Category Archives: workshop meeting

It’s Your Town – Video Newsletter 2/6/12

As I announce last month, the It’s Your Town newsletter was going to be changing. It’s author Don Watson, had decided that it was time to stop writing about what goes on at Township Committee meetings each month and start showing residents what actually happens during Township Committee meetings.
Mr. Watson has announced he will no longer be presenting the newsletter in its current form recapping Middletown Township Committee meetings as he has done for the past few years. Instead however, it is with great delight that he now will present video recordings of the Middletown Township Committee meetings
Below is the first video which he recorded held on Monday, February 6, 2012.
“… It was an impressive meeting to launch the first recording. The Middletown Swim and Tennis Club community showed up to make their case for keeping the club off the auction block. The mayor thanked the past president of the library board, Randall Gabrielan, for his years of service. This of course was after the mayor asked for Mr. Gabrielan’s resignation the previous week. Also, something that rarely happens, the Committee voted on each new resolution individually.”, Mr. Watson stated in an email announcing the format change to subscribers of his newsletter.

It is hoped that this video starts a new era in Middletown, an era of transparency. This first recording shows what really goes on at Middletown Township Committee meetings. If readers of this blog take the time to watch this video and any videos that come later they will see and hear how our Township Committee deals with its citizens.
… Current and previous Middletown Committees said the people who want meetings recorded have a political agenda. They said recording the meetings would cost too much. They said giving the public video access would allow them to grandstand. You decide if videotaping the meetings is worthwhile..., Finally, I want to extend my personal thank you to the many concerned citizens who made this recording possible with their support. By uniting we triumphed over those who said it couldn’t be done. Many thanks. And as always, thank you all for taking an interest in your local government.”, stated Watson.
Don Watson will be offering the Township Committee a copy of this recording with the hope that they will post it on our Township’s public television access stations.
The video runs over two and a half hours, the first few minutes of the video you will hear a lot of noise. There are no guns being fired. It is a malfunction of the sound system.
As a companion to the video Mr. Watson has put together a PDF document that contains the meeting agenda and the resolutions that were voted on during the meeting. A box around an item is a link, bringing you further into the document to that resolution or ordinance. At the end of the resolution there will be a link bringing you back to the agenda. It is a little easier to follow along when you can see what is being voted on.

While watching the video pay attention to who speaks and who doesn’t speak from the dais, Township Attorney Brian Nelson is sitting next to mayor Tony Fiore. Nelson is an appointed official, not an elected official, yet he speaks as if he is!

It should be pointed out that although Nelson isn’t an elected official, he is a high ranking member of the Middletown GOP who makes a living off the taxpayers of the Township.
Watch closely for the arrogance and distain he shows for those that stand in front of the Committee. He rolls his eyes, laughs and snickers at the very residents that he makes his living off of.

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Filed under Don Watson, Its Your Town, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Randall Gabrielan, video newsletter, workshop meeting, YouTube

Attention All Swim Club Members

Press Release:

This is an urgent call to all members of the
Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Residents and Taxpayers.

On the agenda for the Township Committee Workshop Meeting is:
Item l: Swim Club Utility Dissolution/Property Sale

We are requesting all Middletown Swim Club members attend the Township Committee Workshop Meeting to be held on Monday, February 6, 2012 at Town Hall at 8:00 with their children, friends, posters and/or signs. Car pooling is an option.

With the pool club operating with business as usual in 2012 – our Township Committee says there may be an $81,000 shortfall that taxpayers will have to make up for.

Take note: This would be the first time since the club was purchased in 1997 that the town would have to supplement any loss to the club.

Here’s how we see it:

If the pool club does not operate at all this year, a $225,000 bond payment still must be paid by Middletown taxpayers.

Solution: The SOS Committee is working on a solid business plan to have our MSTC operate at NO COST to taxpayers. To accomplish this, it HAS TO OPEN THIS SUMMER. Members and Non-members, it is your duty to show your support this Monday night! If it opens all 67,000 of us win!

Our swim club offers an affordable summer comfort for seniors, families, teens and tots and has done so since the 1960s!

What is at stake?

· Summer camps where children can play games, create crafts and swim.

· Availability of swim and tennis lessons for members.

· Organized activities: dive and splash contests, water polo, sharks and minnows, basketball games, Frisbee baseball, candy hunts, bowling trips and water aerobics to name a few.

· Our championship swim team who have brought opportunity to young athletes and pride to our town. Senior citizens enjoying a dip during adult swim or a game of cards with their friends.

· Special events: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Senior Day and Family Fun Nights with music and fun activities for the whole family.

Middletown Swim and Tennis Club is a safe, fun-filled haven for families to connect, relax and make friends. It has produced an Olympic medalist and elite Navy Seal. It is an asset to our community and important center of summer activities for families in Middletown Township.

Please plan to attend to support our town summer center for fun!

Your presence at Monday’s meeting is critical!!

Save Our Swim Club Committee
For more information see our Facebook Page

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Filed under agendas, Facebook, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, property sale, save our swim club committee, workshop meeting

It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 4, Issue 1- 1/01/12

A new year and a new addition of It’s Your Town newsletter is now available.

This first issue of 2012 covers the annual Reorganization meeting of the Middletown Township Committee which took place on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, 2012 and includes all of the resolutions that appoint people to various Boards, Commissions and Committees in town. However, of all the appointees listed only about 25 were present to be sworn in.

This issue is the 56th newsletter published since the first issue debuted back in December of 2009 which covered the December 7th Township Committee Workshop meeting.

Due to the time that it takes to put the newsletter together, it’s author Don Watson, has decided that he will be take a break from writing it on a regular basis shortly. The next issue that will cover the January 17th Middletown Township Committee meeting may be the last issue for a while.

But don’t fret over the loss of the newsletter, Don Watson still plans on keeping the public informed of what transpires down at Town Hall. Don plans on videotaping the bi-weekly township meetings and posting them online so that resident can watch the Middletown Township Committee in action for themselves instead of reading about them.

The Township Committee meetings have often been described as the “best show on earth” by Don who now feels that the newsletter, which is written very matter of factly, hasn’t been conveying properly what really goes on at Township meeting. He feels, why write about a meeting when he can provide people the opportunity to watch them?

Don will be announcing soon via email to all those that have subscribed to the newsletter,when and where they will be able to see the recordings. If possible I will also post the videos here for reader of the blog to look at.

So until then, enjoy reading the last few issues of It’s Your Town newsletter by clicking onto the link.

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Filed under Don Watson, Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, resolutions and ordinances, videotapping, workshop meeting

It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 23-12/05/11

The Holiday season is upon us and in full swing which means that I have been a little busy over the past few days getting the house in order and my shopping taken care and wrapping, so I’ve been a little behind in my blogging.

Here is the latest issue of It’s Your Town Newsletter which covers the December 5 th Middletown Township Committee Workshop meeting. For those in attendance, it was a very short meeting lasting less than 30 minutes and seemed as a nuisances for those that represent the people of the township to be sitting there. Committeeman Settembrino never once pulled his nose away from his iPad, I witnessed him constantly tapping and scrolling between screens.

Committeeman Scharfenberger and CFO Nick Transente seemed equally engaged in their iPad and smart phone respectively speaking.
One of the few pieces of business that was discussed was an ordinance that was introduced to set a new salary structure for non-contractual employees, no discussion took place and it was moved by the Committee to be voted on at the December19 meeting.

Also a special meeting of the Township Committee was scheduled for Monday, December 12 to adopt a resolution to accept the vendor for the MCIA bid proposal that was to be awarded for the Township’s solar project. This meeting however was canceled later in the week without explanation.

Read the Newsletter …. Here

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Filed under Gerry Scharfenberger, Its Your Town, Kevin Settembrino, Middletown NJ, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Nick Transente, workshop meeting

The Citizens Campaign: Insider Tips For Accessing Public Records

Back on November 18th the Hyperlocal News Association along with the Citizens’s Campaign held a workshop on OPRA and the Sunshine Law, I couldn’t attend but a few people that I know did.

From all accounts, including the video of the workshop below, it was a lively and insightful event that engaged all that were in attendance and provided a wealth of information to those that believe in honest, open and transparent government while giving guidance to those who are interested in how to file OPRA requests with their local governing bodies or governmental entities.
Of particular interest to those who live in Middletown and have ever tried to get information from the Middletown Sewerage Authority (TOMSA), this workshop made it clear that TOMSA is in clear violation of the OPRA law.
People who have inquired about TOMSA policies for providing documents like the budget or bill lists, are told that they are only in paper form and that those in the TOMSA office don’t have the ability to scan them, so documents can’t be provided via email or CD.
If there are any documents that just happen to be in electronic form, only TOMSA Director Patrick Parkinson can approve a request to deliver it via email or on CD. Parkinson then, in violation of existing OPRA rules and fee schedules, determines how much to charge requesters for information requested.
As a case in point, when Sean Byrnes was a sitting Committeeman on the Middletown Township Committee, he was charged an outlandish fee of $75 for a copy of the TOMSA budget! How crazy is that?
The video below is long, it runs for an hour and 42 minutes and I hope that readers can sit through it because when the floor is opened up for a Q&A a lot of problems that people are having trouble with in other towns sounds eerily similar to those problems that people in Middletown come up against when requesting information.

As an FYI to go along with this, NJ State Senator Lorretta Weinberg is working to update the Sunshine and OPRA laws. Senate bill S. 1351 increases from 48 hrs to 3 days the advance notice requirement for agendas, and brings the OPRA law (passed in 1975) up to date with technology, among other changes.

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Filed under Hyperlocal News Association, Lorretta Weinberg, OPRA, Patrick Parkinson, sunshine laws, the Citizens Campaign, TOMSA, workshop meeting

It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 20- 10/3/11

Here is the latest edition of the It’s Your Town Hall newsletter covering the 10-3-11 Middletown Township NJ Committee Workshop meeting.

There was a request to have a special Committee meeting to discuss the capital improvements, but as stated during the meeting, the Committee felt there was no reason to discuss this in public.

There was some discussion when Linda Baum asked about principal repayments for the bonds and notes the Township has outstanding. She wanted to continue the discussion, but it was terminated due to the 5-minute rule. See inside for more details.

For those that are new to this there are links within the newsletter that will bring you to that ordinance or resolution. At the end of that resolution or ordinance there is a link to bring you back to where you were reading. In the case of the bill list there is a link on each page.

If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter and receive via email, contact Mr. Don Watson at and requests to be put on the mailing list.

Download the latest newsletter …. Here

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Filed under 5 minute rule, bill list, bonding, Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, resolutions and ordinances, workshop meeting

It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 18- 9/6/11

The new edition of It’s Your Town newsletter is now available for your reading pleasure. It was issued earlier in the week but I just haven’t been able to post it until now.

This edition of the newsletter covers the Middletown Township Committee monthly workshop meeting that took place on Monday, September 6th. Once again it was an short meeting lasting only an hour or so.

As has been the norm since January, very little was discussed in the open forum. When something was addressed to Committee members that required them to discuss an item that was on the agenda for discussion but was not discussed, the question was defered to the CFO.

This is not how open and responsive government is supposed to operate. I suppose however that people shouldn’t be surprised by this any longer since our mayor,Tony Fiore stated a couple meetings back that they didn’t need to discuss items in public because they discuss them in private amongst themselves.

There was also a disscussion concenering the Solar Project that my interest some.

Read the newsletter …. Here

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Filed under Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Tony Fiore, workshop meeting

Public Discussion, Why Would We Want To Do That?

Anyone who has been to a Middletown Township Committee meeting this past year has noticed a marked difference between meetings held this year and meetings from the past 4 years,the difference being the length of meeting, or how long the the meeting took to end.

This year,Township Committee meetings (the typical business portion, after all the pomp and circumstance) are typically over in a hour or less. While in the past (when Democrats Patrick Short and Sean Byrnes were seated) Township meetings lasted a couple of hours.

The reason for this dramatic change in meeting times has become very evident over the past 8 months, agenda items listed as up for discussion are very seldom if ever discussed during these public meetings and Committee members have nothing to say to the public during “comments”.

In the past, Patrick Short and Sean Byrnes made it a point discuss items on the agenda during public meetings and because of their practice of informing residents through the discussion of agenda items, they were attacked by the majority for being “unprepared” and not reading through their meeting packets, which was never the case. To the contrary, Short and Byrnes were well prepared to discuss items in the public forum and were chastised for it.

So now, during the last Middletown Workshop meeting when resident Donna Kuntz stated that she was there to here what the Committee had to say about “easements”, which was Discussion item “B” on the night’s agenda, and wanted to know why nothing on the Discussion Item list was discussed, our acting mayor, Tony Fiore, basically stated there was no need to discuss items in a public forum. Committee members, if they have a question after receiving the meeting packets on the Friday before a meeting, call each other or the Township Administrator for clarification.

Listen to the audio:

As long as a quorum is not present, this type of behavior by elected officials is not in violation of any sunshine laws, but it is a rather dubious practice that keeps the sunshine from shining on those that administer the town. Any time you limit the input or knowledge of residents into how their town is run, is a direct attempt to limit the transparency of government and is a troubling practice to engage in and Middletown seems to do a lot of it.
You can read about this and other news from the last workshop meeting by reading the “It’s Your Town” newsletter, its the next best thing to actually attending the meeting.

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Filed under committee agenda, discussion items, Middletown Township Committee, sunshine laws, Tony Fiore, transparency, workshop meeting

It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 16- 8/1/11

This edition of It’s Your Town newsletter covers the Middletown Township Committee Workshop meeting that was held on Monday, August 1, 2011 .

There were only a few resolutions voted on and 11 items on the agenda for discussion. However, most of the discussion items were not discussed. When a resident asked about the lack of discussion a very interesting response was given.
Tony Fiore, Middletown’s acting mayor, said that there was no need to discuss agenda items in public because members of the Township Committee members receive their meeting packets on the Friday before every meeting. If a question arises, a Committee member will call a fellow Committee member, Township Administrator or someone else for clarification prior the public meeting, hence no need for discussions in public.
While this practice of Township Committee people calling others for clarification and information pertaining to items in meeting packets prior to open discussion of an item it not technically a violation existing sunshine laws, it is an extremely questionable practice that limits information being disseminated to the public by open and transparent means.
Read the newsletter for yourself, it’s all covered here in this issue.

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Filed under Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, open government, resolutions and ordinances, sunshine laws, Tony Fiore, transparency, workshop meeting

It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 13- 7/6/11

Here is the latest edition of the newsletter, It’s Your Town Hall. In this edition the Township introduced an amendment to this years budget. They also paid some bill and had a few discussion items, that were not really discussed. It was a very short meeting because the Committee members did not offer any comments, except for Mr. Fiore.

I suppose the rest of them are suffering from heat exhaustion and can’t bring themselves to mutter a word for fear of imminent collapses from brain paralysis.

Enjoy reading and don’t forget to look over the bill list that covers two weeks of Township expenses. It is rather revealing to see how they have been sending money.

Read it Here and stay informed!

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Filed under bill list, Its Your Town, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, resolutions and ordinances, workshop meeting