Category Archives: Trenton

Another APP Endorsement That Leaves You Scratching Your Head; Take All The Incumbents In The 12th

After coming out in September, stating how ineffective the incumbent politicians that dominate Trenton are, the Asbury Park Press Editorial Board came out with its endorsements on Friday for the newly drawn 12th Legislative District candidates and has endorsed the incumbent politicians that are already serving in Trenton.

…None of the candidates seeking legislative seats in the newly redrawn 12th District served in the district previously. But the experienced Republican slate includes two incumbent lawmakers, one from the 13th District and another from the 30th, and a Monmouth County freeholder.

Two of the three Democrats have run for the Legislature, and lost, before. The other is a newcomer.

Our preference is for the three proven Republican candidates, Samuel Thompson for Senate and Ronald Dancer and Robert Clifton for the Assembly seats. All have served their constituents well in their respective political offices and deserve voters’ support….

Is that it, is this their reason for endorsing the incumbent? They have the proven experience?
It seems that this year the APP editorial board is just looking for excuses NOT to endorse Democrats as opposed to looking for reasons as to why they should endorse incumbent Republicans.
The editorial would lead us to believe that Democratic Senate Candidate Bob Brown,who went on disability 30 years ago after being shot in the line of duty as a police officer in Old Bridge, would have gotten the APP endorsement if only he would have agreed with the Governor’s overhaul of the health and pension benefits for public employees that was passed earlier this year.
To add some support to this argument, you only have to look at the endorsement of Democrat Vin Gopal in the 11th District Assembly race for confirmation. There the endorsement seemed to place greater weight behind the perception that Gopal’s willingness “to compromise in order to get much-needed work done.”. This endorsement also went on to say that “… an injection of fresh blood..”, was needed.
Why hasn’t the same reasoning been applied for the 12th district? Is compromising one’s principles now more important than standing by what one feels is the right thing to do? It would seem so for Democrats William Spedding of Jackson and Catherine Tinney Rome of Old Bridge in their race for the Assembly.
Reader comments left by posters to the online article would seem to agree:
watchdoggg
6:51 AM on October 29, 2011

Dancer, Clifton, and Thompson. Another name for them would be Three Blind Mice.
I’ve rubbed elbows with Thompson at socials, and ALL he ever talks about is what a great job he’s done. In 14 years in office I ask, WHAT JOB, what have you done ??
Clifton, a leftover of the Club Monmouth wrecking crew, still endorsing the “Clubs” mantra by taking care of it’s members.
Dancer, just another incumbent for the party sake.
All three endorse Christie, so I’ll be voting for their opponents.
Signed,….Monmouth County Republican.

BigBlue86
10:35 AM on October 29, 2011

Hey, APP – Why not save some space and time and just put one editorial stating “Just Vote Republican”? You really don’t endorse anyone else anyway. Why bother with the dog and pony show of days of editorials? I’ll vote against anyone you endorse anyway.

HerbWhiteside
12:47 PM on October 29, 2011


TALK ABOUT HYPOCRISY. You couldn’t endorse Brown because he WOULD HAVE voted against Christies Pension reform YET you endorse a proud double dipper(GOP Party boss)Sam Thompson, (not including his Social Security which makes him a triple dipper). Obviously this endorsement is about access to the GOP statehouse and elitist cocktail parties and has nothing to do with whats best for NJ.

VinnieRomano
1:00 PM on October 29, 2011


The APP endorses Christies 3 Stooges. They would have a shred more of credibility if they endorsed “none of the above” Lets be real here the Democrats in this case at least have some fresh ideas and clean backgrounds.
If it wasn’t for a Republican administration Dancer would be under serious investigation. Sam Thompson is just liberal republican party hack with a dubious double pension dipping scandal lurking in the background and Clifton is not qualified to hold any public office. At least if we got rid of the incumbents gave the other guys a shot and voted them out if they let us down. But No you endorse the status quo. I hope the overtaxed, under represented voters in the 12th district put aside party and at least take a shot at some new blood in Trenton.

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Filed under 12th Legislative District, Asbury Park Press, Bob Brown, Democrats, endorsement, reader comments, republican incumbents, Sam Thompson, Trenton

Christie’s Cuts in Aid Imperil Moody’s Ratings for Six Cities

File this news brief under the title of “Collateral Damage” as a consequence of Governor Christie’s numerous line item vetoes of the budget that Democrats sent him last week and the Democrat’s unsuccessful efforts to override them.


By Elise Young – Bloomberg.com

Six New Jersey cities including the capital, Trenton, have their credit ratings under review for possible downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service after losing aid in Governor Chris Christie $29.7 billion budget.

The notice came hours after the Democrat-led state Senate failed yesterday to override Christie’s veto of $139 million in so-called transitional aid to some of the poorest cities.
Moody’s, in a report, said it placed Camden, East Orange, Passaic, Paterson, Trenton and Union City on a watch list and expected to finish its review within 90 days, a window during which the Legislature “may restore all or some of this aid.”
The company report called the aid loss a “credit negative” to those municipalities plus Bridgeton City, Harrison, Irvington and Prospect Park. “Credit negative” indicates Moody’s is more inclined to cut ratings.
The review of the six cities will involve a study of any plans to offset the loss of aid, which Christie cut to $10 million from $149 million for the fiscal year that began July 1.
“Given the magnitude of the adopted state-aid reductions and required process for implementing workforce reductions, we believe that city managers may be challenged to achieve the necessary savings quickly to prevent further financial decline,” according to the report.
Christie, 48, a first-term Republican, chopped almost $1 billion in budget items added by Democratic lawmakers, saying the state couldn’t afford the expenditures.
Most Downgrades
For Camden, with a Ba2 rating from Moody’s, or two steps below investment grade, transition aid of $69 million last year amounted to 38 percent of its spending plan. Paterson, with a Baa1 rating, or third-lowest investment grade, received $22.3 million last year, for 7 percent of its budget.
In May 2010, Moody’s lowered Trenton to A3, the fourth- lowest investment grade, after a previous Christie cut in aid. Communities in New Jersey, the second-wealthiest U.S. state, led the country in downgrades last year.
Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, declined to comment. Andy Pratt, a spokesman for Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff, didn’t respond to an e-mail. Mark Albiez, chief of staff to Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who also is a Democratic state senator, didn’t return telephone calls. David Rousseau, a financial consultant to Trenton, didn’t respond to an e-mail….

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Filed under Bloomberg, credit ratings Camden, East Orange, Gov. Chris Christie, line item veto, Moody's, Passaic, Paterson NJ, Trenton, Union City

>A special state budget update from NJPP President Deborah Howlett

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In his budget address three months ago, Governor Christie outlined his view of the “new normal” in New Jersey. It went something like this:

  • Rich people get tax breaks.
  • The middle class pays more.
  • We all make do with less.

Most states, instead of relying solely on cuts to services – cuts that threaten jobs and economic recovery and hurt struggling families – have adopted a balanced approach that includes revenues. But the plan laid out by the governor was cuts-only. It would close state facilities for the profoundly disabled; continue last year’s devastating cuts to schools; and require deep reductions in health insurance coverage for people with no place else to turn.

Over the next month or so, lawmakers and the governor will work in Trenton toward agreement on a state spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

NJPP will be in the thick of things.

As we have for 14 years, NJPP is fighting for the return of fair and progressive fiscal policies that until recently provided opportunities for all New Jerseyans and prosperity that was broadly shared across the Garden State. In a series of emails over the next couple of weeks I’ll give you more details, but here are a few highlights of the work that NJPP is doing to make a difference.

  • Senior Analyst Ray Castro is a leading voice in the independent and critical analysis of how cuts to NJ Family Care, the state Earned Income Tax Credit, and Medicaid will make it harder for poor and working families to get by.
  • A study by NJPP and the national group Demos showed that a bill to deregulate telecommunications in New Jersey would cost consumers, especially the poor and the elderly. Using the findings in the report, NJ Citizen Action and AARP went to work on lawmakers and in a grassroots effort that included more than 10,000 phone calls to legislative offices they succeeded in getting the measure tabled.
  • NJPP’s report on the proliferation of corporate subsidies is the foundation for ongoing efforts by the Better Choices coalition, of which we’re a member, to restore badly needed revenue. Made up of more than 70 nonprofits — including human services, education, religious, and labor groups – Better Choices is a vocal advocate for a proposal developed by NJPP to raise taxes on the wealthiest among us, those with income (not net worth, but income) over $1 million a year.

We’re proud to be a leading voice for common sense in New Jersey, and to strongly and clearly advocate for those who have the smallest voices in the public arena – the middle class, working families, the disabled and the most vulnerable in our society.

That work was spotlighted in a story published recently by the Asbury Park Press, which caught the attention of one of its hometown readers, rock icon Bruce Springsteen. Speaking of NJPP and our partners, Springsteen wrote in a letter to the editor, “These are voices that in our current climate are having a hard time being heard, not just in New Jersey, but nationally.”

Like you, and The Boss, we refuse to accept the idea that there’s a “new normal.”

Not here in New Jersey.

Not this year.

More to come…

Deborah Howlett, President

_____________________________________________________
Update: I want to clarify a point made in our earlier email “Special State Budget Update,” which may have left the impression that as a policy matter NJPP is opposed to the closing of state institutions for people with developmental disabilities. We absolutely are not. Further, we understand it is important that the effort to close these institutions be fully funded by the state so that people with disabilities can live in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

Sincerely,

Deborah Howlett, President

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Filed under AARP, Bruce Springsteen, Debrorah Howlett, Gov. Chris Christie, health care cuts, Middle Class, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Budget, School cuts, service cuts, tax breaks for the rich, Trenton

>Middletown Update and Background Proposed Four Ponds Development Plan

>At the behest of the Township Committee, Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, posted the following letter the Middletown Township website late yesterday, the letter is an attempt to give some background information behind the history of the rezoning of the Avaya property in Lincroft that is a hot-button issue in town and ready to explode. At least three separate citizens groups are now involved and on record as being opposed to the project.

What this letter doesn’t tell residents about is how, much like the infamous “Town Center” project, the Township went to Torsevias (the owners of the property) and pitched this idea to them. The township would never have been able to rezone this property if the owners weren’t on board with it. Promises were made and palms were greased in some way to make this happen, now the Township needs to backpedal before it’s too late.

Unfortunately it may be too late for that already, money has been spent already on the project by the owners, they would want so type of reimbursement for there troubles i’m sure, which will tie this project up in the courts for years at a cost of millions of dollars to the tax payers of Middletown if it doesn’t go through.

And as usual, the Township is blaming Democrats in Trenton for inaction on the issue of COAH. They wont dare point a finger at the Governor for vetoing the COAH bill that was past by the assembly last year. If COAH was on the top of the Governor’s priority list, he would be taking the lead on this issue like he has been while bashing teachers and unions.

But don’t confuse the issues of COAH and this project, the opposition to this redevelopment is not COAH based as the Township wants you to believe. The opposition is opposed to the project based on quality of life issues and concerns such as infrastructure, traffic and the effects of having many more students enroll in area schools.

Dear Residents:

The Township Committee has asked that I provide a summary of the circumstances surrounding the proposed Four Ponds Development Plan at the former Avaya property, which is part of the Township’s state-mandated Council On Affordable Housing (“COAH”) housing plan.

The Township Committee has many concerns about this proposed project, which is why the Township is currently litigating the COAH’s revised third round rules before the New Jersey Supreme Court. Not only has the Township joined in the League of Municipality’s lawsuit, but the Township also filed its own lawsuit, which was just recently accepted by the Supreme Court. It is unclear, however, when this case will be heard, which could be anywhere from 6 months to a year, or more, from now. In the meantime, the Township is still subject to COAH’s rules, as they existed three years ago.

It is the Township’s belief that we should not be punished by these rules since, we believe there are plenty of affordable housing units, including rental units available throughout the Township. This fact is largely the basis of our legal position. Further, the Township does not have a history of exclusionary zoning that would be in violation of the original Mount Laurel doctrine. Unfortunately, this legal doctrine has evolved into something it was never intended to be, which essentially hands control of much of our zoning over to developers and in some cases the courts.

Making matters worse, the Appellate Court recently invalidated a large portion of the revised third round COAH rules that gave the Township a variety bonus credits for past performance and for allowing the creation of affordable rental housing. Without these extra credits and other mechanisms thrown out by the Court, the Township’s affordable housing obligation could grow significantly higher than it already is. Fortunately, the Township sought and secured a stay from both COAH and the Supreme Court of the Appellate Court’s ruling on this matter. Now, the Supreme Court will decide the ultimate merits of this issue, but the outcome is far from certain, which is why the Township has actively been seeking legislative action that has not been forthcoming. The legislation that has been proposed so far, in most cases would be a giant step backwards, making matters far worse. Fortunately the Governor vetoed the bill that was actually passed by the legislature since it would have increased the Township’s affordable housing obligation possibly two-fold.

As a result, the Township has been forced to zone a number of properties in a way that it would not have otherwise, only to satisfy COAH’s requirements. It is also critical in order to stem what are known as Builder’s Remedy lawsuits, which essentially strip away any local control and allows the courts to order the approval of housing developments. In fact, the Township is currently subject to a challenge by the owners of the Bamm Hollow Country Club. Specifically, since challenging our plans, they have been seeking to construct 1,200 multi-family dwellings that would include at least 240 COAH units upon their 277-acre property. They also have an application pending for 50 homes which the property is currently zoned for, which is also not actively being pursued. That application will not make this litigation go away as they are continuing to seek a development many times that size. We are currently seeking a stay before the Appellate Court in this matter in an effort to try to resolve it through sound planning without facing the prospect of 1,200 more units of housing in Lincroft. The reality of the situation is that if the Avaya property had not been zoned to allow for the development of residential housing two years ago, Bamm Hollow would likely be building 1,200 court-ordered units on its property by now.

These are the unfortunate realities currently faced by the Township until the Legislature or the Courts act appropriately to eliminate these irrational mandates that do nothing but promote poor planning and development while wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. I would note, however, that the Avaya property is still also zoned to allow for commercial development, so the Township is not impeding that from taking place should market conditions allow for it. Further, the Township has been encouraging businesses to move into the site along with seeking economic development assistance for prospective tenants from the state.

Simply put, due to legislative inaction, the Township was left with no option but to include Avaya property as part of its housing plan three years ago to allow for residential development. The reality is that the alternative would be far worse for Lincroft and the Township as a whole. We would like to encourage all residents, as many of you have in the past, to write and call Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver who should be held accountable along with the entire State Legislature for failing to act on the Governor’s proposed COAH reforms. With those reforms, there is at least a chance that this project may not have advanced to this point.

Sincerely,
Anthony P. Mercantante, P.P. AICP
Township Administrator

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Filed under Avaya, Bam Hollow, COAH, Gov. Chris Christie, Lincroft NJ, lincroft village green association, LVGA, Middletown Township Committee, Sonic, Tony Mercantante, Torsevia, Towns Center, Trenton

>Was The New Director Of The Office of Planning Advocacy "On The Clock" When He Was Acting As Middletown Mayor During Meeting With NJDEP Officials?

>Back on October 21st a meeting took place at the office of Cindy Randazzo, the Director of NJDEP office of Local Government Assistance, in Trenton for the purpose of discussing options for dredging Middletown’s Shadow Lake.

In attendance at this meeting were various DEP personnel that had concerns with the dredging plans presented by the Township, representatives from T&M Engineering, State Senator Joe Kyrillos, the new Director for the Office of Planning and Advocacy (Mayor) Gerry Scharfenberger and several Middletown Township representatives.
From what I understand the meeting wasn’t very productive, the two sides (Middletown verses the NJDEP) couldn’t come to an agreement concerning the scope of the project or what to do with the spoils. The NJDEP made it clear that burying contaminated spoils from the bottom of Shadow Lake in neighboring Stevenson Park was out of the question and recommended that the project be downsized to fall within budget constraints while the Township, lead by the new Director for the office of Planning Advocacy (Gerry Scharfenberger) and Joe Kyrillos insisted that dredging the whole lake and burying the spoils near by was the only way of dealing with the lake. As you can imagine, no resolution to this issue was forth coming and another meeting was planned on for a future date.
After learning this yesterday I began to wonder about Scharfy’s role during this meeting. As the Director for Planning Advocacy, Gerry’s duties are “asking questions about policy, overseeing planners and GIS specialists. To help spur economic growth and revitalize the economy by, for example, reusing commercial properties” he has stated and the purpose of the Office for Planning Advocacy is to stimulate new growth and business opportunities for those wishing to do business in the State. His position is a full time job, 40+ hours a week, that pays him $95K a year.
What was he doing on “company” time, at a meeting with Joe Kyrillos, the NJDEP, Engineers from T&M and other from Middletown discussing Shadow Lake in the middle of a work week?
He certainly wasn’t there to promote smart growth or new business opportunities I can tell you that as require by his job title, he was present representing Middletown as it’s Mayor.
It’s nice to know that in his new position as Director of Planning Advocacy, his boss the Governor, allows him time to pursue other interests that are contrary to what he is suppose to be doing as Director.
I am sure that the 1,200 State employees will be happy to learn of this as well. Here they are losing their jobs while Gerry is running around the city of Trenton wasting tax payer dollars, acting as Middletown’s mayor when he should be in his office somewhere, asking questions about policy, overseeing planners and GIS specialists to help spur economic growth and revitalize the State economy.
Do you think he left early that day or did he stay late to make up for the time he was conducting Township business on State time?

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Filed under dredging, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, Joe Kyrillos, NJDEP, Office of Planning Advocacy, Shadow Lake, Trenton

>Unbelievable, Win or Lose Scharfy Was Going to Trenton

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The news coming out of Middletown today about our acting mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, is unbelievable but not really unexpected, many in Middletown thought that Scharfy had higher political aspirations then just sitting around Middletown pretending to care about the town, while driving up the municipal tax rate by 45% during his tenure as a member of the Township Committee.

Today’s announcement that Scharfy has been appointed by Governor Christie to a $95,000 a year job as the new Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy (formerly the Office of Smart Growth), just confirmed it. His appointment to this position is a strange one considering after all considering that the man doesn’t know how to plan for a township budget that doesn’t include huge tax increases.

But I guess the only real qualifications needed for this appointment was his incessant and partisan bashing of all that were not of his same political affiliations and the nonstop, obsessive, sucking-up to Christie that borders on some strange kind of “Bromance”.

Does this mean that he will be leaving his current job as a Senior Lead Archaeologist for GAI Consultants and giving up his part-time teaching job at Monmouth University? I don’t see how he can find time for two full-time jobs, one part-time job and still have time to “volunteer” his services as a member of the Middletown Township Committee. Knowing how egotistical Scharfenberger is, I’m sure that he wont let it get in his way. He’ll continue to serve out his newly elected term while padding his State pension with his new found tax payer windfall.

I wonder how many people would have voted for this sleazy political hack if they had known before Tuesday’s election he would be leaving Middletown to work for Christie in Trenton? I mean really, this appointment didn’t just happen over night. It had to have been planned, win or lose, for weeks if not months.

How good does this appointment look anyway for Christie, do you think that he will get any slack from the public after announcing that 1,200 public employees will be losing their jobs in January? I’m sure one public employee isn’t to happy about it, that would be Acting Executive Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy , Linda Kellner, who has to make way for Scharfenberger.

As an anonymous poster stated on a previous post when the learned about Scharfy’s new gig:


“Scharfy is now exposed and deceptive as usual. All along only interested in self promotion. Appointed to a business position.That’s beautiful, can’t even do his own budget. Great choice Christie.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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Filed under Chris Christie, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Office of Planning Advocacy, Trenton

Scharfy Tries To Deflect Blame For 41.9% 5 Year Tax Increase Away From Himself By Blaming School System


As I was surfing around the web, I stopped by the website for the RedBankGreen.com and found the latest article posted by Dustin Racioppi titled MAKE ALL PAY FOR SCHOOL, MAYOR SAYS

It seems as though Middletown’s appointed mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, has this rather novel but highly unoriginal idea to help unburden tax payers by having the Township Attorney draft a meaningless resolution asking his buddy the Governor, to increase the sales tax by 1% and use the money to offset property taxes by using the revenue to pay for school funding.
He is qouted as saying that “Everybody sort of commiserates, (and thinks) this could be a great thing…It’s something that’s got to come, because we can’t just keep burdening taxpayers.”
Wow, Scharfy has become quit the Progressive hasn’t he?
If Scharfenberger had proposed this idea earlier in the year, before he jumped onto the governor’s bandwagon by attacking teachers and the Middletown school system and blaming them as the reason for driving the local tax rate up through the stratosphere, I very well may have given him kudos for think outside the box, even though he has no idea how the money would be dispersed once it was gathered by the State.
Unfortunately that is not the case.
This latest headline grabbing scheme seems to be more intended to deflect criticism away from his personal record of raising local taxes by 41.9% over the 5 years that he has served on the Township Committee (3 of those years as Mayor) if the currently proposed Township budget, which includes a 14% spending increase, that is also 8 months late, is adopted at the next Township meeting on August 16th.
I guess he figures that if he can raise the evil spectre of the Middletown Board of Education, by pointing out that ~60% of local tax bills go to support the education system, people will forget his tax and spend record on the municipal portion of those tax bill.
Scharfy seems to thinks that it would be OK to continue raising the municipal tax rate, if only somehow, those in Trenton could take care of educating Middletown’s kids.
That sounds unrealistic, instead how about focusing on the proposed 14% tax increase that he supports, by trying to cut spending rather than writing resolutions that fall within the jurisdiction of the State Legislature.

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Filed under Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, Middletown Board of Education, RedBankGreen.com, sales tax, tax increase, Trenton