Saturday, January 24, 2015

Grow Monmouth Roundtable at Middletown Arts Center Jan. 27; Local Business Owners And Managers Invited To Attend

From Middletown Alerts:

Monmouth County Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone is inviting Middletown business owners and managers to a Grow Monmouth roundtable at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at the Middletown Arts Center at 36 Church St.

“This roundtable is being done in partnership with the governing body of Middletown,” said Arnone, liaison to the County’s Division of Economic Development. “It is important for local officials, business owners and managers to get together to discuss ways to grow business, economy and community in Monmouth County.”

The Grow Monmouth roundtables mark the first time that the Board of Chosen Freeholders has partnered with the governing body of municipalities to encourage direct conversation with business owners and managers.

“Business owners and managers are encouraged to discuss zoning and regulations that impact business success,” said Arnone. “Issues that support and foster business growth, as well as issues that make it difficult for businesses to thrive and expand, will be part of the discussions. Attendees are invited to make suggestions to officials on how to best resolve issues.”

Contact the Division of Economic Development for more information at 732-431-7470. The roundtables are part of the County’s Grow Monmouth program offers assistance to both municipalities and businesses to help spur economic development in the County.


Snow Sharks are lurking just below the surface.

First Grader Shaves Head For Friend With Cancer

A truly inspirational story that shows us what true friendship is really all about.

Pallone Highlights President Obama’s Community College Proposal During Event At Middlesex County College

EDISON, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) hosted an event at Middlesex County College to highlight President Obama’s plan to make community college free for responsible students. Congressman Pallone was joined by Joann La Perla-Morales, President of Middlesex County College; New Jersey Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr.; Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios; and students of the college.
“I have always supported improving access to higher education, and I think President Obama’s proposal to make community college free would be a tremendous step toward making the costs of higher education more affordable,” said Pallone. “Here in New Jersey, and across the nation, community colleges offer educational opportunity to students just beginning higher education, to people already in the workforce looking to gain additional training, and for the unemployed looking to change careers. The President’s proposal could benefit them all, and countless others for whom higher education currently seems unattainable.”
The proposal, which the President discussed in his State of the Union address earlier this week, would make two years of community college as free and universal as high school, so long as students enroll in a certain number of classes, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make progress toward completing their program.

President Obama's Weekly Address 1/24/15: Middle-Class Economics

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President shared his plan, outlined in his State of the Union address earlier this week, to give hardworking families the support they need to make ends meet by focusing on policies that benefit the middle class and those working to reach the middle class. Through common sense proposals like closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy and providing tax relief to the middle class, making two years of community college free for responsible students, strengthening paid leave policies and access to quality child care for working families, and raising the minimum wage, we can ensure that everyone benefits from, and contributes to, America’s success. Middle-class economics is working, and we have laid a new foundation, but there is still progress to be made, and the President said he is eager to get to work.

Reps. Pallone & LoBiondo: Bring Sports Wagering Out of Shadows for Future Super Bowls

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation gears up for Super Bowl XLIX next weekend, New Jersey Congressmen Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-06) and Frank A. LoBiondo (R-02) have again introduced their bills to legalize sports-betting. The Congressmen called for action on their legislative proposals, arguing that legalized sports-betting will benefit New Jersey’s economy and crack down on criminal enterprises which operate off-the-book betting in the shadows.

"Increasing competition from neighboring states and the proliferation of off-the-books betting has left Atlantic City’s gaming operations at a disadvantage. Sports-betting can help give our famed resort town a hand up, providing yet another unique option for patrons in addition to the quality entertainment, dining, shopping and beaches. I'm pleased Congressman Pallone, our casinos, local elected officials and an overwhelming majority of New Jersey residents agree and hope that a bipartisan coalition in Congress can come together in support of legalizing and regulating sports-betting," said Congressman LoBiondo.

“New Jersey voters have spoken loud and clear: they want to be able to place wagers on sporting events legally,” said Congressman Pallone. “We know that sports- betting is occurring without regulation and that the revenues from it are going to illegal enterprises rather than businesses in New Jersey, like our casinos and racetracks. It is time to bring this activity out of the shadows and allow states to regulate it. I am pleased to join Congressman LoBiondo in supporting this bipartisan legislation that will help level the playing field and give New Jersey’s citizens the opportunity to share in the profits from sports betting.”

The federal ban on professional and amateur sports betting enacted in 1992 currently prohibits states from implementing any new form of sports wagering. The Congressmen introduced two bills that would provide for changes in the law that would allow sports-betting in New Jersey. H.R. 457 (Pallone) would exempt New Jersey from current federal law and H.R. 416 (LoBiondo) opens a window in which all states can enact a law providing for sports-betting in their state for four years upon being signed by the President. Both lawmakers are again cosponsoring the other’s legislation. The Congressmen have previously joined Atlantic City casino executives and advocates for legalized sports betting on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

In 2011, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to allow sports wagering in New Jersey, but its enactment has been delayed by lawsuits filed against the State of New Jersey by the NCAA and four professional sports leagues. New Jersey appealed its case in the courts, with the Third Circuit ruling against New Jersey and the Supreme Court denying to hear the state’s appeal. However, in November 2014, National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver announced his support for legalized sports wagering in an op-ed for The New York Times entitled “Legalize and Regulate Sports Betting”.

Letter: E-Ciggaretts Less Deadly Than Tobacco

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

Dear Editor,

In November, I wrote a letter that was sent to New Jersey legislators suggesting that our state ban traditional cigarettes sales in order to force smokers to switch to less deadly e-cigarettes.

This is already the long-term plan of big tobacco anyway, which expects traditional cigarettes to become a thing of the past in the developed world, with new products ready to be rolled out.

The only one who even gave me the courtesy of a reply made a personal choice argument in favor of keeping cigarettes legal, that sounded coached by tobacco industry lobbyists.

We know that cigarettes are an ugly, highly addictive poison that kills over time. Every year in New Jersey approximately 6,900 youth under age 18 will become new daily smokers, due to big tobacco spending $172 million each year on marketing in New Jersey. Every year 11,800 adults in our state die from a tobacco-related illness.

According to New Jersey logic, it’s fine if I wish to smoke recreational tobacco all day and die of lung cancer. Yet when I consume marijuana as medicine, Governor Christie wants to throw me in jail for up to six months, or years if I get caught sharing it with other patients.


Eric Hafner
Toms River

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

NJJP: They Want to Make NJ's Backward Tax System Even Worse

John Whiten

The governor made clear in last week's State of the State message that his quest to deliver further tax cuts to some New Jersey taxpayers is not over.

Put aside for a moment the fact that lower taxes don't drive state economic growth (and actually hurt that growth), and that businesses don't relocate primarily based on their tax bills.

With any tax cut, it's also worth asking: Who would benefit? While the governor gave no details in his address, he clearly favors tax cuts to help those New Jerseyans who already pay the smallest share of their income to taxes, as I note in a new op-ed published in Sunday's Star-Ledger.

You see, New Jersey already calls on low-income and middle-class New Jerseyans to pay greater shares of their incomes in state and local taxes than their wealthy neighbors. New data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy's latest "Who Pays?" report lays it out:

  • New Jersey's poorest households - those earning less than $22,000 a year - pay 10.7 percent of their income in state and local taxes.
  • Households earning just a touch more - between $22,000 and $43,000 - pay 9.2 percent of their income. In the middle, households earning between $43,000 and $71,000 a year pay 9.1 percent of their income, and those earning between $71,000 and $119,000 pay 9 percent.
  • In contrast, households with incomes of more than $758,000 a year - the top 1 percent - pay just 7.1 percent of their income in state and local taxes.
  • And while the governor was vague in his call for the Legislature to "lower taxes further," not mentioning any tax in particular or the size of a reduction, it's not hard to figure out just what he likely means.

In the last few years, the governor has championed a 10 percent across-the-board income tax cut, and has expressed support for reducing or eliminating the estate or inheritance taxes. Any of these tax changes would greatly favor those who already pay the lowest share of their income in state and local taxes. In the process the tax cuts would sap the state's resources so much it would substantially damage the state's ability to pay for essential public services that average people rely on each day, like our public schools.

The bottom line: New Jersey must focus on building a better future, but these tax cuts aren't the way to do it.

Read the new op-ed here.

Pallone Statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) released the following statement after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address:

"Tonight, President Obama put forward his plan to ensure that Americans in the middle class, and those fighting every day to join it, are not left behind by an economy that is finally gaining steam. With policy proposals designed to fight stagnant wages and make the costs of higher education more affordable, the President has committed his final two years in office to leveling the playing field for hardworking Americans who are trying to get ahead.

“Most of the President’s plan will require Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work together, as the failure to do so will result in greater economic inequality and a less vibrant middle class. For far too long Republicans have chosen not to act on issues that would provide Americans with greater economic mobility and security, and President Obama sent a clear message tonight that the American people will no longer tolerate continued inaction. Instead, we must come together to find real solutions to the challenges that ordinary Americans are facing in order to set our country on a path toward greater economic prosperity for everyone.

“I look forward to working with all of my colleagues here in Congress to achieve the goals the President laid out this evening.”

NJDSC Chairman Currie On President Obama's State of the Union

(Trenton) — Today, Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee John Currie reacted to President Obama's State of the Union address with the following statement:

"Tonight, in his State of the Union address, President Obama embraced what Martin Luther King Jr. called the fierce urgency of now — pointing out that middle class families are desperate for policies that extend equal opportunity for all, not just the wealthy.

"The president offered a clear vision for a country on the rise, and it was a stark contrast from the backwards thinking of the Republicans. The Republicans’ trickle down economics have been tried — they do not work. It is time to level the playing field for middle class families."

"In particular, I thought the president’s desire to extend sick leave to working families strongly contrasted with the comments of our failed, absentee governor who insulted municipalities that extended paid sick leave at the local level. And while our governor concerns himself with the anxieties of Iowans, the president successfully calmed the nerves of the nation."

"I was also proud that President Obama showed his resilience in the face of international terrorism, and outlined a package of reforms to raise the minimum wage, and make the tax code fairer and college education affordable. These are the type of measures New Jersey families want their representatives to promote — not more efforts to undermine health care coverage and repeal patient protections."

"Well done, Mr. President."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Letter: Without Independent Verification Of Election Results County Clerk's Retirement Pension Should Be Held

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

Dear Editor,

Monmouth County Clerk Claire French (R), should not receive her state pension after she retires this spring, pending an independent investigation into problems with the 2014 General Election results.

While French has claimed the problems that caused vote tallies not to appear on the county clerk election website and required cartridges to be counted by hand, leading to a Republican victory over the Democratic challengers in a hotly contested county freeholder race, were caused by a “technical glitch”, without independent verification we cannot trust the fox to guard the hen house.

County IT director, Gregory Putnam was placed on leave as a result of the incident and has since been reassigned to work at the infamously troubled Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, which was accused by the FBI of leaking information to corrupt Republican officials during Operation Bid Rig. Could this simply be a diversion to enable the real perpetrators to avoid responsibility?

The hiring of Putnam at the Prosecutor's Office also reeks of political nepotism. Based on the election problems, he is either incompetent or corrupt and either way he is not a qualified employee.

Until we get some real answers from credible and independent investigators, we should not allow French to quietly slide away with taxpayer dollars, when it is possible she may have violated her oath of office.

Eric Hafner
Toms River

January 4, 2015 Middletown Township Committee Reorganization Meeting

Here is the video from the January 4th, 2015 Middletown Township Reorganization meeting. This video was available for over a week but just didn't have time to get around to posting it, back on the 4th however, I posted the about the meeting.

The Township Committee selected Mayor Stephanie Murray to be Mayor for a second consecutive term this year. Committeeman Steve Massell was selected to be Deputy Mayor. Fire Chiefs and a number of volunteers were sworn in . The agenda and resolutions containing the appointments of professionals and volunteers can be viewed... Here

After being sworn in Stephanie Murray addressed those in attendance for about 5 minutes and spoke about all the great accomplishments that she and the Township Committee oversaw in 2014. It was typical Ra-Ra, pat on the back, type stuff that one would expect to hear. Nothing earth scattering or overly interesting.

After Steve Massell was sworn in as Deputy Mayor, he spoke for a just over 2 minutes and I'd swear it was the most he had to say in over the past 3 years! He thanked his fellow committee members for appointing him Deputy Mayor, mentioned Police Chief Webber and acknowledged the passing of Deputy Police Chief Craig Bahrs before thanking his family.

The rest of the meeting was rather mundane and ended with comments from the members of the Township Committee.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

NFL NFC Championship Game Packers At Seahawks Preview

It's been a long time since opening weekend of the season where the Green Bay Packers lost to the defending Super Bowl Champions the Seattle Seahawks.

The weather in Seattle is going to be very wet and with Packer quarterbackAaron Rogers still nursing a calf injury his mobility is questionable, many are saying that due to his injury and the wet conditions it will be very difficult for Rogers to throw the ball, whereas the Seahawks have been practicing all week in the wet conditions preparing for the game.

The Packers have had a hard time on defense lately. They have been moving a number of players around trying to improve their run defense and with Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch running the ball for the Seahawks the Packer will need all the help they can get.

It is for these reason that I feel the Seattle Seahawks will be returning to the Super bowl this year. They will defeat the Green Bay Packers 27 - 17 in wet and rainy Seattle.

See what CBS Sports Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan have to say in their preview of the NFC Conference Championship between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

An interesting sidebar Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has never, in his short NFL career, been beaten by a quarterback that has won the Super Bowl. 

NFL AFC Championship Game Colts At Patriots Preview

Last week I posted previews of the NFL divisional playoff games and gave my thoughts on which teams would win. I came out a soft 3-1 with my picks. I say soft because if you want to be technical I was really 2-2, picking the Cowboys over the Packers in my head, but hoping beyond hope that the Packers would win, which they did.

The other game that I lost last week was the Indianapolis Colts against the Denver Broncos. I really thought that the Broncos would run and throw up and down the field on the Colts defense, unfortunately that wasn't the case. Thanks in part to the Colts defense, which played very well, and a  previously undisclosed injury to Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, that seemed to limit his mobility and pass accuracy.  Taking nothing away from the Colts' Andrew Luck, who had just a spectacular game.

In today's AFC Championship game sees the New England Patriots taking on the Colts in Foxboro. It's supposed to be cold and rainy up there today which will give Tom Brady and the Patriots a distinct advantage. However, the Patriots have had the Colts and Luck's number for a rather long time now. The Patriots haven't lost to the Colts during the Andrew Luck era.   playoff games. Today will be no different, the Patriots just don't lose home.

My pick? The Patriots over the Colts 28 - 23

See what CBS Sports Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan have to say in their preview of the AFC Conference Championship between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots:

President Obama's Weekly Address 1/17/14: State of the Union Is This Tuesday

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President recounted the stories of letter writers from around the country who will be joining him when he delivers his annual State of the Union Address this Tuesday: Carolyn, who was able to expand her small business through a Small Business Administration loan, and this year raised wages for their hourly employees; Jason, a wounded warrior who served in Afghanistan and is now back home with his wife and first daughter, born in November; and Victor, who affords his student loans with help from the Income Based Repayment Plan, and has health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. Stories like theirs are proof of the progress our country has made. The President encouraged everyone to tune in Tuesday evening to hear more about America’s comeback, and the steps we can take to ensure all Americans – not just a fortunate few – benefit from our American resurgence.