Monday, August 24, 2015

Can ‪‎Goggle‬ Really Sway Voter Opinion? Apparently So.

I found this article and podcast fascinating and thought provoking. Could it really be this easy to potentially corrupt the electoral process?




Photo credit: WhoWhatWhy


Could Goggle Search Destroy Free And Fair Elections?

Google, it is said, has changed everything. Could it now be about to change elections — and therefore democracy? It could, says an expert interviewed by RadioWhoWhatWhy podcaster Jeff Schechtman.

The culprit is Google Search. According to Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavior Research and Technology, Google has amassed far more power than we would ever guess — to control opinions, and beliefs, and even elections. In fact, high rankings on Google searches can, Epstein’s research found, shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more. Learn how this development can affect all of us.

Click here to hear the podcast

And for more on this, read Robert Epstein's Study that says ‘Googlemandering’ Could Determine Winners of future elections.



Playing For Change: Ripple

Another great song compilation from Playing For Change:
On July 5th, in honor of The Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary and final show, Playing For Change released a brand new Song Around The World covering The Grateful Dead’s 1970 classic, “Ripple.” Featuring an eclectic cadre of legendary artists, and new and veteran Playing For Change musicians, “Ripple” was released as the final video – of 50 Grateful Dead tribute videos – on JamBase’s “Songs Of Their Own” series.

This is “a gift from the fans,” says Grateful Dead drummer, Bill Kreutzmann. And “the ‘ripple effect’ is that the next generation gets to learn to play music all over the world,” says Playing For Change co-founder, Mark Johnson.

Net proceeds from Ripple, and associated merchandise and sponsorship opportunities, will benefit the Playing For Change Foundation’s music schools and programs for children worldwide.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

President Obama's Weekly Address 8/22/15: It’s Time for Congress To Pass a Responsible Budget

In this week's address, the President spoke to the economic progress that our country has made over the past few years, from over 13 million new jobs over the past five and a half years, to 17 states raising the minimum wage.

August 17,2015 Middletown Township Committee Meeting


At the last Middletown Township Committee meeting on August 17th, the following four ordinances were approved:

1). Raise fees at the township day care program.
2). Amend the salary ordinance for non-contractual employees
3). Ban parking for privately "for sale" vehicles in commuter parking lots.
4). Establishing an EMS department to oversee the administration of the township volunteer first aid companies.

The county presented a plan to construct a roundabout in the intersection at the Stone Church in Navesink.

Public Comments start at 1:18 mark.

During comments, a resident complained that his property taxes were raised over $2000 from last year, a group of residents from the Harmony Glenn property came to present concerns they have about the building contractor. And the Administrator said that final plans for the new municipal center should be done by mid-September. No date has been set for the beginning of construction.





As always, you can download a copy of the Meeting Agenda that contains the discussion items and the proposed resolutions and ordinances that were voted on or presented during the meeting. A box around an item is a link, bringing you further into the document to that resolution or ordinance. At the end of the resolution there will be a link bringing you back to the agenda. Attached to this agenda is also the monthly bill list, so that everyone can see how the Township is spending our tax dollars.


NJ Watchdog: Citizen groups sue Christie over campaign security costs




Three citizen groups are suing Chris Christie in an effort to stop the New Jersey governor from using state funds to pay for the cost of security travel during out-of-state campaign trips as he runs for the White House.

New Jersey Working Families, BlueWaveNJ, New Jersey Citizen Action and six individual plaintiffs filed the suit Friday in Mercer County Superior Court. The complaint alleges Christie violated his fiduciary duty by failing to reimburse the State Treasury for the bills incurred by the state police Executive Protection Unit during his frequent political trips.

Christie press secretary Kevin Roberts did not respond Friday afternoon to a request for comment.

EPU travel costs have soared with Christie’s political ambitions, totaling $1.3 million since he took office in 2010, according to New Jersey Watchdog’s analysis of documents obtained through the Open Public Records Act.

Overall, more than $1.1 million in travel costs were charged to American Express cards issued to the governor’s office. But Christie refused to release the Amex statements or other accounts of the expenditures.

Earlier this month, a court decided Christie can hide those records from the public. Based on secret evidence, Judge Mary C. Jacobson ruled that details of past expenses for food, lodging and transportation requested by New Jersey Watchdog could create a potential security risk for the governor in the future.

The full story is online at http://watchdog.org/234983/christie-campaign-security-costs/.

Pallone Calls Attention to Importance of Protecting Voting Rights 50 Years After VRA Signed into Law





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2015

Discussion of Voting Rights Protection at Church Where First Black Voter was Parishioner and is Buried

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Today at Perth Amboy’s historic St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) held a discussion with New Jersey residents and community leaders on the importance of restoring the Voting Rights Act 50 years after it was signed into law, and protecting the voting rights of all Americans. Congressman Pallone also honored the memory of those who marched in support of voting rights in 1965 and paid tribute to Thomas Mundy Peterson, the first black voter in the U.S., who was a parishioner of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and is buried in its cemetery.

“I am honored to bring voting rights protection to the forefront at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, the resting place of Thomas Mundy Peterson – our country’s first ever black voter, who was a parishioner here,” said Congressman Pallone. “We have come a long way since the Voting Rights Act was signed into law 50 years ago and an even longer way since we amended our constitution 145 years ago, allowing Mr. Peterson to vote, but we can never forget the struggles and sacrifices of the past.”

Pallone is a co-sponsor of the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would strengthen the law and restore the key enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. In that decision, Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged the persistence of voter discrimination and challenged Congress to come up with a new coverage formula to protect against it. However, in the two years since then, Republican leaders in Congress have blocked action on legislation that has been introduced to respond to the Supreme Court decision and restore the VRA.

“In its most basic form, the struggle over the right to vote is between those who wish to expand access to the ballot box and those who wish to restrict it,” added Pallone. “In the face of opposition, a renewed commitment to restoring and protecting voting rights is especially necessary. Congress has a responsibility to come together to restore the Voting Rights Act and allow for every American to fully participate in our democracy through the basic right to vote.”

In addition to Congressman Pallone’s remarks, the event featured a welcome and invocation by Reverend Dr. Anne-Marie Jeffery; remarks from Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz; a reading of the Voting Rights Act by Melvinia L. Knight, 1st Vice President, Perth Amboy Area NAACP; a presentation of an essay on getting to vote for the first time next year by Stephanie Rodriguez, a student at Colonia High School; remarks on Thomas Mundy Peterson by Perth Amboy Council President Lisa Nanton; and a discussion by Corrine Spencer, a Perth Amboy resident who lived in Charleston, South Carolina during segregation and voted for the first time when she moved to New Jersey.

August 6, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.



Pallone Visits NJ Tech Hub and Meets with Local Entrepreneurs for ‘Start Up Day Across America’




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2015

LONG BRANCH, NJ – Today, on ‘Start Up Day Across America,’ Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) visited Asbury Park-based tech hub Cowerks and met with local entrepreneurs. Congressman Pallone heard from members of the Cowerks community that operate local start-ups about how they are solving problems through innovation and what challenges they face. He also discussed the impact tech start-ups have on the economy, the benefits they provide to the community, and how Congress can support them. Cowerks is a working, office, meeting and event space that serves as the hub for the Jersey Shore tech community. Places like Cowerks are helping to foster a strong tech community in New Jersey and are helping to keep new, high-skill jobs and a young talent pool in the state.

“In today’s 21st-century economy, start-up companies are a driving force for American job creation, and I am especially pleased that Asbury Park and the Jersey Shore are shining examples of that success,” said Congressman Pallone. “I thank Cowerks for the opportunity to visit and for their work supporting the growth of tech start-ups and the young entrepreneurs creating these new jobs. In Congress, we must recognize the importance of this emerging sector of the economy and craft policy that addresses the challenges they face.”

Pallone is the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues affecting start-up businesses, such as telecommunications and access to broadband.

‘Start Up Day Across America’ is a bipartisan effort to raise awareness about the important economic role start-ups play, and to provide local entrepreneurs with an opportunity to interact with their representatives.

Pallone Commends White House Initiative to Address Heroin Epidemic by Focusing on Treatment





WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, commended the White House’s announcement of an initiative to target the heroin epidemic and its impact in “high intensity drug trafficking areas” (HIDTA). The initiative, first proposed by the New York/New Jersey HIDTA program, will bring together public health coordinators and law enforcement officials in an effort to gain more in-depth and street-level insight into the heroin trade, and to train first responders on administering medication to reverse overdoses. Recognizing addiction as a threat to public health, the initiative seeks to couple enforcement activity with treatment.

“New Jersey’s heroin overdose rate is more than three-times the skyrocketing nation-wide rate, and I consistently hear from constituents, law enforcement and local elected officials about this devastating epidemic,” said Congressman Pallone. “The White House’s initiative takes a much-needed and inventive approach by attacking the root of the heroin epidemic through a focus on treatment rather than punishment. I commend the initiative’s targeted approach to combat the heroin trade, coupled with increased treatment efforts. I believe it can and will start to make a real difference and save lives.”

About $2.5 million will fund public health partnerships in five HIDTA regions spanning 15 states, including in the New York/New Jersey region and the Philadelphia/Camden region.

Letter: For Those That Can't Reach Gov. Christie Call The Lt. Gov

The expressed opinions or views of this letter does not necessarily represent the opinion of the MiddletownMike blog:

Dear Editor,

It is unclear when the Chris Christie Presidential Wannabe Magical Mystery Tour will end, spending taxpayer money all around the country, but refusing to provide the citizens of our state with any sort of accounting to explain how our money has been spent. The court battles to keep these records secret have also been at taxpayer expense.

Many citizens have questions for Governor-turned-Dictator Chris Christie, but with him travelling out-of-state all the time in his megalomaniacal fantasy to become U.S. President, they simply can’t reach him.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno carries a cell phone and tells business people to call it if they have problems with red tape or otherwise need her assistance to use it. I believe we should share that number with the Sandy families Christie has abandoned and anyone else who has questions for his administration. Call 609-575-8111.



Eric Hafner
Toms River

Letter: Abolish Municipal Court System

The expressed opinions or views of this letter does not necessarily represent the opinion of the MiddletownMike blog:




Dear Editor,

New Jersey’s Municipal Court system results in high expenses, unequal justice and political corruption due to the fact Municipal Court Judges, Prosecutors, and Public Defenders are politically-connected local lawyers hired to work part-time by the governing body (i.e. town council) of the municipality where the court has jurisdiction. They are expected to generate revenue.

The Municipal Court system should be abolished entirely and all petty disorderly persons, disorderly persons, traffic, parking, and municipal ordinance matters should be heard by full-time County Judges employed by the State Judiciary.

New Jersey should also extend the right to jury trial to all defendants facing the possibility of jail-time. Currently, there are no jury trials in Municipal Court. Yet a defendant can face up to six months in county jail on a charge, where a politically-hired Municipal Court Judge also acts as the sole finder of fact.

Jersey Injustice.



Eric Hafner
Toms River

NEW JERSEY DEMOCRATS' LGBT CAUCUS REPRIMANDS CHRISTIE




For Immediate Release
August 14, 2015

Governor's Mocking of Transgender Community's Challenges Goes Too Far

[Trenton] -- Today, the leaders of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s LGBT Caucus blasted Governor Chris Christie for mocking an issue of vital importance to the transgender community, and for vetoing legislation that would ease the process for changing gender markers in official documents.

“You have no compassion for the Caitlyn Jenners of this world?” the governor was asked about his recent veto on a nationally-syndicated conservative radio show. In response, Governor Christie vaguely attacked the bill as "beyond the pale," without providing substantive clarification, just saying it "doesn’t make any sense." According to news reports, he "could be heard chuckling."

The bill would have eased the process for transgender people, who obtain certification from a doctor that they have undergone clinically appropriate transition treatment, to correct their birth certificates accordingly. Current law is restrictive and makes the process onerous. Nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted policies similar to the one Christie vetoed, as has the Obama administration. Even radio host Michael Medved note that Christie’s position “sounds dangerously conservative.”

"If we are telling it like it is, then Governor Christie is a close-minded and callous individual with no concern for his constituents," said Christopher Hillmann, Co-Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee's LGBT Caucus. "The fact is, most of what Governor Christie does -- his official actions as well as his brash, bullying attitude -- is offensive. But to diminish the concerns of the transgender community and then laugh about his veto is a step too far. And for what? To impress radical conservatives? He needs to grow up and grow a backbone, and decide who he works for -- the people of the Garden State or people in rural Iowa."

Babs Siperstein, who was also offended by Christie's words and deeds, has a first-hand perspective on the harmful impact of the Governor's decision. In addition to her other advocacy work, in 2009 Ms. Siperstein became the first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and was subsequently elected to serve on the DNC’s Executive Committee.

"This is not an abstract issue; it is one that creates many procedural problems -- problems with real-world consequences and that the governor has deliberately chosen to neglect. For Christie to require possibly unnecessary surgery for Transgender and Intersex children is beyond the pale. Clearly, his motives were at least partly political, because he is growing desperate for support from the hateful people that dominate the Republican presidential primary voter pool," Siperstein said. "It would be sad if it was not so disrespectful, not just to me, but to the people here in New Jersey that he was elected to serve. Just because his campaign regularly draws disparaging comments and scorn, that does not give him license to laugh at his constituents' challenges."


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

NJ Watchdog: Court orders Christie to release his ‘valuable asset’ media list




A New Jersey court is standing by its order to force Gov. Chris Christie to reveal a key cog in his taxpayer-funded publicity machine – a multi-tiered, high-tech list of 2,500 media contacts.

Judge Mary C. Jacobson denied Christie’s motion for reconsideration during a hearing Friday in Mercer County Superior Court. She ordered the governor’s office to release the record by Aug. 17 and pay for New Jersey Watchdog’s legal fees.

“The media strategy of the governor seems to me to be something that is of general public interest,” said Jacobson, rejecting the state’s reasons why the list be should be kept secret.

In response to a direct question, press secretary Kevin Roberts would not confirm or deny whether the governor's office has shared the supposedly confidential list with Christie's PAC, the state Republican Party or other political entities.

“Given that this issue is still the subject of pending litigation, we cannot comment," said Roberts in a prepared statement that hints Christie may appeal Jacobson's ruling. Technically, unless there is an appeal, the case is over.

The media list was created by the governor’s communications staff, which consists of 16 full-time state employees paid $1.36 million in salaries last year, New Jersey Watchdog found.

It helped the governor score countless national television appearances, not to mention 8,761,511 views on YouTube, 176,955 likes on Facebook and 6,810 tweets to 489,000 followers on Twitter during his first five years in office. The media campaign helped turn Christie into a national figure and set the stage for run for the White House.

The full story is online at http://watchdog.org/233312/christie-media-list/.

Pallone Announces $3.6 Million to NJ Community Health Centers





WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06) announced $3.6 million in Affordable Care Act funding to community health centers in New Jersey. This funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide access to services to Medicaid recipients and the uninsured in underserved communities.
“Community Health Centers attend to hard-to-reach populations and are a vital community resource that have a significant impact in improving health in New Jersey,” said Congressman Pallone. “This funding, which is yet another example of the positive and transformative impact the Affordable Care Act is having in New Jersey and across the country, will be instrumental in our efforts to continue serving those who need it most.”
Specializing in providing cost-effective and high-quality primary and preventive health care, Community Health Centers generate $24 billion annually in savings to the health care system, due largely to their success in reducing the need for patients to seek care in costlier health care settings (like emergency departments and hospitals). These centers deliver care at a total cost of just $1.51 per patient per day and serve as drivers of economic activity in the communities where they are located.

Community Health Centers are locally-controlled, non-profit entities that provide primary care, oral, behavioral, and pharmacy services in our most underserved rural and urban areas. New Jersey is home to 20 federally supported health centers serving 483,113 patients, over 42% of whom are uninsured.

Pallone has been an outspoken advocate for Community Health Centers throughout his career. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which Pallone co-authored and helped usher through the House of Representatives earlier this year, addressed the looming expiration of funding for Community Health Centers. The funding was set to expire at the end of this year, but the law instead extends funding through 2017.

For years, Congressman Pallone has consistently advocated for Community Health Centers, leading bipartisan efforts the House Appropriations Committee resulting in increased support for these safety net health providers.

The total $3,697,689 in funding for New Jersey includes $566,667 for Perth Amboy’s Jewish Renaissance Foundation in the Sixth Congressional District. A full list of the funding recipients can be found HERE.

Monmouth Democrats Received Column "A" For Just 5th Time In Past 36 Years.




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8/10/2015

The Following is a Statement from the Monmouth County Democratic Organization

"Today, the Democratic Party received Column A for just the 5th time in the past 36 years.
As of today, the Republican Party has received Column A in 31 out of the last 36 general elections - which means that the Republican Party has won Column A, 'by chance', roughly 86% of the time.

Our team of attorneys were present today to make sure that the Democratic Process was handled fairly and impartially against incredible statistical odds - odds which a Monmouth University mathematics professor said was 'almost impossible' back in 2012.

We appreciate the cooperation of the County Clerk's office, who also had their County Counsel present, in making sure that the process was conducted impartially and fairly. We are confident that the process this year was fair and impartial."

Monday, August 10, 2015

TODAY IS BALLOT DRAWING FOR NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION



For Immediate Release
August 10, 2015



Republicans have won the first spot roughly 90% of the time. According to the Asbury Park Press in 2012, statisticians say the probability of that happening purely by chance in a random drawing - which is the process required by state law - is less than one in 1.5 million.

FREEHOLD - Today in her capacity as County Clerk, prominent Monmouth County Republican Christine Hanlon will hold a drawing to determine the ballot position for the Democratic and Republican Party candidates in the upcoming November General Elections. This election will be held on November 3rd. Hanlon was Vice Chair of the County Republican Party until her appointment by Government Chris Christie earlier this year. After questions and criticisms about the process were raised in recent years, the Monmouth County Democratic Organization will be keeping a close watch as the positions are drawn.

During the ballot drawing, two capsules are used, one with the Democratic Party name and another with the Republican Party. The names are drawn from a box to determine where the parties will be placed on the ballot. To date, the Monmouth County Republicans have won the coveted first ballot position 31 of the last 35 general elections, roughly 90% of the time.

"We will have attorneys and supporters ready today to inspect the capsules and ensure that the ballot drawing today is fair," said Vin Gopal, Chairman of the Monmouth County Democratic Party. "Questions have been raised about the statistical probability that the same party win first ballot position so many years in a row," Gopal continued. "In the interest of upholding our democratic process, we will be keeping a close watch on the drawing."

In October of 2012, the Asbury Park Press reported on the County's ballot drawing process, noting that "the party has won the draw for the first ballot position in 30 of the last 33 general elections - statistically nearly impossible odds. Statisticians say the probability of that happening purely by chance in a random drawing - which is the process required by state law - is less than one in 1.5 million." The cover page story entitled "Are Monmouth County Republicans Cheating" raised red flags for county residents.

To read the Asbury Park Press Article, please click the following link http://archive.app.com/article/20121007/NJNEWS/310070041/Monmouth%20County%20ballots

"Rumors about questionable tactics have surrounded the ballot process. For instance, apparently refrigerating one of the capsules allows the clerk to choose the colder one and give preference to his or her own party. While it is my sincere hope that our new County Clerk will handle this process with professionalism and integrity, our attorneys will be watching closely - just to be sure."

Gopal indicated that the party will be prepared to file a complaint with the county prosecutors office if any inappropriate activity is suspected. It is imperative that the sanctity of the Democratic process is preserved and protected.

The ballot drawing will take place at 3:00pm at 300 Halls Mill Road in Freehold.