Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama walks away from Wright

Sen. Barack Obama calls it a day where it involves Chicago Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Certainly, the Rev. Wright has been controversial. Click on the headline and go to the story.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cocuzzas are doing something to help residents with FEMA

CAPTION: Union Beach Councilman Charlie Cocuzza (above) is requesting information from FEMA for free that homeowners would otherwise have to purtchase from the agency.

Union Beach Councilman Charlie Cocuzza and his father, Keansburg Councilman Jimmy Cocuzza, are each going to be doing something to help homeowners deal with FEMA in their respective communities.

According to Charlie, Keansburg resident Jason Needham discovered that towns where the flood map status is being impacted can request informational kits that explicate how to address various concerns with FEMA at no charge. However, this is the same information that homeowners would have to spend hundreds of dollars on to obtain from the federal agency.

Consequently, Charlie said that Union Beach and Keansburg are going to be requesting this information from FEMA, and make it accessible to homeowners from those communities at no cost.

Charlie said the information kit will contain guidelines about how to appeal zoning, surveys and other information necessary in dealing with FEMA.

He also noted that FEMA admitted that its estimates of the Bayshore were conducted from a helicopter -- not on the ground. So there could very well be mistakes about what house is in what kind of flood zone, and this will make a difference in the amount of flood insurance a homeowner may have to pay.

Congrats to Mr. Needham on being studious, and for the Cocuzzas for doing what they can to help residents. It might not be a bad idea if other concerned communities did the same thing. According to Charlie, if the information was requested by a homeowner to FEMA it would cost at least $150 and perhaps as much as $400.

Pallone addresses FEMA flood map controversy

Sixth District of New Jersey

CONTACT: Andrew Souvall

April 25, 2008
(202) 225-4671


Long Branch, NJ --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today announced plans to introduce legislation as early as next week that would place a moratorium on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) plans to expand flood zones. The New Jersey congressman is also calling on FEMA, as an agency, to implement the moratorium on its own for the Bayshore area.

Pallone voiced concern over a new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) that would expand the flood zone maps to more than 4,300 more homes in the Bayshore area of our district. The proposed plan has created a great deal of confusion in Hazlet, Keansburg, Middletown and Union Beach, and Pallone said, to date, FEMA has not been particularly helpful in addressing the residents' concerns.

Under Pallone's legislation, the national moratorium would remain in place until FEMA has developed an extensive public notification plan so that all affected communities are individually briefed and affected residents have the opportunity to investigate whether their homes were placed in the flood zones appropriately.

"FEMA's expanded flood maps are causing confusion and frustration in the Bayshore area of my district," Pallone said. "I would imagine that these new maps are causing similar feelings nationwide. At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet during a national recession, Congress must institute a moratorium on these expanded flood maps until FEMA has properly addressed serious questions that are rightfully being asked by affected homeowners."

The New Jersey congressman said a moratorium is needed in light of several questions that he has asked FEMA that have gone unanswered. In an April 9th letter to FEMA Regional II Director Steve Kempf, Pallone asked the following questions. What formulas were used to calculate the expanded flood zones? What has changed in terms of the topography of the area to create such a large increase of the flood zone? Would the requirements for the flood zones change if there were infrastructure upgrades to the area in question? And, are there any provisions in current law that help property owners pay for flood insurance?

"The proposed maps will negatively affect thousands of my constituents who have not been properly briefed on many of the issues that I raised in my letter earlier this month," Pallone continued. "FEMA needs to develop a better plan for reaching out to the public so that all affected residents have the opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed."

Pallone also plans to bring together the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to discuss ways to remove the area in question from the new flood zone.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lautenberg on record-high gas prices

Sen. Frank Lautenberg discusses gas prices in the United States. The record-high gas prices are devastating to Americans on every level, in nearly every aspect of their life. Click on the headline and hear Sen. Lautenberg.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Murphy addresses Middletown Dems

Release submitted by the Middletown Democratic Party

Philip D. Murphy, National Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee, is a Middletown resident.

Thursday night, April 24th, at the American Legion Post in Leonardo, he addressed a gathering of over 70 Democrats from Middletown & surrounding communities and shared some of the insight that he has with the current Presidential campaign.

His job takes him all around the nation, into almost every state, and, in fact, to many foreign countries. He spoke of how, in country after country that he has visited, the actions of this administration have generated a negative perception of the U.S. People around the world are very disappointed and angry towards the Bush Administration for the attitude that is presented. International leaders are willing to listen and even talk to Democratic leaders. They know that there is a need for change here in the U.S. and want to hear the proposals and ideas that we have to offer.

He spoke of how, in state after state, regardless of whom they supported, young people are getting involved, registering as Democrats and voting. The economic situation of the country is in very poor shape and will take years to recover from failed policies. The Iraqi war may require years to resolve and even our grandchildren will be paying for this.

Despite the length of the primary campaign and the intense loyalty of many to Clinton and many to Obama, he emphasized the big gap between either of them and McCain. For those whose candidate does not get the nomination, he is confidant that they will support the candidate who does. We must break the stranglehold that the Republican Party holds on this country. This, of course, includes electing Democrats to Congress.

Although it is hard to see from NJ, the party has made great inroads throughout the rest of the country. Even in traditionally Republican areas the Democratic Party has grown significantly. There are many people that are voting for the first time and many that have an open mind towards change. The consensus is that the majority feels that it is time for change in the country.

He also spoke on the relative effectiveness of different campaign methods. The least effective is by mail, followed by telephone. But far & away the most effective method is going door to door & speaking one on one with the voters.

Murphy is a supe delegate. But he said, "He cannot at this time, disclose his preference.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today's gas prices around the county

Above: (Top) Racestar in Farmingdale; (Second from Top) Exxon, along Route 9 in Howell; (Second from Bottom) Exxon in Lincroft; (Bottom) Gasland on Schank Road, in Freehold Township.

This is just a snapshot of gas prices in a few towns in Monmouth. The good news is that $4 per gallon is not unheard of anymore in this country, and local gas prices seem to be less than the average. The bad news, of course, is that gas prices are not going down.

Recession is making itself felt nationwide

YahooNews! has a great feature about the recession, and a strong graphic. Click on the headline and go there.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Coastal Monmouth Plan to be discussed

April 24, 2008

Coastal Monmouth Plan to be discussed
at a public meeting and open house on April 30

FREEHOLD – A public meeting and open house to update the progress on the Coastal Monmouth Plan, which addresses open space, redevelopment and impact of future growth, will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 30 at the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury.

The objective of the plan is to establish a set of planning alternatives that will help 30 coastal municipalities – both individually and from a regional planning perspective – manage development, conserve open space, explore redevelopment opportunities and address the impacts of future growth on infrastructure, the natural environment and overall quality of life.

Initiated by the Monmouth County Planning Board, the Coastal Monmouth Plan was launched at a meeting Nov. 20, 2006 at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft.

“The future of housing, the economy, transportation and the environment concerns all of us, especially those who live and work in the coastal region,” said Freeholder John D’Amico Jr., liaison to the Planning Board. “I encourage everyone to attend the public meeting to learn what those issues entail and how the county is proposing to deal with them to promote economic and sustainable growth, while protecting the environment and maintaining the area’s unique coastal character.”

The project is being undertaken by the Monmouth County Planning Board in consultation with Maser Consulting, P.A.

Plan participants include a long list of regional stakeholders – representatives from each of the 30 municipalities, as well as county and state officials and community stakeholders – who have been attending meetings and workshops regularly for the last 18 months. Completion of the final plan is targeted for winter 2009, with a draft version ready by this coming fall. The plan, when adopted, will become part of the county’s master plan, the Growth Management Guide.

“The public meeting is designed to open up the process even further by providing local citizens and members of the public who have not yet become involved in the planning effort the opportunity to hear about progress to date, voice concerns and submit comments or suggestions for consideration and possible inclusion in the final plan,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, member of the Planning Board. “We are studying some vitally important issues.”

The Monmouth County Library is located at 1001 Route 35, Shrewsbury. The public meeting and open house is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. and conclude about 8:45 p.m. Upon arrival, attendees will have an opportunity to view a number of project display boards. A half-hour formal plan overview presentation will start at 7 p.m., and from 7:30 to 8:45, the meeting will open for comments.

For more information about the meeting or the project, contact the county project director Joe Barris at (732) 431-7460 or the consultant project manager Marcia Shiffman, Maser Consulting, at (908)-238-0900; or visit the Coastal Monmouth Plan project web page through the link located on the Monmouth County Planning Board website at

# # #

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dollar rallies after drop against the euro

After a record-breaking low against the euro -- the euro! -- the dollar has rallied some. As if edging out some improvement against the 'Almight Euro' is some kind of a win.

Click on the headline for the story. You won't know whether to laugh or cry.

Appolonia reportedly could be indicted on 19 counts

Accused Aberdeen cat killer Anthony Appolonia has reportedly been charged with 19 counts of animal torture and murder. Appolonia was arrested on Dec. 21st and has reportedly been housed at the Monmouth County Correctional Facility, in Freehold, ever since. News about Appolonia could come as soon as within a few weeks, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. The Courier will be working on a Web exclusive about this story in the coming days.

Anthony Appolonia is the brother of Bid Rig corruption defendant Stephen Appolonia.


CAPTION: Sen. Menendez and Shakira discuss global education initiative in the Hart Senate Office Building.

April 23, 2008

Menendez Press Office 202-224-4744

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Grammy Award-winning singer Shakira and former National Economic Adviser Gene Sperling met yesterday to discuss The Education for All Act, which would provide universal basic education for all children. Senator Menendez is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that oversees U.S. foreign assistance programs. Shakira and Gene Sperling are in D.C. to kick off the Global Campaign for Education Action Week.

“I was delighted to meet an advocate who has repeatedly said that she prefers to use the light that is shone on her to shine it on the causes that are truly important, like basic education for children around the world,” said Sen. Menendez. “Promoting education for children around the world strengthens the global economy and improves international security. I am a proud co-sponsor of the Education for All Act, which aims to achieve that goal, and I have also introduced a bipartisan bill that seeks to provide 2.5 billion over 10 years for social and economic development in the Americas.”

The Education for All Act of 2007 amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide assistance for developing countries to promote quality basic education and to establish the achievement of universal basic education in all developing countries as an objective of United States foreign assistance policy. It also directs the President to develop a comprehensive U.S. strategy to promote universal basic education by 2015, authorizes USAID to establish an education fellowship program and establishes within the Department of State an Education Coordinator. The Bill would authorize $10 billion over the next five years.


Monmouth Museum hosts 'A Seaside Interlude'

The Friends of the Monmouth Museum are hosting "A Seaside Interlude" at The Monmouth Beach Bath & Tennis Club, Monmouth Beach, on Monday, June 9, at 11 a.m. The cost of the event is $50 per person for membes and $60 for non-members. For reservations and additional information, call the museum at 732-747-2266.

Clinton defeats Oblama in Pa.

It's on to Indiana for the Democratic traveling road show following Sen. Hillary Clinton's win over Sen. Barack Obama there. Click on the headline and go to the APP.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Response to Deputy Mayor Brightbill about flood map series

At the Monday, April 21st meeting of the Middletown Committee, Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill made a passing reference to this newspaper’s current storyline about the new FEMA flood maps.

It was my choice to deal with every aspect of this issue’s relevance to the Middletown area, and among those aspects are partisan points of view — told equally.

At the meeting, Deputy Mayor Brightbill said she was “shocked and amazed” that a local paper would “…want to comment on a local level about the FEMA flood maps.” She went on to say that the flood maps are “…certainly not a political issue…”

Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger echoed these sentiments and also noted that the “forum” held by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, had addressed the matter adequately. So, I am left wondering, if it is his assertion that the assemblywoman’s forum was the whole thing, everything that anyone in Northern Monmouth County ever needs to know about the FEMA flood maps?

The fact is that this year’s election contest is a vital one in Northern Monmouth County, and this flood issue is an all-important one to area residents. These residents deserve to know what potential elected office holders plan to do about this issue, as flood insurance rates have wide-ranging effects on thousands of Middletown residents. Let’s not forget that the real-estate business could be better.

When the parties contribute to the discussion, and the facts of what is ongoing about this issue are presented alongside these positions, the hope is that residents benefit by knowing what is going on with their community, and the intent of those who are seeking or currently possess leadership in that community.

To say that the government, organized under anyone, is the final word about anything in the United States is a bold assumption that amounts to hubris. Metaphorically speaking, my belief is that government wakes up in the morning, has its coffee, and seldom fails to disappoint. In fact, government only seems to work appropriately when it is questioned, and this is especially true in Monmouth County: doubly so in Middletown.

Deputy Mayor Brightbill is a candidate this year, along with Anthony Fiore, for two seats on the Middletown Committee, representing the GOP. The candidates for the Middletown Committee from the Democratic Party are James Grenafege and Patricia Walsh. Since the flood map issue is going to impact more than 2,000 Middletown homes, I hope that all these folks have considered just what they would do about it should they get the voters’ nod to raise their right hand for an oath in January.

Middletown’s government has been deceptive, on many levels, in the past about many things. It’s a way of doing business in the township. Consequently, in benefit to all candidates concerned, it was the intention of this paper to survey the stand that various candidates have taken so as to give greater accessibility to the thought processes of the town’s leaders and proposed leaders.

Of course, this series will also deal with real-estate values, insurance companies, FEMA, neighboring Bayshore towns, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the opinions and thoughts of Bayshore residents and other municipal governments.

The idea of the series, being written by Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney, is to provide a total picture, as best as possible, for the everyday Bayshore resident. I believe that the forum was not all that helpful for many things where it involves residents.

Partisanship is a part of life in Monmouth County, like it or not. I think that Assemblywoman Handlin’s proposed policy, which as stated is essentially to blame Rep. Frank Pallone, D-Monmouth, falls short of helpful information. Meanwhile, I do hope that Rep. Pallone’s solution to this crisis is better than simply noting that Bayshore flood remediation efforts, which were put on this year’s Federal Budget and removed by the administration as a “Christmas tree item” -- and it was -- is better than just blaming President Bush. Let’s face it: To date, partisanship has marked this process.

However, I believe the most dynamic questions are going to relate to the disparity between the estimations of FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers’ assessments about the berms, which were removed.

In the meantime, politics is a part of this stew, and if someone is under the impression that politics is devoid from this issue it would be either incredibly egotistical or simply naïve.

The Middletown Committee is conferring with its paid Washington DC lobbyists. The township is putting out 1,800 leaflets to Bayshore residents. I suggest that politics is thick in Middletown, and what might best serve residents is simply getting all the facts straight from all sides of the matter.

If the candidates in Monmouth’s largest municipality have something to say about the real estate and insurance destinies of thousands of residents, I opine that now (when it is wanted) is a good time to let people know what they think.

‘Business as usual’ is not going to save one resident $1. Like it or not, there are points of view to be listened to about this matter. As for Courier commenting, I will explain for the benefit of Deputy Mayor Brightbill (who noted this during her comments): Editorials are things where individuals comment. What is going on right now is a series, written as news. There is no comment in news other than those offered by those interviewed. Actually, I, for one, have no position on this yet. Then again, I am not the one who is proposing to either hold office or is currently holding office, as the fine folks up at the dais in Middletown are.

Information about this issue needs to be broad and as comprehensive as possible. If Deputy Mayor Brightbill and Mr. Fiore do not wish to comment about this then that is their prerogative. But, to say that no one else should comment about this in their community is just ridiculous. If anyone wants to say anything about this issue, from any perspective, then Courier wants to print it.

Click on the headline to go to Ms. Gaffney's story.

Cosgriff has been DJing since 1975

Keansburg resident Steve Cosgriff, a veteran volunteer firefighter and community activist in town, has been a DJ for the past 33 years. He has new lighting, new sounds and new music for anyone interested in a DJ for their next event.

New Yorker's Hertzberg talks about Dem debate

Has politics ever changed? The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg offers commentary about last Wednesday's Philadelphia debate between senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic nod for president. What I thought was interesting was the part where moderator Charlie Gibson tried to put the candidates on the spot about the winner of the contest accepting the loser as vice president. I think the ship sailed on that one a long time ago.

I think it would be hard for the Democratic Party to lose this year's General Election contest for president. But, as is always the case in recent years, the Dems are doing everything they can to divide the party and make things as easy as possible for the GOP. It would be refreshing to see a certain amount of unity coming from the Dems this--or any--year.

Gaffney went to see Pope Benedict XVI

Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney recently traveled to New York City to see the pope at St. Patrick's. Click on the headline and go to her blog to see a video shot by her.

Also, Ms. Gaffney will be publishing a report this week on the pope's visit and is impact on area Catholics. Pick up The Courier to see the story on Thursday, or go to The Courier Online at:


April 22, 2008

Afshin Mohamadi 202-224-4744

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who has been a leader in the Senate on energy efficiency domestically and on international efforts to combat climate change, released the following statement today, on Earth Day:

“On this Earth Day, as on every day, it is important to think about the world that we will leave to our kin. Our children deserve a planet where the air is clean, where the oceans don’t rise and flood their houses, where droughts don’t parch their soil and starve them of food, and where polar bears have not gone extinct. To make sure that our fragile world is still intact when we hand it on to future generations, it will take leadership from the United States that has been absent. It will take a dramatic reduction in our use of fossil fuels and the quantities of greenhouse gases they spew into the atmosphere. Few things are more important to the health of our planet or our economic security than freeing ourselves from fossil fuels. Our addiction to oil means that this country is walking a liquid tightrope over an economic canyon.

“The type of leadership it will take to solve our planetary emergency and bring about energy independence can be seen every day in neighborhoods, towns and cities across this country. To encourage and support those efforts, I worked to pass legislation that gives grants to cities for energy efficiency programs. But the good work on the local level must be matched by a federal government that leads with bold proposals to save our planet, not just lip service. It will take big leaps, like embracing mandatory emissions cuts domestically and using diplomacy to craft a strong international climate change pact in the next few years. I am focused on steering our nation in that direction through my work as Chairman of the Senate subcommittee that deals with international environmental protection, and I hope the next administration will recognize the need for American leadership and make it a national priority.”

To mark Earth Day, Senator Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee dealing with international environmental protection, will hold a hearing on international efforts to combat deforestation and climate change. Deforestation and the degradation of tropical rainforests is responsible for 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The hearing is designed to explore the effects of deforestation, to review current international negotiations on climate change, and to discuss what policy frameworks will be needed to effectively and efficiently lower the rate of deforestation.

Senator Menendez’s environmental work in the Senate:

· Energy
· As a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Menendez helped pass, H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The Senator included a $2 billion block grant program in the bill which will provide cities the resources they need to lower energy usage and increase energy efficiency.

· The Energy Bill Senator Menendez helped pass will also reduce our nation's dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, and developing greater efficiency. This law raised the fuel economy standards for cars and trucks for the first time in 30 years.

· Global Climate Change

· Senator Menendez presided over a hearing after the Bali Climate Change Conference and what is next on the path to a post 2012 Climate change treaty and is chairing a hearing tomorrow on deforestation and climate change.

· Senator Menendez is a cosponsor of S.309, Senator Sanders’ Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, which is the strongest global warming legislation bill introduced to date. The bill would set out a roadmap of targets, requirements, and incentives to reduce U.S. carbon emissions and help stabilize global atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, and requires that the U.S. reduce its emissions by 2050 to a level that is 80 percent below 1990 levels.

· Anti-Drilling work: Senator Menendez recognizes that we cannot drill our way to energy independence, and he will not sacrifice our environment or New Jersey’s beaches to those who think we can.

· Senator Menendez introduced S.391, the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism Anti-Drilling Act, on January 27, 2007. This bill would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently ban oil and gas drilling off the mid-Atlantic and North Atlantic Coasts in an effort to protect New Jersey’s environment as well as its gaming, tourism and hospitality industries.

· Senator Menendez led the effort to block Senator Warner’s Amendment 1566, which would have allowed Virginia to petition to conduct natural gas exploration and drilling in the coastal zone of the State. His threatened filibuster forced the Senate to get the 60 votes necessary for cloture. The final vote was 43 – 44 to defeat Senator Warner’s Amendment.

· Senator Menendez led the effort to defeat an amendment to the budget resolution offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that would have paved the way for drilling off the coast of Virginia, which includes areas less than 100 miles from the Jersey Shore – close enough for spills to affect New Jersey beaches. The final vote was defeated by a vote of 47-51.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Is gambling the way to go to close budget gaps?

Star-Ledger Staff Writer Joe Donohue has written a good piece about how some legislators in Trenton, like Sen. Ray Lesniak, are eyeing increased gambling initiatives in the state to make up for the budget shortfall. This is a good idea. Finally, the lights are on with someone in Trenton.

The Greater New York Metropolitan area is one of the busiest hubs for sports betting in the world. Inclusive of the Greater NY Metro area is New Jersey, and this idea will work to close gaps in the state budget if given an opportunity to do so.

Click on the headline to go to

New York grad students assemble in Philly for Obama

CAPTION: A photo of the crypt for Gen. Ulysses Grant and his wife, Julia, at Grant's Tomb, in Manhattan. Much like the former U.S. president, Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign should give up the ghost and call it a day.

I received an e-mail from a Manhattan group that was working for Sen. Barack Obama in Philadelphia over the weekend. The group, comprised of graduate students in seminary, canvassed 15 churches in Philadelphia, with a goal of Sen. Obama taking Philly 3-to-1 over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The level of organization that was stated was simply immense. It is easy to be enthusiastic, and harder to get down to logistics. This group organized more than 30 students from one institution, arranged for mass transportation and had a strong agenda throughout the day on Saturday. There was synergy with the Philadelphia campaign for Obama. Basically, there was the kind of organization that can bring in a winner. This is especially true when it comes down to transporting campaign workers from one city to another.

I would not be surprised if Sen. Obama wins Pennsylvania, despite the predictions of a Clinton win. Even if Sen. Clinton does win Pa., she'll be very far behind in the delegate count for the overall nomination. If she somehow steals the election from Sen. Obama through the super delegates then it will essentially, in my opinion, open the door for a very one-sided General Election, with the odds-on edge going to Sen. John McCain, the Republican candidate for president. Sen. Hillary Clinton lost the nomination. There's a time to pack up the pride and call it what it is. Taking the Democratic Party down the tubes with her campaign isn't the right thing to do, in my view.

Benedict XVI trip was inspirational

The APP has a story about the Yankees Stadium trip that Pope Benedict XVI made yesterday. During his trip, I think it was a positive sign that the pontiff addressed the sex scandals involving some priests in the United States. Perhaps it will become easier to defrock troubled priests in the future. Certainly, this is an issue that has some Catholics very troubled.

Nevertheless, Benedict XVI was inspirational and gave a real shot in the arm to American Catholics. At a time when things just aren't going all that well in the U.S., he was something that was uplifting.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Obama-Clinton contest is drawing to a close

The Pennsylvania showdown between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton is coming to a close...mercifully. The issue is that, even if Sen. Clinton wins big in Pa., she is probably too far behind Sen. Obama in election delegates to make up the difference (of more than 100 delegates). There is talk of using the "super delegates" to swing the process in her favor by supporters. But would that make her nomination questionable ethically -- even if she can do it?

Candidates should be nominated in the election process, nit in back rooms. Click on the headline and go to

Pope Benedict XVI visits Ground Zero

Pope Benedict XVI visits Ground Zero in New York City and then goes on to Yankee Stadium. The pope's visit has been very well received, and inspirational to so many Catholics in the U.S. Click on the headline and go to the YahooNews story.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Good 'Red State-Blue State' at GM News

At Greater Media's Web site, there is a great "Red State-Blue State" feature this week. GM Executive Editor Greg Bean makes good points in his part of it, that are worth reading and seriously thinking about. "Red State-Blue State" is a political dialogue between Mr. Bean and a former colleague, Mr. Dave Simpson. Click on the headline and go there.

‘Horse racing equals open space’

April 16, 2008

Save the Horse Committee meets, outlines goals
Panel lends support to bill endorsing video lottery terminals at racetracks

FREEHOLD – If something isn’t done soon to help New Jersey’s ailing horse racing industry, the impact will be felt in an eventual decline of the quality of life in Monmouth County and the rest of New Jersey when horse farms close and breeders move their operations elsewhere.

“We are fast approaching the critical point where once we begin losing horse farms there will be no turning it around,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, who created a “blue ribbon” panel to lobby the governor and Legislature to enact measures that would help the industry. “The quality of life in New Jersey is the most important contribution the horse industry makes – in every county.”

The “Save the Horse Committee,” formed by Freeholder Burry and comprising a variety of stakeholders, held its first meeting recently and dedicated itself to lobbying state officials to make them understand the value the horse and, particularly, the horseracing industry brings to the state’s economy.

According to a 2007 report by Rutgers University, the economic impact of New Jersey’s horse industry is $1.1 billion a year. Some 13,000 jobs are created by equine operations and racetracks, and an estimated $160 million is generated annually in federal, state and local taxes.

“The exodus of horses and breeders will continue until the state changes its attitude and establishes a long-term solution to make the racetracks of New Jersey self-sufficient and lucrative for our horsemen,” said Nancy Grbelja, chairwoman of the newly formed committee.

One of the chief concerns among committee members is that left unchanged, the lack of support for horse racing will lead to a decline in the quality of life when horse farms and horses begin disappearing from the New Jersey landscape as breeders move their operations to other states.

There are 176,000 acres utilized by equine operations in New Jersey – 96,000 of these acres are directly related to horse activities, and 78,000 acres are devoted to pasture and hay production, according to the Rutgers report. Another 46,000 acres in New Jersey produce hay and grain for horses. In total, the equine-related acres represent about one-fifth of the state’s 790,000 acres in agriculture.

“Agricultural and horse farms will turn into housing developments if we let the horse industry slip away,” Grbelja said. “We must make our representatives in Trenton understand so they can take the necessary action to preserve what we have. Once we lose a horse farm, we can never get it back.”

The biggest threat to the state’s horse industry comes from neighboring states such as New York and Pennsylvania, where racetracks have slot machines that are drawing gambling dollars away from New Jersey, said Jerold L. Zaro, a Save the Horse Committee member who is also a commissioner of the New Jersey Sports & Exhibition Authority.

Zaro points to the Atlantic City casinos, which he said have lobbied hard against any attempts to allow slot machines and video lottery terminals (VLTs) at racetracks. At the same time, they have invested in slot machines at racetracks in these neighboring states. Two of New Jersey’s racetracks are located in Monmouth County: Freehold Raceway and Monmouth Park in Oceanport.

“Casinos are being subsidized here in New Jersey because in they are allowed to pay just 9.2 percent in taxes whereas casinos in other states pay as much as 50 percent, ” Zaro said. “They refuse to allow other forms of gambling at New Jersey racetracks, such as slot machines or VLTs, yet they invest in facilities they own out of state, luring gambling money away from New Jersey.”

In New Jersey, “horse racing equals open space,” Zaro added.

The “Save the Horse Committee” has endorsed S-1481, a bill by Sen. Sean T. Kean, R-Monmouth, that would allow racetracks to install video lottery terminals.

The next meeting of the “Save the Horse Committee” is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 9 in the second-floor conference room at the Monmouth County Hall of Records, Freehold.

The members of the “Save the Horse Committee” are as follows: Lillian G. Burry, Colts Neck, Monmouth County Freeholder director; Nancy Grebelja, Millstone, currently serving as Mayor of Millstone; Stephen Dey, Upper Freehold, veterinarian, Board of Directors of the Horse Park of New Jersey; Tom Luchento, Freehold Township, president of Standard Bred Breeders and Owners Association; John Ryan, Colts Neck, thoroughbred breeder; Pat Butch, Millstone, standardbred breeder; Joe Jennings, Allentown, thoroughbred breeder; Karen Jennings, Allentown, thoroughbred breeder; George Richdale Sr., Colts Neck, organizer of the Monmouth County Horse Show; Jerold Zaro, commissioner, New Jersey Sports & Exhibition Authority; Judith Stanley, Middletown, executive director, Monmouth Conservation Foundation; and Bea Duffy, director, Monmouth County Department of Economic Development

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why won't Hillary just call it a day?

The Boston Globe's Don Payne wrote a great article about why he thinks Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton just will not quit. At this point in the game, many Democrats are pondering that exact question. Click on the headline to go to the article at

Codey is coming to Sea Bright on May 8

The Mental Health Association of Monmouth County will hold its Annual Dinner on Thursday, May 8 from 6-9 p.m. at the Merri-Makers at Water's Edge, in Sea Bright. The keynote speaker for the event will be Sen. Richard J. Codey, who is considered a champion of mental health by the organization, which is based in Eatontown.

For more information, call the association, at (732) 542-6422, or E-mail:

Former 'mayor for life' is convicted; may be facing another trial

Former N.J. Sen. and Newark Mayor Sharpe James has been convicted for fraud. He is facing the distinct possibility of another trial for more problems.

At one time, "Mayor for Life" Sharpe James, as he was sometimes referred to, was considered the most-entrenched, most-unassailable power in the Garrden State. Today, he is another person wondering about what his future looks like in a Federal courtroom.

Corruption is an old song in New Jersey, and the tune is familiar to state residents. Sharpe James isn't the end of it. In my opinion, he's not even the end of the very beginning.

Click on the headline to go to the story about it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

N.J. Hall of Fame welcomes new inductees

The New Jersey Hall of Fame Board of Commissioners is holding an induction ceremony at the NJ Performing Arts Center, One Center Street, in Newark, on Sunday, May 4 to inaugurate the following New Jerseyans into the hall: Buzz Aldrin, Clarta Barton, Yogi Berra, Bill Bradley, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Malcolm Forbes, Robert Wood Johnson II, Vince Lombardi, Toni Morrison, Norman Schwarzkopf, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Meryl Streep and Harriet Tubman.

Entertainment will be provided by the Hall of Fame Band La Bamba and the Hub Caps. The event will begin with red carpet arrivals from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The official ceremony will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For more information, call (800) 670-7959 or click on the headline and go to the Web site.

Bennett to be honored at Urban Angel event in Manhattan

For more information, go to the seminary's Web site by clicking on the headline, or call (212) 870-1257.

Business and Keyport's Downtown

Courier Editor Somdatta Sengupta has done a nice story about what some business people in Keyport are doing during economically character building times. The story includes Front Porch Emporium owner Chris Fernicola and Clever Hen owner and Borough Councilwoman Christian Bolte. Click on the headline to go to The Courier Online.

N.J. Legislature: Disappointing and making it look easy

New Jersey lawmakers are considering banning enery drinks for those under drinks. I regularly complain about New Jersey's over-regulation, which hovers somewhere near neurotic at times.

Over-regulation is a symptom of a collective governmental problem. Trenton cannot do a thing to reverse its anti-business stand in the Garden State (both parties). There is no tax relief for either homeowners or business owners. So the thing to do -- to burn time and make it appear as if something is getting done -- is to create as many irrevelvant laws as possible.

Well, thanks for more of the same N.J. Legislature, which isn't much.

Click on the headline to go to the story on

Monday, April 14, 2008



April 14, 2008

CONTACTS:Afshin Mohamadi 202-224-4744

New Jersey Senator wants taxpayers to have full information on rebates, beware of scams

WASHINGTON – Tomorrow is Tax Day, and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is working to make sure that every New Jerseyan is fully aware of the available tax rebates and is vigilant about scammers who are using the rebates as an opportunity to commit identity theft. This year, Congress passed an economic stimulus package to give a boost to the sagging economy – through that legislation, 3.8 million New Jerseyans are eligible to receive tax rebates this year.

Senator Menendez on rebates:

“In these tough economic times, so many in our state are seeing their bills pile up, and they should have all the information they need to take advantage of these rebates,” said Senator Menendez. “I want working New Jerseyans to know that just filing a tax return, even if it is at the last minute, will ensure that they will receive a stimulus rebate sometime between May and July, in addition to any other potential tax refund they are due. If anyone has any questions or concerns, they can contact my offices for assistance.”

Menendez on scams:

Senator Menendez also said: “Unfortunately, tax time is a chance for scammers to take advantage of innocent taxpayers, and I want the people of our state to be aware of this potential hazard. Scammers may pose as the federal government on the phone or through email in order to solicit personal identification information. Taxpayers should remember that the IRS or the government will never ask for information like ATM pin numbers, nor do they make unsolicited calls or emails to taxpayers. The same rules apply for the stimulus rebate – there is no reason to give personal information to any anyone who calls or emails for it to receive this rebate.”

Overview of rebates:

· Who is eligible?

o Individuals who earned between $3,000 and $87,000 and couples filing jointly who earned up to $174,000 in 2007. This can be a combination of income, wages, Social Security benefits, veterans' disability benefits or certain Railroad Retirement benefits from the 2007 tax year.

o Seniors who have at least $3,000 in Social Security benefits are eligible for a rebate (more than a million New Jersey seniors are eligible).

o Disabled veterans with no taxable income who have at least $3,000 in benefits are eligible for a rebate (250,000 veterans nationwide).

· How much are the rebates? $300-$600 for individuals or $600-$1,200 for married couples filing jointly. $300 for each child under 17.
· Does everyone eligible receive the full rebate?

o Individuals earning up to $75,000 ($150,000 for those filing jointly) who have paid at least $600 in taxes will receive a $600 rebate. For those who earn between $75,000 and $87,000 (between $150,000 and $174,000 for those filing jointly) the rebate amount will be reduced by $50 for every $1,000 above that threshold.

§ Individuals who did not pay taxes, but have at least $3,000 in qualifying income, will receive a rebate check of $300 if single, or $600 for married couples filing jointly.

· How to receive rebates:

o Most who are eligible do not have to do anything additional to get their rebate check. They will be automatically enrolled in the economic stimulus rebate program when they file their taxes before or on April 15th.

o Two groups that may have to take an additional step to get their checks are seniors who receive Social Security but don't earn wages, and veterans who receive disability benefits but don't pay taxes. (More information on these groups below).

· When will the checks arrive? Eligible taxpayers can expect to receive their checks in the mail sometime between May and July, or sooner if they opted for an electronic transfer.

· Information for seniors and veterans on receiving rebates: Seniors who receive Social Security but don't earn wages and veterans who receive disability benefits but don't pay taxes must file an income tax return to be eligible. They should use a simplified IRS form 1040A, available at most public libraries and write 'Stimulus Payment' at the top of the form.

Defending against identity thieves:

· Taxpayers can forward scam emails to:

· For more information on scams, taxpayers can visit:,,id=155682,00.html

· If a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income was $54,000 or less in 2007, he or she can file their federal taxes for free --,,id=118986,00.html

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Is it time for Clinton to face facts?

Time/CNN has posted 14 reasons by Mr. Mark Halperin why Sen. Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race for president. His reasons are logical and sound. I think there is one compelling reason, which is that it is time.

Click on the headline to go there.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lautenberg, Zimmer would make for best race

There are very few people in newspapers that I respect more than the APP's Randy Bergmann. He is one of the brightest people in the news industry today, and he has an incredible impact on Monmouth County because he knows what he is talking about and applies common sense to issues.

Yet, I think he is selling Dick Zimmer short. Mr. Zimmer possesses real credentials as a state legislator and represented this state in the U.S. Congress in a dignified and productive way. Frankly, my impression of Dick Zimmer is that he is not an insider. Far from it, my take on it is that Mr. Zimmer is a principled individual who is not part of a "machine."

I thnk Mr. Zimmer is dedicated to his family, and works very hard at whatever is before him. He is quiet, unassuming and genuine -- which is not what I can say about most politicians.

In politics, there are candidates that gravitate toward government and others that gravitate toward politics. Since it is a political process that candidates have to move through before they have the opportunity to serve in government, it is usually candidates that are politically-minded who end up serving the public. This is not a plus for the taxpayer, in my opinion.

I believe Mr. Zimmer is a good person, who is genuinely concerned about the interests of the public.

I do not know if I would vote for Mr. Zimmer over Sen. Lautenberg. I do know that Dick Zimmer makes me think about that question twice. I am very interested about what candidate Dick Zimmer would say about the issues. While I do believe that Sen. Lautenberg has served well and been on the right side of most issues, I think the American process of government is founded on the idea of an adversarial process: The best of both parties contending for one job.

I do believe that Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Dick Zimmer competing for the U.S. Senate would represent their parties best for this election cycle.

Click on the headline to go to Randy Bergmann's blog.

Bayshore Young Dems take on COAH issue


April 11, 2008

For Immediate Publication

P.O.C. Matthew Morehead Chairman- Monmouth County Bayshore Young Democrats
639 West Front St., Red Bank, NJ 07701
Phone: (732) 693-1904

Middletown Fails To Pay For RCA With Red Bank

Middletown Township (Monmouth County, NJ) On April 11, 2008 Matthew Morehead, Chairman of the Monmouth County Bayshore Young Democrats announced that court documents relating to a Regional Contribution Agreement between Red Bank and Middletown were discovered by his organization while in discussion with the town leaders of Red Bank urging the town not to enter into any future agreements between the two towns.

The document discovered was docket number A-3326-04T3326-04T3, which was argued on January 9, 2007 before the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division and was decided on February 28, 2007.

It was discovered that on March 13, 2000, Middletown filed a petition with COAH for substantive certification of an affordable housing compliance plan. One component of Middletown's plan was an RCA between Middletown and Red Bank, under which Middletown would transfer 98 units of its affordable housing obligation to Red Bank. On June 14, 2000, the Red Bank governing body adopted a resolution authorizing the execution of the RCA with Middletown.

Several years passed without payment from Middletown due to the fact that Middletown failed to complete a "Credits without Controls Survey" and objections to Middletown's compliance plan that could require mediation. On January 4, 2003 Red Bank's governing body adopted a resolution canceling its RCA with Middletown.

"This document reflects badly on Middletown's governing body," Morehead stated. "This is just another example showing Middletown's reluctance to live up to its constitutional obligation."

"The money that is wasted by Middletown's governing body in litigation would be better spent in providing its constitutional obligation of affordable housing to young adults and seniors. Where we would have the opportunity to receive state and federal funds," Morehead continued.

"The costs that Middletown's majority places on the taxpayers without any benefit are shameful," Morehead concluded. ###

Friday, April 11, 2008

Watch your wallets, Middletown -- here comes the budget!

The Middletown Committee introduced a $62.3 million budget. Committeeman Patrick Short believes there are ways of cutting the spending plan. I think these are not the times to raise taxes anywhere, especially in Middletown. Yet, here it goes again: It's an old song by now.

Click on the headline and go to The Courier Online.

APP features Jersey tourism today

According to an APP story today, last year New Jersey tourism amounted to $38 billion. A great big part of that, no doubt, is the Jersey Shore. In the Bayshore, the most important artery to the main tourist draw around here is Route 36. Of course, Route 36 doesn't do what it could to take better advantage of this circumstance, since the towns along the corridor do not get together with the determination to do something with this very valuable stretch of what should be commerce.

Click on the headline and go to the story in the APP.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

AH weighs in on FEMA flood maps

Caption: In contrast to these happy colonials from Williamsburg, Va., Bayshore residents are not happy about recent flood maps from FEMA.

Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio attended last night's Atlantic Highlands Borough Council meeting. There was a reaction about the FEMA flood plan maps and she has it on her blog. This is a good news post about an important borough and Bayshore area concern. Click on the headline and go there.

Mrs. Thorpe was right about session with Heck

A few days ago, long-time Lincroft resident Barbara Thorpe called me about a county Tax Board meeting being closed to the public. Reportedly, this closure is because Middletown's tax official, Charles Heck, could potentially face disciplinary measures as a consequence of him not completing the municipality's revaluation, as prescribed.

Courier Staff Writer J.J. Sullivan has a story about it at The Courier Online. Click on the headline to go there.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Zimmer throwing hat into ring for Senate race?

According to the Politicker, former Rep. Dick Zimmer may be in the U.S. Senate race for the Republican Party. I have interviewed Mr. Zimmer a few times, and as a congressman there are not many people who have represented this state with the class and good sense he has shown through the years.

Mr. Zimmer is a dedicated campaigner, a reasonable person and a very intelligent man, who was a guiding force in creating Megan's Law (after the tragic death of Megan Kanka). Certainly, he is the best name the GOP has come up with so far to contend against veteran U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg in November. If Mr. Zimmer is in the race, it may well be one to watch.

Click on the headline and go to the story on the Politicker.

A rant about party politics

It doesn't take to much time to look around the Bayshore, or Monmouth County, or New Jersey, or even this country, and see that our economy is in the toilet, all kinds of public money is being spent carelessly and it is time to stop talking about this political party nonsense.

In New Jersey, business is packing up and heading to greener pastures down South. In the Bayshore, small businesses are being brave despite the evidence of their eyes. People are nervous. The last thing I want to hear about are political parties from anyone. I'm a lot more interested in good ideas about saving what is left of the day and actually getting something done.

The national debt is the highest in its history, in the double-digit trillions. The euro is outpacing the dollar -- the euro!American tax money is pouring into everywhere -- except America. In this state, rather than encouraging business government punishes businesses for making their home here. In the Bayshore, not enough is being done to capitalize on the Route 36 corridor (and its million cars every summer that pass through it). Getting things solved is not a political agenda item. Excuses. That's what politics is good at. What's getting lost in the sauce is jobs.

In Monmouth County, all I hear about is patronage positions to GOP favorites -- and it doesn't create a sense of worth for my tax dollar. It's good that county taxes didn't go up, but there is certainly room for them to go down (patronage, patronage, patronage).

Being a "good Republican" or a "good Democrat" office holder means that someone is playing games with tax money. Why? Because "good party people" vote the way the party tells them to vote. Some of the best elected people I know or ever met are or were bad Democrats and bad Republicans, because they put the interest of the taxpayer before the interest of their party (which also means their own personal interest).

Whether it is the flooding issue in North Middletown, or the flooding issue in Keansburg, or the spend-thrift budgetary practices of various towns, it is not partisanship that will solve problems -- neither Republican nor Democrat.

I have seen Republican office holders in Monmouth not even give the time of day to a registered Democrat in their area; not all but more than enough of them. I have seen party affiliations advance those otherwise unemployable into employment in the halls of government on every level. The national, state, county and municipal infrastructure of support for party loyalists, politicians and their families drains the very life's blood from our governments and taxpayers. This is the issue -- not what party is in control.

It's politics that put this country, state, county, and area into the position it is. It will not be political parties that are going to be the cavalry coming over the hill.

Beck presses for ban on dual-office holding

Caption: The Biltmore Estate, near Asheville, North Carolina. This has nothing to do with the post, other than the fact that as a private entity it runs better than anything any government ever dreamt up.

According to a press release sent out by Sen. Jen Beck, R-Monmouth, there were tensions at the Senate on Monday after partisan bickering over financial aid for cities and allowing some legislators to continue holding more than one elected office.

Reportedly, Democratic Senate President Richard J. Codey publicly did not receive comments by 12th District Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, in a positive way.

Senate President Codey reportedly rebuked Beck as she continued to discuss her bid to bar everyone from holding more than one elected office, even though her bid to force a vote on her bill had already failed. Senators were reportedly on another issue by then.

The release said the reported rebuke came after "Republicans" asked the Senate to give the Senate Budget Committee subpoena power to investigate a special state aid program that mainly benefits cities. Sen. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, said legislative staff told him his request was in order.

In my opinion, Sen. Beck is doing the right thing by pushing for the dual-office ban, regardless of who doesn't want to hear about it: It's overdue and the right thing. I think Sen. Beck has put forth some strong bills and some good government issues that have great merit. As a resident in District 12, I am glad she's doing the right thing in Trenton.

Indeed, there are many issues in this state that need to be investigated, and it is right to do so. But politicians with subpeona powers is the same thing as putting foxes in charge of a hen house, in my opinion. Investigations in this state seem to always come from a partisan direction, and that just isn't going to get anything done, in my view. Political partisanship has cost this state nearly everything and continues to every day. No problem that is attempting to be solved through partisanship will be.

A special counsel from neither party armed great independence is the way to address problems in New Jersey, to my view (and there isn't one of those anywhere). Otherwise, it's just folks in red shirts trying to score more points in the newspapers than guys with blue shirts. Who needs that except them?

As a resident in District 12 I am encouraged by the good government legislation coming out of the new team there. But I don't think cheering for Team GOP is going to do anything at all that is productive for anyone but Republican leaders personally. It's the same thing, different day between Republicans and Democrats on the state level, generally speaking. And as a resident, voter and taxpayer in this county and state -- I could care less if any 'side' gets re-elected. I'm voting for whoever lowers my taxes, cleans up government and isn't a profiteer. I don't care how they part their hair, who they go to a chicken dinner with, or if they carry a photo of George Washington in their wallet. It's about saving money and getting rid of the corruption.

Cudos to Sen. Beck, but I'm far from rooting for the whole team on her side of the aisle. Good government isn't done in party 'teams' -- it's done by elected individuals who aren't screwing up, and are seeking to get something done. It's just good luck, in my opinion, that there's strong production coming out of District 12 for the moment.

About interviewing candidates...again

At The Courier, there are a small number of people to try and cover 10 towns in Northern Monmouth County effectively. As has been said for years, should a candidate -- any candidate at all -- take time out of their day to make an appointment, come here, allow us to take photos and conduct an interview then they will be covered. Staff writers from the newspaper will not allow candidates to throw mud at other candidates or existing office holders/establishments in the printed interview.

Here's the flip side: The Courier cannot have its reporters running around in search of random candidates to try and persuade them to conduct interviews (there just aren't enough hands for that). On any account, it is the job of the candidate to communicate effectively. It is not a reporter's job to be responsible for candidates that cannot pick up a telephone. Consequently, they only deal with candidates that do communicate.

So if a candidate has not been interviewed that did want to be interviewed, I suggest in the future using a telephone and calling (732) 957-0070 to express that thought.

Jury heads to deliberation in James corruption case

Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James had his day(s) in court, and now the jury gets to decide the next chapter in his life. Here's what the jury doesn't have to decide upon: New Jersey is the single-most corrupt state in the union. Our elected officials are largely up for sale in Trenton and most of them are not worth a darn. There are exceptions, and those legislators could probably all meet in a small room somewhere if they wanted. I'm not going to pass a judgment that a jury is figuring out in the James case. I will say that I always considered Mayor James to be the standard-bearer for everything that is wrong with elected officials in the state of New Jersey. In the Garden State, holding office is mostly about elected officials, of both parties, making a buck for themselves and tryinig to look dignified to the folks back home while they do it.

Regardless of how the James case turns out, that will still be the way it is the day after the case, the week after the case and, the way things are going, a year or three years after the case.
Years ago I interviewed former Assemblyman Steve Corodemus, R-Monmouth, who was one of the finest members of the Legislature this state was ever fortunate enough to have serve. He was very critical of Sen. and Mayor James. Mr. Corodemus believed there were conflicts because of James' role in the state and the city, and he was right, in my opinion.

As a matter of fact, former Assemblyman Corodemus was right about a lot of things, from small business to the environment to taxation. Too bad it is hard to keep the good ones and retain...well...the rest.
Click on the headline to go to the latest and greatest by about the Sharpe James saga.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Highlands hosts Earth Day 2008

For Immediate Release: Media Contact: Carla Cefalo-Braswell
April 4, 2008 email:

HIGHLANDS HOSTS 3rd ANNUAL Earth Day Celebration – Pride in Highlands

HIGHLANDS, NJ – The Highlands Business Partnership and the Highlands
Clean Communities Coordinator, Councilwoman Nancy Thomas will host their 3rd
Annual Pride in Highlands, Earth Day Event rain or shine, on Saturday, April 19,
2008 from 10 am to 4 pm in Veterans Park on Bay and Shrewsbury Avenues.
Should it rain, the event will take place at the Robert D. Wilson Community Center
located at 22 Snug Harbor Avenue, Highlands.

Admission is free and the goal for the event is to educate the community; especially
the youth about reduce, reuse and recycle as well as keeping Highlands clean. The
day will begin with check in at Veteran’s Park where all participants will receive a t-
shirt and rubber gloves, they will then begin to clean the park. The group will
proceed down Bay Ave (picking up trash) and will end at Huddy Park for final clean
up and celebration. The Highlands Police Department will be grilling lunch for those
children and adults that participated in the clean up.

There will be stations set up in Huddy Park with recyclable craft projects for all
children to participate in at no cost from the Highlands Garden Club and the
Highlands Business Partnership. There will be a presentation from David Street from
Kingdom of Clean, a Litter Prevention Program.

Children from the Highlands Elementary School will be participating in a poster
contest. The posters will be displayed in the windows of the Highlands businesses.
Winners will be announced at 4PM in Huddy Park and prizes will be awarded.

NO child under the age of eighteen (18) can participate with out a signed permission
slip. Any child under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
Permission slips can be can be downloaded at

The Highlands Business Partnership is a commercial alliance dedicated to fostering
economic growth and the continued revitalization of Highlands, as well as preserving
the area’s historic past. For additional information on the Partnership’s programs and
special events taking place in Highlands, visit

Sponsors of the Pride in Highlands, Earth Day event include Comcast, Seastreak,
Super Foodtown/Food Circus, Dr. Gelcoat, Hufnagel Tree Experts and Frank Rahm

For more information call Councilwoman Nancy Thomas, Visual Improvement
Committee Chair and Clean Communities Coordinator at 732-291-4713.

Release states Wilkens will not seek another term

I recently received this release, and am re-posting it here on the blog:


Middletown, NJ
April 7, 2008

P.O.C. Thomas Wilkens
Middletown Township Committeeman

Middletown Township Committeeman Thomas P. Wilkens has announced that he will not be seeking re-election for a second term this fall. After a highly successful collegiate and international swimming career that culminated in his winning a Bronze Medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Mr. Wilkens returned to his hometown of Middletown in 2004. A Political Science major from Stanford University, Mr .Wilkens accepted the nomination of the Republican Party and was the leading vote getter for Township Committee in November 2005.

“This was a very difficult decision, and one that I struggled with a great deal”, Wilkens said. “I was humbled by the faith and trust that the community showed in me; and I tried very hard to always act as a dedicated, productive, honest, and respectful public servant.”

“While I would love to continue in public office; my wife, Stephanie, and I now have two very young children at home; and I have decided that it is most important to devote my full energies to our family and my business career at this time. I have always strived to put the maximum effort into everything I do; and the citizens of Middletown deserve nothing less from its elected officials.”

“I am very grateful to everyone for their support. Middletown is a wonderful town with great people, and I will continue to stay involved in the community in every way I can.”

Monday, April 07, 2008


April 7, 2008

CONTACT: Afshin Mohamadi, 202-224-4744

This weekend, Sen. Menendez called upon Mayor Bloomberg and
the Federal Highway Administration to eliminate special NJ surcharge

Washington–U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) made the following statement today upon the announcement that the New York City congestion pricing plan died in the New York State Assembly:

"I certainly hope this is the end of the effort to squeeze the people of our state. Somehow, a plan to reduce congestion on the roads became a plan to make an extra buck off of New Jersey, and that is neither fair nor legal. Reducing traffic, cleaning our air and getting commuters to use mass transit are tremendously important goals we all should work toward, but unfairly burdening the drivers of one state in particular is not how to go about it. I look forward to working with other leaders in the region to find more sensible and balanced ways to achieve these goals."

This weekend, the Senator urged Bloomberg and the federal government to reconsider their support for the revised congestion pricing plan, which would have made drivers specifically from New Jersey pay an extra $3. Senator Menendez wrote Bloomberg to highlight the inequities for New Jerseyans under the plan and make the case that it is unconstitutional. In addition, Senator Menendez wrote the Federal Highway Administration to request that New York be denied federal funding linked to the congestion-pricing plan.


Aitken, Kenny run for school board

Kenneth Aitken is an engineer who works at AT&T. He is running for the Aberdeen seat on the Aberdeen-Matawan Board of Education this year, along with Charles Kenny, who is an attorney running un-opposed for a seat on the same board. Mr. Aitken is running independently from Mr. Kenny, though both will be featured in the April 10th edition of the newspaper.

"Although we are not running together, we have a common vision about what needs to happen on the school board," said Mr. Kenny about Mr. Aitken. Mr. Aitken agreed and said that consensus in several key areas will make a positive and lasting impact for the children of the school district and the community.

For more information, pick up The Courier on Thursday, or go to The Courier Online by Friday morning. Ini addition, Mr. Aitken has a Web site at: Click on the headline to go there.

Thorpe told Tax Board session about Heck closed to public

I just received a call from Lincroft resident Mrs. Barbara Thorpe, a 41-year resident of Swimming River Road. According to her, she contacted the Monmouth County Tax Board. She was advised that the meeting on Wednesday, April 9 at 10 a.m., involving the Middletown tax assessor, Mr. Charles Heck, is not open to the public.

The session is about the ramifications of his actions where it invovles a failure on his part to file the Middletown tax reassessment. According to Mr. Heck at the last Tax Board meeting, this was done because the reassessment was incomplete. According to Mrs. Thorpe, "I think this is a failure to disclose to the residents of this town information they deserve. Residents pay the bills in this town."

Mrs. Thorpe is very concerned that the township might indemnify this tax assessor in the event there are any disciplinary procdures in the future. "We pay these bills, like with the sexual harassment case a few years ago, for these people that are being supported by this Republican administration in town and it's not right," Mrs. Thorpe said.

A sory about this matter is being worked on by Courier Staff Writer J.J. Sullivan.

Information from Keansburg Board of Education



The Keansburg Public Schools will be participating in the 2008 Summer Food Service Program. The Summer Food Service Program is a federal program of the Food and Nutrition Services, United States Department of Agriculture. The program will include free breakfast and free lunch at the Port Monmouth Road Elementary School. The program times are listed below:

Breakfast Lunch Dates

Port Monmouth

Road School 7:30 – 8:30 AM 11:30 – 12:45 PM 6/23/08-8/15/08

Please be aware that these meals are available for all Keansburg children 18 years of age and under, not just those attending the summer school programs. This program provides all such children with the same free meal in accordance with a menu approved by the state agency regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age. Children must be accompanied by a parent or designated adult in order to participate in this food program. Parents must remain with their children during the entire mealtime, as mealtimes are not supervised by school staff.

Any person who believes they have been discriminated against in any USDA related activity should write immediately to the Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250. For further information please contact the business office at 732-787-2007 x2420.

Walsh comes out for reform in Middletown

Middletown Democrat for Township Committee Patricia Walsh issued a Thursday press release saying she intends to propose to the Middeltown Committee an ordinance that would disallow elected officials on the governing body from holding contracts with the township or the county.

Mrs. Walsh said she hopes the Middletown Committee takes this issue under advisement as one way to restore the faith that voters should have in their elected officials. Mrs. Walsh was joined in this call by her running mate, Mr. James Grenafege.

Mrs. Walsh credited this idea to Middletown Committeeman Patrick Short, who inspired it. Committeeman Short is a long-time opponent of elected officials holding contracts with the municipality where they hold office. Mr. Short is also a well-known opponent of dual-office holding.

Mrs. Walsh said it would be a good idea for the committee to memorialize the prohibition against committee people holding contracts with an ordinance.

O'Scanlon's bill would take bite out of corruption

This week, 12th District Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon was interviewed for a front-page editorial that will discuss a bill he is sponsoring, A-2585. The bill, if adopted, would prevent legislators from entering into contracts with public entities in their district.

To put his money where his mouth was, Assemblyman O'Scanlon will even be taking a hit on his own wireless communications business. He currently has contracts in Colts Neck and Fair Haven. He will be finishing those projects up and not accepting anymore work in the 12th.

With so much raw sewage coming out of Trenton every single day, Assemblyman O'Scanlon is giving New Jerseyans a breath of fresh air. He is a successful business person who understands that governmental service should be a sacrifice to elected officials. Regardless of what party is discussed, the issue of corruption is a central one.

This bill from Assemblyman O'Scanlon will not transform New Jersey's Legislature from being among the most shady in the country, in my opinion, but it will put a dent in some of the shenanigans going on. My bet: A-2585 doesn't make it out of committee. But this is exactly the kind of legislation this state needs and should not be overlooked.

Congrats to Assemblyman O'Scanlon for the good work, and read the editorial about it this week in The Courier. It shouldn't be hard to find since it'll be on the front. Meanwhile to reach Assemblyman O'Scanlon about this, his office can be reached at (732) 933-1591, or his e-mail is:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Bean editorial discusses Corzine recall

Greater Media Executive Editor Greg Bean penned an editorial discussing a recall effort under way regarding Gov. Jon Corzine. He endorsed the idea of concerned residents participating in this. I agree that anyone who is so moved should do that, as it is an expression any citizen should be allowed to do. People should be encouraged to exercise their rights and not discouraged to do so.

Yet, I also believe that is the purpose of elections. I think some of what Mr. Corzine has done is very bad, and gives me incredible pause about ever voting for him again. But, he came up with some lame ideas, and didn't do anything unconstitutional or illegal. If lame ideas were a valid reason for recall in and of themselves, I suggest getting started on the legislature next week.

Click on the headline to go to GM News.

Xanadu: A bad idea by any other name...

Is Xanadu too ugly for the Meadowlands? This is the question asked on Jerseyblogs, but I think the answer is two-fold: Too ambitious and just too much. Xanadu is the incarnation of a bad project that is too diffused and too high concept (forsaking practicality). It's some connected developer's idea of something that 'is very needed for people,' but just isn't. Like many other bad ideas, it's just a way to make a buck out of thin air. It seems forced and I think it's just a project of questionable value and viability.

Xanadu is a titanic idea -- just like the ship.

Click on the headline to go to Jerseyblogs.

Thanks to Rocket Special Olympic Team

I am very grateful to the Rocket Special Olympic Team, in Hazlet. The group honored myself and Courier Associate editor Christopher Blaszczyk on Tuesday with plaques at The Courier, in Middletown.

It is very humbling to be recognized by this group of very gifted and dedicated athletes, who have represented Hazlet and this area so incredibly in competition. I have not seen a group of athletes so committed to the best parts of sport, nor people so driven to address challenges straight on.

I thank them very much and look forward to having the opportunity to see their many successes of the future. Click on the headline to go to Alyssa Passeggio's "Just the News" for the photo and story.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Morehead pens letter about COAH

The Inside Clamdigger received a letter from Middletown resident Matthew Morehead, a young man who is chairing the Bayshore Young Dems Group. Thank you, Mr. Morehead, for sending in a letter, please keep them coming.

April 3, 2008

P.O.C. Matthew Morehead
Chairman- Monmouth County Bayshore Young Democrats
639 West Front St.
Red Bank, NJ 07701
Phone: (732) 693-1904

The Real Facts About Middletown And COAH

To the Editor:

The facts that Middletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger and Steven Lonegan of Americans for Prosperity NJ are leaving out of their misleading rhetoric is that Middletown has around 260 units of affordable housing that it has not built from round one and two of its COAH obligation. Middletown has only completed 88 units of new housing, 122 rehabs of existing housing and has signed RCAs for 649 units of housing at $12.1 million going to other municipalities. This leaves a sizeable surplus from poor performance for the last 20 years.

At the rate that Middletown is going it will not meet its constitutional obligation by 2018. This is the real reason that Mayor Scharfenberger and his majority are worried about the “third round” obligation in my opinion. Middletown’s “gated community” approach to its affordable housing obligation has failed the town and its residents as well, do to the fact that if we do not meet our obligation we loose our protection under the FHA of 1985. This will mean that anyone wishing to develop, or in need of housing, will be able to sue Middletown, which will mean rapidly rising legal fees and rising property taxes for the residents of Middletown.

As for these mandates being unfunded, it is not true in my opinion. The federal and state governments have funds set up to relieve municipalities that build the housing in their communities. On the other hand, the municipalities who sign RCAs to get rid of their portion of affordable housing do not get to benefit from these funds, which in turn puts a heavy burden on tax payers. There is also a burden placed on residents by not having the housing in Middletown for our young adults starting out in life and our seniors who are facing rising costs on a fixed income.

In conclusion, is Middletown’s “gated community” approach to COAH in the best interest of Middletown’s residents or in the best interest of the majority of the governing body?

Matthew Morehead
Chairman- Monmouth County Bayshore Young Democrats
Blogger's Note: To send letters to "The Inside Clamdigger," e-mail them to:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Unemployment is up...who would have guessed?

The latest is that unemployment is at a two-year high. This isn't exactly unexpected news these days. Click on the headline and go there.