8 million dollar Arts Center, bonded for $2.5 million for turf fields for our kids that disappeared somewhere in the Town’s budget, and paid the same politically connected engineering firm to work on every Township engineering project without competitive bidding for the last 30 years or more.
We must also cut spending, consolidate services with the Board of Education and neighboring towns and look for partnerships with private and non-profit entities. We must continue the trend initiated by the efforts of my Democratic predecessors Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short to privatize more of our brush collection, and open up our professional contract awards to competitive bidding. For the last few decades, I’ve been an executive officer of our volunteer first aid squad. I’ve recorded many business meetings and, when a purchase is necessary, three bids are sought and then voted on. Why can’t our Town do the same for professional services that cost taxpayers well over $1,000,000 per year?
These steps are easy to grasp, but have eluded the current regime, because these steps would threaten the cozy, lucrative relationship enjoyed by the professionals retained by our elected officials to serve this Township. You may not be aware of how your Township is being run, because the Township Committee steadfastly refuses to televise its meetings. If you visit the websites of similar-sized or even smaller municipalities (e.g. East Brunswick, Rahway), you will find complete coverage of their regular meetings, where any citizen who wants to can see how their tax dollars are being spent. What do we have to hide? How come we broadcast events form the Arts Center, concerts in our parks, but not our Town meetings?
Walking our township, I’ve seen with my own eyes that we have seniors who can barely afford to purchase food, as well as victimized homeowners who lose everything when a tropical storm sweeps through, with no solution in place to their long time flooding predicament. Our town’s Senior Center has a very good food program, yet the recreational side of it is not as attractive to seniors, who pay a nominal non-resident fee to attend the more enjoyable Keyport Senior Center. Why can’t we have equally attractive senior programs at our own Center?
I want to restore this town to what it was — a reliable and affordable place to live. But I also insist that we keep in step with what our neighboring communities offer to residents. Our recreational facilities and our overall Recreation Department lag far behind the thoughtfully planned recreational centers available to resident of townships far smaller than Middletown. When elected leaders take your hard-earned money for taxes, you need to know that they will spend it wisely. The current regime has failed miserably, and I hope you will consider a vote for change.
Carol Fowler
Middletown Democratic Candidate for Township Committee

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Filed under Arts Center, bonding debt, Brookdale Democratic Club, Carol Fowler, high taxes, letter to the editor, Middletown Township Committee, Senior Center, televised meetings

It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 17- 8/15/11

This edition of It’s Your Town newsletter covers the Middletown Township Committee regular monthly business meeting that was held on Monday, August 15, 2011.

As is the norm lately, the meeting was rather short lasting about 35 minutes.

Committee members had little to say, Kevin Settembrino and Steve Massell just sat on the dais looking pretty with nothing to say, while Pam Brightbill, Gerry Scharfenberger and Tony Fiore spoke briefly.

Only 5 members of the public took the time to speak at this meeting but their questions,unfortunately, were left mostly unanswered.

Their questions ranged from why there was insufficient information in a $2.85M bond ordinance for tax appeals, that seems to have not appropriated $1M of the total, to what happened to grant money from the latest cable TV franchising contract that would have provided money to televise Township Committee meetings.

The newsletter also contains links to various proposed resolutions and ordinances.
Stay informed and read it all for yourself….Here

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Filed under bonding, grant money, Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, resolutions and ordinances, televised meetings

>It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 2, Issue 26- 12/06/10

>Here is the latest edition of the It’s Your Town newsletter, which covers the Middletown Township Committee meeting of December 6, 2010. It was a very short meeting, but there was good discussion that took place regarding employee health insurance and retirement benefits.

There was also public input about televising these meetings as well as the presentation by Committeeman Sean Byrnes of a resolution to broadcast the meetings. This resolution should be on the agenda for the December 20th meeting, as requested by Mr. Byrnes.

Seeing that the December 20th Township Committee meeting will be the last one for Committeeman Byrnes as an elected official, it will be interesting to see if it is actually voted on.

Click >>> Here to read the newsletter

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Filed under Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, resolutions and ordinances, televised meetings, workshop meeting

>Video: Sean Byrnes discusses Transparency and Televising meetings

>Middletown Democratic Committeeman Sean Byrnes discusses transparency and the need to televise Township Committee meetings over the Township’s public access channels during the Byrnes and Mahoney Town Hall Meeting that took place on September 27,2010 in Middletown.

Since this video was taken Mayor Scharfenberger has stated that he would not be in favor of televising meetings to the public at any cost because he doesn’t see the value in it.

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Filed under Byrnes and Mahoney, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Democrats, Sean F. Byrnes, televised meetings, town hall meeting

>It’s Your Town Newsletter Volume 2, Issue 23 10/18/10

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It’s Your Town newsletter Volume 2, Issue 23 is now available.

This edition of the newsletter chronicles the Middletown Township Committee meeting of Monday night October 18,2010.
The Oct.18th Committee meeting was the last regular meeting before the upcoming election(there will be a workshop meeting on Nov.1st). Discussions regarding shared services with the BOE, the dredging of Shadow Lake, televising Township meeting and the adoption of ordinances were just a few items worth reading about.
Read the newsletter >>> Here
As a companion to the newsletter, you can watch a few videos that I made last week from this meeting. The videos are about COAH, the dredging of Shadow Lake and televising meetings and can be scene by clicking on the hyper-links.

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Filed under COAH, Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Shadow Lake, televised meetings

>There Will Be NO Televising Meetings While Scharfenberger Is In Office

>Middletown resident Carol Stiglin is a senior resident of Shadow Lake Village who has difficultly getting out at night. She addressed the Middletown Township Committee Monday night Oct.17th and addressed the issue of televising Township meeting so that Middletown residents such as herself could watch proceedings via the local cable access channels.

She presented a petition to the Committee that contained 124 signatures of support on it. Stiglin said that those signatures are in addition to the previous petition that she presented to the Township Committee last year.

At one point during the meeting Monday night(which isn’t captured on this video), mayor Gerry Scharfenberger stated that he didn’t care if the cost of televising meetings cost $102,000 or 102 cents, if it cost the township any money to do so, he wouldn’t support televising meetings!

So much for transparency and keeping citizens informed, I suppose it is better to robo call residents in the middle of the night to inform them of changing to the recycling ordinance than it would be to inform them via television.

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Filed under Carol Stiglin, Comcast, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Robo-calls, Shadow Lake Village, televised meetings, Verizon

Byrnes: Televise Township Committee Meetings


…I think televising our meetings is an important step toward engaging our citizens in their Government...” – Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes – Middletown Township Committee

Many residents around town have been advocating for the Middletown Township Committee to broadcast their monthly meetings on the townships 2 public access channels, Comcast channel 20 and Verizon channel 26, their numerous request and letters to the editor have gone unheeded thus far.

The excuses of those in the majority on the Township Committee give for not broadcasting these meetings have included cost, lack of equipment and manpower to not wanting to create a circus type atmosphere at meetings, which is just plain silly.
Those in favor of broadcasting meeting say “if you can video concerts in the park or beach parties then broadcast them over the cable channels than you can certainly record township meetings for broadcast”, which I happen to agree with and evidently so does Committeeman Sean Byrnes !
The following is another blog post from Sean Byrnes’s blog Mobilize Middletown:
On Tuesday night at our Workshop Committee Meeting here in Middletown, I asked the Township Administrator to provide the Committee with an assessment of the costs to televise Township Committee meetings. My preference would be televise them live, but even a taped, televised meeting is better than no televised meetings. I think televising our meetings is an important step toward engaging our citizens in their Government. If we can play tapes of concerts in the park, we surely can play tapes of our elected officials at work. If we are to put our financial house in order, we need a citizenry that pays attention, expresses opinions and has transparent access to all of our budget and spending records. Indeed, our system of government anticipates an informed electorate that cares about how its local government spends its precious tax dollars.

In recent years that type of involvement has been limited to a small segment of our residents. When good times prevailed, many members of our community lost interest in the activities of our elected officials. I do not exclude myself from that criticism. Escalating real estate values and a booming economy lessened the burden of real estate taxes on the average resident. As a result, the actions of our elected officials became less important.

But those times are gone for the foreseeable future, and we now must manage our public resources during a time of financial crisis. This means mobilizing our citizens to participate in the governing process and to volunteer to perform services that may have been previously paid for with tax dollars. As an example, we budget a significant amount of money every year toward the maintenance of parks and fields. We should explore organizing the local neighborhoods adjacent to our parks to participate in regular cleanups, grass-cutting and upkeep of these assets. I believe that Middletown residents would welcome the opportunity to come together as a community to take care of their “jointly-owned” assets and save tax dollars at the same time. To set ourselves on this path, we need to connect to our residents. Televising our meetings would allow citizens to observe their government at work and to weigh in on decisions that impact them or that involve matters where they may have expertise.

Corruption and mismanagement arise when Government is conducted in the shadows. Two years ago we took an important step toward opening up our government when Committeeman Short and I introduced a resolution to place all township meeting agendas, resolutions and ordinances on our website in advance of meetings. This resolution was passed unanimously by the Township Meeting. (It was also an excellent example of bipartisanship). This allowed residents to see what was being voted on at meetings. Prior to this, residents who attended meetings would frequently have little idea what was being discussed, because they had never seen, and had no meaningful access to, the documents being voted upon. Bringing our meetings to television would further open a door to local government that until recently remained shut to all but a chosen few.

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Filed under beach parties, Comcast, Concerts, Middletown Township, Mobilize Middletown, Sean F. Byrnes, televised meetings, Verizon

Letter: It’s Time To Televise Township Meetings

We live in a time when we are often too busy or simply unable to attend our own local government meetings. Given the current financial crisis, it is more critical than ever to be aware of what our elected officials are doing with the responsibility entrusted to them.

As a candidate for the Middletown Township Committee, I feel it is time that Middletown televises their town meetings.

If we have the capability to record our concerts in the park, than we should be able to do the same for our meetings.

I strongly believe that transparency builds open and honest government. We need residents to participate in their local government, and we need to give them the tools to do so. Middletown owes it to their residents to provide this service.

Mary E. Mahoney

Candidate for Middletown Township Committee

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Filed under Democratic Candidate, letter to the editor, Mary Mahoney, Middletown Township Committee, televised meetings