Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What's going on in the 13th District's upcoming race?

It's probably time to find out who is running for one Assembly seat and the Senate seat from the 13th District. I'm going to try finding out who has been making moves behind the scenes to garner support for these nominations. It's starting to become late in the preseason and whoever is going to try and contend either knows it or not by now. I'm going to try and find the story for next week's edition.

In 13th District, Middletown school board member Patricia Walsh (D) has already put up stakes around one Assembly seat, and worked veryt hard for Democratic support going into March.

I do predict the traditional '2 candidates from Monmouth, 1 from Middlesex' to be preserved on the Democratic slate.

The Republican incumbents for the job are, of course, Sen. Joe Kyrillos, Assemblywoman Amy Handlin and Assemblyman Sam Thompson.

In the wake of one shotgun blast after another into its own feet recently, I don't see the county GOP putting a move on popular Assemblyman Thompson as it stands. There have been rumors about the GOP going after Thompson's seat for years at this point (ever since Assemblyman Joe Azzolina lost re-selection by the GOP in a dubious convention).

State Democratic leaders have reportedly shown more interest than usual in the district's race. It's unclear about how that interest will mainfest itself come campaign time.

Monday, February 26, 2007

GM editorial takes on mystery letter writers

Greater Media's executive editor, Greg Bean, wrote a good editorial about anonymous letters to the editor this week. These "concerned citizen" letters bearing no name mean absolutely nothing.

If someone cares enough to sit down and write a letter about a gripe then they can take the time to put their name and contact information on it as well.

Whether it is "Concerned Citizen," "Anonymous," "A Good Smaritan" or, maybe particular to Courier, "The Watcher," it all amounts to the same thing... which is nothing at all.

Courier receives new staffer

The Courier is very pleased to announce it is welcoming new staffer Scott Shanley to its newsroom. Scott is a fine writer who has a real love of the area and works very hard. He will be making the rounds.

He is working with veteran staffer Matt McGrath and the rest of the folks in Editorial. Best of luck to Scott.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Blogging about public figures does not relieve one of responsibility

Politicians often do not like the way that journalists depict them. When something embarrassing about their office or their public life is written about, they give the impression (and solemnly affirm to their close friends and supporters) that they have been misquoted, or the facts are wrong, or the reporter is out to get them, or any such nonsense.

The reality is that probably nothing was done wrong. There are cases when journalists allow 'he said, she said' and that is probably the place where you can find excesses. But even then responsible journalists have to be able to identify (at least to a court if it comes up) who said what. I've even been on the down side of that rule in other publications but did not pursue or publicly comment other than to deny what has been said. But I dealt with it because the reporter spoke to someone who at least actually had a conversation with me and, while that person may have lied, the journalist had to evaluate their credibility and if it was good (there are legal standards for that too) then they might decide to go forward. Guess what? People in office have good credibility by virtue of their office, and some don't like me because I put the truth out. So, a few like abusing their status by going after me. To a certain degree, I have to put up with nonsense like anyone else who lives in the public eye.

In truth, all journalists have the same standards for methods of research, which are geared to a legal expectation of proficiency to ensure they do not legally imperil themselves, their editors, publishers or publication. All newspapers that have any sense of self-preservation possess newspaper insurance, which covers libel and defamation. The insurance companies have to be reasonably sure that anyone who is going to be writing about anyone is doing it in a way that is at least minimally responsible.

The truth is hard sometimes, but public figures (and I do not exclude myself) have to deal with the fact they have a reduced expectation of privacy and do open themselves up for public scrutiny to a certain degree. In the case of lawmakers, especially those who choose to make a living off of tax money in their day jobs...what do they expect? This is especially true when politicians make their living off the public dime, spend tax money and/or appoint their relatives and friends to public posts and basically have any number of financial priviledges with public funds. Why wouldn't they expect to be reported on? People do not like taxes and the more politicians want people to give them tax money the less people want to pay it and the more newsworthy it becomes.

But journalists have standards of reporting, and someone who doesn't have that methodology or regard for reporting fact, should probably avoid going after people. Why? They can be sued successfully. People have rights, even public figures. Someone cannot make something up about someone. They cannot be reckless or malicious. They cannot publicly attack people without a basis of fact where it regards several key categories. There are all kinds of things they cannot do. Journalists do not have more rights than anyone else; they just know how to use the rights they have, in accordance with the law. Americans have rights, and I have as many or as few as anyone else, even Monmouth County Republicans.

With whatever anyone wants to say about me or my reporters, the fact is that no one has ever sued me or my newspaper. They have not been able to do so much as bring a case or actually threaten one. How do you know that is true? Well, I wouldn't be paying my mortgage, going to work or putting anything away in my IRA. As for the misguided belief that one can say anything they want, even about a public's misguided. If you're a blogger, use your head and play a square game and it will not bite you because otherwise it will.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

APP pens civil union feature

A great article is posted at (click on the headline and go there) about civil unions. It's a hot topic but for conservative Monmouth County this may be a difficult thing for many people to deal with.

Nevertheless, civil unions are here and gay marriage may not be too far down the road. Some people hate that, some people like it, and some people just don't care.

Middletown GOP likes taxpayer-paid pension just fine

Middletown GOP likes taxpayer-paid pensions just fine

Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger announced at the most recent session of the Middletown Committee that he is under the impression taxpayers should foot the bill for politicians' pension and other benefits.

Well, that is where there is going to be a disagreement between the Middletown Republican Party and the Middletown Democratic Party. Personally, I am solidly in the Middletown Democrats' corner with regard to pensions for politicians and their Good Old Boy network. It's not OK.

Our Founding Fathers believed government should be an expense for financially-secure people. The idea is that the private sector, and not the public sector, is an acceptable place for elected people to earn their fortunes. The taxpayers should pay for working people employed by the municipality and not these part-time gentleman politicians seeking an easy living for following some ridiculous party line.

Professional municipal politicians only leads to office holders who are entirely dependent on some hometown boss who will be able to have his or her way with the offices elected officials hold by holding their politicial futures over their heads, as currently exists in the Middletown GOP.

Smart and talented people who hold elected office work in the private sector. They should be the ones running governments in towns. It's not a matter of being independently wealthy, it is a matter of being able to hold and keep a regular job. In the GOP, many of the office holders currently there claim to be "retired," albeit without a pension, hence they need to be supported by taxpayers. My advice: Find and secure meaningful employment or move back with parents.

Beck tries to improve dual-office ban bill

Beck attempt to enact tougher ban on dual office holding rejected by Dems

Motion to amend benefits
reform tabled again

In response to Governor Corzine's budget message plea to end dual-office holding, Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck once again today moved a legislative amendment to create a ban on dual-office holding -- one which would take effect within 30 days and with no grandfathering provision -- and expressed disappointment that Democrats rejected her motion for the second time.

"In his budget message today, Governor Corzine said about dual-office holding 'I can't tell you how strongly I feel about ending it -- now,'" said Beck. "I agree with the governor, which is why I tried for the second time to amend S-17 to include a provision to do just that. Unfortunately, the Democrat leadership in the Assembly has once again voted against the will of the people of the state and their own governor to protect their own interests."

Beck concluded by saying, "If dual-office holding is wrong, it is wrong for everyone, right now. To ban it for some but n ot for others, or to ban sometime in the not too distant future will just reinforce the public's well-justified cynicism about lawmakers' inability to put the public good above their own self interest. We need to do everything we can to reverse that cynicism and this measure is a small but important step toward that."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Short calls committee on lack of attention to bill list

At Monday's Middletown Committee meeting, Committeeman Patrick Short made an argument that the governing body needs to examine its bill list (especially when it hits $20 million).

The Republican Majority on the committee thought that was a bad idea. Previously, Committeeman Short was informed by Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger that the "method" of examining a $20 million (or any) bill list was to blindly trust in departmental managers -- so there it is.

When Committeeman Short tried to pull one thing off the list, he did not receive a second and that was that. What Committeeman Short pulled off the list was an $1,100 allocation for a color television set the committee was going to adopt.

The television was not to be purchased through any governmental source, basically just some guy they were told to buy televisions from, I guess. This is important because Committeeman Short priced another television, of the exact same company, make and model, but found it for $800. Subsequently, Committeeman Short found it for even cheaper.

This was just one item, overpriced by about $300. How many other $300 or more errors are there? And it is an error of judgment to buy something for $300 more than one has to. The complicity of this committee, simply for the sake of partisanship makes it clear this governing body is spending from its wallet using its voter registration card and not clear judgment.

This is a case of the Middletown Republican Money Machine not caring in what direction or how fast or frequently they spend tax money. I would be far less critical if any one of the other committee members had the sense to even cursorily examine the bills proposed for payment. This is not their money they are spending. It is hard earned tax revenue, and it is supposed to be treated with far more gravity and importance.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Video will be posted on You Tube of event later

I shot two pieces of film last night at Lincoln Day, one of the Civil War style band that played at Addison Park, which was excellent, and one of Freeholder Lillian Burry talking about what's going on at Ft. Monmouth. At least one will be up today.

Freeholder Burry, a former Colts Neck mayor, sits on the commission that will be deciding what is next for the fort, beyond its closure date.

Regarding the outcome of last night, it is inevitably worth saying that Republicans threw a good event, which was well attended.

You Tube is a great resource Online. It's one that gives another dimension to blogging and to Web sites. Newspapers are increasingly using this medium on sites and blogs. At Courier, this is also an aspect of our coverage that the staff is purposefully integrating into our way of covering events.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Some more Lincoln Day attendees

There was no short supply of good-natured politicking by those in attendance at Lincoln Day, held at Addison Park in Aberdeen.

GOP holds Lincoln Day event in Aberdeen

The Lincoln Day Dinner at Addison Park, formerly The Garden Manor, was well attended by Republicans, with about 500 event goers taking part. Above: Some scenes from the night. Top: As per tradition, Civil War re-enactors greeted guests at the door. Second from top: "Abraham Lincoln," Holmdel Mayor Serena DiMaso and Monmouth Republican Chairman Adam Puharic greeted greeted guests at the door. Third from top: Former Hazlet Republican Chairman Steve Grossman and Hazlet Mayor Michael Sachs were among attendees. Second from bottom: Former Surrogate Marie Muhler and former Holmdel Mayor Peggy Lasky shined quite brightly at the event. Bottom: Former Chairman Grossman and former State Sen. Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth, were also in attendance.

Where to find some good Italian in Stone Harbor?

Marabell's Restaurant is a 'local's secret' in Wildwood and Cape May. It's located at 9426 3rd Avenue in Stone Harbor (08247) and is easily accessible from either Cape May or Wildwood.

Marabella's has great ambiance. It's a real family place where more locals than tourists end up going. But it has great food and that is especially true when it involves either the salmon or tuna. From bottom to top, Marabella's is a first rate dining experience you can count on while not busting your wallet. If you're going down there, it's a good place to keep in mind.

For more information, call (609) 368-5037. FYI: Having nothing to do with advertising, I would easily have torpedoed these folks if the food wasn't good too. Legitimately, this is a strong place.

Above: Owner Angelo Marabella

Wildberries: Among Cape May's haunted?

Wildberries is a shop at the mall in Cape May. It's featured in The Ghosts of Cape May, Book II. Valerie Sperlak is the owner of the shop. She is great for telling a ghost story to a passing shopper. I don't know if there are ghosts anywhere in Cape May, let alone at Wildberries, but the stories are fun to hear and contribute to local lore there.

Wildberries is at the Washington Street Mall at Jackson Street. The store is located at 108 Jackson Street, in Cape May, NJ 08204.

Even during the winter, there continues to be ghost tours throughout Cape May.

For more information, call (609) 884-8565.

Cape May: A brisk wonderland

New Jerseyians sometimes do not treasure enough the wealth there is in the state. Among those neglected treasures is Cape May. The city is packed with hundreds of thousands of visitors during the summer. But, during the winter, the emphasis is on the quieter side of an already quiet town.

Is it cold? You bet! But if you're hearty, make the time to take the time. The Ugly Mug Bar, one of the best known in the Garden State, is centrally located in the mall. Its atmosphere is friendly and the food is good. There are great sales on in the numerous shops throughout the area and the bed and breakfasts that are open can be had for below-season rates.

Meanwhile, there's always the ocean and that's always both free and spectacular. About shopping, are there sales? Yep. O plenty.

For information about the area, go to Cape May's weekly newspaper, The Cape May Gazette, at, or click on the headline and go directly there.

Wildwood: A winter get-away on the Jersey Shore

Wildwood is someplace known for the rites of summer. But there is a great deal to find there right now. The celebrated beaches are vacant. The shops that are still open are ripe with great sales.

The food is, as always, something special. One doesn't necessarily go to Wildwood for steak, but the seafood is still great. As for the hotels, the Days Inn, which has great accomodations, only cost $89.10 per weekend night. Meanwhile, the regular, seasonal rate for the same room is $400.00 per night. This includes king bed, kitchenette, small dining area, two televisions and balcony. Above: Some Wildwood scenes.

The emphasis behind a Wildwood winter get-away is on solitude, reading that good book, getting some good sleep and turning off the cell phone and computer for awhile. If done correctly, this process is sure to lead to a great mini-vacation that will take at least a couple pounds off your shoulders. By the way, be sure to dress in layers and don't plan such an excursion if you're not a fan of cold weather.

For more information, go to:, or just click on the headline.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Jersey Shore and winter: A get away?

This weekend I'm doing something a little different, trying out Wildwood during the winter. The Jersey Shore is a celebrated place during the summer, and is world renowned for its appeal. But the winter also does the most amazing things to the landscape and, of course, the shoreline.

Is it worth it? Totally unknown. But that's something I'll find out about. I'll post photos from there.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Some more New Hope/Lambertville photos

Click on the headline to go to the Lambertville Web site.

Consider New Hope/Lambertville for the weekend

Some New Hope scenes from the past weekend. A great place to consider a visit, but remember to park in Lawrenceville. Both Lawrenceville and New Hope are pretty crowded during the spring and summer. If you can deal with the cold, it's worth the trip. There's still a lot of walking, but on-street parking is possible and there are more than a few deals to be had.

Click on the headline to go to the Web site.

Thought for the Day (UPDATED)

Thought for the day...

The Monmouth County GOP runs this county with an iron hand, at least its top leadership does and no one familiar with politics in this county would argue that point. I have been targeted personally, and not once or twice. The GOP leadership's attacks on me and my newspaper have been falacious and have been venomous and without cause. I have not printed anything that has not had my name on it. I have not printed anything as fact when it was opinion, I have stipulated such. I have not printed erroneous data. I have presented fact. I have had the same stand since I began this kind of involvement years ago.
I have been told to shut up by some GOP leaders, and that hasn't worked. I have been libeled and slandered, and I am still here. I am still doing the same thing I have always done: discussed, argued, debated and I have done this without derision of others. I have not stopped and, by the way, will not.

I suggest that no group or person should claim leadership of anything who needs to use slander, libel and lies as a means of persuasion. This is also true where it involves bullying, force or economic intimidation. Some people get scared and can get bullied and some don't. My solution to these ways of doing business is to stand up to them and do something positive. Nothing is ever going to change with one party adopting the deluded methodology of another. But in the same vein, bad actors are never going to be done with their work until they are put out of business through socially and societally acceptable means. I have put up with the GOP's garbage for a long time. Now is not going to be any different.

The answer now is going to be the answer I have always given: I will not shut up or go away or stop anything I am doing. You do whatever you are going to do, and sink as low as you want, and at the end of the day we'll see who was right and who was wrong. Let's do it in public and let's do it clean, and let's make sure that the bad actors make the meeting.

I believe that the 'bad actor' bloggers in the GOP are going to have their day in court. I believe that whomever they are tied to will be apparent. I also believe this is an occasion where compromise and discussion ends and seeking redress is something that has to get done, without negotiation, abridgement or anyone being saved by ayone else.
No matter who these people are, they have rights. They don't have more rights than me, though, and they don't have a right to interfere with my rights. And they do not have power to change people's rights yet.

And by them losing their executive privileges, which they have because these are elected and appointed people involved, they will lose the ability to misuse governmental authority. So there we have it.
This will be the only time I address this in any informal way. That is all I have to say about that.

UPDATE as of 5PM: I have spoken with several county Republican leaders today who are shocked by the behavior demonstrated on some other blogs.

Monmouth Republican Chairman Adam Puharic has stated that he does not know who these people are. He stated he does not condone this behavior and, furthermore, if this person(s) is a Monmouth Republican there will be consequences. I do thank him for that. This was a very decent way of addressing this. I have spoken with other leading Republicans who have said the same.

I am grateful for their kind wishes.
I am glad there are leaders in both parties that understand there are rules of conduct and even ways of disagreeing that do not encroach families or personal lives, or at least it should not.

It is this basic decency that allows politics to not be a bloodsport. Political disagreements can be charged, contentious and even caustic, but there is a line and I am grateful for the support that Republican leaders, many of whom I disagree with on many issues, would recognize this.
Nevertheless, this action(s) will be pursued vigorously by me and I will know the person(s) involved with this and lay their identities into the public. Among other avenues, it is my intention to make these identities public and to create a discussion around them and their actions. I also do intend other avenues to address this, which are appropriate. I will not tolerate the lies that have been made against me and I am going to be seeking redress.

There is no truth to any of the accusations against me and I am very glad that I have not had to dignify this to those who know me whom I agree with and those whom I disagree with.
I cannot see how the behavior of some of these people involved have reflected anything positive or good about the party and the alleged ideology these alleged Republicans and others have so vehemently espoused. My thanks to Chairman Puharic and others.

Your words and kind sentiments are appreciated in this matter, as has been everyone's whom I have spoken with.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Middletown-Lincroft Road is greatly improved

King's Highway and Middletown-Lincroft Road in the vicinity of the Middletown Train Station is doing a lot better. Roads have been cleared by the township. Route 35 remains a slloppy mess at 3:30 p.m., particularly in the vicinity of Town Hall.

Power concerns: Click on this headline

For information on power concerns, click on the headline above for more information.

St. Valentine’s Day storm bogs down Bayshore


A major storm system, which continues to dump snow and ice on the Bayshore, rolled in from the Ohio Valley overnight, on Wednesday, February 14.

Snow and freezing rain has clogged many roads throughout the area as public works employees continue their plowing and drivers traveling along local, county and state highways have reported treacherous conditions.

“Public works has put down about 35 tons of salt this morning,” Keansburg Borough Manager Terrence Wall said at noon on Wednesday. “We have six drivers out on the road and all the main roads are clear and we’re starting to work on the side roads now.”

Wall said the light winter left the borough with adequate supplies and budget reserves to handle the winter storm. He added the police department made itself available to assist borough employees trying to get to work.

“I heard that other towns had a delayed opening, but Keansburg opened on time and kept up the regular business operations,” Wall said.

At the time of this report similar figures for Middletown were not available. The township spokesperson, Cindy Herrschaft, was attempting to contact the director of public works, but she said that numbers might not be available until the storm had subsided.

However, the Middletown police were keeping busy with storm related calls, according to Lieutenant Cortlandt Best.

“We’ve had to respond to several accidents, but nothing serious,” Best said. “There are some downed wires and trees and some transformers have caught fire.”

According to eyewitness reports by travelers, Middletown-Lincroft Road, especially in the vicinity of Nut Swamp School and the Middletown Train Station were especially hazardous during the morning commute.

Hazlet police were faring a little better. A police dispatcher said there were no major problems to report.

Officials in the Keyport and Bayshore Hospital could not be reached for comment by the time of this report.

Power outages have affected several areas of Monmouth County, according to Jersey Central Power & Light Web site, According to the site, over 10,000 power customers are without power in Wall Township. Another 501-2000 customers in the Jamesburg, Middlesex County, and Morganville section of Marlboro Township are also without power.

There were no outages in Northern Monmouth County by Wednesday at noon.

The winter storm is expected to last into the later afternoon according to published reports on the Weather Channel’s Web site,

Temperatures are expected to top out at 31 degrees and drop to 14 degrees overnight. There is a possibility that the mix of snow and rain could continue into the evening.

Some more commuting shots

Some more fun-filled pix from today's commute in Middletown.