Monday, June 30, 2008

What's going on with Rutgers Football? Check it out on Sept. 1

The Rutgers Football Program is truly one of the bright spots in the state right now, and an uplifting thing for many residents. The program is led by Head Coach Greg Schiano, an incredible force on the gridiron, who has created a real-life 'worst-to-first' story for the Scarlet Knights. The season opens on Sept. 1. Here's a YouTube video, shot in April, that can help fans get reacquainted with New Jersey's Team.

Corzine readies to sign $32.9B budget

Gov. Jon Corzine is preparing to adopt the state's $32.9 billion spending plan. Is this a perfect plan, or even a good one? I have reservations.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Jersey Journal's Earl Morgan says it like it is about race

Jersey Journal columnist Earl Morgan has some things to say about what is happening around the campaign of Barack Obama, and he is probably right. Are all Americans as welcoming as they can be about Muslim-Americans? Probably not.

There is a lot of loose talk around issues of faith and race right now. It's really for the worse and there's no sense in it: It's disappointing, at the very least. I suppose things aren't as far along as a lot of folks thought, and that's a shame.

Click on the headline and go to

How much news value is there in suicide?

The question is one of taste: Just how much news value is there in suicide? I clicked into the New York Post's online edition today and there was a front-page story about a 20-year-old supermodel who reportedly killed herself in NYC.

Certainly, I think there are times when "suicide" (as opposed to simply reporting that someone died) has to be news: If a criminal awaiting charges commits suicide, or if someone holding elected office commits suicide the fact that the person took their own life may have some importance in a larger storyline. Of course, that's my interpretation about the issue.

But, in general, as a standard policy, is it 'right' to do this? No, I don't think so. Some things should be 'off limits.' Sadly, they aren't. Click on the headline to go to the article in question.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sable Minded: Pallone's legislation introduced

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., has introduced legislation in Washington, D.C. that would, if adopted, stop FEMA from issuing new flood maps in the Bayshore (or anywhere else for that matter). Rep. Pallone's bill places a temporary moratorium on the federal agency issuing the new flood maps, until the protocol being used by FEMA is revisited.

This bill was in response to a situation during recent months in the Bayshore, where FEMA has been discounting decades of work by the Army Corps of Engineers where it involves flood remediation. Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle believe the methodology used by FEMA is deeply flawed.

FEMA officials have already gone on the record about how a petition that was circulated in recent months by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth/Middlesex, is not going to change any decisions by the agency. That leaves Rep. Pallone's legislation as the Bayshore's last best hope for some common sense.

Click on the headline to go to Melissa Gaffney's Sable Minded.

Matawan PD dealing with difficult facilities

Matawan Police Dept. Capt. James Alston was good enough to conduct a very candid feature about the police station's condition. The police in the borough do a great job, according to the town residents I've spoken with, despite the fact that their facilities are very challenged. I'd say that is a pretty big issue. Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio has the story. Click on the headline to go to The Courier Online.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Politicker's Pizarro has poll story about McCain-Obama

The PolitickerNJ has a good story about a recent FDU poll in New Jersey, showing Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama with a 49-33 percent advantage against Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain. In the story, Pizarro notes that the Bush Administration and the Iraq War are weighing down McCain, who is a long-serving Arizona U.S. senator.

Click on the healdine to go to the Politicker.

NY Post editorial applauds U.S. Supreme Court for catering to NRA

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a handgun ban that was formerly in place in Washington DC violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote on behalf of the 5-4 majority in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, and noted that personal gun ownership is a component of the Second Amendment. However, he noted that the right to own a weapon is not limitless. Justice Scalia pointed to restrictions against gun ownership to felons and the mentally troubled as not infringing upon the Second Amendment. A post editorial today applauds this decision. Click on the headline to go there.

In the Daily News today, in a story titled "Bull's Eye On The City's Back?," by Adam Lisberg, the paper's City Hall Bureau chief, the subhead was "Ruling against D.C. gun laws may make us the next target." Currently, the article reports, there are 14,655 residential premises licenses, allowing people to keep weapons in their homes; 2,359 carry licenses, allowing people to carry a weapon if they can show a need for protection; and 3,284 guard licenses, allowing security workers to carry weapons for work.

My take on it: Members of the military, law enforcement and people in the security field require weapons for their jobs. In rural Texas, which I had experience with as a kid, it was necessary for people living outside of town to have guns to protect them against snakes and critters. But, what business does anyone living in a densely populated area with a purely 'recreational interest' in firearms have owning such weaponry? Firearms should be owned or not owned in the context of the area. Neither Washington D.C., New York City, or, in Jersey, Newark or Camden, need anymore firearms -- even legal ones. If someone has a vocation-related need that's one thing. But just for the shucks and giggles? Nope. Not buying. Too bad the Supreme Court did, though, because it makes everyone a little less safe. Good work, guys.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Obama campaign holds events around country

(This is a communication from Obama campaign official Jon Carson to campaign supporters around the country. Thanks to the Obama campaign for sending in this information. The Inside Clamdigger will post either Obama or McCain campaign information, so please send them in if you have them. -- The Management)

Join us this Saturday, June 28th, for a Unite for Change house meeting near you.

Obama supporters will be opening their homes and reaching out to Democrats who supported other candidates in the primary, as well as Independents and even Republicans who are hungry for change.

There are more than 3,000 events planned in all 50 states -- find a Unite for Change house meeting near you and RSVP today:

House meetings are a great way to get to know your fellow supporters and help build a united volunteer organization in neighborhoods all across the country.

It doesn't matter if you've been with us since the beginning or if you're just tuning into the process now -- our goal is to reach out to anyone who is tired of the politics of the past and looking for new solutions to the challenges we're facing.

Supporters like you have already signed up to host events and talk about the common values we share. All you need to do is show up on Saturday -- and maybe bring a friend or two.

Here's what some Unite for Change hosts and guests are saying about these events:

"This is the first time that I have ever hosted an event like this. I am inviting my friends and colleagues to the event. Many of us were Edwards and/or Clinton supporters but I want everyone to come together now and support Obama."

- Jessica in Florida

"For the last several weeks, I have been thinking of becoming a volunteer for Senator Obama's presidential campaign. When I read the announcement about Unite For Change Day, I thought it was an awesome opportunity to get involved.

"I am new to my town (been here just over 4 months). The event will give me an opportunity to meet other supporters in my new community."

- Loye in South Carolina

We'll provide event hosts with the materials and support they need, but these meetings can't happen without you.

Sign up now to attend a Unite for Change event in your area:

Over the past year, millions of Americans have gotten involved in this campaign.

By attending a Unite for Change house meeting, you can keep building that momentum all the way through November.

NJ Natural Gas Co. tonight

Read All About It...

Atlantic Highlands will be hosting a meeting with New Jersey Natural Gas Company and state Department of Environmental Protection representatives regarding the 25-year project of removing the tar-coal contamination from the borough.

During its meeting last night, the Borough Council expressed its dissatisfaction with the pace of the project and urged residents to attend the meeting tonight to voice their feelings to the two organizations in charge.

According to town officials, the company intends to complete mitigation up to Center Avenue by 2010, which Rast said is only half. "I'd be dead by the time they finish the job," Rast said.

The meeting will run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Fireman's Field House on Avenue C and West Washington Avenue. Check for updates from the meeting on my blog: tomorrow.

-- Alyssa Passeggio

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wikipedia: Got it wrong where it involves 'Calico'

CAPTION: 'The Evil Clown' of Wikipedia is believed to be named "Calico," and has been a symbol of Food Circus Super Markets since the mid-1950s. Originally promoting a food store along Route 35 in Middletown, the building today houses a Spirits Unlimited Liquor Store, though the clown continues to be a symbol for Super Foodtown Food Circus Super Markets, based in Middletown.

According to Wikipedia, there was a movement on to demolish the Food Circus Clown (rumored to be named "Calico" and not the "Evil Clown") "recently." Since the sign, an area icon and the symbol for Super Foodtown Food Circus Super Markets, had become a lasting part of area lore for almost six decades, the motivation was never expressed to destroy the clown, to my knowlege.

As a matter of fact, working for a newspaper that is in extremely close proximity to Food Circus Super Markets (the same parking lot) for the past 10 years, I have never heard of any movement, sentiment, rumor or even notion that the clown should, in any way, be demolished, torn down or otherwise 'put to sleep.' It's not the kind of thing that would have been a secret.

Click on the headline to go to the Wikipedia reference.

Bradshaw was on steroids during '70s Steeler Era

Four-time Super Bowl championship quaterback Terry Bradshaw has admitted that, during his NFL heyday, he was on steroids. There is a great article about this at YahooSports. Of course, during the 70s, steroids were not a banned substance for NFL players. As part of the feature, there are some keen insights into steroid use and the teams of ysteryear. Click on the headline to go to the story at yahooSports!

Read All About it has NJEA protest story

About 30 members of the NJEA protested outside of the headquarters of N.J. Sen. Joe Kyrillos in Middletown. Click on the headline to go to Alyssa Passeggio's blog to 'Read All About It.'

Imus does it again? Maybe and maybe not

WABC's Don Imus is in the midst of another racial controversy, this time regarding a comment he made about NFL star Adam Jones. Reportedly, this is not a repeat of the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team fiasco of old.

Imus has been in broadcasting for some decades now. The game does tend to change over time. What is considered acceptable has changed since a few decades ago. That isn't to say that Imus did anything wrong this time, but things are a heck of a lot different out there from the 70s.

Personally, I never found the guy funny. It's a lot like listening to someone's great grandfather trying to crack jokes and be witty. For me, it comes out sounding irritated and gassy. WABC is standing behind its guy here, and if he hasn't said anything dumb they should stick to their guns.

Click on the headline to go to the APP story.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Washington, D.C. – The Environmental Protection Agency today announced it has reached an agreement with several companies to remove a major source of Dioxin, an extremely toxic chemical, from New Jersey’s Lower Passaic River. The initial step includes a limited cleanup of the river or approximately 40,000 cubic yards of the most highly-contaminated sediments. The cleanup initiative will be expanded to cover more areas of the river in the upcoming years.

In the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) worked for years to bring all parties to the table to come together to find a sensible solution to clean the river, and these efforts have finally come to fruition. Senator Menendez, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, made the following statement:

“This initiative has been a long time coming and this initial cleanup is a step in the right direction,” said Sen. Menendez. “Our residents deserve a clean and restored Passaic River and a more environmentally sound Garden State. Ultimately, cleaning our rivers helps protect the health and natural beauty of our state for future generations and it ensures a better quality of life for all New Jerseyans.”

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Menendez has made protecting clean water and air in New Jersey a major priority. Recently, Sen. Menendez helped secure over $2.5 million in federal funds to clean and restore the Passaic River.

Middletown Mike sets record straight about Grenafege

New blogger Middletown Mike has a strong post about how Middletown Democrat for Township Committee Jim Grenafege had recent comments bent like a pretzel by his opponent in this year's campaign contest. Click on the headline to go to "Middletown Mike."

No new taxes, but $3.9 billion borrowed for state schools

The state's budget was finally passed. No new taxes are allegedly in this plan, but there is a lot of educational borrowing. Is it worth it? I think excessive borrowing is the death of good government. And, $3.9 billion doesn't just 'sound like a lot of money.' It is a lot of money.

Click on the headline to go to

Monday, June 23, 2008

Holy Cross Church, in Rumson, blows out 125 candles

In Rumson, the Holy Cross Church is celebrating its 125th birthday. These days, it says a lot for any congregation to be going so strong, so long. Congratulatons to the great folks over there, and much continued success.

George Carlin, 71, dies of heart failure

The great comedian and actor George Carlin is reported to have died at the age of 71. Certainly, Mr Carlin was a great entertainer and his passing is both unexpected and sad for fans. Click on the headline and go to YahooNews!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Should Lincoln's Birthday be taken away from state employees?

Should Lincoln's birthday be taken away from state employees? The question has come up in the Legislature.

I think it's fair to say that everyone needs to put something in the center of the table these days. Lincoln's birthday can be marked in a lot of ways, giving state employees the day off with pay does not seem appropriate to me.

The day should be merged and the total number of state holidays cut for employees as a cost-saving measure.

Click on the headline and go to

It's summer and Middletown still hasn't passed budget

Middletown: It's almost July and there's no budget. Should this reflect on the committee? How can it not? The budget should ave been passed in January. It's more than half-way through the year. This is incompetent.

Click on the headline and go to The Courier Online.

Protestors rally against high gas prices in Newark

Motorists are protesting high gas prices in Newark. If it makes them feel better...great. But it's not like protesting is going to do anything about what's happening at the gas pump. Heck, it would be great if protesting did do something.

Click on the headline to go to

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ask if Republicans Agree with their Standard-Bearer

Democrats Oppose McCain Bush-Republican Offshore Drilling Plan

OCEAN TWP – Amy Mallet (D-Fair Haven) and Glenn Mason (D-Hazlet) today announced their opposition to the Republican proposal of lifting the ban on offshore drilling. They also asked the county Republicans if they feel the same way as Senator and presidential candidate John McCain who announced, with President Bush, their desire to lift the ban.

One of Monmouth County’s largest industries is tourism, and many local businesses thrive on tourists that visit Monmouth County. “Lifting this ban could have catastrophic consequences – not only for our environment, but for the economy in Monmouth County. I would certainly hope that the County Republicans would care more about our local economy than Bush and McCain, but we haven’t heard a word from them,” said Mallet.

“I adamantly oppose this proposal and want to know where Republican Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Republican Councilman John Curley stand on the issue.” said Mason. The ban has been in place to protect fragile offshore ecosystems like the ones in Monmouth County.

Monmouth County is home to 27 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. Protecting the waters off our shores has been central to the Democrats’ platform for decades. “Bush and McCain want to undo decades of progress that safeguards our shores from the dangers of offshore oil drilling” said Mason.

The current ban covers an estimated 80 percent of U.S. coastal waters, including all of the waters off of Monmouth County. “People from around the country come to Monmouth County for its beaches, and it is vital that we preserve our precious environment and fuel our local economy for future generations,” said Mallet.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Monmouth SWAT team saves day with barricaded man

The Courier Online has a good story about Monmouth County's SWAT team and how they dealt with a man barricaded in his house. Congrats to those officers for their dedication and valor. Click on the headline and go there.

Monmouth Park to honor county history with race

June 17, 2008

June 22 event marks history
and importance of horse industry

OCEANPORT – Monmouth County’s 325th Anniversary Race is on the race card for Sunday, June 22 at Monmouth Park Racetrack. Post time for the first race of the day is 12:50 p.m.

“Monmouth Park is joining the celebration of the county’s 325 years of rich history by hosting this race” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry. “The Board of Chosen Freeholders encourages residents and visitors to come out and be part of the celebration that recognizes both the rich history of the local horse racing industry and Monmouth Park.”

To commemorate the county’s 325th anniversary, a number of events have been taking place and highlighting various elements of local history. The Monmouth County Fair in Freehold Township (July 23-27) and a Molly Pitcher presentation (August 16) at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan are just two of the events on the schedule. A complete listing of events to help commemorate Monmouth County’s 325th anniversary can be found at

The county’s actual birthday was March 7, 1683 when an Act of the Provincial General Assembly divided the Province of East Jersey into four counties: Bergen, Essex, Middlesex and Monmouth.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SWAT smack down in Holmdel

Read All About It...

Courier Staffer Melissa Gaffney covered a mission of the Monmouth County Emergency Response Team in Holmdel this afternoon.

A man on Autumn Terrace, Holmdel, allegedly barricaded himself in his home. The authorities responded after neighbors reported hearing gunshots from the residence.

Click this post's headline to read the web update on Courier Online and visit Gaffney's blog for more photographs and videos.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Americans likely to being staying home July 4th

Americans are likely to be staying home this July 4th, as gas and airfare continue to climb. But, maybe that's not all bad. Good chance to catch up with friends and neighbors. Click on the headline to go to YahooNews!

Freeholder McMorrow offers testimony at hearing

For Immediate Release:

June 16, 2008

Recommendations accepted; bill voted out of committee and to full Senate

TRENTON – Monmouth County Freeholder Barbara J. McMorrow has urged a state transportation panel to endorse newer restrictions on drivers who hold special learner’s permits and provisional driver’s licenses – the so-called graduated driver’s licensing system.

The amendments include certain recommendations of the Teen Driver Study Commission that are contained in the commission’s 2008 Final Report. Freeholder McMorrow, a former high school teacher and principal, served as co-chair of that commission.

“As a retired high school principal with more than 30 years in the educational profession and a founding member of the Monmouth County Traumatic Loss Coalition, I have attended too many funerals of young people killed in car accidents,” McMorrow said in testimony before the Senate Transportation Committee on June 9. “If we save only one life, it is worth the effort.”

Committee members accepted the recommendations and voted the amended bill out of committee. It now moves to the full Senate and Assembly for floor votes.

In her testimony, McMorrow asked the senators to move forward on three specific amendments to the state’s existing Graduated Drivers’ License Law (GDL).

  • Return the use of the word “probationary” driver when referring to a driver on a restricted license instead of the word “provisional.”

  • Limit the number of passengers a probationary driver may transport to just one, regardless of his or her relationship to the teen driver.

  • Provide one curfew for both permit and probationary drivers under the GDL.

“While the recommendation to change the wording may seem inconsequential when it comes to reducing crashes and saving lives, the Commission believes that it will send a strong message to teens because of the word’s connotation,” McMorrow said. “Driving is a privilege that can be suspended when a license holder fails to drive in a safe, responsible and law-abiding manner.”

McMorrow told committee members that there is excellent research to support the limiting of passengers in a vehicle driver by a probationary driver. “A teen driver is 158 percent more likely to be killed in a crash while carrying two passengers; the risk increases to 207 percent when there are three passengers in a teen driver’s car. The increased risk is often the result of a distraction and others in the car encouraging the teen driver to take risks.”

The amended bill simplifies the Graduated Driver License by providing one curfew for both permit and probationary drivers under the GDL.

“Restrictions beginning at midnight are too late to affect the majority of nighttime driving crashes; it is therefore imperative that New Jersey’s restriction be lowered to at least 11 p.m., McMorrow said. “A one-hour reduction will result in a safety gain, while allowing today’s highly mobile teens to still participate in extracurricular activities and get to and from work.”

The Teen Driver Study Commission presented a total of 47 recommendations to the Gov. Jon Corzine on March 26.

McMorrow said her passion for enacting this legislation transcends politics, as it surely does for state legislators.

“I ask on behalf my students – a young man, one of triplets, who died in a car accident that critically injured his girlfriend while misjudging a traffic light; a young lady who, changing the station on her radio, drove into a tree and killed her best friend who was a front seat passenger; three young men (two brothers and a friend) who died when traveling too fast and hitting a divider.”

Letter: Chumming for Votes with Red Herring

Editorial Note: Middletown Democrat for Township Committee Jim Grenafege has written a letter in response to one printed by Middletown Republican for Township Committee Anthony Fiore. Thanks for thinking of the Clamdigger for sending the letter in. Where it involves either Republican or Democratic perspectives, please feel free to send in letters anytime. -- The Management

To The Editor:

Anthony Fiore’s letter: “Police cuts put residents at risk”, June 8, is inaccurate and misleading. I never “urged” or “proposed” that the Middletown Township Committee reduce the size of our police force. I commented on costs and revenue generation; inquired if “layoffs” or “freezing positions” had been considered. I rigorously pursued how thoroughly head count had been analyzed and productivity studied.

Middletown Mayor Scharfenberger said he “looked to cut everywhere”, including “staff”; and he cited our police department as an example of productivity and efficiency. He commented on overall head count reduction of township staff through attrition that spanned several years. Township Attorney Reilly reiterated Scharfenberger’s comment regarding staff, which prompted me to ask if staff could be reduced further.

If one applies Fiore’s reasoning, then Mayor Scharfenberger’s consideration of everything, including staff, as a source of possible cost reduction infers proposing and urging reductions in the police force; therefore, the Mayor’s statements imply the safety of Middletown residents could be at risk. Most people would consider this an inane conclusion.

Critical inquiry and diligent examination of options, in the interest of promoting open and transparent government, is at the core of the democratic process. Encouraging participation in this process and supporting our police force are vital to the health of our community.

Fiore acknowledged he is in a contest with me for a seat on the Middletown Township Committee. It appears that he intentionally manufactured an issue in an attempt to gain that seat. This is disturbing. Even more disturbing is his use of our police force as a ploy to send a deceptive message. There are many real issues and challenges for Middletown that require open, honest and respectful discussion, and rigorous non-partisan debate and resolution. The public deserves not to be intentionally misled by a candidate, or any elected official.

Fiore chose misrepresentation as the means to self-serving ends. What is the cost of his chumming for votes with red herring; and who truly pays that cost?

James Grenafege

Locust/Middletown, NJ 07760

June 16, 2008

Atlantic Artisans hosts "Opera in the Gallery"

Atlantic Highlands, NJAtlantic Artisans is entertaining Atlantic Highlands with “Opera in the Gallery” a free night of music and art Friday, June 27th. Opera by Carly McIlvaine and art by oil perpainters Eunice Vellon, Highlands and Michael McCrink, Atlantic Highlands. Preview party 5pm, Opera 7pm.

Opera singer, Carly McIlvaine, will be presenting a concert of best-loved opera arias. Carly has sung classical music all over the world, including Beijing, China and Zurich Switzerland. She is currently a member of the National Chorale, which is the resident professional Choir of Avery Fisher Hall. The concert serves to bring opera music to the public in a more relaxed setting than the traditional concert hall. The concert maintains the multi-media nature of opera through performances surrounded by the visual arts of the galleries.

Atlantic Artisans is located at 68 First Avenue, Atlantic Highlands, NJ,, 732-291-0100. An art gallery of local and American artisans, custom framing available and art supplies for the professional to the beginner.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bongiorno: A Republican by any other name?

Middletown Mike...

By Mike Morris

Who needs Republicans when there are Democrats like this? Every town has one, a self–loathing, disgruntled Democrat. A person who is registered as a Democrat for the sole purpose of giving validity to their bashing of the Democratic party, their policies and candidates, in order to help the rival Republican organization. One can only speculate on their intentions or motivation.

Do these individuals feel that by supporting the opposition it will give themselves or some other family members special favors or advantages over other people if they are seeking a job with a municipality, or maybe a favorable variance or zoning change to help with a construction project? We can’t be sure.

What we do know though, is that these people participate in organized letter writing campaigns by either writing letters themselves or by lending their names to other people’s writings. These letters always seem to generally address the latest Republican talking points of the day.

In Middletown, this person resides in the heavily Republican section of Lincroft and his name is Dominick Bongiorno.

For the past six or so years, Mr. Bongiorno, a registered Democrat, has repeatedly written letters to local publications (this one included) critical of the local Democratic Party, it’s candidates and elected officials, always in an effort to praise the Republican establishment.

Letters from Mr. Bongiorno first started appearing during the 2002 campaign season. He praised and supported the local Republican incumbents, Mayor Patrick Parkinson and

Committeeman Raymond O’Grady over their Democratic opponents. In hindsight, I am sure that Mr. Bongiorno regretted his support after both men were later disgraced, Parkinson for settling a sexual harassment suite that was brought against him by the former township clerk and O’Grady for being sent to jail for taking bribes as a participant in Operation Bid Rig.

During 2007, Mr. Bongiorno turned his letter writing energies against newly elected Democratic Committeeman Patrick Short. Patrick Short, a West Point graduate and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel who was elected to the Township committee in 2006, to become the first Democrat to hold elective office in Middletown in twenty years.

Typical of other letters written about Mr. Short last year, Mr. Bongiorno’s were less than factual and filled with the current Middletown GOP talking points of the day.

A third letter written last October again parroted other Republican letters that appeared in print critical of the Middletown Democratic candidates and their campaign for office.

Mr. Bongiorno's most recent letter, which has been printed in the various local papers over the past few weeks, truly shows his partisan Republican roots. In his letter he now makes a feeble attack on the other Democrat sitting on the Township committee, Sean Byrnes.

His letter falsely accuses Mr. Byrnes of delaying the vote on a resolution against the new FEMA flood maps. If Mr. Bongiorno had been keeping up on the issue, instead of passing along Republican talking points and trying to politicize the issue, he would have read all about it in several articles that had been published in all of the local papers.

The reason for the delay in adopting the resolution was not Byrnes's fault. The changes in language that Mr. Byrnes and the rest of the committee had agreed to during the previous meeting were not there, which was the inclusion of Congressman Frank Pallone’s name to recognize his efforts in delaying the flood maps.

When the resolution came up for adoption Committeeman Brynes made a motion to include the compromised to language. The vote that night was split along party lines 2-2 because Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill was not present and Mayor Scharfenberger and Committeeman Wilkens had for some reason, a problem the inclusion of Pallone’s name. It was then put off until the whole committee could be present at the next workshop meeting.

During the following workshop meeting, Committeeman Byrnes, in a true bi-partisan gesture, offered to include Assemblywoman Amy Handlin’s name in the resolution to recognize her efforts in leading a petition drive against the FEMA flood maps.

Mr. Byrnes’s amendment and suggestion to include both Middletown’s Federal and State representatives was ultimately included in the final FEMA resolution that was unanimously approved 5-0 by the Township committee.

Committeeman Sean Byrnes should be applauded for his bi-partisan efforts on behalf of Middletown, not scorned by partisan attempts like Mr. Bongiorno’s, to politicize a very important issue that affects residents of Middletown, but the whole Bayshore area as well as the country.

In the past, members of the Middletown Democratic Party have made numerous attempts to talk with and invite Mr. Bongiorno to their gatherings and Mr. Bongiorno has declined those invitations. It is quite obvious therefore that Mr. Bongiorno is conveniently a Democrat by label only. And for reasons only known to him, has decided that it is in his best interest to parrot and spread the local GOP propaganda.

For more on Middletown Mike, click on the headline and go to his blog.

Art in Red Bank: It's a date

I was finally able to pay a visit to the Asher Neiman Gallery, Monmouth Street, Red Bank, this weekend. Normally art galleries can seem snobby to me, but that was definitely not the case here.

The work of world-traveling photographer Stewart Halperin is on display. His photographs put emphasis on the details in a world of setting, including Italy, New York City and Africa.

The woman at the gallery was kind enough to explain how the color jumps out of Halperin's work due to a special type of printing. Although he uses a digital camera, the photographs are printed on matted paper, rather than glossy, which absorbs the colors more.

The exhibit, "A World of Radiance," will be open until July 18 and I recommend you stop by. It is a beautiful exhibit in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere.

I also met an artist who will be featured at the gallery in upcoming months named Francis. He is doing something remarkable with 3-d effects in his paintings. I will post here when I find more information about his exhibit.

Click on this post's headline to visit the gallery's Web site.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bridge demolition delayed

Highlands residents and visitors can escape increased traffic this July Fourth.

After Senator Sean Kean's urging, the Monmouth County representative and New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Kris Kolluri came to an agreement to postpone demolition of half the Route 36 bridge, and the loss of two lanes, until after the holiday.

"With the influx of tourists during the summer, traffic congestion in this area is already a serious problem," Kean said. "Closing lanes of the bridge during the summer will only add to an already difficult traffic situation.

The demolition and the shift of traffic to the northbound side of the bridge was slated for June 23.

DOT Director of Communications Erin Phalon said the state agency would be working on electronic communication and monitoring equipment before the intended plans continue.

Check for a more detailed story in Thursday's Courier.

-- Alyssa Passeggio

Whipporwill Valley Road

As a part of my video coverage of Monmouth County folklore I am looking into the legends surrounding Whipporwill Valley Road, Middletown.

It was mentioned in Weird NJ and I have heard people from around the county reference it as a creepy way to excite a dull night.

If you have ever been to Whipporwill Valley Road please share your tale! E-mail your experience or comment here. I will use submissions during my next report for Courier Online.

Click on this post's headline to see my last installment on the Dancing Jesus in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Chapel Hill Road, Middletown.

Pending collapse of U.S. dollar?

This video is a bit harsh where it involves the possible collapse of the U.S. dollar. But, it does bring some very pertinent issues to light. While U.S. President George Bush is not the sole problem regarding this nationally, I dare say he has done nothing to help this and probably everything he could to aggravate this condition.

FEMA flood map issue should have been bipartisan all along

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, has absolutely politicized the process of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issuing new flood maps in the Bayshore.

This is to the detriment of the issue, without doubt.

Before the validity of the new FEMA flood maps should be addressed, the more important thing for Bayshore residents to do is to back the current bill before Congress by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., which is the only thing in this world that will stop the re-issuance of these flood maps.

Regardless of this fact, Mrs. Handlin and a host of her GOP supporters on the municipal level have made every effort at obscuring this fact among a flurry of activity surrounding her petition drive. Notably, FEMA has already made it clear on the record that this petition drive will, in no way whatsoever, influence the agency’s decision to reissue flood maps. So, the first part of the work is to stop FEMA from executing these maps, through supporting this vital piece of legislation by Mr. Pallone in Washington, D.C. Of course, Mr. Pallone’s bill, if made law, is only a temporary measure, but it gives all-important breathing room for this area to make its case to the Federal Government.

Middletown Democrat for Township Committee Jim Grenafege said, “What I would like to see is that the issue is not politicized. I would like to see Assemblywoman Handlin partner with Mr. Pallone throughout the Bayshore and use her voice to back this legislation. I see this as her job as an elected official. This hasn’t been done.”

Mr. Grenafege said Mrs. Handlin does not have primacy in this issue, as a state-level official. However, she is a voice for the people and he believes she should “join the chorus” supporting this bill and stop being divisive. “This is a time for teamwork,” he said, and I think he is right.

Mrs. Patricia Walsh is Mr. Grenafege’s running mate this fall. She said the Middletown Committee should be the main cheerleaders for Mr. Pallone’s bill in this area. “Rather than arguing the politics of names on a resolution, as Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill did, Middletown should initiate real action to benefit the citizens of Middletown.”

Mrs. Walsh said that the committee should be making sure it has established a procedure to provide lower cost insurance through the community insurance rating instead of investing time in useless arguments.

“Besides doing the well thought-out information sessions that Mr. Pallone is providing. The township must put forth a resolution supporting tax credits for residents, future rebates for flood insurance holders that are not impacted by flooding and partnerships with primary lien holders on mortgages and loans that mandate their participation in helping to pay flood insurance premiums,” Mrs. Walsh said.

The fact of the matter is that ‘politics-as-usual’ is business-as-usual in Middletown and the Bayshore. In particular, Middletown Republicans have taken such an adversarial attitude toward working with Democrats that it has blinded them to effective community governance.

Instead of the Middletown Committee offering the best possible solution to community problems, they often resort to the best ‘Republican solution’ for a problem, which has nothing to do with the benefit of the community.

Municipal office, like all office, is a matter of stewardship. No one person or group has a claim to permanent leadership in any community or any level of government. Rather, it was the intention of those who crafted our system of government that every elected official must earn the respect and trust of the governed through their record of service. In my opinion, the Middletown Committee majority’s current system for resolving problems is very challenged, and echoes of Party Machine tactics that have become so well-identified with this county to date.

If there is to be change and reform, it will be in the spirit of action within communities. Quite frankly, the Middletown Committee majority tries to talk a good game about bipartisanship, but falls abysmally short where it counts – in results.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

APP: NJ home sales down 30 percent

The Asbury Park Press has a story about how Garden State home sales are down by 30 percent in New Jersey. This is reflective of what's going on around the rest of the country, though. Click on the headline to go to the APP.

Fierro Avenue residents have had enough

Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio has written a good story about the Matawan Borough Council's work on limiting the amount of parking on Fierro Avenue. Reportedly, there have been more than a few complaints about the traffic pattern there. Consequently, the governing body is considering an ordinance to stem parking there. Click on the headline to go to The Courier Online.

Menna: Dismissal was unfair from atty post

Greater Media's Erin O. Stattel wrote a story about Matawan's former borough attorney, Pasquale Menna, and his dissatisfaction about being canned. Last time I checked, appointees to political bodies serve at the discretion of those bodies. Mr. Menna is calling foul because he believes his dismissal was political. In fact, his appointment was political also. In fact, the whole darn process is political -- that's why such positions are termed "political appointees."

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

Giuliani offers to help GOP candidates raise bucks

The ex-NYC hizzoner, Rudy Giuliani has a deal for GOP candidates. He wants to help them raise money, in return for a portion of proceeds going to pare down his own campaign ledger sheet.

It's an interesting situation. Click on the headline and go to the story at

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sen. Beck on how to stem gas tax in Trenton

Sen. Jen Beck, R-Monnmouth, represents New Jersey's 12th District. She has an innovative idea for stemming the proposed state gas tax. Without doubt, Sen. Beck and her Assembly colleagues, Declan O'Scanlon and Caroline Casagrande, have done some of the best work from Monmouth in Trenton this year. This is refreshing and, particularly as a 12th District voter, I am glad the lights are on somewhere with the Monmouth delegation.

In the end, partisan political babbling doesn't get it done. But I get the idea that Sen. Beck is short on babble and long on hard work. This 12th District delegation is special. It works hard. Their efforts are apparent. Congrats, folks.

McCain: Jersey 'winnable' -- I don't think so

In an APP story, Presidential candidate John McCain does two things: complains about the Supreme Court decision saying that non-residents held in custody cannot be so forever without charges being leveled and he believes New Jersey is winnable by the GOP.

Personally, I think the notion that there have to be legitimate charges against someone being held in custody is pretty much a minimum -- regardless of what race, creed, color, or national origin involved. Why was this ever a discussion?

That New Jersey is "winnable" by the GOP is speculative. The GOP is responsible for the war, the economy and, according to Sen. McCain, a lot more war in the future. In fact, the GOP is promising that this country will stay at war (e.g. keep lying to Americans about the nature of this war), stay in trouble monetarily/economically and there will be a lot more of the same. I guess Sen. McCain is running on the GOP record and -- somehow -- he thinks that is good.

This was the most disastrous period of American history nationally, in my opinion, with the most flawed leadership in this country's experience. Far from embracing it, Republicans should be running away from this nonsense as far and fast as they could. America couldn't sustain four more years of this variety of alleged leadership, regardless how much rhetoric is wrapped around these misdeeds. Anything would be better. Nothing could be worse.

Click on the headline to go to the APP.

Tim Russert dies

Popular television personality and political commentator Tim Russert has passed away. Certainly, he will be missed by many fans across the country. Click on the headline to go to YahooNews!

John McCain satired in 'music video'

U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain is parodied in this YouTube video, complete with some interesting musical effects.

Bark the Vote 2008 sends a clear message to voters

"Bark the Vote 2008" is making a difference in campaigns and government, one small dog at a time. Click the video to go there.

Gas prices and New Jersey: Imperfect Together

Gas prices are that really news anymore? If it is then it's not good news. Click on the headline and go to

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Reported boycott going on in parking lot of North

There will be no senior picnic for seniors at Middletown High School North, Tindall Road. According to one concerned parent, seniors were reportedly told that they were "the worst class senior class in the history of Middletown High School North."

The picnic is an annual tradition that was reportedly scheduled for today. However, it's no picnic at North. Students are reportedly angry and it is being reported that there is a senior boycott that is under way at the school's parking lot. The parent says kids are gathering at parking lot and they are concerned police might be called in.

"The school is going to punish a whole body for one or two individuals. I question the whole motivation of the administration here. I do not understand what is going on with this," the parent said.

For any parents, please feel free to call into the newspaper, 732-957-0070 and let us know how you feel about this. Otherwise, e-mail: Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney is reporting on this story.

UPDATE: As of 9:30 a.m., Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio reported that students were not in the parking lot. According to a source, the student event had been "headed off." However, more information about this situation will be forthcoming from Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney, on her blog Simply Sable, later today.

Kyle Grooms spoofs Barack Obama

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is spoofed by comedian Kyle Grooms. For more on Barack Obama, go to M'Town Mike by Mike Morris at The Courier Online.

Lou Dobbs to run for Garden State gov?

Will TV talk titan Lou Dobbs run for governor? According to, there is some talking.

Click on the headline and go there.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Best to chairmen Oxley and Scudiery

Congratulations to Monmouth County Republican Chairman Joseph W. Oxley and Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Victor V. Scudiery. These are two great individuals, who have a lot of integrity. I wish them the very best for their upcoming terms as chairmen of their respective parties.

Monmouth politicians' photos for sale at print room

I am selling photos of Monmouth politicians, including for editorial or commercial use, for a small fee. The gallery is relatively small right now but will certainly build. I am going to avoid placing unflattering photos of anyone for sale, as that somehow seems classless.

Click on the headline. If you're a follower of Monmouth politics, either party, chances are you'll end up knowing a lot of people. Gallery will build every week. I think I'll be able to get most everyone. Click on the headline to go to Print Room.

Pizarro pens piece about new Oxley era

On the Politicker, site Staff Writer Max Pizarro has written a piece about Sen. Joe Kyrillos and his endorsement of former Sheriff Joe Oxley as chairman. This is a thoughtful piece, and very timely considering some of the rumormill surrounding this year's event. Click on the headline to go to Mr. Pizarro's piece on the Politicker.

Coverage for tonight's partisan conventions

MONUMENTAL MOMENT MOVES CLOSER? Monmouth Republicans and Democrats, respectively, will be selecting chairmen for their parties tonight. Democrats will return veteran Chairman Victor Scudiery to office, while Republicans are likely to install former Sheriff Joe Oxley as their new leader.

The Courier is going to cover tonight's Republican and Democratic conventions, respectively. Senior Courier Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio will be covering the Republican Convention, being held at Colts Neck High School (7 p.m.). Meanwhile, Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney will be covering the Democratic Convention, being held at the Shore Casino, in Atlantic Highlands (6 p.m.).

Stories will be posted on Ms. Passeggio's, Ms. Gaffney's blogs. In addition, digital video will be shot at the Republican Convention. By request of the county organiztion, video will not be shot at the Democratic Convention. However, both conventions will be covered, in detail, by still photography.

Obviously, this is a big night for Monmouth County going into this year's Fall Classic. At the very least, tonight is the unofficial beginning of the Summer Campaign Season. Start checking for video, posts and stories by about 9 p.m. tonight.

Helping seniors with digital TV transition

June 10, 2008

Menendez Press Office 202-224-4744
Ashley Glacel (Kohl) 202-224-5364


Senators call for quick rule change to assist residents of these facilities in purchasing converter boxes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, along with 13 of their colleagues, are urging the agency in charge of the digital television transition coupon program to expedite a rule change that will allow residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to receive coupons to purchase converter boxes. Since these seniors do not have home addresses of their own, they were originally left out of the coupon program. Though the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is working on a rule change to include them, every day that passes is a day less that seniors have to prepare for the February 17, 2009 transition to digital.

“The public airwaves should be accessible to everyone, which is why we need to include every American in the transition to digital,” said Senator Menendez. “Millions of our nation’s seniors will be relying on these coupons to ensure that their TVs still receive a signal after the digital transition, and we have to make sure that the ones in long-term care facilities are included.”

“With only eight months left until analog televisions go dark, the NTIA needs to move quickly on this rule change,” Senator Kohl. “For some seniors in long-term care facilities, television serves as their only link to the outside world. It is imperative that the NTIA make these government-issued coupons available to seniors no matter where they live.”

An estimated 21 million Americans rely on over-the-air broadcasts and will need a converter box. Forty percent of them are seniors.

Lautenberg, Zimmer in statistical dead heat

According to the PolitickerNJ, incumbent U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg is in a statistical dead heat with former Rep. Dick Zimmer. I think the GOP did well for itself selecting Mr. Zimmer as a candidate. Meanwhile, I am sure that Mr. Lautenberg, a great senator for this state for many years, is going to be on the Campaign Trail and making a case for why he should go back to Washington D.C.

My opinion: Both these guys are very distinguished lawmakers. It's going to be a good race. The Politicker has the story. Click on the headline and go there.

Aberdeen men undergoes trial for pet abuse

An Aberdeen man is in court facing charges of pet murder. This is a terrible story, really. But the APP has a good story about it today. Click on the headline and go there.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

6 ways to stop wasting gas

This is the most pertinent informational feature I have seen in a long time. Click on the headline to go to YahooNews!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The big question finally answered: Old England vs. France

Thanks to the great folks at YouTube, the eternal question is finally answered: In a tug of war for a chew toy, could a French bulldog outmaneuver an Old English bulldog? I won't give away the ending.

Friday, June 06, 2008

In tatters, Bush tries to help the economy

The economy is terrible. America is in a recession. Government is spending an epic amount wastefully. The president has an idea about how to turn everything around. My lack of optimism cannot be overstated. Click on the headline to go to YahooNews!

Alleged tagger arrest in Union Beach Borough

Courier Staff Writer Melissa Gaffney has posted a story about an alleged tagger being arrested in Union Beach by the police there. The reported "tagger" has been arrested on a few counts, according to the Union Beach police. Click on the headline and go to Melissa Gaffney's Simply Sable.

Middletown Dancing Jesus

I am working on a new YouTube series with The Courier Online that will talk about area myths, legends and tales.

Today I filmed a piece about the Middletown Dancing Jesus in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Chapel Hill Road. The legend has been passed down for generations but has recently been cited in Weird New Jersey.

When viewing the video you may notice the overbearing wind. This is the second time I have filmed here and, although the wind didn't seem bad at all, it is very difficult to hear the video. Perhaps, there is more to this legend then we even thought! So click below to view the video and be sure to send in any suggestions for future installments.

Good riddance to Nets: You can keep 'em Brooklyn!

According to a post at, a Thursday rally in Brooklyn brought out about 3,000 to support the Atlantic Yards project there (the future home of the soon-to-be-former NJ Nets). The event was held to support the $4.2 billion project, and included free hot dogs and T-shirts near Borough Hall.

As a former Nets fan (after they decided to dis Jersey), my opinion is 'good riddance.' I wish them the same playoff success they had in Jersey. New York already has one terrible pro basketball franchise: Now they can double the disappointment. Jersey fans put up with decades of disappointment from this team and kept supporting it. This is how they get paid back. Nice.

Click on the headline to go to the post.

Beck, O'Scanlon, Casagrande to Dems: 'We're here to help'


June 3, 2008

Contact: Tom Fitzsimmons
(732) 933-1591

Twelfth District legislators Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, responding to news reports that Democrats were unable to agree on Gov. Corzine's budget, on June 3, sent a letter asking reform-minded Democrats to work with Senate and Assembly Republicans to pass a "reform coalition budget" combining elements of the Governor's plan and the Republican alternative plan unveiled last Thursday.

"There are 31 Assembly Republicans and 17 Senate Republicans who suport the Republican alternative plan we put out last Thursday," said Casagrande, "and from the sound of it, seems like there are a few Democrats who are on board with some of the reforms we suggested. Maybe it's time for a reform coalition of like-minded legislators from both parties to meet in the middle and pass a budget that reflects the true priorities of a majority of New Jerseyans."

Assuming all Republicans voted for the coalition budget, it would require only 10 Assembly Democrats and four Senate Democrats to vote for the compromise plan for it to pass.

Melissa Gaffney is soliciting questions to candidates

Courier Staff Writer Melissa L. Gaffney is collecting questions from Middletown residents that she will pose to candidates -- well, she'll pose 'em but it's another matter entirely if they'll answer 'em.

I think it's pretty much a lock that the Dems will, Mr. James Grenafege and Mrs. Patricia Walsh. Where it involves the Republicans, I would go 50-50 with Mr. Anthony Fiore. But, it would be a longshot in my book if Mrs. Pamela Brightbill answered anuthing at all.



On January 17th, my life and that of my family was put on hold. That morning I went to work, and then around 7:00 AM, I received a call of a fire at my house. Talking to my wife on the phone I checked with her to make sure everyone was out of the house. I have been a police officer serving the Borough of Union Beach for over 30 years, and believe me when you answer a call at your own residence it is quite emotionally distressing.

Things become very hectic, and you scramble to deal with all emotions and aspects of what do we do next. So now that after five months of moving twice, taking care of my family, and trying to rebuild, you take a moment to reflect.

You sit back and thank God that this happened in the morning and not at night when all were asleep. You’re grateful that the Fire Department drilled in your head to check your smoke detectors every year. You stop complaining about how this can happen, and be conscious of the fact even when this is occurring you look at your family and know they are all ok. You appreciate the long hours of training these firefighters put in, and their families for allowing them to serve, as you to look in awe people you know as neighbors instantly become professional emergency responders working to save everything that is dear in your heart.

My family and I would like to publicly thank the Union Beach emergency services, in particular, the men and women of the Union Beach Fire Department, the Union Beach EMS, the Union Beach Emergency Management, and the officers on my department. The professionalism accomplished on the scene might only be outdone by the compassion and sincerity they have all shown my family during this crisis, and the well wishes we still receive to this day. They truly make you realize that it is a privilege to work along side them, however, and more importantly, it is an honor to know them all and be able to count them as friends.

Chief Michael Kelly
Union Beach Police Department

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"Middletown Mike" joins Monmouth blogosphere

Middletown resident Mike Morris, an avowed County Democrat, has taken to the blogosphere in Monmouth. Personally, I think it's great to have a Democratic blogger in the midst of what has become a GOP-dominated area of communication. I have known Mike for some years, and find that he is someone who is a great guy and a family man before he is a political type. So, I expect to see some really great perspectives coming out of "Middletown Mike."

Bean takes on Appeals Court/Eminent Domain in podcast

Greater Media Executive Editor Greg Bean isn't optimistic about the decision of a N.J. appellate court in the case of eminent domain in Long Branch. Mr. Bean highlights the carnival act that has been Long Branch's redevelopment in his editorial podcast. It's good and worth the listen.

I have to admit this new format takes some getting used to, though, as podcasting is still something new when it comes to me. I guess the march of time goes on, but it sure does remind me that I'm getting older. I still remember when people had to go inside for their banking, stop at a phone booth to make a call if they were out, or needed to sit down to read an editorial. Well, the most important thing is what's said anyway. Click on the headline to go to Mr. Bean's podcast.

McGreevey-Matos divorce ending? One can hope

The McGreevey-Matos divorce case is finally with the judge. I don't suppose banishing the ex-Gov. is a possibility, but hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel where it involves an end to "McGreevey Watch."

Ex-Gov. Jim McGreevey was a disgrace as governor. He allowed his personal nonsense to be a criteria for how tax money was spent and that is reprehensible. A lot of people put their trust in this joker, and he turned out to be a shining example of the very worst in American politics and government.

While his personal life is his own, and any of the baggage that came with it, Jim McGreevey was a cheap carnival huckster as a public servant. The sooner he is gone from public life and notice, the better. What a monumental disappointment of an elected official. Click on the headline to go to

Good Primary Day recap by PolitickerNJ

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, was a dominating figure during this Primary. Meanwhile GOP candidate Dick Zimmer overcame a well-organized opponent in "Jersey Joe" Pennachio. Click on the headline to go to a good election recap at the PolitickerNJ.