Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chug A Beer Challenge...

Now here's a cause and challenge I can really get behind!


The chug a beer challenge to strike out PMS. By Marc Butler - hat tip to Mike Fitzgerald

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Democrats for Public Education officially launches

Democrats Remain United Around Core Set of Principles To Ensure Public Education Thrives For Generations To Come

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)– Today, national Democratic Party leaders announced the official launch of Democrats For Public Education (DPE) – a new 527 organization rooted in the belief that each and every child deserves access to strong, safe neighborhood schools with well-prepared and supported teachers. DPE represents a diverse coalition of Democrats from throughout the country who support public education. You can learn more at the new website:

Democrats for Public Education will lift up public education in America. For far too long, a coordinated effort has been successful in framing a radical, false narrative that the Democratic Party is evenly spilt among those who stand strongly for public schools and those who believe public schools are detrimental to student success. This is simply untrue. With a few extremist, well-funded, vocal exceptions, Democrats remain united around a basic set of beliefs when it comes to educating our children.

“A high-quality public education is an economic necessity, an anchor of democracy and a moral imperative, “ said former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. “Democrats For Public Education is a diverse coalition of Democrats from all across America. We’ve already received strong early backing from hundreds of leaders and activists at all levels of government, from communities coast-to-coast and states in between. That's because we share the belief that every child deserves engaging curriculum, as well as social services to meet their mental, social and physical needs.”

“Democrats For Public Education is committed to bringing people together to ensure our public school system endures – and thrives – for generations to come,” said former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. “This is about standing up for our principles, standing up for teachers, standing up for kids and standing up for public education.”

The goal of Democrats For Public Education is to show broad-based support around a core set of principles, which includes:

  • Fulfilling our collective obligation to help all children succeed;
  • Fighting for neighborhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning;
  • Ensuring that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have small class sizes, and have time to collaborate to meet the individual needs of every child;
  • Guaranteeing that all children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education;
  • Providing children access to wrap-around services to meet their emotional, social and health needs;
  • Working to provide school districts – particularly those serving the highest concentration of students in need of extra services and support – with the resources required to provide all students with a world-class education; and
  • Making it clear that public education - for all children – is both an economic necessity and a fundamental civil right.

“As a proud graduate of Louisiana’s public schools, I know the importance of a good public education,” said Donna Brazile, Democratic Strategist and DNC Vice-Chair. “Frankly, it’s the only way we can strengthen, revitalize and grow our middle-class. And it's the best way we can provide a springboard for the working poor and preserve our American values.”

“As Democrats for Public Education, we’re focused on just that – supporting public education,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, representing Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District. “We support superior standards and finding ways to make classrooms challenging and rewarding for both teachers and students. We believe in instilling critical thinking skills needed for 21st century jobs and the new economy. And we’re committed to a level playing field for all, with well-resourced schools responsive to the needs of the community.”

The list of Democrats For Public Education co-chairs includes the following – with more chairs to be announced in the coming weeks:

  • Governor Jennifer Granholm (MI)
  • Governor Ted Strickland (OH)
  • Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
  • Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
  • Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
  • State Superintendent Denise Juneau (MT)
  • Donna Brazile – Democratic Strategist & DNC Vice-Chair

At, visitors can continue adding their name to those all across America who have already signed up to show their solidarity. The DPE website will be a resource and information hub for supporters, activists and the press to keep up-to-date with the latest news on Democrats For Public Education, as well as education issues of interest in general.

You can also follow Democrats for Public Education on Twitter (@Dems4PublicEd) and on Facebook (

Christie 'blacklists' NJ Watchdog

For immediate release:

To fight selective government secrecy, New Jersey Watchdog is trying to obtain news releases from Gov. Chris Christie under the state public records law.

Christie’s staff has not responded to the site’s requests to be added to the list of news outlets that receive press advisories, official announcements and daily schedules from the governor’s office. In contrast, New Jersey Watchdog is on the press lists for both the Republican and Democratic leaderships of the state Senate and Assembly.

The first Open Public Records Act request was submitted today. Under statute, the governor’s office has seven business days to respond. If the request is denied, New Jersey Watchdog can sue Christie in Superior Court for belated release of the news releases.

The governor and his staff have not offered any explanation for blacklisting New Jersey Watchdog. Being excluded from a timely flow of information from the state’s highest-ranking public official typically puts a news organization at competitive disadvantage.

Paradoxically, Christie promotes himself as a reformer who champions open government and transparency.

The Christie Administration has been a subject of numerous investigative reports by New Jersey Watchdog, including stories on double-dipping, travel, ethics and “Doublegate” – a pension scandal that implicated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

For two consecutive years, New Jersey Watchdog has won New York Press Club awards for outstanding political coverage. Last year, it was named best independent online news site by the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The story is now online at

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pallone Attends Disaster Recovery Workshop and Tours Rebuild of Sandy-Damaged Home

SEA BRIGHT, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) attended a workshop, hosted by Farmers Insurance and the St. Bernard Project, a national disaster recovery nonprofit organization, to discuss how public and private entities are working together in New Jersey to improve disaster recovery efforts, specifically with groups like Sea Bright Rising, a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping residents rebuild in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Congressman Pallone also toured a Sandy-damaged home currently being repaired by Sea Bright Rising. He was joined by Deb Aldredge of Farmers Insurance, Zack Rosenburg of the St. Bernard Project, Chad Carson of Sea Bright Rising, and Sea Bright Mayor, Dina Long.

“It is great to see the work being done here in Sea Bright as organizations come together to make sure that resources are getting into the hands of those who need it most,” said Pallone. “This collaboration between private institutions and local, non-profit organizations is crucial as we continue to rebuild in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, but also as we look to effectively prepare for future storms. I’m grateful for all that Farmers Insurance, the St. Bernard Project and Sea Bright Rising continue to do to help our community recover from this historic storm.”

In May of this year, Farmers Insurance, in conjunction with the St. Bernard Project, launched the “Disaster Recovery Playbook,” a compilation of best practices that communities can utilize to ensure a faster and more complete recovery following a disaster. Sea Bright Rising has partnered with the St. Bernard Project to implement a residential rebuilding program in the community of Sea Bright, New Jersey in order to serve residents who own homes but lack the financial means necessary to rebuild on their own. In June, Farmers made a commitment to Sea Bright Rising to provide much needed funding and weekly volunteers through the end of 2014.

Transgender Teen " would be treated with the respect and inclusive opportunities that all students deserve“ If She Decides to Attend Thorne MS

Transgender Student Not Alone in Facing Challenges in Middle School
 Photo by Asbury Park Press/Facebook.
The drama surrounding transgender teen Rachel Pepe being allowed to attend Thorne Middle School in Middletown as the person she feels she is, has attracted some national press; Yahoo News has picked up her story today after it was first reported over the weekend by the Asbury Park Press.

The initial report of this story shocked me, I couldn't believe how insensitive and callous school officials were when informed that a student who was known as Brian Pepe by my son and his friends, felt that he no longer could identified himself as a boy and wished to be know as Rachel.

I am happy though that School Superintendent Dr. William George, has decided to embrace the situation as opposed to sticking his head in the sand, hoping that it will go away by issuing a press release earlier today addressing the situation which stated, “ ...administration and staff members pride themselves on character education and welcome diversity. This student is welcome at Thorne, and if she chooses to attend Thorne, she would be treated with the respect and inclusive opportunities that all students deserve.“

A community has an obligation to provide a safe and instructive learning environment for all its students regardless of gender identity. If Middletown's school system doesn't wish to accommodate this student or other students like her, then they are obligated to look into alternative educational opportunities for for such students. I'm glad to hear though that Dr. George and school system is willing to work with this student rather that push her away.

It's times like these that we find out exactly what type of community Middletown is.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

President Obama's Weekly Address 8/16/14 : Everyone Should Be Able to Afford Higher Education

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, with schools getting ready to open their doors again over the next few weeks, the President talked directly to students and parents about the importance of preparing for an education beyond high school. In today’s economy, some higher education continues to be the surest ticket to the middle class, but for too many families across the country, paying for higher education is a constant struggle. The President and First Lady know this first hand – they only finished paying off their student loans ten years ago – and that’s why they have made it a priority to help make college more affordable for families. They have taken action to reform student loans, expand grants and college tax credits, help make loan payments more manageable, and have proposed plans to make sure colleges also do their part to bring down costs. And just this week, as part of the President’s Year of Action, the administration announced a new series of commitments to support students who need a little extra academic help getting through college.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Extraordinary Will Inevitably Become Ordinary Once Shake Shack Goes Public

Sorry, but in my humble opinion if this rumored Shake Shack IPO becomes a reality a truly extraordinary burger will inevitably become ordinary. If you've ever tasted a ShakeBurger you know what I'm talking about.

From the Huffington Post via Reuters:

Shake Shack Preparing For An IPO

(Reuters) - Shake Shack, the fast-food restaurant chain famous for its hamburgers and milkshakes, is preparing to go public, seeking to tap stock market demand for popular casual dining companies, according to people familiar with the matter.

Shake Shack's majority owner, Union Square Hospitality Group LLC, has interviewed investment banks in recent weeks to appoint underwriters for an initial public offering, the people said on Friday.

Shake Shack, which started out of a hot dog kiosk in New York's Madison Square Park in 2004, is expected to post earnings of around $20 million next year, one of the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. A Shake Shack spokesman declined to comment, while Union Square Hospitality did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

New Jersey OPRA Amendment Benefits Crime Victims

For immediate release

A bill amending New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to recognize the special needs of crime victims was signed into law on July 30th. A1676 provides that a crime victim can obtain his or her own records at no cost and that the victim’s request for those records is not public information.

While there is currently no charge under OPRA for electronic delivery of records, a fee applies to paper copies. Under the revised law, fees would be waived for crime victims requesting their own records.

The bill has numerous sponsors and co-sponsors including Senator Loretta Weinberg, who has been a champion for OPRA reform.

The new law was written and shepherded by Unchained at Last, a non-profit organization devoted to helping victims of arranged marriage and domestic violence. Fraidy Reiss, the organization’s founder and president, points out that it is necessary to prove a pattern of abuse when seeking a final restraining order from a judge and that one of the best ways to do that is to request copies of the incident reports and prior restraining orders, for which cost could present a barrier to obtaining the records. Further, exempting such requests from the public domain allows for the privacy and safety of the requestor.

Reiss received the backing of the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG), which assisted with the draft of the law. NJFOG is the only non-profit in the state devoted exclusively to improving New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act and educating the public about these laws.

While acknowledging that what is now a public record will become non-public under the new law – the crime victim’s document request itself – NJFOG president Walter Luers stated, “The OPRA amendment, in our view, will not diminish access to public records but will instead enhance access for crime victims.”

The new provisions take effect on November 1, 2014.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pallone Announces $242,820 Grant to Sea Bright Fire Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced that the Sea Bright Fire Department in Sea Bright, NJ, has been awarded $242,820 through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program. The AFG program is part of a coordinated, ongoing effort by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration to improve the nation’s ability to respond to emergency situations.

“It is vital that our brave firefighters have all the resources and tools they need to protect the safety of the public and themselves in the case of an emergency situation,” said Pallone. “I am thrilled that the Department of Homeland Security has selected the Sea Bright Fire Departmentto receive this federal grant. These funds will be instrumental in ensuring our emergency personnel will continue to make our community an even safer place to live.”

Grants awarded under the AFG program are given directly to fire departments and non-affiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations for emergency response equipment, personal protective equipment, firefighting and emergency vehicles, and training. In Fiscal Year 2013, the AFG program will provide approximately $320 million in competitive grants to first-responder organizations.

Middletown Arts Center Helps Summer Camper Raise $150,000 for Pediatric Cancer Research and Awareness

Middletown, N.J. (August 13, 2014) – Each summer the Middletown Arts Center (MAC) provides a creative atmosphere for hundreds of campers of all ages from across Middletown and surrounding communities. This summer four-year old Natalie Grace Gorsegner of Middletown attended camp at the MAC to prepare for school, following a two-year battle with cancer. Her courageous and philanthropic spirit has inspired an entire community to work towards raising $150,000 for childhood cancer research and awareness by her birthday on September 28, 2014.

Natalie Grace Gorsegner was diagnosed on August 16, 2012 with high-risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She attended morning sessions of Art Camp at the MAC with her sister Hannah, age 7, and Miss Laurie Ruggeri. Natalie’s mom Andrea felt the MAC provided the ideal environment to take baby steps and start acclimating her to a school environment. She will be attending Kindergarten in Fall 2015.

“Natalie Grace has lost so much of her social skills and has had little desire to be around other people and kids. The energy was just too overwhelming for her,” said Andrea “The Middletown Arts Center has been wonderful, allowing us to socialize her on her own time in a loving and nurturing environment. We have bonded in an indescribable way since she was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2012, and it has been hard for me to leave her with others.”

Today, her family, mom Andrea, dad Dan, sister Hannah, and friends at the Middletown Arts Center are hoping to make her birthday wish come true by raising $150,000 for pediatric cancer research and awareness by September 28, 2014.

Donations collected at the Arts Center, and during other fundraisers that include art auctions and benefit events organized by the Gorsegner family, will support the work of the nonprofit organization, The Truth 365, a grass-roots documentary film and social media campaign that gives a voice to children fighting cancer.

“Miss Laurie has a special gift for bringing love and joy into children’s lives through art. She worked magic with all of the children in her care, but especially with Natalie and her sister. It was quite touching. The Middletown Arts Center is a magical place. ”

Donations in honor of Natalie Grace’s Birthday Wish are accepted at the Middletown Arts Center, located at 36 Church Street in Middletown, NJ (next to the train station).

The Gorsegner family also invites the general public to join them for their benefit dinner at McCloone’s Pier House in Long Branch on September 4th from 6– 10 p.m. Tickets are $100 each and include dinner, open bar, valet parking, and a live performance by singer-songwriter Mikey Wax, named "Artist to Watch" by iHeart radio. Visit the Facebook page “Infinite Love for Natalie Grace” to purchase tickets.

About the Middletown Arts Center

The Middletown Arts Center (MAC) is an award-winning, state-of-the-art facility run by the nonprofit Middletown Township Cultural and Arts Council and is dedicated to bringing quality arts programming and events to Middletown and surrounding communities. The MAC offers enrichment programs and entertainment for all ages and abilities. Visit for more information. The MAC can also be found on Facebook at Middletown Arts Center and Twitter @MiddletownArts.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Good Deed By MTPD Officer Vendetti Deserves Recognition

All too often we only hear about the bad or negative aspects of police officers and/or their actions that they take, you very rarely hear about the good that they do. That is why I want to send a much deserved shout out to Adam Vendetti, a 12 year veteran of the Middletown Police Department, who was spotted going above and beyond the call of duty last week by a friend of mine, who lives on Chestnut Ave., over in the Hillside section of Middletown.

Displaying IMG_0601.JPG
(Officer Vendetti fixing bike)
Last Thursday morning (8/7/14), while glancing out the front window of his house my friend witnessed two Middletown police cars sitting in front of his house. One police officer (Vendetti) was standing next to first car speaking to the officer inside. When the police car departed officer Vendetti started walking back to his patrol vehicle.

While walking to his vehicle, Officer Vendetti stopped a young boy who walking past him, pushing his bike: the chain had fallen off its sprocket and was dragging on the ground. The two spoke briefly and Vendetti went to his patrol car to retrieve a pair of gloves. Officer Vendetti then spent the next 10 minutes fixing the young man’s bike and sent him on his way.

My friend, who witnessed this genuine act of kindness, was so impressed by Officer Vendetti’s wonderful gesture towards one of the kids in the neighborhood, went outside and thanked him for his effort. He said that after speaking with Officer Vendetti, how very impressed he was with him and what a “real nice young man” he was.

After hearing this little story I’m also very impressed by Officer Vendetti and his exceptional character. I’m happy knowing that he is patrolling the streets of Middletown, watching out for its citizens.

You're a good man Officer Vendetti, keep up the good work!

Savvy Smith Undermines his Own Work for Austism

By District 4 Coalition for Change

Publically Congressman Chris Smith Is a Champion of Autism but behind closed doors he undermines his work and his constituents. Please share this with friends and family that care about Autism.

Smith is savvy. His Newsletter arrived in the mail this week.

What Smith Omits from his Newsletter is what we should be paying attention to.

He left out his Signature Legislation HR7 that blocks private insurance companies and Flexible Spending Accounts from covering women's reproductive care. There was no mention of the Hobby Lobby and Buffer rulings in the Supreme Court in which he advocated for as well as helped architect the legislation and... NO MENTION OF THE RYAN BUDGET in which Smith VOTED YEA.

Smiths Newsletter.jpg
(Recent Chris Smith Newsletter)

The Ryan Budget was warned as dangerous by the Autism Society.

Smith is a savvy politician, he publically supports Autism research and fund raising but when he votes ... he stabs his constituents in the back and undermines his own work.


Towns in District 4 NJ:
Allentown, Bayhead, Belmar, Bradley Beach, Colts Neck, Eatontown, Englishtown, Fair Haven, Farmingdale, Freehold Township, Freehold Boro, Hamilton, Holmdel, Howell, Jackson, Lake Como, Lakehurst, Lakewood, Little Silver, Manalapan, Manasquan, Manchester, Middletown, Millstone, Neptune, Ocean, Pt. Pleasant, Pt. Pleasant Beach, Red Bank, Robbinsville, Roosevelt, Rumson, Seat Girt, Shrewsbury, Spring Lake, Tinton Falls, Upper Freehold, Wall, Neptune, Neptune City

Chris Christie's "Shirk Week"

By Joshua Henne

With “Shark Week” in full blast, we just wanted to share this timely video on Governor Chris Christie’s “Shirk Week.”

Christie talks a big game. But, as this video shows, the governor already broke New Jersey’s economy. Now, he’s not only breaking his word by failing to make promised pension payments…he’s breaking the law in the process.

It’s simple: New Jersey’s pension doesn't need a commission or a study stocked with a handful of super-wealthy people unlikely to have any clue as to what it means to live on a fixed-income. The pension needs to be fully funded, as promised and required by law.

So, in honor of Shark Week…I mean “Shirk Week”…we hope you’ll enjoy this short video highlighting Christie’s continued failures.

Christie didn't only break his word when it came to funding the pension. He also broke the very law he signed and touted as a “major accomplishment.” Gone is the fanfare. Gone is the chest-thumping. And gone are the taxpayer-funded banners proclaiming the “Jersey Comeback.”

Instead, we’re left with Christie’s limp lack of leadership…as he continues to shirk responsibility at every turn.

NJ WATCHDOG: Christie's ethics watchdogs fail to bark or bite

For immediate release:

When it comes to ethics, Chris Christie can talk the talk. But does the New Jersey governor walk the walk when his ethics watchdogs are actually lapdogs?

Christie’s hand-picked Ethics Advisory Panel did not take action during its first four years – a period in which Bridgegate, Doublegate and other controversies came to light.

In response to a public records request by New Jersey Watchdog, the governor’s office reported it cannot find any decision by the panel.

Created by executive order, the panel has the power to penalize and fine the governor or lieutenant governor for ethical infractions. But as governor, Christie picks the panel members – and he retains the power to rescind any executive order anytime he chooses.

The existence of the Ethics Advisory Panel did not prevent the conflict of interest faced by the governor and his administration in Doublegate – a pension controversy implicating Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

A state pension board requested a criminal investigation of alleged pension fraud in May 2011. The case was assigned to the attorney general’s Division of Criminal Justice – even though Guadagno was DCJ’s former deputy director.

Faced with a choice, Christie did not use his constitutional power to appoint a special prosecutor or investigator to handle a probe likely to involve his lieutenant governor. The Ethics Advisory Panel had the authority to review the matter at its own discretion and issue a public determination.

But that never happened.

The story is now online at

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Booker Staffer Tells Senate GOP Opponent To 'Suck It'

I love this story. You have to give it to those loyal, over zealous staffers, they'll do or say just about anything on the behalf of those they work for and support.

"The perils of digital communications: A staffer for Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) accidentally sent an email Friday to Booker's Republican opponent Jeff Bell with the following message: "JEFF BELL CAN SUCK IT." ... 
Booker's office acknowledged the mistake. 
“Earlier today a young staffer sent an email to Mr. Bell’s campaign by mistake that contained wholly inappropriate language," Beth DeFalco, communications director for Booker, told NRO. "She has apologized to Mr. Bell. Sen. Booker does not condone that type of language or tone being used anywhere.”
Read the full story.