Friday, May 30, 2008
The NY Times has written an editorial endorsing Sen. Lautenberg. I totally agree.
My opinion: The race to watch this fall is going to be Zimmer-Lautenberg. Click on the headline to go to Lautenberg's site, where there is a copy of the NY Times' editorial.
In the May 29 issue of The Courier, under the article titled “Local officials questioned by prosecutor’s office,” headshots were run of the two Highlands Democratic councilmen. The prosecutor’s office is investigating all the council members who served last year, and we regret any confusion the photos may have caused by not running any Republican headshots.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders is once again soliciting applications from municipalities wishing to compete for a share of $2 million from the Monmouth County Municipal Open Space Grant Program to create or expand local park facilities.
Applications for the latest round of grants have been mailed to all 53 Monmouth County municipalities. The deadline for submitting a grant application is 4 p.m. Sept. 17, and only complete applications will be considered for funding. Grant awards will be announced in December 2008.
The grants, part of a competitive matching-funds program for municipalities, are administered by the Monmouth County Park System and funded through the Monmouth County Open Space Trust Fund.
“I encourage all of our municipalities to submit their plans for park improvements or open space acquisitions,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Monmouth County Park System. “This is an excellent way for towns and the county to partner in providing recreation and open space to benefit our residents and the environment. Quality parks and open space contribute positively to the quality of life here in Monmouth County.”
All 53 Monmouth County municipalities are eligible to apply for funding awards. Last year, 20 towns successfully submitted requests for grants seeking a total of $3.9 million, of which the Board of Chosen Freeholders approved 11 applications and awarded $2 million in grants.
“The Freeholders are proud to be a part of successful municipal park projects,” said Freeholder Director Burry. “The Borough of Bradley Beach recently completed improvements to two parks, Neptune City was able to improve Adams Field Park and Manalapan Township was able to acquire two parcels of land adjacent to its existing recreation center.”
Further information on the grant program can be found at the Monmouth County Park System’s Web site at www.monmouthcountyparks.com or by calling 732-842-4000, ext. 4472.
In November 2002, Monmouth County voters approved expansion of the existing County Open Space Trust Fund to include monies for cooperative projects with municipalities within the county. The Board of Chosen Freeholders formally established the program in 2003 and began allocating $2 million annually to municipalities.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Much like their Republican counterparts down in Washington DC, the Middletown GOP is devoid of ideas and is morally bankrupt. Mayor Scharfenberger, Deputy Mayor Brightbill and Middletown GOP candidate for Township Committee Anthony Fiore and many of their cronies and supporters, such as Middletown Republican County Committee members Michael Vitkansas, Cathy Rogers and James L. Hinckley, or GOP supporters like Kathy Russo and Kira Nelsen, must rely on secrecy, deception, lies, finger pointing, character assassination and name calling to cover up their inequities. Whether it is an ongoing attempt to discredit their Democratic colleagues on the township committee, Patrick Short and Sean Brynes, or the ongoing smear campaigns against community stalwarts’ former Assemblyman Joe Azzolina or former chairperson for the Middletown Human Rights Commission Carolyn Schwebel and township citizens like Don Watson, their policies and actions speak volumes about their integrity and character.
The Middletown GOPers are content with their borrow, spend then tax policies. They have refused to listen to or consider proposals to eliminate the need for tax increases from Patrick Short and Sean Byrnes or take seriously the input of township residents when it comes to the ongoing budget process. Instead, Michael Vitkansas recently wrote that he was “outraged” at the thought that residents could possibly know better then his GOP leadership, when it comes to formulating an operating budget for the township. Mayor Scharfenberger also wrote recently that “proposals by Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Short, after a collective scrutiny by all involved in the process, it was determined that they would have decreased revenue in the township, but would have increased the size of the budget by several million dollars”.
Mr. Mayor, a few questions please, who was involved in collectively scrutinizing Mr. Byrnes and Short’s proposals? It certainly did not include Byrnes or Short because they expressed shock upon reading your comments.
How is it possible to have open, transparent government and trust in our elected officials when secrecy and deception is the norm for the Middletown GOP?
Mayor Scharfenberger and his fellow Middletown republicans need to stop blaming Trenton for the mess that is Middletown’s budget. Reduced state aid, pension funding and other mandates affect every town in the State, not just Middletown. Middletown needs to learn how to deal with it. It is time to cut spending, not increase it and live within our means. Practically doubling the township debt ($48 million - $80 million) from 2003 to 2008 and dolling out a 35% raise to the Township Clerk, are not examples of fiscal conservatism that the Mayor wants everyone to believe that they practice.
At a recent public meeting in the Oak Hill section of town, Mr. Scharfenberger again showed the lack of ideas and vision that is missing from the Middletown GOP. Again the Mayor attempted to link the proposed “Town Centre” project with the Middletown Democratic Party, telling the attendees that if you vote for a democrat, then Town Centre will definitely be built. As we know, this is a total falsehood; at no time has any Democratic candidate supported the Town Centre project. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the history behind the fight against Town Centre knows that Democratic Committeeman Patrick Short lead the fight against its development. As a result of this fight, the republican leadership, which had originally proposed the project to Mr. Azzolina and given it’s blessing to the project back in the 1990’s, were compelled to stop the project, which has since lead to a costly legal battle between the Township and former Assemblyman Azzolina.
If Town Centre is built it will be as a result of this legal battle, not by the support of the Democratic Party.
The retaliatory and mean spirited attacks against Carolyn Schwebel are a disgrace. As a member and Chairperson for the Middletown Human Rights Commission for close to twenty years, she dedicated herself to the service of helping others less fortunate then herself, only to be dropped from the commission because she questioned why Middletown had failed to comply with changes that where agreed to in order to settle a lawsuit, which pertained to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2007. Being a disabled person herself, Mrs. Schwebel was fulfilling her duties to ensure that Middletown was accessible to all individuals not just the more fortunate.
Mayor Scharfenberger’s personnel attacks against Don Watson and anyone who would dare to question or point out the Middletown GOP hypocrisy is totally unprofessional and shows his lack of moral fortitude. Instead of directly answering question that are raised, the Mayor and his Republican colleagues feel that it is necessary to continually address old news, in an attempt to discredit the legitimate concerns of Mr. Watson and other dissenting voices.
Is this the type of leadership that the citizens of Middletown voted for or deserve?
I can go on and on about the wasteful spending and the costly pet projects that are buried deep within the Township budget, much of which is hidden throughout various line items in the budget with little or no explanation. Is it any wonder then, why it is so difficult to get a proper answer from our elected GOP officials? If this practice is the model for which the League of Municipalities recommends to its members to follow, I have to wonder then who is watching out for the taxpayer?
It is truly sad to see that those who campaigned on a “New Faces, New Ideas” platform 3 years ago have nothing new to offer those that they represent. The only thing that is offered is more of the same type of government that the people of Middletown do not want.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Gannett has done a story about the Democratic Primary. Just my opinion...Lautenberg by a lot. I think a General Election between Republican former Rep. Dick Zimmer and Sen. Lautenberg is going to be interesting. The Primary...not so much.
Click on the headline to go to the story at the APP.
I accompanied Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney to this evening's meeting of the Keansburg Board of Education. The central issue on many peoples' minds is the retirement package given to the outgoing schools superintendent. The retirement package is worth the better part of a million dollars and many critics, in the borough and around the state, are upset.
Ms. Gaffney asked BOE President William "Billy" Manoes if he would consent to a YouTube interview and he did. In all candor, Mr. Manoes and his school board colleagues were not the borough school board to adopt the contract, but are quite open about their position. This is a very difficult thing for anybody to do, and the transparency with which Mr. Manoes and this board are conducting themselves is, in my opinion, laudable.
Ms. Gaffney did an excellent job covering this issue and her story in this week's upcoming edition of the newspaper is going to be an excellent one.
There is also a story about this on NJ.com for some additional information.
Click on the headline to go to Ms. Gaffney's blog, Simply Sable, for more information.
The fair appeals to all ages and features a wide variety of sale items, including the famous Canterbury Kitchen, plants and flowers, vegetables, books, jewelry, silent auction items, as well as the traditional White Elephant and Canterbury Craft treasures.
The children will enjoy a petting zoo, clown, balloons, cotton candy, penny candy, face painting and lots of fun and games too.
There will also be a lobster salad lunch event, and the entire family is invited. The Outdoor Food Committee provides hamburgers and hotdogs, while the Tea Garden offers delicious iced tea with mint and homemade desserts.
All proceeeds support local outreach and charitable organizations.
Canterbury Fair chairs Bronwen Small, Carolyn Sapone and Nate Cagle are gearing up with their committee chairpersons to make this year's 60th an old-fashioned way to spend the day.
For more information: St. George's Parish Office, 732-842-0596.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
During the Memorial Day Weekend, it is a great time to remember all of the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for defending our nation. It is also fitting to remember all of those men and women that continue to serve our nation at home and around the world.
Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
bar tender Marcilyn, last night before yesterday's "Dollar Store" event.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- If ever you get around Chicago way, a great nightspot off the beaten path is the Hideout Inn, a bar that has been operating since the 1930s.
The Hideout Inn is located at 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., in the city.
More than simply just somewhere to drink, the Hideout Inn is a great place for local atmosphere and friendly folks. Was Capone ever there? No idea. But there must be a reason it was called the Hideout.
A bar tender on duty last night, Marcilyn, said the bar was a gathering place long before the 1930s, though. "It just seems like someplace people always came," she said.
A notable regular event at the Hideout is the Dollar Store show, hosted by author Jonathan Messinger and musical host Abraham Levitan of Baby Teeth. Last night, The Dollar Store welcomed authors Kevin Sampsell and Diana Slickman.
After checking out an incredible Chicago pizzeria yesterday, I thought about the eternal pizza question: Is it better than the Jersey Shore's?
Being partisan to the Bayshore, I have to say that Chicago pizza was different, and perhaps almost an acquired taste. But it is solidly good. As good as Anthony DePompa's in Keansburg? Not a chance. Nothing shabby, though, don't get me wrong.
For a Shore resident used to pie from Seaside Heights or the Bayshore, it didn't exactly meet the hype. But, it's good nonetheless.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- Portland, Oregon resident Kevin Sampsell is among the more than 60 authors taking part in the Pilcrow Lit Fest, in Chicago, held between May 22-25.
Sampsell currently has a book out, titled "Creamy Bullets," published by Chiasmus Press, in Portland. This is the author's latest work, a notable previous work being "Beautiful Blemish," published by Word Riot Press, in Middletown, New Jersey.
Professionally, Sampsell works at Powell's Books, in Portland, Oregon. Sampsell also runs a micro press, called "Future Tense Books." He is 41 years old and a dad to a 14-year-old son.
He discussed the impact of being a father on his work. Sampsell said, "Being a dad has opened up the door for a lot of experiences at various emotional levels as a writer that I am much more aware of as a parent. I don't really subscribe to the whole thing where people say after you have a kid your whole life changes. But there is a certain parts of that statement is true. You do become more emotionally vulnerable as a human being. If I didn't have a child, I would probably have a more selfish outlook on life."
Sampsell just arrived yesterday, but said the festival is going well. "There are a lot if interesting panels going on. It's great seeing a bunch of friends. One of the things I do at Powell's is run the small press there. So coming to something like this I know a lot of people."
For more information about Mr. Sampsell's work, click on the headline or go to his site at: www.FutureTenseBooks.com.
Top: Leah Jones, at the Pilcrow Lit Fest, in Chicago. Bottom: Author Amy Guth organized the Pilcrow in her homewtown of Chicago.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- The Pilcrow Literature Festival is taking place in the city from May 22-25. The event gathers local and national authors, writers, poets, librarians, booksellers and publishers for three days of free workshops, panel discussions, lectures and author readings.
The director of the event is Amy Guth. She said the Pilcrow event is inspired by other literary festivals around the country. "As I city-hopped to promote my first novel, Three Fallen Women, I had the opportunity to speak at a few wonderful literary festivals -- the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, (Downtown) Omaha Literary Fest and the Decatur Book Festival, in Atlanta. Although each festival is very different, in both focus and execution, I couldn't help but notice a certain community-building spirit about each one that I knew would translate well here in Chicago," Guth said.
In all, more than 60 writers from around the country are taking part in the event. Notables such as author/editor Kevin Sampsell, author Jonathan Messinger, and author Leah Jones, among many others, are taking part.
Today and yesterday, the event has brought out many authors and strong support from the local community. Last night, an evening event at Matilda's, in the city, was attended by more than 50 festival participants.
For more information about the festival, click on the headline, or go to: www.pilcrowlitfest.com.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
“Today, I received a letter from our labor counsel, Matt Giacobbe, expressing his intention to not reapply as labor counsel later this summer in the event that Joseph W. Oxley seeks and wins the chairmanship of the Monmouth County Republican Organization.
“Mr. Giacobbe and Mr. Oxley are currently employed by the same law firm. It is evident a potential conflict could arise. Therefore, I would like to thank Mr. Giacobbe for his early notification and sensitivity for doing the right thing.
“Furthermore, I would like to add that Mr. Giacobbe has served the Board of Chosen Freeholders and the people of Monmouth County very well in difficult contract negotiations with some 20 different labor unions these last three years. His services will be missed.”
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
This Thursday through Sunday, I will be in Chicago, Ill., investigating whether or not the pizza is all that good. It already goes without saying that the Bears, Cubs and White Sox are not.
I'll be posing pix and some tips for the Garden State traveler, but in general, this weekend is about writing. For those needing to get in touch with me, I will be back on Monday.
The FEMA flood map crisis in the Bayshore is a serious thing, which requires a bipartisan effort to help area residents avoid paying unnecessary costs for flood insurance.
By mid-June, FEMA will announce the new flood maps for the Bayshore, and the moratorium that Rep. Frank Pallone has introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives is the only thing that can stop it. His legislation would, if approved, mandate that the new flood maps would not go into effect yet.
Frankly, the Middletown Township Committee may have missed the boat in supporting essential federal legislation that could assist every single taxpayer in the impacted areas of Middletown. The committee failed to adopt a resolution doing so at its May 19 meeting.
I suggest that the committee should weigh in on this vital issue for the area to not only Rep. Pallone, but also New Jersey’s two U.S. senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez. Such a resolution would do a great deal more good than simply posturing and grumbling about the unfairness of it all. FEMA has already made it abundantly clear it will not, in word and deed, change its mind because of any amount of petitioning. Mr. Pallone’s bill is the only game in town for this area and its residents, in a practical sense.
Every other Bayshore town in the areas impacted by the flood maps have banded together to support this legislation for the singular reason of bringing relief to residents. And then…there’s Middletown.
Committeemen Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short moved to adopt the resolution, while Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger moved to table it until the next meeting. Committeeman Thomas Wilkens seconded the mayor’s motion. Just how much time do these folks believe there is until mid-June. This is a matter of weeks.
While politics is good theater in Northern Monmouth, the notion of playing politics at the expense of the township’s residents is ridiculous. It is my opinion that this committee simply does not want to adopt a resolution that supports a bill by Rep. Pallone because he is not a Republican.
The petition drive by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin has sought to create an environment for change, though the reality is that FEMA has already stated it will not do anything about this process at all, short of a congressional order. Sen. Joe Kyrillos’s State Senate resolution amounts to the same thing: Registering disapproval without any practical work. The fact is that the only actual piece of legislation that could assist in this matter is the one currently proposed by Rep. Pallone, and that is because his measure would cease the issuance of new maps on an agency-wide basis. Accordingly, this would give the Bayshore enough time to potentially change the ruling by that agency.
I think it is clear that if this committee majority is unable to get past partisan politics, it has no right running this municipality anymore. Should these FEMA maps be issued without the Middletown Committee lending its voice to the Bayshore’s in defense of residents then the committee majority invites criticism of its motivations and actions, or lack thereof.
While political parties are all well and good, how the representatives from these parties conduct themselves in office is far more important than how candidates part their hair or what lapel pins they wear. This is a simple matter actually, which involves nothing more than doing what is right and what the Middletown Committee was elected to do in the first place.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Keansburg Deputy Chief James Pigott conducted an interview with Courier Editor Somdatta Sengupta about the 51-year-old woman who was arrested for reportedly possessing a hand grenade at her Oceanview Avenue home, in the borough.
There will be more about this in the upcoming edition of The Courier.
In an irritated conditioned when they first arrived, police managed to get the woman to surrender the hand grenade. Ms. Smith was transported to Riverview Medical Center, in Red Bank, where police remain watching her as she is treated.
Pigott said the woman is under arrest and charges are forthcoming -- how could they not be? -- and will be announced by tomorrow.
As an editorial note: However much the Keansburg police get as part of their collective bargaining agreement -- it can't be enough.
Click on the headline to go to The Courier Online, where Editor Somdatta Sengupta has the exclusive report.
Caption: Not a photo of Ms. Smith, but no doubt a lady who knows her way around a hand grenade.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Sen. Barack Obama looks like he is pretty close to capturing the nomination for the Democratic Party. Frankly, it would be a shock if Sen. Clinton won it. Click on the headline to go to Sen. Obama's community blog for his campaign.
Friday, May 16, 2008
N.J. Senator Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth/Middlesex, lauded U.S. Attorney Chris Christie at the Crystal Beacon Awards Dinner, held on May 15 in Red Bank. Sen. Kyrillos applauded Christie's prosecution of corrupt officials in the state, as well as the U.S. Attorney's Office and its contribution to the War on Terror.
N.J. Senator Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth/Middlesex, announced U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, at the Crystal Beacon Awards Dinner, held at the Oyster Point Hotel, in Red Bank, on Thursday, May 15th.
In his opening remarks, Sen. Kyrillos strongly alluded to a Christie run for governor.
Chris Christie recently lauded Monmouth County, and its Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce, at the Crystal Beacon Awards Dinner, in Red Bank, on Thursday, May 15.
At the Crystal Beacon Awards Dinner on Thursday, May 15, U.S. Attorney Chris Christie briefly discussed the recent Sharpe James corruption trial, and some of the media's handling of the case in print.
This is the beginning of the acceptance speech that U.S. Attorney Chris Christie gave at the Oyster Point Hotel, in Red Bank, as he received the Public Servant of the Year Award from the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Christie lauded his co-workers for the success of his office and noted their dedication to their jobs.
The event was held on Thursday, May 15th.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Atlantic Artisans is located at 68 First Avenue, in Atlantic Highlands, and can be reached by calling (732) 291-0100.
Clinton noted that her campaign is moving to Kentucky and Oregon, where she will continue to send her message to voters.
The LA Times has a real good story about the W. Va. win. Click on the headline and go there.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The AH Memorial Day Parade is a great one. If you live in Northern Monmouth County, try to catch it if you can. It's always big and it's thoroughly 'hometown.'
Click on the headline to go to the APP story about it.
Georgian Court University, in Lakewood, is known as a leader in the education field statewide. The university is offering a master's in autism education that may be something for those interested to consider. Click on the headline to go to GCU's Web site to check it out.
Monday, May 12, 2008
CAPTION: Even my 9-year-old Old English bulldog, Winston, knew it was time for New Jersey to cut the red ink.
In the wake of the Turnpike monetization crisis, averted by so many flying pigs over Trenton, there have been extreme cutbacks statewide by the Corzine Administration.
Many programs have been lost, and some are sadly notable in their loss, as in the case of Union Beach’s Adult School. I am sure there are far less worthy programs that could have been crossed off a line item for the sake of the incredible work those folks do there.
Yet, for what must be the first time in many years, this state is starting to wake up to the fact that taxing has its limits. There are only so many times anyone can go back to the well before it is dry. And, the well is very dry in New Jersey: dry to the bone.
While incompetent, self-aggrandizing, greedy and personally motivated lawmakers have placed this great state into the fetid economic swamp it now resides in it will be smart, resourceful lawmakers that start to put New Jersey onto solid ground.
The cutbacks for state government have been necessary for years. To the extent where it is possible on the county and municipal level, this practice should be encouraged in every way.
The ‘line-and-block charts’ have to be re-examined to see where there is fat. Yet, more than anything else, the “Great Age of the Idiot Political Appointee” to paid or otherwise compensated positions must be revisited.
The real problem in this state is not the town worker, who labors for little in thankless jobs. If there are heroes in this story, it is they. Rather, it is the insidious politicians and their gadflies who pollute the state pension roll. It is they who receive too much, are compensated for ‘no-show’ meetings and do so because they are too darn incompetent to make it in the private sector.
This variety of slithering life can be found at all levels of government, and amounts to a weed in the garden that has to be plucked out.
This nation was founded on the principle that elected and appointed office was a sacrifice. Elected or appointed offices were never intentioned for anyone to do solely and derive an entire career from. The burden of taxation upon the populace was never intended to be the way that elected or appointed people purchase mansions, jets and cars. In New Jersey, though, as of today, that is how it is done in some quarters — and especially in Monmouth County.
Frequently talent-less except for a nice smile and an easy disposition where it involves being ordered around by party chieftains, New Jersey politicians are usually no better principled than shuttle dancers of yester-year. They frequently earn or are given their offices to sell their influence to the private sector, because that is the living that has been carved out for them by behind-the-scenes bosses with multi-million-dollar legal and construction businesses and concerns.
There is a new breed of lawmaker making their way through the ranks, though. The direness of the situation has allowed artful, fiscally conservative people on both sides of the aisle to push their way through the vagrants that were so common before.
In Northern Monmouth, within every community, excellence can be found on both sides of the political aisle. I tried to make a list, but it is just too long for this column.
No one party has the corner on integrity, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There is good and bad with every crop. So, rather than buy your politicians in bulk, I suggest you buy them more like cartons of eggs: Open the lid, see if there’s a cracked one and take one from another carton if there is.
Budget cuts hurt, but having a bunch of darn fools giving away public money is harder. The Corzine Administration is finally doing a good job. Now all they have to do is keep on cutting until the red ink, and the unemployable minions of bad politicians, go away.
Click on the headline or go to:www.aliciamenendez.com.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Asbury Park Press has a great story today about Sandy Hook's chapel potentially being leased. The fact is that several of the buildings at Ft. Hancock have been left to rot as government bureaucrats tap dance about what to do next.
Anyone who wants to see some buildings that are falling apart along Officer's Row, as it was formerly known, can take the drive up Rt. 36 to just past the Highlands bridge and take a look for themselves.
As for the group "Save Sandy Hook," dedicated to seemingly let these buildings fall into piles of brick and mortar, I don't think their approach is sound. Something other than allowing Ft. Hancock to fall into ruins is probably a sound way to deal with this historic property.
Click on the headline to go to the story. The above pix are mine, from some months ago. It hasn't gotten any better since then, though.
Without doubt, Sen. McCain is a good person, a brave American and a true patriot. But are his ideas the ones I am going to vote for? No. I would have voted for either Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton, but it is clear that the freshman senator from Illinois is going to get the job of candidate.
Whether it was Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton, either one of them present an opportunity for not only history, but the re-visitation of several vital issues by this nation. Has the interpretation of what is truly "American" been minimized by some to the point where the ideal presidential candidate must be a white male? Maybe. If that could be true then it can't be right. Frankly, it just doesn't matter if someone comes from a different walk of life when the future of this country is at a crossroad.
America's tattered economy is linked to the historic borrowing this country has done in the name of foreign intervention. Sen. Obama represents a chance to turn the tide on that. He also offers an opportunity to re-establish positive relations in a world where it has not been so in a long time, in many ways and in several countries.
Certainly, everyone has their opinion and should express it. This is just mine. I don't think picketing candidates is necessary, as was done to Sen. McCain in Lakewood. I do not believe fabricating a lot of nonsense should be the way to go either. These two guys, senators McCain and Obama, have different ideas about how things can get better. Is it too much to hope that folks can just hear what they have to say, weigh it for themselves on merit and then go into the booth? Well, probably that is too much to want. It's a way to go, though.
Click on the headline to go to the AP story.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
At Mount Olivet Cemetery, near Chapel Hill Road, there is a very unique 'suburban legend' involving the famed "Dancing Jesus." Basically, as the legend goes, inside the graveyard a statue of the Lord seems to dance at midnight when there is a full moon.
There are some people who look down on local folklore off-handedly. I think local lore is a part of an area's character and uniqueness.
Weird NJ did a piece about it. Click on the headline to go there.
Captions: Different angles of the statue, which is reported to appear to dance.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Dave Simpson and Greg Bean have a pretty good "Red State-Blue State" at Greater Media's site. Personally, I think senators John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are each great Americans and good leaders.
However, the issues are the thing. At the end of the day, I believe Sen. Obama will end up with the Democratic nomination, and he and Sen. McCain will be the ones fighting for the job in November.
Click on the headline and go to "Red State-Blue State."
Thursday, May 08, 2008
May 7, 2008
WASHINGTON – Today, the Energy and National Resources Committee approved legislation authored by (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by (D-NJ) that would create a Thomas Edison National Historical Park. The legislation would make the Edison National Historical Site in West Orange part of the National Park System, raising its prestige and significance among America’s historical areas. Currently, the Edison Site preserves ’s research and development laboratories, library, papers, and artifacts, as well as his home.
“Thomas Edison, his work and his home are tremendously significant parts of the rich historical and educational fabric of our state, not to mention our nation,” said . “In order to best preserve and honor our history and the extraordinary advancements Thomas Edison brought to mankind, this site should be designated a national historic park. The prestige and significance that comes with that designation is fitting for a site of this importance.”
The current Site is a national historic treasure and contains the world’s largest collection of materials related to Thomas Edison, encompassing an estimated 5,000,000 pages of documents, over 400,000 artifacts, approximately 35,000 sound recordings, and 10,000 books from Edison’s personal library.
Having passed the committee, the bill now moves to the Senator floor, where it is expected to be considered as part of a broader package of national parks legislation later this year.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
In addition, The Timothy Pauxtis Foundation was named 'Not for Profit of the Year' and the President's Award went to Lynn Conover, CPA, of the Curchin Group.
The awards dinner will be held at the Oyster Point Hotel, 146 Bodman Place, in Red Bank, on May 15, between 6-9 p.m. State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth/Middlesex, will emcee the event.
Sponsorship for the awards dinner was from Commerce Bank, JCP&L, SeaStreak and Airport Plaza Shopping Center. The entertainment for the event is Al Alousi.
CAPTION: Victor Scudiery
Here is a message that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton sent out to her supporters today:
Today, in every way that I know how, I am expressing my personal determination to keep forging forward in this campaign.
After our come-from-behind victory in Indiana, there are just 28 days of voting left. But we've never campaigned with the stakes as high or the time as short as they will be over the next four weeks.
And with you by my side, I'm going to keep fighting for what I believe in until every voter has had his or her say.
From the very beginning, you and I have counted on one another, working through every challenge and seizing every opportunity. That's not just the way our campaign works. That's the way America works.
As we enter the final four weeks of this contest, let's keep working our hearts out.
In six days, we have the chance to show our strength in West Virginia. If you'll stand with me, it's an opportunity I intend to make the most of.
There's no question about it -- we've got to make every one of these next 28 days count -- starting with today.
LAKEWOOD, N.J. - Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown both went deep to power the BlueClaws to a 5- 2 victory over Lexington on Tuesday night at FirstEnergy Park.
The victory wrapped up the first series win in a four- game set this season for Lakewood and moved the 'Claws to .500 for the third time this season. The BlueClaws have not been over .500 at any point this season.
Taylor staked Lakewood to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, driving the first pitch he saw from Lexington starter Leandro Cespedes over the leftfield fence. It was the second homer in as many games for the BlueClaws leftfielder, who hit a three-run home run in Monday's 11-7 Lakewood win.
Dominic Brown also homered to start the third inning off of Cespedes (2-2). The line drive home run to right was Brown's third of the season and second of the series.
Julian Sampson (2-1) pitched six innings, allowing just one run on four hits. The 19-year old right-hander had failed to reach the fifth inning in each of his last two starts.
But on Tuesday night Sampson looked in command from the start, allowing just one second-inning run. Sampson walked Rusty Dixon before giving up a two- out single to Steve Brown.
That was the only run the Legends (10-22) would get against Sampson. Yen-Feng Lin pitched a pair of perfect innings, but Joe Rocchio gave up a run on three hits in the ninth.
Lakewood will get an off day on Wednesday as they head to Kannapolis for a four-game series starting on Thursday. The BlueClaws (16-16) and Intimidators split a four-game series at FirstEnergy Park last week.
The BlueClaws return home on Friday, May 16 to take on the West Virginia Power, the Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. There will be post-game fireworks, courtesy of Toyota and Scion World of Lakewood.
For more information about the BlueClaws, click on the headline and go to the team's Web site.
Learn the Art of Mosaic
Cindy Quitt, a resident of Fair Haven, can teach you to cut, layout and create the mosaic mirror shown here. You will pick your own colors to create your own one of a kind mirror. Since this is a one class session grouting will be explained but completed by Cindy. Space is limited so sign up now!
DATE: Tues. May 20th 12 or 5pm
DATE: Wed. May 26 1 or 6pm
MORE: You will walk away with your one of a kind mosaic mirror
SIGN UP NOW: Call 732 291-0100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Atlantic Artisans, LLC
68 First Avenue
Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey 07716
CAPTION: Nance Ciasa is the owner of Atlantic Artisans, in Atlantic Highlands.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Manhattan's Upper West Side is a great place to spend some time during the spring. Top: A view of Riverside Church and the Union Theological Seminary from the corner of Riverside Avenue and W. 122nd Street. 2nd from top: Renovations are ongoing for portions of Riverside Church. Middle and 2nd from bottom: Manhattan's Sakura Park is located across the street from Grant's Tomb, and is a great place to read a book or do nothing at all. Bottom: According to the plate adjacent the statue of Gen. Butterfield, his father was one of the founders of American Express. I guess that is good enough to get his son a statue all by itself.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Click on the headline to go to Simply Sable.
The FEMA flood map crisis is a serious one. The only way, right now, for FEMA to get the message about the significance for this to the Bayshore is for action on Rep. Frank Pallone's legislation, which would place a moratorium on FEMA issuing new maps. FEMA's answer to 'could you please delay this action' is posted below.
I do suggest that calling the offices for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, at 202-224-4744, and U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, at 202-224-3224, is the best way to drum up support for this issue in Washington, D.C., where it is going to count.
FEMA is not changing its position by pointing out that their position may be flawed, asking them to stop. It's been tried and it didn't work. This state has two U.S. senators, and hopefully they will support this measure by Mr. Pallone, and help the Bayshore avert a problem that it will have to lilve with for many years to come.
This is the moment when Mr. Menendez and Mr. Lautenberg are needed in the Bayshore. I certainly do hope that they take this area's side in this issue.
The Honorable Frank Pallone, Jr.
U.S. House of Representatives
6th District, New Jersey
237 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3006
Dear Representative Pallone:
Through this letter, I hope to answer the specific questions you raised regarding what we see as confusion that exists over the community’s new Flood Risk Maps in the Bayshore section of your District. These questions were discussed in a conference call with your staff on April 18, 2008.
FEMA joins hands with local communities and the state to update these maps. This teamwork uses state-of-the-art technology to produce maps of a far greater degree of accuracy so that residents can see and understand the risk they may face and how they and communities can take individual or joint action to protect themselves.
The determination to expand the flood zones was not based on formulas. Rather, it was based on several key facts: 1) FEMA’s determination that the Keansburg Beach and Dune System (KBDS) does not provide citizens’ protection from a flood that has a one percent chance of occurring in any given year; 2) detailed hydrologic and hydraulic studies and; 3) more accurate topographic information.
The Beach Erosion and Hurricane Protection System is not a levee along the shoreline of Raritan Bay. This System was designed to reduce damage from coastal storms, but was designed and constructed prior to the formation of the National Flood Insurance Program. This means that the System does not meet the standards developed since that time.
What has changed in terms of the topography of the area to create such a large increase of the flood zone?
It is not a case of one factor alone increasing the risk. As explained above, several key facts were considered.
Although some small changes in topography have occurred in Monmouth County, these changes were not the primary cause for changes in the flood zone. The primary change in flood risk determination resulted from the above re-evaluation of the Beach Erosion and Hurricane Protection System.
In addition, methods for obtaining and incorporating more modern topographic information have been developed. These modern methods allow much better determination of flood risk, especially in a particularly flat area such as Monmouth County.
Would the requirements for the flood zones change if there were infrastructure upgrades to the dune system?
No; the issue here is that the dune system was identified on the 1983 map as providing protection as a levee. In 1986, the regulatory definition of an Accredited Levee changed (in the Code of Federal Regulations 44, #65.10 and 11), stating that dune systems do not provide protection from a flood with a one percent chance of occurring in any given year.
While it is always possible to upgrade the dune system, it would likely be cost-prohibitive. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) are currently discussing a feasibility study concerning the dune system’s upgrade.
Are there any provisions in current law that help property owners pay for flood insurance?
No. However, there are actions that individuals can take to protect themselves from risk and save money. Likewise, communities are positioned to undertake efforts to protect residents.
I should point out first that flood insurance wasn’t always available, which is why Congress stepped in to create the National Flood Insurance Program. The NFIP is a voluntary program based on a mutual agreement between local communities and the federal government. In exchange for adopting and enforcing a floodplain management ordinance, communities are eligible to receive Federally-backed flood insurance for property owners.
Holders of flood insurance policies who have maintained continuous coverage, or who have built-in compliance with the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are able, under “grandfather rules,” to buy flood insurance at lower rates before a new map takes effect.
“Community Rating System”
Recognizing that the adoption of new flood maps is the responsibility of the community, FEMA encourages communities to participate in the Community Rating System (CRS). Through voluntary community education and flood mitigation activities, community-wide discounts on flood insurance may be earned – from five to 45 percent. When a community is approved to participate in the CRS, property owners receive at least a five percent reduction in flood insurance rates. Details on CRS can be found online at: http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/crs.shtm).
“Community Mitigation Plans”
Local jurisdictions play a central role also in the development of mitigation plans that protect residents. Communities that adopt FEMA-approved mitigation plans become eligible for FEMA grants. These include grant programs for Hazard Mitigation, Pre-Disaster Mitigation, Flood Mitigation, and others, in which FEMA pays a portion of the cost.
“Other Mitigation Efforts”
New or upgraded structures may be constructed to exceed minimum community flood plain management standards. For example, a $150,000 house elevated two feet above the anticipated depth of the flood water will experience a 40 – 50 percent savings in premiums over the period of a 30-year mortgage.
Additional successful flood mitigation measures include, but are not limited to, voluntary property acquisition (in which the state and communities may offer homeowners who agree to participate a buyout at fair market value before a disaster struck), flood-proofing non residential structures, and storm-water management systems.
There will be a Community Risk Open House in Monmouth County later in May. This meeting will be open to residents of Keansburg, Hazlet, Middletown, and Union City and will allow those communities to see the new preliminary maps. We will ask your help in getting out the word to interested parties.
Residents will be able, as well, to ask questions of local, state, federal officials, and map contractors about the maps, flood insurance, building permits, and the like. We will keep you apprised of the date of this meeting and others that may be held.
I have attached two documents for your use in further explaining the complex issues involved here; one attachment is a quote from a local mayor in Montana who faced a similar situation as we find in Monmouth County, and the other is a more detailed response to the questions you posed to my staff earlier in April. I hope you find these items useful in responding to your constituents’ inquiries.
Once again, the focal points of FEMA’s and New Jersey’s work on Flood Risk Maps are local communities. The aim is to be sure that residents and communities both are aware of flood risks and of the steps available to them to protect themselves while saving money.
Mr. Bill Douglass of our External Affairs team will be contacting members of your staff to ensure we have answered your questions satisfactorily.
I hope this letter answers the questions contained in your April 9, 2008 letter. If you have further questions, or would like additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Kristina Simpson, Director of External Affairs, at (212) 680-8563 or online at email@example.com.
Stephen Kempf, Jr.
Attachments – as
Attachment 1 –
Mayor Joe Whalen of Miles City, Montana
Mayor Joe Whalen wrote a timely guest editorial in The Miles City Star (Montana) April 25, 2008. He notes that the US Army Corps of Engineers recommended that FEMA include 3,100 existing structures in the Special Flood Hazard Area [SFHA], reminiscent of Monmouth County’s and many other U.S. cities’ experience.
He said, “We expect FEMA to act upon the recommendation, endorse a new Flood Insurance Rate Map, present it to the community next fall, conduct a lawful public hearing, and then formally adopt it.” He noted that the city’s requirements to stay in the NFIP, would include “higher flood insurance premiums for most property owners.”
He then asks, “What would be so horrible about slipping out of compliance with the NFIP? The short answer,” he says, “is that no federal financial assistance would be available to anyone within the community for recovery should a flood event occur…no loans may be guaranteed by the Federal government or approved by Federally-insured lenders for the construction or remodeling of any new structures within the SHFA.
“That constraint,” he continues, “would effectively depress property values, end new home construction and restrict home improvement in Miles City. It would also deeply depress our general business climate at a time when our local economy wants to expand.”
Mayor Whalen goes on to say that fighting the new map would be “expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately, unsuccessful.
“Or,” he concludes, “we can openly acknowledge that our entire community faces a shared risk. We can become informed and explore the range of exposures and options inherent in that risk. And we can wisely choose to develop a course that expands our options inherent in that risk.”
Attachment 2 – Detailed Responses to Questions
This attachment is intended to build on the direct answers provided in the basic letter, and to offer additional information for your office to share with the all the residents of these communities to help manage their risk from natural hazards.
You raised questions in your correspondence that we would like to address. To respond to your question regarding formulas used to calculate expanded flood zones: Formulas were not the basis for the increase of the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) in the area previously shown as protected by the KBDS. The basis for this increase was FEMA’s determination that the KBDS is not a levee.
As such, this system does not provide protection from the one percent annual chance flood (see enclosed regulations 44 CFR §65.10 for this determination). It is likely, however, that the KBDS may benefit landward properties and offer protection against flood events of a lesser magnitude, and further lessen the impacts of wave erosion.
In response to your second question regarding changes in topography in Monmouth County: The current effective maps for the county were developed from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s. There have been no significant changes in topography of this geographic area since that time. However, noteworthy advancements in the ability to accurately measure and obtain topography have been made since that time and were incorporated into these map update products. Most of the Monmouth County flood risk mapping update effort used existing hydrologic and hydraulic data and was blended with more accurate topographic information. In a particularly flat geographical area such as Monmouth County, small changes in flood elevation are more far reaching than in areas of greater topographic relief.
Regarding the condition of the dune system: What is at issue is that the dune system was identified erroneously on the 1982 (current) Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and shown as providing protection as a levee. Our recent determination had nothing to do with the “maintenance” condition of this system. More to the point, our flood risk mapping effort at that time (1982) was inadequately advised as to how to assess and reflect flood risk as it related to these particular conditions on the ground. In 1986, FEMA published 44 CFR §65.10 which established criteria for mapping areas protected by levee systems. Accordingly, as mentioned above, the KBDS does not satisfy these criteria, as it never did. The area behind this system currently reflected on the preliminary DFIRM as flood prone has always been in harm’s way and subject to flooding from the 1% annual chance flood.
You also ask if requirements for flood zones would change if there were infrastructure upgrades to the area in question. While it is always possible to upgrade a system to meet regulatory standards. The KBDS would require significant investment which might outweigh insurance premium costs for local property holders. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) are, as mentioned earlier, currently discussing a feasibility study as to the removal of this area from the SFHA.
* * *
LITTLE KNOWN MEMORIAL: At Fairview Cemetery, off Route 35 in Middletown, stands a memorial to the soldiers who participated in the Civil War from the Bayshore. If you are ever in the neighborhood, the memorial is located adjacent to the parking lot for the cemetery office.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
For the past 23 years on May 1, the American Cancer Society has held community celebrations called the “Relay for Life,” where individuals and teams camp out, barbecue, dance and take turns walking or running around a track “relay-style” to raise funds and heighten awareness to fight cancer.
Relay for Life is a unique, volunteer-driven community event that encourages participants from all walks of life – including cancer survivors, families, friends, corporations, civic organizations, schools, religious groups and concerned community members – to join together in the fight against cancer and show their support by wearing the color purple.
The American Cancer Society is a nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service.
Since 1985, the Relay for Life has been celebrated by more than three million people in 4,700 communities in the United States and 19 countries worldwide.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
After speaking with O'Neill last night, he consented to an interview with The Courier in the coming weeks. I'll preview Mr. O'Neill's book and give some insight into how the project came about.
Click on the headline to go to JasonPeter.com.
Trinity restaurant, in Keyport, has some wonderful food and service. I shot a YouTube of Trinity when it first opened about a year ago. Personally, I think it's a great restaurant that represents a fine dining stop in town.
Click on the headline to go to Trinity's Web site.
Friday, May 02, 2008
Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney has posted numbers for contacting Sen. Bob Menendez and Sen. Frank Lautenberg about the FEMA flood map issue. Click on the headline to go to her blog, Simply Sable.