Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Here Comes Peter Cottontail

It's been quite a while since I posted a cartoon and since we're celebrating Easter this weekend it's time I post one of my most beloved Rankin & Bass cartoon classic from my childhood: Here comes Peter Cottontail.

Seymour S. Sassafrass, an eccentric, yet friendly peddler, and inventor, tells the tale of Peter Cottontail, a young Easter Bunny who lives in April Valley, where the Chief Easter Bunny supervises such Easter items as colored eggs and chocolate candy.

Colonel Wellington B. Bunny, the retiring Chief Easter Bunny, names young Peter his successor despite Peter's propensity for boasting and telling fibs, which is exemplified when his left ear droops. Peter, who has dreamed of being the Chief Easter Bunny almost his entire life, gladly accepts. But not everyone in April Valley is happy with the Colonel's decision. January Q. Irontail, an evil, reclusive rabbit villain who lives in a craggy old tree, alone except for his assistant, a bat named Montresor, wants to be the Chief Easter Bunny...

President Obama's Weekly Address 4/19/14 : President Obama Offers Easter and Passover Greetings

WASHINGTON, DC – In this week’s address, the President offered his warmest greetings as millions of Americans celebrate Easter this Sunday and recounted the Passover Seder he hosted at the White House earlier this week, joining Jewish families around the world in their celebration. The President looks forward to taking part with his family in the hope and joy of the Easter season and reminds all Americans, no matter their faith, of the common thread that binds us.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pallone Participates in Internet Safety Event at Fords Middle School



WOODBRIDGE, NJ– Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) participated in Google’s Online Safety Roadshow, an innovative program designed to teach young adults how to stay safe on the internet, at Fords Middle School in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Congressman Pallone highlighted the importance of carefully considering what is being shared with others online and the lasting impacts that even seemingly small actions can have on the internet.

“In a world where technology is constantly evolving, it is important that we talk to our children continuously about being safe online,” said Congressman Pallone. “While the internet is a powerful tool that has profoundly changed the way we learn, do business and receive information, young adults should also have a healthy awareness of the permanence that comes with a simple click of a button. By having open discussions with our children about these realities, we can help them develop responsible behaviors online from an early age.”

Today’s assembly was one stop on Google’s Online Safety Roadshow, a program designed to educate both parents and students on how to stay safe and secure on the web. The program also aims to teach middle school students how to be smart about the content they share online. It focuses on important skills, like creating a safe and memorable password, understanding how to adjust privacy settings, and avoiding scams online.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time Banking Slide Show

Last week there was a presentation on time banking at Monmouth University. Ashley Lobbato and several other dedicated staff members at MonmouthCares are working toward implementing this program in Monmouth County.

Time banking is a way of buying the services you need by earning time for services you provide. Every hour of service has the same value no matter what the service, and transactions are tax-free. This alternative form of currency is an innovative way for people to meet their needs in a difficult economy.

Everyone has something to give and can participate in the time banking network, which creates a circle of giving that reconnects communities.

The slide show that was part of last week’s presentation can be viewed at the link below. It was created using an application called Prezi that allows for imbedded videos on some screens. Grab your family members and take a look to learn more about this really cool initiative.

Slide show:
http://prezi.com/ax2l-3q9nn6q/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

Best regards,
Linda Baum

Tour Police HQ during Police Week May 11th - May 17th

From Middletown Township Website:

Robert Oches, Chief of Police, announces that POLICE WEEK will be celebrated this year from Sunday, May 11th through Saturday, May 17th nationally. Chief Oches invites all citizens to acquaint themselves with the Police Department and its operations during this year’s Open House.

Members of our community, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Civic Groups, students and senior citizens are invited to take this opportunity to visit Police Headquarters. Guided tours of our facility will be conducted Tuesday, May 13th, Wednesday, May 14th and Thursday, May 15th from 9:15 am to 5:15 pm. To schedule a secured and convenient time slot, you may call the Chief’s Office Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at 732-615-2039.

In addition, the annual Middletown Police Memorial Service will be held rain or shine at Police Headquarters, 1 Kings Highway, on Friday, May 16 at 11a.m. The public is invited to attend. The service will be held at Middletown Police Memorial, located at the corner of Kings Highway and Route 35.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 7, 2014 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

Here is the latest video recording of the Middletown Township Committee taken during it's April 7th, Workshop meeting. The video is just over 90 minutes and I haven't had time to watch it all so I'll refrain from commenting and let the video speak for itself.

Committee Comments begin at the 44:50 mark of the video followed shortly there after by Public Comments at 54:44



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.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monmouth County Freeholders Backtrack on Dirty Lucas Land Deal



For Immediate Release: 


MANALAPAN - The Monmouth County Freeholder Board has backtracked in their recent unanimous vote to exclude elected officials from New Jersey’s farmland preservation programs.

Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and her board have been harshly criticized for releasing $1.2 million in taxpayer money to Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas [R], under the semblance of an Open Space land grant. Mr. Lucas is now under an 11-count indictment because of the $1.2 million deal.

In October of 2011, Lucas hosted a fundraiser for Freeholder Lillian Burry on the very property that was awaiting funding by her and the Republican Freeholders. Freeholder Burry has since been criticized by fellow Freeholders for supporting the release of the funds, which passed on a 3-2 vote. Republican Freeholders Gary Rich and Serena DiMaso voted to release the money to Lucas, while John Curley and Thomas Arnone voted against.

Joe Grillo, candidate for Monmouth County Freeholder, stated “Freeholders Burry and Rich are doing a typical political flip-flop. Eight months ago, they voted for something that was clearly unethical. Now that our money is already gone, they admit what they did should be illegal.”

Candidate for Monmouth County Freeholder Larry Luttrell stated, “By passing this resolution, Freeholder Burry admitted that she was wrong to funnel $1.2 million in taxpayer money to Lucas. We cannot let a career politician like Lillian Burry get away with this.”

Better Off


The following is from Congressman Rush Holt's newsletter:

A person or a country invests with the hope and expectation that investing some resources now will produce a better future. Historically, America’s optimistic outlook and commitment to investment have made us great and strong.

This week the House considered a budget that abandons that vision of optimism and investment. The so-called Ryan Budget – named after its author, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan – is based on the premise that America cannot afford to invest in infrastructure, science, education; that we have to cut back, shrink, reduce our efforts, hunker down.

It would slash $790 billion from our budget, even beyond the already harsh cuts of sequestration. It would push up to 170,000 vulnerable children out of Head Start, cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for children by $125 billion, reduce Medicare coverage, eliminate jobs for up to 29,000 teachers and aides, and make college less affordable for millions of students by cutting $205 billion for higher education. The Ryan Budget Resolution passed the House. The Budget Resolution is just a plan; it is not appropriations, but it is probably the clearest statement of how we see ourselves as a country.

In short, the Ryan Budget suggests that America can’t afford to do things – anything. Paul Ryan says we have a debt, and so, it seems, we cannot invest. That is simply not true. What a pessimistic view of our country! The wealthiest nation on earth can and should invest as if we have a future. By his way of thinking, the USA could not have created the national highway in the first decade of the 19th century or the interstate highway system in the 20th, or the transcontinental railroad during the Civil War, the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation, Pell Grants or the community college system, the GI Bill for housing and college, the National Weather Service or the Head Start program, the Peace Corps or the greatly expanded National Parks. All of those things, and so many more that have contributed to our greatness, were done when we were in debt, sometimes significantly more than now. And they have helped us grow as a people and an economy.

This week my colleagues and I in the Congressional Progressive Caucus outlined a better path forward. Our Better Off Budget would create 8.8 million jobs over its first three years by investing in infrastructure, education, training, and research. It would invest $100 billion in teachers and schools and $81 billion in science. What's the secret? None. We simply would raise the necessary revenue to cover the necessary expenses.

Quite simply, the Better Off Budget calls for investing as if we will have a tomorrow.

Don’t Change the Target. Change the Approach.

Earlier this week, I met with the European Union’s Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, who is among the highest-ranking international officials devoted to addressing climate change.

We spoke about the EU’s successes in making the fight against climate change a policy priority and in developing forms of non-carbon energy.  I was impressed by her sense of urgency and her commitment to holding world powers accountable for their promises to reduce carbon pollution. As she said in a speech to the United Nations late last year, “We should learn from the economic policies. If targets are not met, normally you don't change the target. No, you add more policies in order to achieve the target. Nowhere in politics will this approach be more needed than exactly in climate policies.”

What No Student Should Face

Along with late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, I’ve worked for years to end bullying and harassment on college campuses – spurred in part by the memory of New Jersey native Tyler Clementi. As you may recall, Tyler was an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University when he died by suicide after being harassed by his roommate.

Late last month, Sens. Patty Murray (WA) and Tammy Baldwin (WI) reintroduced into the Senate the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which I wrote with Sen. Lautenberg.

As Sen. Murray said, “I am extremely grateful for the work my friend Frank did to honor Tyler Clementi’s life with this legislation…. No student – whether they’re gay, straight, black, white, Christian, or Muslim – should have to face discrimination and harassment in their pursuit of education.”
Sincerely,

Rush Holt
Member of Congress


NJ WATCHDOG: Last chance for NJ to keep Doublegate secrets



For immediate release:


A judge is giving the state’s Division of Criminal Justice one final chance to argue why an index of records from a hush-hush criminal investigation involving Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno should not be released to a New Jersey Watchdog reporter.

“I frankly don’t see why it should be kept confidential,” said Judge Mary C. Jacobson during a hearing in Mercer County Superior Court. “It’s highly unusual to keep a Vaughn index confidential.”

The 96-page Vaughn index lists 779 pages of documents gathered by DCJ during a probe requested in May 2011 by the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System board of trustees.

One allegation is Guadagno, as Monmouth County sheriff in 2008, made false and misleading statements that enabled her top aide to improperly collect an $85,000 a year pension in addition to his $87,500 salary. The facts were first reported by New Jersey Watchdog in October 2010.

Two months ago, the PFRS board learned the investigation was closed. But DCJ has refused to disclose the result of the Doublegate probe or any details.

“What the state overlooks is that the investigation itself is highly suspect,” argued the reporter’s attorney, Donald M. Doherty Jr., in court briefs. “It smacks of a dirty deal and the use of the investigative exemption to avoid exposing a sordid situation.”

Guadagno is a former deputy director of DCJ. Faced with conflict-of-interest concerns, Gov. Chris Christie did not exercise his constitutional power to appoint an independent investigator or prosecutor for a case involving his second-in-command.

Spokespersons for Christie, Guadagno and DCJ have declined comment on the case.

The full story is now online at http://newjersey.watchdog.org. The direct link is http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2014/04/14/doublegate-secrets-guadagno/.



Pallone Announces Contract Awarded for $2 Million Belford Dredging Project

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced that the Army Corps of Engineers has awarded the contract for dredging Shoal Harbor and Compton Creek in Belford, New Jersey. The $2 million contract has been awarded to M.E.R.I.T. Inc., a small business located in Newark, New Jersey. The project will be completed with federal funds from the Sandy relief package passed by Congress in January 2013.

“I am pleased to announce that a contract has been awarded and that work can soon begin on this dredging project in Belford. Projects like this are vital to the Jersey shore economy,” said Congressman Pallone. “This dredging will bring much needed relief to local boaters and businesses that depend on these waterways being navigable, like the Belford Seafood Co-Op and the Belford Ferry. I am glad that the Army Corps of Engineers is undertaking these important projects as we continue to recover from Superstorm Sandy.”

This contract provides $2,411,290.00 in federal funding to remove 89,455 cubic yards of sand in order to maintain accessible waterways after Superstorm Sandy. The project is set to begin in June 2014.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

President Obama's Weekly Address 4/12/14: Ensuring Equal Pay for Equal Work

WASHINGTON, DC – In this week’s address, the President underscored the importance of ensuring equal pay for equal work and highlighted the steps his Administration has taken to expand opportunity and narrow the pay gap that exists between men and women. Just this week – on Equal Pay Day – the President took action to increase transparency and make it easier to recognize pay discrimination. Women make up half of America’s workforce, and are increasingly the primary-breadwinners in American families. Ensuring that women are paid fairly is a commonsense step to grow our economy. That is why the President again called on Republicans in Congress to support the Paycheck Fairness Act and stop blocking progress that would benefit women – because when women succeed, America succeeds.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Middletown Health Department Issues Rabies Alert

From Middletown Alerts:

The Health Department has received laboratory confirmation of two raccoons testing positive for Rabies this week.

The first raccoon was found in the area of Michael Drive, located off of Nutswamp Road. There was no direct contact with anyone or any domestic animals. The second

The second raccoon was found in the area of Essex Street and Bray Avenue in the North Middletown section of the Township. The raccoon did not have any reported contact with people or other domestic animals but was exhibiting signs of severe illness.

In light of finding a rabid raccoon, we would like to remind residents about the possibility of wildlife being infected with Rabies. Please make sure all domestic animals (dogs, cats, and livestock) are currently vaccinated with a Rabies shot.

Residents should not be interacting with wildlife. If you come across a sick or injured animal, keep your distance and please contact Animal Control at 732-615-2097 immediately or contact the Police Department after hours and on weekends. Remember, Rabies is a fatal disease. The best course of defense is the vaccination of your pets and not handling or interacting with wildlife.

Pallone to Volunteer for Union Beach Day of Caring




UNION BEACH, NJ – On Sunday, April 13, 2014, at 8:30am, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) will join Starbucks employees and families from Monmouth &beach clean Middlesex County, to volunteer for the Union Beach Day of Caring sponsored by Starbucks to mark National Volunteer Week. Volunteers will be able to participate in several activities, including painting homes, removing debris, rebuilding homes, and cleaning up local beaches and parks. Congressman Pallone will also be joined by Union Beach Mayor Paul Smith.

This Day of Caring is part of Starbucks’ fourth annual Global Month of Service, where employees and customers work together to lead community service projects focused on the individual needs of the neighborhoods where they live and work.


WHO:
Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06)
Union Beach Mayor Paul Smith

WHAT:
Participating in the Union Beach Day of Caring activities

WHERE:
650 Poole Avenue
Union Beach, NJ 07735

WHEN:
Sunday, April 13, 2014
8:30am-9:30am

Who pays for Christie's trips?



For immediate release:


Who really pays for Gov. Chris Christie’s frequent trips away from New Jersey?

A New Jersey Watchdog reporter is suing the governor’s office in Mercer County Superior Court for records of third-parties who pay for the out-of-state trips taken by Christie and his senior staff.

“There is the public interest in assessing just who is paying for our government officials to visit with them,” argued the reporter’s attorney, Donald M. Doherty Jr., in a brief filed yesterday. “If a person is judged by the company he keeps, politicians are similarly judged by who they travel to see.”

State travel regulations require state agencies to collect and maintain certain documents regarding travel paid by the third-parties. Yet the governor’s office completely denied the reporter’s request for the files under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.

“Please be advised that the nature of your request is unclear, and your request is therefore invalid under OPRA,” responded Javier Diaz, a legal specialist in the governor’s office.

“I have requested specific documents with reasonable clarity,” countered the reporter in a Feb. 28 email to Diaz.

“What is not clear is why you have asserted that the request is somehow ‘unclear’ and ‘therefore invalid.’ If you believe there is any technicality that causes (the request) to be unclear, please identify it and bring it to my attention immediately,” the reporter wrote.

The governor’s office never replied – and now will be required to answer in court.

Christie and his entourage have traveled extensively over the past couple of years. During the 2012 election, the New Jersey governor was on the national campaign trail to stump and help raise funds for Mitt Romney and various other candidates for office.

As chair of the Republican Governors Association this year and a prospective presidential candidate for 2016, Christie’s frequent journeys have continued. Last month, he flew to Las Vegas to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition and meet with billionaire political donor Sheldon Adelson.

The story is now online at http://newjersey.watchdog.org. The direct link is http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2014/04/11/christie-travel-records/.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Money Shouldn't Buy

The following is from Congressman Rush Holt's newsletter:



To be rich in the United States of America is to be privileged in many ways. But it should not mean that you can buy a privileged place in our democracy.

Yet on Wednesday (4/2/14), the Supreme Court offered the very wealthy a way to do precisely that. In a controversial, deeply divided opinion, the justices struck down individual limits on aggregate financial contributions in federal elections.

What does this mean? Under the law as it existed until Wednesday, an individual donor could give up to $123,200 to candidates and party organizations in a single election cycle. That cap was roughly equal to eight years of earnings for a full-time minimum-wage worker, or nearly three years of earnings for the typical American worker. Yet the Supreme Court struck down even that very generous cap, meaning that the voices of very privileged Americans will now become even louder – drowning out the voices of everyone else.

It is madness to say, as the Supreme Court did, in effect, that big money in campaigns has no undemocratic effect if it is not used in direct, corrupt buying of legislators’ votes. Our democracy does not need the granting of even more power and influence to the already-privileged.

A better way forward is the public financing of elections. There are several examples of functioning public financing systems across America, including here in New Jersey. For federal elections, I support the Fair Elections Now Act, which would leverage small dollar contributions by providing a 4 to 1 federal match of contributions of $100 or less. I also support the Government by the People Act, which would provide a 9 to 1 federal match of contributions of $50 or less for candidates who refuse to accept money from PACs. Rather than amplifying the voices of the already-privileged, these bills would amplify the voices of ordinary people.

The first bill I ever cosponsored in Congress focused on campaign finance reform. Yet as this week’s news demonstrates, the work of protecting the integrity of our elections is never done.

Further Details on Grandfathered Flood Insurance Rates

President Obama recently signed into law the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which will help reform the National Flood Insurance Program to avoid enormous premium increases. In an eGenda following House passage in early March, I noted, “The legislation also restores “grandfathered” rates for homes and businesses that were remapped into higher-risk areas.”

A few readers requested further details. Properties that benefited from “grandfathered” rates will be allowed to continue paying their lower premiums for their flood insurance policies. For properties being newly mapped into areas with special flood hazards they will – for one year – be permitted to pay a lower-cost preferred risk premium, before gradual increases within the caps established by the law are allowed to take effect.

We are a nation exposed to ever greater flood risk, and flood insurance premiums will continue to reflect that risk. It is my hope that the reforms that have now been signed into law will provide certainty and affordability to property owners as we continue to plan for a changing climate.

Working for You

Recently I heard from a West Windsor woman who was being repeatedly contacted by the IRS about a tax liability – even though she had already paid the amount due. On her behalf, I contacted the New Jersey Local Taxpayer Advocate, and the problem was quickly resolved.

Have you encountered a similar problem with the IRS, a passport center, the VA, Social Security, Medicare, or any other federal agency? If so, please call me at 1-87-RUSH-HOLT or by sending an e-mail. I’ll do all I can to address your problem.

As the April 15th tax filing deadline approaches, you may also be interested in assistance in completing your tax return. A list of venues in New Jersey that offer free tax filing assistance is available online.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt
Member of Congress