Category Archives: update

Road Conditions Update from Monmouth County 8/29/11

Flooding and power outages that were the result of Hurricane Irene continued to plague residents today, particularly with travel along local roads.

The severe flooding from 9 to 12 inches of rainfall over this past weekend caused two earthen dams to fail, and forced county officials to close five bridges that will be in need of major repair. Because those bridges and dams impacted the roads, detours will be necessary until those repairs can be made.

“Even though these closures will cause an inconvenience, residents should be pleased to learn that the county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering was well-prepared for the storm and have since committed the necessary resources to minimize the impact on us all.

For example, all of the county’s engineers have been reassigned to inspect the county’s 980 bridges; 34 of the most crucial structures were to be inspected by the end of today. In addition, personnel in several other divisions have been reassigned to assist with those inspections. They will be working 12-hour shifts for the remainder of this week to get the work done.

The earthen dams that failed and subsequent road closures are:

Hubbard Avenue at Shadow Lake in Middletown;

Ravine Drive at Lake Lefferts in Matawan.

The six bridges and roads that will be closed indefinitely include:

Jackson Mills Road over the Manasquan River in Freehold Township;

Allentown-Crosswicks Road over Doctor’s Creek in Upper Freehold Township;

Southard Avenue over the Manasquan River in Howell;

Swimming River Road over the Swimming River in Tinton Falls, and

Lake Drive over Takanassee Lake in Ocean Township.

Holland Road over Mahoras Creek in Middletown Township

“Fortunately, the designs for many of these bridges have already been completed in anticipation of replacing them, so we are that much closer to getting the work done,” said John W. Tobia, director of the county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering. “For the others, our in-house engineers will be working into the night to develop designs to advance these projects.”

“Our in-house engineers already met with Dam Safety officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and contractors in the field to review the scope of the work,” County Engineer Joseph Ettore said. “Work on Ravine Drive will begin in the morning.”

Another concern residents may have is the number of traffic signals that are out due to continued power outages. As of this afternoon, Jersey Central Power & Light Co. has restored service to approximately 248,000 customers with about 346,000 customers still without power in northern and central New Jersey. In total, more than half of JCP&L’s customers have been affected.

JCP& L crews are making progress, but debris from downed trees and limbs and areas of heavy flooding are making restoration efforts challenging. Many of the outages associated with this storm are isolated and will require a significant number of repairs to bring all residents back in service.

JCP&L is focusing its initial repairs on efforts that can bring up the most customers. For example, if one repair can bring back 1,000 customers, that’s near the top of the list. There are thousands of smaller, localized repair requests; this work is labor-intensive and it will take at least several more days.

There are 1,200 FirstEnergy and JCP&L workers in New Jersey working on restoration efforts. In total, more than 4,000 FirstEnergy employees are involved in the effort.

“A number of Monmouth County intersections are on battery backup and they are still working, but there are many other intersections, particularly state intersections, that may have inoperable traffic signals,” Curley said. “Motorists should treat those intersections as a four-way stop.”

Visit www.visitmonmouth.com for more information

Hurricane Information from Monmouth County

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Filed under bridge repairs, flooding, Hurricane Irene, JCPL, Monmouth County, power outages, road closures, update

>NJPP – Special budget update: Take two

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You might have seen media coverage of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in New Jersey the other day. He talked to reporters in the hot sun on the steps of Citigroup building in Jersey City about the need to invest in schools, cities and people – not throw tax breaks at financial institutions which are just hoarding capital in this lousy economy.

I was struck standing there with him not just by how important it was to have someone of Jackson’s stature here in New Jersey delivering a message about help for working people, but how great it was that he was delivering the Better Choices budget coalition message.

You see, sometimes, the work we do at NJPP that matters most is behind the scenes – work we get the opportunity to do because years of credible research and strategic messaging have put us in a position to influence events.

This week is a great example.

Before Reverend Jackson went before the media I briefed him at the request of our coalition partners on a paper analyst Sarah Stecker and I wrote that identified $1 billion in tax subsidies that the state has awarded to corporations the past 16 months. That work is at the core of the Better Choices push for investment in services that lift up all New Jerseyans rather than providing tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.

Jackson is an icon of the civil rights era and one of the strongest voices fighting poverty in America. He was in New Jersey for a series of labor rallies, as well as news conference on behalf of Better Choices to talk about the surge in corporate taxpayer subsidies here in New Jersey. At our table in the Westin Newport, I outlined our research that showed 70 major corporations have been awarded a total of more than $1 billion in taxpayer subsidies on the promise to create jobs.

Citigroup is a prime example. The bank received $87 million in subsidies since 2004. The expectation was that the financial giant would justify the subsidy by hiring 3,750 people. (Citi is still 1,000 jobs shy, by its own count). The latest Citigroup subsidy was approved in March – $12.3 million to bring 400 jobs from New York State to Jersey City. Three weeks after it was awarded the subsidy, Citigroup announced it was laying off nearly 300 workers at one of its New Jersey sites. Not a very good deal for New Jersey taxpayers, as it turned out.

Jackson, over a bowl of Raisin Bran, grinned and turned the analysis into a newsworthy sound-bite: “They got the money, we didn’t get the jobs. … We should be investing in people, not corporations.”

I was delighted to play my small role in Jackson’s visit to New Jersey. And even if I can’t resist the temptation to do a little name-dropping, more importantly I hope sharing this anecdote helps illustrate to you the important work we do here at New Jersey Policy Perspective.

More to come…

Deborah Howlett, President

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Filed under Citigroup, civil-rights movement, corporate tax breaks, Debrorah Howlett, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ State Budget, Rev. Jesse Jackson, update

>Ordinance 2011-3027 And When Is A Salary Freeze, Not A Salary Freeze Explained: UPDATE

>Earlier today I was contacted by Middletown Township Clerk Heidi Brunt in reference to yesterdays’ blog post, I wasn’t available when first contacted, but I called her back around 4:30 this afternoon.

Ms. Brunt, after reading about my experience trying to get information pertaining to the proposed salary ordinance 2011-3027 (that was to be re-introduced at tonight’s Township Committee meeting) via an OPRA request. She wanted to apologise and clear the air about any misunderstanding that may have arisen from it. Clerk Brunt informed me that there was indeed a list of employees with job title and salaries available to me for the year 2009. She stated that if she had been in the office when I stopped by on Friday she would have presented me with what I requested.

After speaking with her and telling her exactly what I was after she said it was no problem, she requested me to send her an email so that she would have a record of my request. As soon as I sent her the email, with in minutes, she sent me a list for all township employees, their job positions and salaries for the year 2009 (even though I requested 2010). Ms. Brunt stated that to her knowledge, the salaries contained in this document had not changed.

While on the phone with Clerk Brunt, she did volunteer a small bit of information to me. Ms. Brunt mentioned that Tax Assessor Charles Heck and herself were due a 2.5% statutory salary increase for 2011. She informed me that, she, herself, had no intention accepting the raise and as a matter of fact had already turned it down. Her feelings were such that she in good conscience could not accept a raise while others were losing their jobs. She could not say the same of Tax Assessor Heck, who, she believes has not turned down the raise and is planning on accepting it.

Aftyer hanging up with Clerk Brunt it accured to me that I did not follow-up with her about Heck’s $15,000 “bonus” that was part of the ordinance. That is something that needs to be cleared up.

Heck received a salary of $108,572 from Middletown in 2009 which means he is due for an increase of $2714 in base pay increase if he accepts the 2.5% raise. A far cry less than the $15K “bonus” proposed in the ordinance, but which is no less disturbing.

Thank you Clerk Brunt for contacting me and clearing this up!

BTW – as a side note, it accured to me while looking at the list of employees and salaries, that this list doesn’t reflect the employees that retired or were laid off last year (2010), which isn’t a problem. Where the problem lays (and it really isn’t a problem, I just want to point it out) is that last year members of the Police Department were given a retro-active raise of 8% to cover salary increase for 2008 & 2009 in exchange for a 0% raise in 2010 (Gerry Scharfenberger was very proud of this), so I need to add 8% to the base of all members of the Police Department to get an accurate gage for 2011 salaries, which should not be misconstrued to be a jab at the Police.

I believe that the police have a very difficult job and at anytime during the day or night are putting their life on the line to protect other and uphold the law. One never knows when their next traffic stop or domestic dispute call will be their last.

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Filed under bonuses, Charles Heck, Heidi Brunt, OPRA requests, resolutions and ordinances, salary and compensation, salary freeze, Township Clerk, update