Thursday, July 31, 2008

Star-Ledger woes has meaning for young reporters

In an industry where weekly reporters moving on to dailies has become more and more scarce, The Courier has a continued history of good young reporters starting here, improving and moving on to bigger and better. It is not about comparisons between other publications, because every publication is unique and important in the bigger picture in its own right.

But reporters at Courier basically knock themsleves out here their first year or year-and-a-half just out of school. Subsequently, whether it is print or digital journalism, public relations or advertising, there has always been a level to move up to that may have been competitive but was not unattainable. Of course, in any media operation in New Jersey, the "dream job" for a young reporter is ultimately working at The Star-Ledger.

On her blog, Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio talks about some concerns in the industry when something like a Star-Ledger is showing signs of fatigue. What is the future of print? I have no idea. I do think it will be around, but after a facelift that will have a lot to do with the direction of Online journalism. I do beleive Online publications will end up, somehow, being the way of the future. But just what that future is going to look like from a news perspective is another subject altogether.

Click on the headline to go to Read All About It.

The Star-Ledger is 'on life support'

The Star-Ledger is offering buyouts for employees at the newspaper. The Newhouse family has held the newspaper for a very long time. They have held this trust in an incredible way and there is not a better newspaper anywhere, in my opinion. Click on the headline to go to the story at

A word about monsoons, making plans and criminology

No one knows why anyone does anything. People lack sense, in many things, but can turn around and be very incisive. There is just no telling.

When I was 16 years old, I was attending Brookdale Community College, in Lincroft, for my associate's degree, in the year between finishing high school and joining the service.

I ended up finishing the degree when I was in the service, when I got the time years later. But the early credits were very helpful in this effort.

I was a criminal justice student, and one of the most notable teachers and classes I had were Dr. Ron Sopenhoff's criminology course. I hope I got Dr. Sopenhoff's name right. He was a good teacher, but 27 years goes a long way to misspelling a name.

Criminology was a mandatory class to graduate, as I recall. But it was also a class that the students generally liked to attend. Why? Because he had the answer to why people commit crimes, of course. Dr. Sopenhoff knew why people did lousy things to one another – absolutely.

So, beginning with Cesara Lombroso's Theory of Criminal Man, then onto Cesara Baccaria's Theory of Crimes of Passion and so on, and so on, Dr. Sopenhoff convinced students, week after week, that the theory we were going over in class was the theory of criminality.

Inevitably, though, Dr. Sopenhoff would come up with a fatal flaw in every theory we studied, after that segment was over, until there didn't seem to be much sense about anything. One minute, the world is nice and orderly, people do things because of such and so. Then the next minute, everyone was back to knowing less than nothing about criminal causation.

Finally, it was the last day of class and some of us, myself included, wanted to know the theory that brings it all together and makes everything crystal clear. Dr. Sopenhoff had the answer to the universe where this was involved and I was sure he was going to enlighten everyone: He did.

"No one knows why anyone does anything," he said. "There are theories but all of them are going to have holes and there is always going to be some variable about why people commit crime, don’t commit crime, sometimes commit crime or might commit crime. But no one knows, really."

'How dare he!' I thought to myself. A plot twist! No one knows why anyone does anything? That's what it is? The most learned men and women studying criminology for so many years, and the sum total of it all is that no one knows why anyone does anything?

That seem to fit with the answer that I got from another institution I attended, though not so regularly – church.

Some people try and stay on the straight and narrow and others do not. Whether someone is wearing an expensive suit or the worst rags on the street, it is not an indicator of what is going on inside someone's head.

In the end, everything is free will and individual desire.

All of that was said to come to the final part of this little commentary: There is a lot going on about race and politics in the Bayshore right now.

I have no idea about why, ultimately, this topic has risen to the surface so powerfully now. Why old wounds are being pulled open between the races is a mystery. Sometimes, things happen simply because they do. Issues like this are as predictable as monsoons in tropical climates. But, like monsoons, usually everyone ends up getting wet because of them.

Requiem for RCAs in New Jersey

It's official: Municipalities cannot sell off their obligation to build affordable housing in their communities.
When Gov. Jon Corzine signed A500 into law, he changed the landscape of affordable housing in the Garden State, for the better I think.
Nevertheless, the implications for Bayshore communities, particularly Middletown, are there. Click on the headline to go to the story by Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney at The Courier Online.
Caption: Volunteers at the Jamestown Colony, in Virginia, reconstruct a period dwelling (not an example of affordable housing in New Jersey).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Middletown Elks host fluke tourney

The Middletown Elks are a great organization. They recently held a fluke tournament, which is an annual event for the lodge. This is a great community organization that does wonderful things for a lot of people. Click on the headline and go to The Courier Online.

Schiano: Rutgers is ready for gridiron season debut

There is a lot of speculation going on about the contract that was signed between Scarlet Knights Head Coach Greg Schiano and the Athletic Department at Rutgers. Basically, the coach gets $2M per year and another $250,000 in other subsidies. Transparency about the contract process with the coach wasn't really there -- true--that much could be said. But, Coach Schiano was and is a hot property in college football coaching. I recall some time back that the Miami Hurricanes were shopping Coach Schiano, and I have little doubt they would have been more than competitive with what Rutgers was offering.

Bottom line: Coach Schiano likes Jersey, has been a total asset to the Rutgers Football Program and the state. He has inspired the young men he is coaching to do some great things on the gridiron, which has raised the level of awareness in people all over the country about Rutgers and New Jersey. And, he has done it in a way that is positive and creates a good role model for atheletes and young people, in general.

Coach Schiano says Rutgers Football is ready to go. He is positive about the upcoming season, which kicks off at the beginning of September. Click on the headline and go to the story about it at

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Morehead posts about Middletown COAH

Matthew Morehead, chairman for the Monmouth County Bayshore Young Dems has penned a column for the ONline version of Courier. Click on the headline to go there.


The 10th ANNUAL SPANISH AMERICAN FESTIVAL OF KEYPORT will be held on Saturday, August 9th, 2008 12pm – 8pm. The Festival will be held at the Waterfront in Keyport, Corner of Broad Street and First Street, Keyport.

The purpose of the Spanish American Festival of Keyport is to bring people of all backgrounds together to celebrate the richness of Latino culture. “Last year, over a thousand people came to our event and we expect many more as our programming of fun-filledactivities and Entertainers has increased for this years event” said Carlos Maldonado, Festival Committee Chairman. Our success is also due to the cooperation and support we are indebted to from our Keyport municipal friends that always help out, he added.

The Festival officially begins at 12pm and a full day of entertainment is on our Keyport calendar. To date, confirmed entertainers include: Proyecto Clemente, DJ ACE, Dance contest, ethnic foods, clowns and much much more!!

Contact: Virginia Maldonado (732) 471-1480 VirgniaMaldo44@Comcast.Net

Carlos Maldonado (732) 471-1480 CarlosMaldo44@Comcast.Net

Monday, July 28, 2008

McCain 'swift boats' Obama about loyalty to U.S.?

Race plays a role in how voters perceive Dem. candidate

According to the AP, Presidential candidate Barack Obama is being targeted 'swift boat' style by GOP Presidential candidate John McCain, who is seeking a new direction in the race.

According to the article, race is continuing to play a role for some voters, who see a change in the candidate's complexion as a factor in the race. Click on the headline to go to the story from AP.

Man kills 2 in Tenn. church shooting for alleged liberal views

According to the AP, a Tennessee man killed two congregants at a Unitarian church because that congregation was known as a liberal area hub. The man, who was unemployed, reportedly left a note denouncing the church's advocation of women's and gay rights. Recently, the congregation had worked to create an area chapter of the ACLU.

What is there to say about that? Click on the headline to go to YahooNews!

Caption: The first church in the U.S. was founded at the Jamestown Colony, Virginia, in 1607.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Response to Art Gallagher at More Monmouth Musings

I just read a post by Art Gallagher, after we spoke on the telephone. I told Art that Courier would not be printing his More Monmouth Musings column anymore, because after consultation with the NAACP (several people there), it was decided by me that Courier could not do this.

More Monmouth Musings is a popular state blog, and certainly very influential. Art is a very talented commentator and writer also. But, the N-word cannot be acceptable and the introduction of it by anyone cannot and should not be identified with the newspaper directly.
On a personal note, I think Art is very intelligent and I do believe he is very concerned about race. But I believe, as I have said before, that he brought up the issue of race in a bad way. I think the race issue is very charged and that much caution has to be used when addressing speech associated with it. I do thank the NAACP for its counsel also, because leaders there have put much work into the prospect of racial tolerance. Their wisdom is deeply appreciated.

As a person, I know Mr. Gallagher to be a very dedicated member of his community, who has fought very hard for business and taxpayers through his public speech. I truly regret that Courier cannot print his column anymore, because it is very good and insightful for the most part. As a business leader Art has done great things, but the newspaper cannot agree with him about this, and I cannot equivocate that. So, in print, there has to be a parting of the ways.

Courier covered the controversy, and will continue to do so. I have stated my position about race, and it is not a secret that I am a former member of the Board of Directors for the Greater Long Branch NAACP, which is an organization I place much stock in. So, I am going to have to disagree with Mr. Gallagher for the moment, but certainly not wish him any ill will.


Menendez, member of Senate Banking Committee, was able to include amendments to help children uprooted by foreclosures, boost financial literacy programs

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, a major piece of legislation to provide relief for families who are struggling to keep their homes and to stabilize the market. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Banking Committee who has been a major advocate for a strong federal response to the foreclosure crisis, voted in favor of the housing bill and praised it as an important step toward boosting our economy and providing relief to homeowners.

“This bill is about stopping the collapse of the housing market and helping millions of American families hold on to their homes. It’s also about shoring up a foundational pillar of our entire economy,” said Sen. Menendez. “The bill helps everyone from first-time homebuyers to returning veterans to make an investment in a home and continue to live the American Dream.”

“American families are the ones taking the direct hit in this economic downturn. They are receiving foreclosure notices, they are struggling to balance their checkbooks and they are reaching out to Congress for help. This is an important bill that takes us in the right direction, by boosting our economy while at the same time addressing the root cause of our current economic problems – the housing market. I am glad that President Bush this week finally retracted his cold-hearted veto threat of this bill – it has taken him far too long to wake up to the housing crisis.”

The bill includes provisions requested by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in order to increase confidence of the financial markets in Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank System.

Regarding those, Senator Menendez said, “With this increased authority comes increased responsibility for federal regulators, and I will work to ensure that the Congress and the Banking Committee keep a tight watch on them and implement strong oversight. Our taxpayers deserve no less.”

Senator Menendez also reacted to the inclusion of two of his amendments in the bill, one to assist children uprooted by foreclosures and one to promote better financial literacy for homebuyers and homeowners.

“I am also pleased that this bill includes two provisions that I championed,” said Senator Menendez. “Promoting better financial education among prospective homeowners will help make sure they are armed with the information and knowledge that helps them make the best decisions about their mortgages. By helping ensure that children who are forced to move from their homes do not also have to leave their schools, we can avoid interrupting crucial developmental years for our children while easing the strain on our nation’s school systems.”

Menendez Amendment for children affected by foreclosures: It is estimated that nearly two million children will be directly impacted by the mortgage crisis. Loss of housing can have devastating emotional consequences for children and youth. In response, Senator Menendez authored and helped pass an amendment that will authorize an infusion of funds to school districts across the country through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program to help ensure that students who are forced to move from their homes do not also have to leave their schools. More McKinney-Vento funding will enable school districts to provide the counseling and other assistance necessary to help children and youth with the emotional trauma caused by homelessness.

Menendez Financial Counseling Amendment: The Menendez Financial Counseling amendment will lead to better financial education among prospective homeowners and help identify the most successful methods for delivering counseling services. The amendment simply allows states to use their administrative expenses to improve their financial education and housing counseling services and authorizes pilot projects to help determine the most effective methods for providing housing counseling and financial education.

The bill includes a major overhaul of our mortgage financing system; it allows qualified homeowners who are struggling to refinance and lock-in more affordable loans, making terms and regulations more transparent and investing millions of dollars to help expand financial counseling programs.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Monmouth Musings blogger makes controversial remarks

In this week's edition of The Courier, More Monmouth Musings blogger Art Gallagher explains his controversial remarks on the blog. Click on the headline to go to the story.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Patrolwoman Debbie Trembley on Police Youth Week

In Union Beach, Police Youth Week is turning out great this year. Patrolwoman Debbie Trembley was kind enough to give me an interview for YouTube about this very important police initiative.

UB Police Youth Week heads into second class for '08

The Union Beach Police Department Youth Week extended into its second session between July 29-Aug.1. This is the second year the borough department has hosted the special week for children.

Last year, Police Youth Week brought out about 30 borough children between the ages of 10-13 years old. During the inaugural year of Police Youth Week, there was only one group. However, the event has more than doubled in town youths interested in taking part.

This year, the borough Police Department hosted 80 borough children, between the ages of 10-14 years old. Because of the size of the class, the children had to be broken into two groups, with the first group of about 50 children hosted at the department between July 21-25.

According to Patrolwoman Debbie Trembley, who has been on the department for 10 years, children in the program receive blocs of training from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week.

Training includes, but is not limited to: "10 codes," phonetic alphabet, motor vehicle stops, "stranger danger" encounters, anti-drug information sessions, first aid, sensitivity training, and cardio pulmonary resuscitation,

According to Trembley, when surveyed, the first class from Police Youth Week responded that between 25-35 percent of the youths wanted to go onto careers in various forms of law enforcement.

Trembley said she believes some of the things children learned during Police Youth Week have relevance in many areas of life for the children.

"Yesterday was a good day and the kids learned first aid and were certified in it. I think it is great because it doesn’t matter what their age is, they can still help someone with first aid. Just because they are little kids doesn’t mean they cannot help someone in need," Trembley said.

According to Trembley, there is wide support in the department for the program. She noted that the primary coordinators for the event were Sgt. Timothy Kelly and Officer Lisa Griffin. In addition to Kelly and Griffin, also taking part in the training was: Chief Michael Kelly, Capt. Scott Woolley, Det. Chris Tuberion, Det. Michael Woodrow, Patrolman Bob Harriott, Special Officer Nick Lands, Dispatcher Jackie Shipley, Special Officer Sean Gilkenson and herself.

Trembley noted Chief Michael Kelly's strong enthusiasm for the program, and credited that as an important reason for its growing success.

Trembley confirmed that there is a strong bond of trust in town between the police and residents, and programs like Police Youth Week assist in community outreach. "This is a small community town. A lot of the officers live in town. I think the comfort zone of people growing up with each other helps to foster trust. A lot of these officers grew up here, or they went to school in Union Beach. These people here have such a strong tie to their community," she said.

Trembley said that Police Youth Week is likely to be even bigger next year, and concluded that the growing program is really the result of "some very involved and dedicated officers, a group of really wonderful parents and some really great kids."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Train station case decided by courts

The case of the Matawan Train Station Redevelopment Project has been decided by an appellate court. The story in the APP is good reading. Click on the headline to go there.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gallagher goes on YouTube about race controversy

More Monmouth Musings blogger Art Gallagher conducted an interview today, addressing his use of the "N-word" on his blog, as part of several posts he has placed on his site. For more information, click on the headline and go to Art's blog.

News Transcript editor has good point about education

Mark Rosman is the editor for the News Transcript, which covers Western Monmouth County for Greater Media Newspapers. He's earned a strong reputation industry wide as a good editor and informed commentator. This week, he makes a controversial but maybe true observation about new teachers and what is happening in public schools.

Click on the headline and go to the editorial.

Bloggers weigh-in on Schiano controversy

Kelly Heyboer, from's Jersey Blogs, has a post about the Coach Greg Schiano controversy involving a $250k side deal he has with a sports marketing company. This is on top of the $2M per year he earns as being the head coach for the Scarlet Knights Football Program.

Personally, I think Coach Schiano could be paid $3M per year and he'd still be worth it.

Ms. Heyboer was kind enough to include an excerpt from a post at The Inside Clamdigger for her post, and thanks to her for that. Click on the headline to go there.

Race debate advances: Gallagher, Dangler disagree on slur

In the Thursday edition of The Courier, I will have a story about More Monmouth Musings blogger Art Gallagher and his take on opening a dialogue about race, in general.

This comes on the heels of the top Jersey blogger using the ill-fated N-word in his posts about African-Americans. Of course, Art has used other offensive language to characterize other raises. According to Art, it's a way of gaining broader attention to the more important subject of race relations.

Some of his critics, though, include veteran Greater Long Branch NAACP President Lorenzo W. Dangler, who comes out against the use of the word in any way, and goes on to say that this is the worst way to attempt dialogue where it involves race.

Is the discussion about race over? According to both Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Dangler, it may have only just begun, but not in the way anyone might think.

Click on the headline to go to More Monmouth Musings, and pick up a copy of The Courier at the newsstand, tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hazlet lost builder's remedy

Read All About It...

onmouth County Assignment Judge Lawrence M. Lawson rendered a decision against Hazlet Township Friday morning in a builder's remedy suit filed by Elegant Properties.

The motion for summary judgment on behalf of Elegant Properties was awarded, according to court documents.

The township was assigned a special master, at its expense, to oversee the proceedings.

This case came about after the township denied Elegant Properties a rezone on its Poole Avenue property to build townhouses, rather than the single-family homes that were approved for the site. Elegant Properties has already expressed intent to purchase other properties in the township for similar development.

Check back to my blog for any updates. -- Alyssa Passeggio

Christmas in July on First Avenue, in AH

Nance Ciasa is the owner of Atlantic Artisans, First Avenue, in Atlantic Highlands. Nance runs a store that features the art of many area craftspeople and artists. Atlantic Artisans has been an incredible force where it invovles the Bayshore's artistic community.

Atlantic Artisans has a good promotion going on during July, where 20 percent is being taken off framing, art and art supplies on July 25-26, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, click on the headline to go to

Middletown earns 86th place on 100 Top Places list

Money Magazine has come out with its 2008 "Best Places to Live" and there have been a few surprises with this year's list.

Garden State winners include: Franklin Township, No. 5; Parsippany, No. 13; Piscataway, No. 23; Edison Township, No. 35; Hamilton Township, No. 51; Washongton Township, No. 58; Union Township, No. 75; Howell Township, No. 77; Middletown Township, No. 86; and Wayne Township, No. 100.

To see the full list, click on the headline and go to Money-CNN.

Gaffney deals with Fiore resume issue at Sable Minded

Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney recently did a follow-up about a candidate story in Middletown, where it involved Middletown Republican Committee candidate Anthony Fiore. Mr. Fiore had some issues where it involved dates and job titles for employment. I am aware that Ms. Gaffney has requested every public record from Linden and Carteret to attempt to support the story Mr. Fiore gave, without success so far. Mr. Fiore has become upset about this, blaming Ms. Gaffney for bias, but it wasn't Ms. Gaffney that didn't have records supporting Mr. Fiore's service as recreation director in those towns -- that problem does not reside with Ms. Gaffney. There were no public records supporting his story, and every public record involving Mr. Fiore was duly requested from those municipalities.

Mr. Fiore has been quite unkind about this with Ms. Gaffney, but anyone who is running for office and basing their qualifications on particular service should not be shocked that anyone puts in a call to actually make sure that something is as stated. Fact-checking is a part of reporting, or at least it should be. Municipal goverment is a very expensive proposition these days and candidates should probably have some pertinent and verifiable business or public experience.

Ms. Gaffney has done a great job in being thorough and researching her work. There aren't enough young reporters doing the level of work she is, and actually there aren't enough reporters performing at the level of either Ms. Passeggio or Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Paseggio.
Click on the headline to go to Ms. Gaffeny's blog for her latest post about the subject.

Show Coach Schiano the money!

Rutgers Head Football Coach Greg Schiano will reportedly be paid as much as $250,000 in what amounts to a bonus from a sports marketing firm associated with Rutgers University. This is on top of the reported $2M per year the coach will earn as the Scarlet Knights' skipper.

Frankly, if Schiano weren't there, would there be anything to talk about? It would be back to the days where Rutgers' team looked more like a high-school prep squad. Coach Schiano has taken a mediocre and well-meaning team and transformed it into a player on the national stage.

Rutgers Football is one of the best things happening in the Garden State, and that is principally due to Coach Schiano.

Click on the headline to go to the story at

Monday, July 21, 2008

Former 'Mayor For Life' Sharpe James: Maybe 20 years?

According to a report on, former Essex County Senator and Newark Mayor Sharpe James could get 20 years in a federal prison if U.S. Attorney Chris Christie gets his way.

James was criticized for his extravagances several years ago by former Monmouth County Assemblyman Steve Corodemus, who remarked about the former "mayor for life's" penchant for driving his Rolls Royce to Trenton during legislative sessions. But no one could have imagined the extent of the former Newark mayor's corruption problems until a federal verdict recently.

Whether or not James is going to spend the next two decades behind bars will be up to fate, and the Hon. William Martini, who has been so present during the recent "Operation Bid Rig" trials. For more information, go to by clicking on the headline and see the story.

Colts Neck intersection eyed for improvements

County engineers evaluating crash history, traffic patterns

FREEHOLD – Responding to a request by Colts Neck officials, Monmouth County engineers have begun studying the traffic patterns and alignment of Crine Road, where it intersects Dutch Lane Road and Heulitt Road, to see what can be done to improve safety at the intersection.

Preliminary data has revealed that the intersection, despite having an unconventional geometry, is not a high-crash area. Most of the crashes that do occur there happen during peak rush hours, rarely at night or during the rest of the day.

“I have asked the county engineer to look at what improvements could be made, but to keep in mind that any changes must meet the design objectives of a designated scenic road,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said. “Crine Road was identified as a scenic road in “The Monmouth County Scenic Roadway Plan,” which was adopted by the County’s Planning Board in 2001.”

Joseph Ettore, the county engineer, said that as the county continues to grow there is always a need to re-examine traffic patterns and roadway designs.

“We realize that as the county grows there has been an increase in traffic,” Ettore said. “What accommodated traffic flows years ago may very well be insufficient today.”

The county will embark on a detailed study of traffic volume and crashes and make a full review of the intersection’s geometry before making a recommendation, Ettore said.

AP: NJ young drivers getting better?

There is an article out by the AP, on, that talks about young New Jersey drivers getting better overall. From my experience, I would say I haven't seen anything news breaking or great in the way that young drivers in this state are driving.

Thursday, July 17, 2008



To Battle Growing Epidemic of Complex Brain Disorder

Point Pleasant Beach, NJ – Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, will hold their kickoff barbeque for Autism Speaks’ Third Annual New Jersey Shore Walk Now for Autism event at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at Jenkinson’s Inlet North in Point Pleasant Beach. The walk, scheduled for September 28, 2008 at the Point Pleasant Beach Band Shell, will help increase awareness about the growing autism epidemic and raise funds for research, family services and advocacy to battle the complex brain disorder.

The Kickoff Event:

The NJ Shore Walk Now for Autism Kickoff Barbeque is open to the public (though registration is required) and will be hosted by Walk Co-Chairs Janice McGreevy and Sheila Doerr. Speaking at the barbeque will be David Marciano, an actor from TV’s “The Shield” and a parent of a child on the autism spectrum. Representatives from Autism Speaks will also be speaking along with Sean Donnelly (of Old Bridge) and Amanda Laughlin (of Brick), both parents of children on the autism spectrum and leaders of two of the NJ Shore Walk’s most profitable walk teams.

In addition to providing information about the New Jersey Shore Walk, the kickoff barbeque will be part of Autism Speaks’ efforts to educate the local community about autism and the importance of supporting a national organization with a track record of funding local autism work. Janice McGreevy, Walk Co-Chair and Browns Mills resident says, “It is important that the New Jersey Shore community knows that, while Autism Speaks may be the largest national voice for individuals with autism, the organization also provides resources to local citizens. A perfect example of this is the Family Services area of Autism Speaks’ website where you can find request a 100 Day Kit for newly diagnosed individuals as well as a list of family service providers in our area including therapists, specialized schools, state-sponsored services and even dentists.” Sheila Doerr, Walk Co-Chair and Middletown resident, agreed with McGreevy, adding “Families can also contact Autism Speaks’ specially trained Autism Response Team which is available to connect families with information, local resources and opportunities.”

The Walk Now for Autism events are the signature fundraising events for Autism Speaks, raising more than $26 million last year, alone, to support autism research. Locally, the New Jersey Shore Walk Now for Autism raised $416,000 in 2008 and $275,000 in 2007.

For more information about the Autism Speaks’ New Jersey Shore Walk Now for Autism Kickoff Barbeque and Walk, visit Please sign-up for the barbeque by going to, click on Register Now for the Kickoff.

New Yorker cartoon wasn't 'smart, witty' -- just vulgar

It is common for politicians to be lampooned and the subject of satire. What is satire in the first place? Usually, appearances and positions are exaggerated, for the sake of levity.

What was different about the characterization of Michele and Brarack Obama was that they were depicted as armed and dangerous, terrorists that were not only complicit in terrorism but were somehow actually doing the terrorizing themselves. And why? Because they are black (and Sen. Obama's father was a Muslim). It's one thing to characterize Sen. Obama as a host of things, but you can't 'have fun' with someone being a terrorist these days after all the mess about Guantanamo, Iraq and domestic terrorism.

The Bush administration sanctioned former President Jimmy Carter for unilaterally meeting with Mid-East extremists to talk. Former President Carter was called all kinds of things, but no one characterized him as a terrorist. But Obama is black and his Dad was a Muslim -- so that's perfectly fine.

Terrorist = murderer. The guy is running for president. On what planet was this supposed to be either smart or witty? There aren't usually a lot of laughs when it comes to murderers, so I guess this was the New Yorker trying to be 'edgy.'

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Yorker: Not what it was back in the day

The New Yorker has traditionally been a publication associated with enlightenend thought, literary excellence and an interesting take on contemporary events. The magazine has some of the best writers and illustrators in the world, and they have millions of readers that span the globe. But they won't have this reader anymore.

The Barack Obama cover was a cheap, sideshow carnival act of a trick to generate controversy for its own sake to sell ink, or perhaps weigh on the presidential campaign in some high-brow, look-down-their-nose way. Any way it goes, writing excellence is in the writing, not in the strutting about with their pants down -- which is what they've done.

In catering to the lowest common denominator on their cover, maybe the magazine will bring in a new demographic and join such fine publications as Guns and Ammo and American Fisherman on coffee tables around the country.

Budweiser sold to Belgian brewer

America's 130-year relationship with Budweiser is about to change, as the U.S.A.'s top beer producer prepares to be sold to a Belgian brewing company. Once known to be as 'red, white and blue' as 'Mom's apple pie' (if it were served in a bar), Budweiser's first family of brewing, the Busches, are calling it a day.

My opinion: Budweiser is probably the worst tasting beer in North America. There is no way the recipe could be harmed by a European company taking it over (especially from somewhere they know how to really make beer). Perhaps the best thing the new brewer could do is to put beer into what is otherwise a can of water.

On the economic side: It would be disappointing to see if jobs and production facilities are moved outside of the Continental United States. The last thing the economy needs is another flight to Europe from a long-standing U.S. company.

Click on the headline to go to the story at NPR.

Middletown PD hunts alleged rapist

CAPTION: Middletown police are searching for Charles Jackson in connection with a sexual assault case in town.


The Middletown Twp. Police Department is investigating the sexual assault of a 13 year old township girl that occurred on July 10, 2008. An arrest warrant has been issued for Charles Jackson who also goes by the names of “Real” and “Raheem Woods”.

Officer Larisa Doriety filed the initial investigation report and Detective Kelly Godley conducted the follow up investigation which led to the charges against Jackson. Jackson is an acquaintance of the 13 year old and used the familiarity to lure her into a residence. When she entered the home he locked the door so she could not leave and assaulted her.

Jackson is described as a black male, 39 years old, 5’7”, 140 lbs., brown hair and brown eyes. His last known address is Wedgewood Circle in the Belford section of the township. He may be operating a maroon colored Ford van bearing New Jersey registration VSY 83B.

Anyone with information as to Jackson’s whereabouts is asked to call the Middletown Twp. Police Department at 732 615-2100.

Sisters of Mercy are a Monmouth-Ocean blessing

ABOVE: (l-r) Former Matawan Mayor Bea Duffy, Sister Elizabeth Garvey and an unidentified person at the recent Crystal beacon Awards.

The Sisters of Mercy are a Catholic religious order that is very prominent in the Monmouth-Ocean County area. I have had some experience with two institutions that have involved the Sisters: Georgian Court University, in Lakewood, and the Bayshore Senior, Health, Education & Recreation Center, in Keansburg.

Georgian Court is a wonderful school, which I attended several years ago while seeking my bachelor’s degree in history during the 1990s. The Sisters of Mercy own the school and its buildings and grounds, which were purchased from the Gould family. In fact, the university is celebrating its centennial this year, and it is quite a proud tradition. Sister Dorothy Lazarak was in charge of the Evening Division, which all males had to belong to when they attended the university (then a college), as it is otherwise an all-girl school.

Several years later, while at The Courier, I encountered the Bayshore Senior Center, where Sister Elizabeth Garvey is the executive director. The center serves the needs of hundreds of seniors throughout the Bayshore. The center has been open the past 32 years and grew out of a program offered at St. Ann’s Church, in Keansburg, during the 1970s. While it is not a religious organization, there are Sisters of Mercy employed as part of the center’s administration.

It has been my pleasure to meet many Sisters of Mercy, and at each occasion it has been special. The Sisters of Mercy are, essentially, a teaching order. Yet, what I have learned from the Sisters is almost unintended because it is not taught as a part of a curriculum, nor in a program offering somewhere.

In a world that is so grounded in the everyday grind, these Sisters make faith a tangible part of that world. The Sisters do not retreat from the world, creating a space where they pursue after abandoning the everyday world. Rather, they bring active faith in God into every activity that they do — and do it well, which is not something that is ordinarily found.

Sister Dorothy is still at Georgian Court. During my time at Georgian Court, she had to deal with thousands of ‘real-world’ situations involving school administration. Far from ‘uplifting’ or cloistered, she had to remain accessible for many tasks associated with administering to a very dynamic, growing area of the university’s concerns. Still, she did not get caught up in the everyday. Rooted in her faith, Sister Dorothy was an example in respect, courtesy, efficiency and faith. Georgian Court is very diverse, but I found myself truly appreciating the durable nature of her religious beliefs, and that example teaches a great deal in itself.

Meanwhile, Sister Garvey has been a mainstay at the Bayshore Senior Center since 1981. She has such regard for the seniors there, and for people in general. The sister had to see many seniors pass, and has fought a daily battle to make the center even better than it is. She is dedicated to the Bayshore’s seniors, with a great and gentle kind of determination. Frankly, there are not enough good things to say about the simple and yet poignant way she goes about her duties, all the while a great example of Christianity ‘in the world.’

It is easy to lose touch with faith in the commotion of the everyday: the commute, the job, the mortgage, the kids, recession, stress, conflict and doing it all over again the next day. Perhaps I could add sleeplessness, frustration and a constant battle to try and be as healthy as you can while running at the pace of a greyhound on the track. For some, faith is there, but bringing faith into the everyday can be hard because of the pace of the train. I suggest that the attempt is worthy, and in the end the peace it brings can be priceless.

Neither Sister Dorothy nor Sister Garvey would ever say, I think, that they ‘have it’ when it comes to being as spiritually progressed as they try (who is?). But their walk of life is notable, and the way they each do it is beyond admirable and borders on quietly incredible. I think that speaks volumes for their order, the Sisters in the Order and their commitment to helping others while growing in faith themselves.

I think all of us could take a page out of their book, and be the better for it. Click on the headline to go to Georgian Court University's website.

Monday, July 14, 2008

UMDNJ moving closer to termnations in 'KKK Hazing Incident'

According to Blue Jersey, UMDNJ has moved to terminate the individuals involved with the recent "KKK Hazing Incident" at Newark's top health-care provider.

In my opinion, there is something very wrong in the 21st century when medical personnel at UMDNJ think it is somehow funny to indulge in KKK references as part of any exercise in humor. TRhe city of Newark hosts UMDNJ and is overwhelmingly diverse. I think UMDNJ is doing the right thing in trying to help itself past this controversy. But, once it is past it, I think it is safe to say that a new, tougher set of policies and guidelines are put in place to make sure something like this does not happen again in the future.

For more information about this story, click on the headline and go to Blue Jersey.

New Yorker prints racist cover, calls it 'satire'

According to a story today in the NY Daily News, by Stephanie Gaskell, titled "Bam team lashes mag," David Remnick, editor for The New Yorker, explains away the cover of the July 21st edition as "satire."

Mr. Gaskell's version of satire, then, must include Sen. Barack Obama being depicted in full-Muslim garb in the Oval Office, with his wife, Michele, dressed in some kind of combatant attire, complete with AK-47.

Long story short: The new Yorker is out of line, out of class and out of excuses; a total failure of common sense and good taste. The Obama campaign condemns the image. The McCain campaign condemns the image. It's just a bad image from some folks who seem to think it's funny.

Click on the headline to go to the NY Daily News.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


For Immediate Release

Monday, July 11, 2008

- Media Contact: Carla Cefalo-Braswell, President

HIGHLANDS, N.J. – Discover the true meaning of “Succulent Seafood” at the Highlands Business Partnership’s 14th Annual Clamfest. The Festival is open July31st – August 3rd at Huddy Park on Bay & Waterwitch Avenues. The Clam Festival, is a four-day action packed event featuring the freshest seafood, plus live music entertainment, thrill rides, games, contest and more. Admission is free, and the event takes place rain or shine. This year’s Clam Fest will highlight a special attraction; the NASA Exploration Experience will give the public a glimpse into NASA's plans for the future. The exhibit is free to the public and the tour takes approximately 10 minutes. NASA will join us for the duration of the Clam Festival and will host special guest speakers live on stage.

The Clamfest midway will be set up in Huddy Park, and portions of Bay and Waterwitch Avenues will be closed to street traffic to accommodate the specialty vendors marketplace and of course, the food court with many popular Highland’s restaurants such as Andretta’s, Bahrs, Beacon on the Bay, Chilangos, Clam Hut, Francescos, Lusty Lobster, One28Bay, Pizza Plus, and the Sand Witch Shop. These include clams – fried, stuffed, steamed or on the half shell – and soft shell crab sandwiches, shrimp, oysters, crab cakes, lobster, scallops, gumbo jambalaya, chowders, mussels and much more.

Although seafood is the highlight, there will be lots for landlubbers to chow down at the Highlands Fire Department’s famous Rib Tent and corn on the cob, hot dogs, burgers, French fries, grilled sausages, pizza, cheese steaks, tacos, burritos and homemade sweets and treats.

As always, the Clam Fest is a non-alcohol event however you can quench your thirst at the Claddagh or the Driftwood, both at the entrance to the festival on Bay Avenue. Check out their “Happy as a Clam” drink specials. The VFW will host their Annual Beer Garden in the beautiful backyard of the VFW Post throughout the entire event. Take a glimpse of their newest member, the Doughboy Statue, recently relocated from Route 36.

For more information call 732-291-4713 or visit

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Favre: Not ready to say goodbye to NFL?

Future Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre isn't quite as retired as he was a couple months ago. The Packer standout is seeking a comeback, after his team has already moved on to a new starter. Favre is looking for Green Bay to release him, allowing him to be a free agent, but that's not in the cards according to the Packers' front office.

Favre reportedly was unmoved when team officials tried to talk him into coming back earlier this year. He was the one who supposedly sought retirement, compelling Green Bay to go on a QB hunt.

With his unexpected return, team officials say Favre can rejoin the team but is not promised his former starting position.

My take on it: Favre is never going to be better than he was. Even a great can be humbled by staying too long, and I think Favre has decided to stay around too long. I thought watching Michael Jordan play basketball was the greatest thing I ever saw, and then he "came back" and it made me wince, game after game, until I couldn't watch anymore. It won't be any different with Favre. Nevertheless, Favre was one of the greats and his place in the hall is well-deserved. I just wish he'd start getting on the road to it.

Click on the headline to go to AP Sports.

Yankee great Bobby Murcer dies of brain cancer

According to the NY Post, former Yankee outfielder Bobby Murcer, 62, has died of cancer. He has reportedly been battling the disease for two years. The former pinstripe slugger-turned Yankee broadcaster was a staple of Yankee life for many of the Bronx faithful. He is sure to be missed by so many.

Murcer played during the 1970s, in what some have called the "Golden Age" of Major League Baseball. Known for his clutch hitting and great glove, Murcer is so much a part of the Yankee legacy. So rarely has someone so much in the public conducted themselves with such poise and class.

Click on the headline to go to the story in the NY Post.

UMDNJ 'KKK' hazing incident in Newark draws criticism

According to a story at, some 'fun' where it involved young people at UMDNJ included KKK costumes and some more bad conduct. There are concerns in the community, and why wouldn't there be?

UMDNJ enjoys wide trust in the Newark community, which is largely black, and this incident has members of the Newark community asking questions, and UMDNJ left to answer them.

Click on the headline to go to the story at

A look back at Monmouth County history

Monmouth County Clerk Claire French talks about some of the changes that the county has seen by way of demographics since the 18th century, at The Courier Online. Where Monmouth was once a largely agrarian area, the march has time has seen a dramatic change in Monmouth's lifestyles.

Click on the headline to go to the story at The Courier Online.

CAPTION: (L-R) County Clerk Claire French, GOP Chairman Joe Oxley and Sheriff Kim Guadagno, last year, while on the Campaign Trail.

President Bush repeats call for off-shore drilling; Sen. Menendez responds

WASHINGTON – Today, after meeting with economic advisors, President Bush reiterated his call for Congress to open up new areas of oil drilling, including the U.S. coastlines.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a leading opponent of drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf and author of the COAST Act to permanently ban drilling there, released the following statement:

“Apparently President Bush’s economic team does not realize his coastline drilling plan won’t produce a drop of oil for a decade and won’t lower gas prices, now or ever. The administration’s Energy Information Agency has said as much. American families are struggling right now, and they deserve better than waiting for a decade for a plan that won’t lower gas prices. They deserve better than a president taking advantage of public concern about gas prices to give one last handout to his buddies in the oil companies.

“We as a nation have the ability and ingenuity to implement a smarter plan of action. A plan that would crack down on oil speculation to bring gas price relief in the short term. A plan that would hold the oil companies accountable by pushing them to actually utilize the 68 million unused acres they already have leased. A plan that would tap the innovative spirit we have always shown in America. In the time Bush and McCain would take to start on oil production along our coastlines, we can transition to a new transportation model based on renewable energy and advanced alternatives fuels.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bayshore Young Dems have new digs

The Monmouth County Bayshore Young Democrats have officially moved into their new office at 1340 Highway 36, Suite 14, in Airport Plaza, Hazlet. The group's telephone is (732) 739-8888. The information line is 732-739-8996.

The group is actively seeking volunteers for the upcoming campaign season throughout Monmouth County. For more information, Chairman Matthew Morehead can be reached at:

What's the root source of the recession?

Personally, I do not believe the recession is a psychological phenomenon. I think it's a lot more concrete than that. But, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Middletown Mike takes on COAH concerns

"Middletown Mike" Morris has a post dealing with COAH concerns in Monmouth's largest township. There are more than a few misconceptions and fears by township taxpayers about this important issue.

Mike has published a fact sheet. Click on the headline to go to the post at Middletown Mike.

Fennell waits for a new kidney

Middletown resident Bill Fennell is a good guy who has a big problem. Bill is waiting for a new kidney and facing a very difficult day-to-day challenge. Bill has worked dedicatedly at Food Circus Super Markets for basically his entire adult life. At 46, Bill and his family are facing a difficult thing but with a lot of hope for the future.

Click on the headline for the story at The Courier Online. reports on Highlands bridge

The Highlands bridge along Route 36 is in the news at Certainly, it's been an issue in the Bayshore. Click on the headline to go to

One-Stop Career Center to host open house July 16

July 10, 2008

FREEHOLD – The public is invited to an open house at the Monmouth County One-Stop Career Center on July 16 from noon until 3 p.m.

The One-Stop Career Center, part of the county’s Division of Employment and Training, is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its new office at 145 Wyckoff Road, Suite 201, Eatontown. The public is welcome and refreshments will be served.

“The Career Center is a valuable resource for people of all skill sets and wage brackets who are in need of jobs,” said Freeholder Barbara J. McMorrow, liaison to the Monmouth County Department of Human Services, which oversees the Employment and Training division. “Whether it’s information on job postings, retraining or simply to get help with a resume, these dedicated staff members are there to help Monmouth County residents find a job to support themselves and their families.”

The Division of Employment and Training has a staff of 25. It operates the One-Stop Career Center and also provides staff to the Workforce Investment Board, which plans for and coordinates publicly funded employment and training services within Monmouth County.

Since January 2007, the county has enabled 1,672 unemployed adults and 250 young people to complete vocational training to improve their employability. Another 612 people improved their math, reading or basic computer skills at the Learning Link, located at the Career Center.

The Division of Employment and Training also conducts a successful Home-Based Distance Learning Program, which helps employed former welfare clients improve their skills by taking online classes at home. Students are supplied with a computer and Internet access for one year, during which time they can take computer classes without worrying about child care or transportation issues.

“Monmouth County is recognized nationwide as a pioneer and a leader in the field of Home Based Distance Learning,” said Lynn Miller, director of the Department of Human Services. “Since 2002, 218 have graduated and participants enjoy a 93 percent employment rate.”

The Career Center also offers a Resource Room for residents looking for employment who need the use of a computer, fax machine and telephone. “Anyone can come in and use the Resource Room, plus we have staff on hand to assist them,” said Kathleen Weir, the WIB executive director.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fox: Jackson on remark made about Obama

Fox covered the remark made by the Rv. Jesse Jackson about Sen. Obama. Sean Hannity has the story from Fox. I think if Rev. Jackson feels as strongly as he was during the "hot mic" incident he should say what's on his mind.

McCain on Health-care for returning vets

Sen. McCain gets testy here with a veteran discussing his voting record about health-care for returning vets from Afghanistan and Iraq. I certainly think Sen. McCain has done a lot for veterans, and is himself someone who served with great distinction. There must be a good reason why he didn't like the bill the man was talking about. I think just saying it like it is would be better than getting irritated over a question.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Latino news agency comes to Middletown

Cecilia Reynolds and Univision was here in Middletown to take on the issue of the governing body's proposed resolution against illegal aliens. Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney got the interview and the YouTube about the story.

Click on the headline to go to a story about this at The Courier Online, by Ms. Gaffney.

Recreation Movie Night in Keyport

Recreation Move Night will be held at Keyport High School's football field on Friday, July 11 at 8:30 p.m. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. This movie night Shrek III will be shown.

Organizers for the event advise attendees to bring a blanket, lawn chair, or sit in the bleachers during the show. Also, there will be food and snacks available for purchase.

All proceeds from he event will fund Keyport Recreation 2008 programs. For more information, contact George Strang, at 732-598-2675.

As an aside, I received a weather report, courtesy of Councilman Joe Wedick, which says weather for the event is likely to be mostly clear, from the low to mid 60s during Friday night. During the day, it is likely to be sunny, with highs in the 80s.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Thanks to Keyport Councilman Joe Sheridan for sending this along.

YouTube item parodies Extreme Makeover Home Edition

This is a light-hearted piece of entertainment on YouTube. The clip parodies Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

Mulshine: Where have the bennies gone?

Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine talks about how there isn't as much traffic happening "Down the Shore" in the Greater Point Pleasant area. Mulshine points out some trends this summer that could be important for businesses.

In Northern Monmouth County's Bayshore, I haven't really been looking at summer traffic, but I haven't noticed too much of a problem getting around on Route 36, which has been very crowded in years past.

Sandy Hook has been very accessible, which is to say I haven't experienced crazy lines this year, which is something new.
CAPTION: The Promenade, in Keyport, is a relatively new attraction in Northern Monmouth County that is worth a look if you're in the area.

For Paul Mulshine's column at, click on the headline.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Clamdigger housekeeping about links

I really like the Web sites and blogs that have been linked at The Inside Clamdigger (see lefthand side of page). But, for a blog or newspaper link to mean something to readers, I think a site should be updated regularly (at least once every month or so). Consequently, I'll be purging links over the next few weeks that have had no activity going on at them for awhile.

Academic institutions, community organizations and governmental entities have static sites. Those aren't what I am talking about -- basically I'm talking about the sites that report news and the like as a mainstay. As always, thanks for showing up and reading.



For Immediate Publication

JULY 7, 2008

POC: James Grenafege
Middletown Democrat for Township Committee
(732) 872-0890

MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP (MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ): According to Middletown Democrat for Township Committee Jim Grenafege, the formation of the Middletown Blue Ribbon Budget Commission is an important part of his strategy to repair the municipal budget process.

“One of the things I believe in is that there is tremendous amount of talent in the community: Not just talent from a potential perspective, but talent that has been developed. If appropriately invited to take part in the governmental process, top corporate leaders in this community will participate,” Grenafege said.

The retired human resources executive holds a Master’s Degree in counseling from Montclair State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Johns Hopkins University. After 26 years as a corporate manager, Grenafege said business has taught him that inclusiveness and constructive input from top executives are vital in presiding over any large corporation.

As a result, Grenafege is proposing that an all-volunteer committee be convened comprised of leading corporate CEOs, COOs, Accountants, Engineers and Finance professionals that will lend their experience to the community.

“I want to be a consensus builder, along with fellow elected officials in this township, to create a better, more common sense government that is cost efficient and fiscally responsible,” Grenafege said.

The candidate, “You can look inward for inspiration and for decisions, but being elected on the governing body is really about community. All of this community is not involved in Middletown, and I think that is because it really isn’t invited to do so. I want to invite this community back to its own Town Hall.”

Grenafege said that, at the Committee meetings, it is clear there isn’t the level of receptivity for public participation that could be there. “There are people showing up for very specific reasons to the committee sessions, but there isn’t a wide sense of community,” he said.

Grenafege said he intends to begin the process of re-inviting the community back to its own government with the Blue Ribbon Commission, but the more important work starts after that.

“Creating a common sense, workable and prudent town budget is the most important thing officials do, but the next job is to get back in touch with Middletown and all of its communities and get a firm hold of what the residents of Middletown want – not just a few political leaders. It is time for town officials to stop speaking in the monologue and start listening again.”


Rail line would enhance park, not hurt it

County officials take issue with DEP letter critical of MOM line

FREEHOLD – Activation of a 150-year-old rail line that runs alongside Route 522 in Manalapan would provide much-needed passenger rail service to the western part of Monmouth County and also enhance the public’s enjoyment of Monmouth Battlefield State Park.

“The significant history of our county did not end with the Battle of Monmouth,” Monmouth County Administrator Robert M. Czech writes in a letter to DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson. “In fact, there is a rich history in the area surrounding where the three-day Revolutionary War battle was fought and along the British retreat into Middletown.”

Among those is the wagon freight/stage coach route adjacent to Route 522 and the resulting construction of the county’s first railroad in 1852 – the Jamesburg-Freehold Agricultural Railroad – which was used to transport troops during the Civil War. The line, which exists today and is used to move freight, is the one the county wants activated as part of the Monmouth Junction alignment of the proposed Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex (MOM) passenger rail line.

“The railroad predates park development by more than 100 years and would not be expanded beyond the single track in this area,” Czech said in the letter. “When the park’s Visitor Center was built on top of historically significant Combs Hill to overlook the historic houses and fields below, the railroad was already part of the landscape. Trains are not visible from the park’s Visitor Center.”

The county’s letter addresses concerns from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks and Forestry. In a letter dated May 19, Acting Director of Parks and Forestry Jeanne A. Mroczko expressed concerns that more frequent use of the rail line for passenger service would negatively impact the future development of the park as a National Historic Landmark.

In fact, the Monmouth Battlefield National Landmark Planning Guide prepared by the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield cites the compatibility of passenger rail service with park development and, in fact, recommends development of the Monmouth Junction alternative. The Guide states:

“This line, originally constructed in 1852 through central New Jersey, links southern Middlesex County (near Princeton Corridor) with eastern Monmouth County, including Allaire State Park. The Planning Guide recommends the development of passenger service from Middlesex County to Allaire State Park, with a stop at Monmouth Battlefield.”

County officials note that rail service has been compatible with other “First Rank Battlefield Parks,” including Gettysburg National Military Park.

“Access via rail can enhance park development, access and use,” Czech writes. “The historic Monmouth Junction Alternative (aka Freehold & Jamesburg Agricultural Railroad) exists and should be used to this park’s benefit, following the recommendation of the master plan (Planning Guide).

“Furthermore, we feel that passenger rail service on the existing tracks is actually less intrusive than the proposed internal loop road that would wind its way through all major skirmish sites, adding new stream crossings and additional impervious surfaces to the open space of the park, while further disturbing important archeological sites such as the hedgerow, the Parsonage farm and the ‘path of armies’ through the ‘Point of Woods,’ to name a few,” Czech continued.

If the Monmouth Junction alternative is selected for the MOM line, it would provide people from the entire Northeast with public transportation to the park. “This will enable daily attendance to increase at the park and make the historic battlefield and surrounding area an easily reached destination and available to all,” Czech said in the letter.

The county also takes issue with Mroczko’s contention that the railroad and Route 522 creates an interpretive “dead zone” through the center of the heaviest fighting. The county feels that Route 522 provides access to that area of the park and notes that the park’s Planning Guide discusses using Route 522 as one possible leg of the proposed park loop road, which would be safer than the current pedestrian crossing as an access to the northern part of the park.

“Historic maps show that the road existed at the time of the Battle of Monmouth,” Czech said. “The battlefield skirmishes certainly straddled the road and, in part, the road was one of the reasons the conflicts occurred in this area. … The county views Route 522 and the Monmouth Junction line more than just a road or a rail line, but as a vital interpretive link that depicts the county’s historic past.”

Only one station is proposed in the area surrounding Monmouth Battlefield State Park, and that site can be moved farther west, away from the park. Any station-related traffic would be limited to the morning and evening rush hours, when park use is minimal. It is likely that the Monmouth Junction alternative would remove cars from Route 522 and Route 9, as there would be station sites in Freehold and Freehold Township to the east, and Jamesburg to the west, reducing the need for commuters to travel through this area to access the main arterial roadways.

“The station site would provide a wonderful opportunity for historic interpretation of the Revolutionary War battles, the important agricultural rail line and the rich history of the Tennent settlement area,” Czech writes in the letter. “It is our belief that it is quite advantageous for the railroad and the park to continue to coexist.”

Monday, July 07, 2008

Jersey Journal columnist hit nail on the head

The Jersey Journal is one of my favorite newspapers in this state, and has been for years. New Jersey’s greatest writer was a friend and the heart and soul of that paper for many years, the late Peter Weiss (1943-2003).

A lot of writers talk about how they ‘say it like it is,’ but few of them live up to the hype. Peter lived up to that saying, and perhaps was the embodiment of it. So it is not remarkable to me that another columnist at the Jersey Journal, Earl Morgan, puts it out there in a way that may not be pleasing to everyone, but I think he is right on the money.

In his June 28 column, titled “America’s ugly side surfaces,” Mr. Morgan points out that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign run may well have exposed growing resentments in this country where it involves American Muslims.

Mr. Morgan noted that, during the early part of the Obama campaign, critics implied Sen. Obama was a “closet Muslim” because his middle name was “Hussein.” Further, Mr. Morgan pointed to a recent Newsweek poll that found 44 percent of respondents favored curtailing the civil rights of Muslims in the United States.

What is even more alarming is that 27 percent of those polled believed Muslims should have to register with the government in some way. I agree with Mr. Morgan, that this argument is beginning to travel down the same road that once led to concentration camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Racial profiling was a mistake then, and it is a mistake now.

The incredibly vast majority of German-Americans during world wars I and II had absolutely no sympathy for Germany. During World War II, it would be a grave error of history to imply that German-Americans, Italian-Americans and Japanese-Americans were not as loyal as any other in the fight against Axis terror. Meanwhile, today, to make the assumption that Muslim Americans, as a group, have some blame for worldwide terrorism is a leap not rooted in either common sense or reason.

If Barack Obama was a Muslim, so what? The United States has always been intended to be a beacon of religious freedom in this world. It is astonishing that Sen. Obama, a practicing Christian, would have to resort to denying a “closeted faith” for the sake of campaign rhetoric. Similarly, it is intolerable that any sector of American society, regardless of which one it is, should be targeted in any way because of criminal acts advocated by a relatively small overseas group of fanatics.

The need for security in this country is more pressing today than it was 10 years ago, and that cannot be argued. But security cannot be at the expense of scores of innocent populations of Muslims throughout this country. At the end of that day, the United States must remain what it has been to be what the Francis Scott Key termed the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Boden sworn-in as Keansburg's mayor

Mayor Artie Boden is now the top elected official in Keansburg. Artie has been a great elected official in the borough, who ran on the same ticket as Councilman Jimmy Cocuzza awhile back. He follows in the footsteps of Mayor Lisa Strydio, who did a wonderful job at this very demanding office.

Also joining the Keansburg Borough Council is borough businessman Anthony DePompa, who has been a staunch communtiy advocate for many years.

Best of luck to Artie, George, Lisa, Jimmy and Anthony. The council has done some great work in recent years and has every opportunity of continuing this proud tradition with the latest version of the governing body.

Best of luck to outgoing Deputy Mayor Drew Murray, for his years of service on behalf of the town.

Click on the headline to go to The Courier Online.

Webb is out as VP contender with Obama

According to YahooNews!, Virginia Senator Jim Webb is out of the running as Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's vice presidential pick for the fall classic.

There isn't that much talk about Hillary anymore...but wouldn't it just make a lot of sense?

Click on the headline to go to YahooNews! for the Webb story.

Has Obama selected a running mate for fall classic?

According to NJ Voices, at, rumors are circulating that Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president, may be strongly considering Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as a running mate. Gov. Sebelius is reportedly strong on environmental issues and has a progressive stand on many domestic issues.

Click on the headline to go to NJ Voices and read it for yourself.

What's up with N.J.'s real-estate market?

Kelly Heyboer from Jersey Blogs has a great post about New Jersey's real-estate market. It's defintiely worth the read. Click on the headline to go to Jersey Blogs.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Public Forum for Bayshore Dredged Material Plan

RE: Public Forum for Bayshore Dredged Material Management Plan scheduled forThursday, July 10, 2008, at 7:30pm inside Keyport Borough Hall.


Please note that the next public forum on the Dredge Material ManagementPlan for the Bayshore region of Monmouth County, NJ will take place onThursday, July 10, 2008, inside Keyport Borough hall at 7:30pm. The buildingis located on Front Street, near the bay. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend.

Please review a working draft of the Bayshore Dredged Material ManagementPlan (DMMP). We ask that you please review the document before the publicforum and submit any questions, concerns, or ideas to this email address tothe project manager, Steve Taylor at:

You may alsobeing your questions to the public forum. The document can be found at the Bayshore Watershed Council’s website(

We ask everyone, especially government officials to share the documentwithin their respective municipalities. With this draft, we are seekinginput, clarifications and substantive comments. This is an opportunity toprovide real substance to the document.

Only public input by all willensure its implementation, so please take the time to review this importantdocument.I hope to see everyone at the next public forum scheduled for July 10th in Keyport.

Joe Reynolds
Bayshore Regional Watershed

Saturday, July 05, 2008

July the Fourth wasn't the same because of gas prices


When I received my $600 in 'Bush bucks' back this year, I was sure to put them in the bank. I have watched with a kind of grim fascination as gas prices continue to mount, and I have purposefully been not driving places, for the first time in the 24 years I've been driving.

I passed a gas station yesterday (Wawa in Howell on Route 9) and regular gas was $3.95 per gallon. I immediately thought that was a great price, and then the absurdity of that statement hit me. At work, I've been trying to figure out ways for my company to not have to drive places, and at home I can't count how many day trips that have been cancelled for lack of interest in going through tanks of gas. Another first in my driving career is knowing exactly how much it takes to fill up my tank: it takes about $50 to fill the tank of a Dodge Stratus up when it is basically empty.

It's become such a large issue that, at work, I have actually been in a conversation with a coworker that also knew exactly how much their Honda takes in gas.

I've heard the perspective that 'everything is OK' with the economy and it takes me back to that catchy 80's tune "Don't Worry, Be Happy." The song doesn't attempt to deal with anything, it just suggests that people not take things so seriously. It's the sort of logic that people have used before they jumped a freight car to chuck it all and join 'Boxcar Willie' on the open road, or become a full-time surfer. Since I don't think I'm quite ready for that, I'll go and light a candle that something gets done about the gas price thing sooner than later.

All I can say is that, if things get much worse at the pump, I'll be watching next year's fireworks at home on the television.

What's patriotism today? CNN offers a report

CNN has a thought-provoking story about modern patriotism that offers food for thought. Some parts of the report are controversial, but CNN, as usual, offers great insights. I think there are some very interesting and widely different ideas about how one 'serves their country' these days. Click on the headline to go to CNN.

Belmar drinking regulations relaxed

Star-Ledger Staff Writer Wayne Parry has a story about how, in Belmar, some drinking regulations have been relaxed so people can drink from "unregistered kegs." I had no idea that there were kegs that were law-abiding and others that were fleeing from the law.

Click on the headline for the story on

Lautenberg satired on the Politicker

The Politicker has a very amusing cartoon about the Founding Fathers and current U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg that is very funny, and not out of line, in my opinion. If you're looking for a laugh, click on the headline and go there.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Dolphin distress over Route 36 bridge?

There are serious concerns that construction on the Route 36 bridge, in Highlands, is having a negative impact on groups of dolphins in the area.
Click on the headline and read the story by Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio at The Courier Online.

Guide issued for Garden State beaches

A guide to New Jersey's beaches has been issued by the state. It's useful information for the summer time. Click on the headline and go to the story at

Fireworks held throughout county

The Fourth of July is always a special time in the area. Last night, the Red Bank fireworks display was incredible, as usual. Traffic was what traffic is in Red Bank for the fireworks. But it was a great family event.

Dr. Andrew Walsh and his wife, school board member and Democratic candidate for Township Committee Patricia Walsh, hosted their annual fireworks party at their River Plaza home, which brought out scores of people. Some of those that attended the event included Middletown Committeeman Patrick Short and his family, Holmdel Committeeman Larry Fink and his family, Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes and his family, Middletown Democratic Chairman Joseph Caliendo and his family, as well as Bayshore Young Dems Chairman Matthew Morehead and his family, among others.

It was a very big event with great food and a lot of spirit. Click on the headline to go to the APP for a story about area-wide events.

Menendez about Independence Day

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) released the following statement on the eve of our nation’s Independence Day:

“Independence Day is a perfect time to reflect on our nation’s monumental past, to celebrate our present accomplishments and to contemplate how to secure an even better future for our children. On this day we are reminded that we must never take our freedoms for granted, and that we must continue to make the American Dream possible for everyone.

“Independence Day also serves as a reminder of the heroism of the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and who have allowed this nation to become and to remain independent. Throughout American history, our country has depended on the service of our brave men and women in uniform to protect our freedoms. We salute their sacrifice and show our deepest appreciation – not just on this day, but every day.

“I wish everyone a safe, happy and fun July 4th weekend with their loved ones, and in particular, I will be thinking of our men and women serving overseas this Independence Day.”

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Caliendo becomes Courier columnist

The Courier will be welcoming new columnist Joe Caliendo, chairman of the Middletown Township Democratic Party, as a columnist in its editorial pages in upcoming weeks. The veteran Democratic leader will become a permanent fixture in our pages, and has previously been a columnist for the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Mr. Caliendo will round out the columnists for the newspaper, sometimes characterized as "too Republican" by critics. Personally, I think the more points of view the better and so this is bound to be a lively addition. Be sure to look for Joe Caliendo's "Democrats Calling."

CAPTION: At the recent Crystal Beacon Awards, in Red Bank, Greater Long Branch NAACP President Lorenzo W. Dangler and Middletown Democratic Chairman Joseph Caliendo.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chief James Alston sworn-in at ceremony

Matawan's new police chief, James Alston, was sworn-in at the most recent session of the Borough Council. Click on the headline to go to coverage by Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio.

July the 4th and the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence was the first document this country produced, and it set the tone for a republic born of freedom and liberty, with a respect for life and the pursuit of happiness.

Things change over time, but so long as the vision of the Founders are the goals of our government we'll collectively never be far from right. I do think it's time to take patriotic sentiments off bumper stickers and put them back into the halls of government throughout this country -- where they belong and never should have left. has a great story. Click on the headline to go there.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wall Street: Showing Obama the money

According to a story in the New York Daily News, Wall Street is investing in the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama for president of the United States. Sen. Obama has garnered a war chest twice as large as that of Sen. John McCain, who is running on the Republican slate for president.

Click on the headline to go to the story.

Brightbill challenges need for bipartisan discussion

It has long been a criticism I have had of the Middletown Committee's GOP majority that decisions are made by this majority without any allowance for discussion from Democrats elected to the governing body. It should be the citizenry of Middletown that decides who has input into government. According to Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill, at last night's committee meeting, conversation and input with regard to matters of business at Town Hall amounts to a luxury where it involves Democrats offering input -- something that happens 'when there is time.'

The fact that the deputy mayor is so polarized that she does not even entertain the idea of genuine debate, and denotes that basically everything must go along party lines where voting is concerned, is preposterous. No community needs this kind of leadership. Bipartisanship is a requirement of government. If a Democrat cannot communicate to a Republican, or vice cersa, then how can anything get done?

The voters made the choice of putting committeemen Patrick Short and Sean Byrnes on the governing body, and it is disrespectful to them, not to mention governmentally unorthodox, for a deputy mayor to rail against the presence of other party people providing input in the context of what should have been a work session.

Courier Staff Writer Melissa L. Gaffney has done an outstanding job bringing coverage of the Middletown Committee. She has a very complete post on her blog, Sable Minded. Click on the headline to go there for more information.