Saturday, November 22, 2014

President Obama's Weekly Address 11/22/14: Immigration Accountability Executive Action

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President laid out the steps he took this past week to fix our broken immigration system. Enacted within his legal authority, the President’s plan focuses on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes. These are commonsense steps, but only Congress can finish the job. As the President acts, he’ll continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill -- like the one passed by the Senate more than a year ago -- that can replace these actions and fix the whole system.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fallen Veteran Street Sign Dedication Ceremonies Sunday, Nov.23rd

From Middletown Alerts:

The Middletown Veterans Affairs Committee will hold dedication ceremonies on Sunday, November 23 to mark installation of five new commemorative street signs that honor fallen veterans. The veteran’s families have been invited to attend. The public is also invited attend the ceremonies which will include a color guard and the playing of taps.

A total of 29 signs will be added to streets township-wide to honor our fallen veterans from World War II to present. The Veterans Affairs Committee plans to hold ceremonies at all sign locations. The commemorative sign includes the soldier’s full name, an American flag, branch of service, campaign served and a gold star in honor of their mother. A gold star signifies the soldier was killed in action. The Veterans Affairs Committee is working with Committeeman Anthony Fiore and Public Works Director Ted Maloney to install all the street signs before year’s end. The Veterans Affairs Committee is seeking families of Middletown’s fallen veterans. Family members are encouraged to call 732-787-8510. The first 5 ceremonies are as follows:

Zilinski Drive, November 23, noon
Zilinski Drive was named in memory of Dennis Zilinski, who was killed in action during the Iraq Campaign. The road is located on Route 36 East and Zilinski Drive in the Belford section of town.

Chanowich Court, November 23, 12:30pm
Chanowich Court was named in memory of Samuel Chanowich who was killed in action during World War II. The road is located off Cherry Tree Farm Road in New Monmouth.

Belicose Court, November 23, 1pm
Belicose Court was named in memory of Richard Belicose who was killed in action during Vietnam. Take Wilson Avenue to the end of Chapman Terrace to reach Belicose Court.

Thorne Place, November 23, 1:30pm
Thorne Place was named in memory of Cpl Buddy Thorne who was killed in action during World War II. The road is located off Wilson Avenue.

Smith Place, November 23, 2:00pm
Smith Place was named in Gabriel John Smith who was killed in Korea. Take Thompson Avenue to Ocean Avenue to Smith Place to attend this dedication.

Middletown Roadwork Advisories

From Middletown Alerts:

All roadwork is subject to immediate change without notice. Call the Traffic Bureau at 732-615-2045 with questions.

Newman Springs Road (Route 520) Construction
Nov 21, Dec 1-5, Dec 8-12

Lucas Construction Group will be working in the area of Newman Springs Rd. between Swimming River Rd and the Navy overpass. This a Middletown Sewer Authority Project related to the installation of new sewer pipes. There will be a partial closure on Newman Springs Road on Friday, November 21 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. The partial lane closure will resume December 1-5 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. There will be construction in the roadway.

Newman Springs Road Eastbound then will be closed December 8-12 from 9:00am to 4:30pm for all except local traffic. All other traffic will be diverted down Swimming River Road. Detours are in place. Please plan alternate routes.

West Front Street Construction Nov 24-25

Pioneer Pipe will be working on the water main values on West Front Street at Half Mile Road November 24-25 in preparation for the paving of a portion of West Front Street in early December. This is a partial road closure. Detours are in place. Please plan alternate routes.

Jumping Brook & Whispering Pines Drive Roadwork Through Mid-December
Jumping Brook Road and Whispering Pines Drive, located in the Lincroft section of town, is closed to through traffic. Only buses are allowed. Detours are in place. Please seek alternate routes. The project is slated to be completed by mid-December, weather permitting.

Pallone Statement on Senate Passage of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Bill



Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today issued the following statement after the Senate passed an amended version of his Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act, H.R. 669, which directs the Department of Health and Human Services to continue collecting data on stillbirth, sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), and sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC):

“I am pleased that the Senate has passed an amended version of my legislation, which will help us to better understand the causes of stillbirth, SUID and SUDC,” said Pallone. “Collecting this information is critical to understanding why these sudden and unexpected deaths occur and what can be done to prevent them. Most importantly, though, this information will give so many families the answers that they have struggled to find. No parent should ever have to endure the pain of losing a child, but it is my hope that this bill will give these families some peace of mind and prevent others from ever having to experience such a tragedy. I look forward to the House of Representatives taking up this bill so that the President can sign it into law before the end of the year.”

Letter: New Jersey's Legal System Overburdened By Non-Violent Crime

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

Dear Editor,

New Jersey's legal system faces an overload of offenders accused of minor non-violent crimes.

While diversionary programs offer a method for a first-time offender to avoid a formal conviction, these programs do nothing to substantially reduce the caseload.

Under the British criminal justice system. police can give an adult a formal warning called a "caution", ordering they not re-offend in lieu of criminal prosecution, with their agreement. Cautions self-expunge after six years for adults and two years for juveniles.

If you're out for a night in London and get caught with a small amount of cannabis, cocaine or MDMA, you'd likely be issued a caution and sent on your way.

In New Jersey, you'd likely become a convicted felon, placed on probation with substantial fines.

Especially because we are a tourism dependent state, New Jersey should follow the British system and issues cautions instead of convictions for minor crimes.

ERIC HAFNER
TOMS RIVER NJ

Pallone Statement on President Obama’s Announced Plan to Extend Protections to Immigrant Families



Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) released the following statement tonight in response to President Obama’s announcement that he will use an executive action to adjust the country’s deportation policies, focusing on undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes, rather than those with strong ties to the U.S.:


“I applaud the President for taking an important first step to help fix our country’s broken immigration system. In the face of House Republican’s crippling inaction, President Obama has acted decisively and within his legal authority to help keep families together and ensure that everyone living in this country is playing by the same rules. These executive actions will help secure our border, hold bad actors accountable, and ensure that families are not being ripped apart.

“While President Obama’s announced plan will expand protections to millions of undocumented immigrants in this country, it is no substitute for a comprehensive solution. This is a critical step in the right direction, but there is much more that needs to be done. Congress has a responsibility to act to address this issue in a comprehensive manner.

“Speaker Boehner and Republican leadership in the House have repeatedly asserted that they intend to take up immigration reform. However, it has been over a year since the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill, and House Republicans have yet to schedule a single vote on the issue. It is the job of Congress to legislate, and immigration reform needs a legislative solution. I urge my Republican colleagues to stop making excuses and start working with Democrats so that we can finally address the problems facing our nation’s immigration system in a meaningful way.”

Come and Join WATERSPIRIT for #Light for Lima and Winter Solstice in December




                            

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

World Toilet Day








"2.5 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation, including toilets or latrines, with dramatic consequences on human health, dignity and security, the environment, and social and economic development."









World Toilet Day is a day to take action. It is a day to raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet - despite the human right to water and sanitation.

It is a day to do something about it.

Of the world’s seven billion people, 2.5 billion people do not have improved sanitation. 1 billion people still defecate in the open. Women and girls risk rape and abuse because they have no toilet that offers privacy.

We cannot accept this situation. Sanitation is a global development priority. This is why the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 designated 19 November as World Toilet Day. This day had previously been marked by international and civil society organizations all over the world but was was not formally recognized as an official UN day until 2013. World Toilet Day is coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with Governments and relevant stakeholders.

Pallone Statement on Selection as Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2014


Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) issued the following statement today after being nominated by the House Democratic Caucus to become the next Ranking Minority Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

“I am deeply honored to have been chosen by my colleagues to serve as Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity to lead my party in promoting the values that first compelled me to enter public service and that continue to motivate me today. I am fully committed to developing real solutions to the challenges that average Americans face, while building an agenda that will make our party stronger for years to come.

“Over the last year, it has been a privilege to speak with members of the caucus about our shared vision for the futures of both the committee and our party. I am excited to work together to make this vision a reality.

“I want to extend my profound appreciation and deepest gratitude to the entire Democratic Caucus, especially those who have encouraged me along the way. The outpouring of support has been humbling.


“I look forward to working closely with Congresswoman Eshoo and all of my colleagues to continue delivering on the Democratic promise to the American people.”

***********

Congratulations Congressman Pallone on being selected as the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee over Nancy Pelosi's wishes!!


Letter: Police Brutality At Brookdale Community College

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

Dear Editor,

I was shocked to learn of the police brutality by the Brookdale Community College Police Department against student Jeffrey "Jay" Michel of Colts Neck.

Michel is an innocent student who was physically assaulted by police, who pepper sprayed him and put him into a choke hold for no reason.

Like far too many other incidents of police brutality in this country, Mr. Michel is African-American.

This is not the first incident that Brookdale Police have been involved in that has sparked allegations of racism. In 2012, another minority student Cedric Calero, an 18 year old freshman from Manalapan was arrested by campus police on theft charges, that were later dropped, for filling a foam cup with ice and not paying the price of a soda, despite the fact he never filled the cup with soda.

I call upon Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson to march on Brookdale Community College, to demand that the baseless charges against Mr. Michel be dropped and the officers responsible for this abuse of power be terminated from their employment and criminally prosecuted for their misconduct and assault against Mr. Michel. We cannot allow this to continue.

Call College President Maureen Murphy at 732-224-2204 and tell her to Stop Police Brutality on Campus.

ERIC HAFNER
TOMS RIVER NJ



Letter: Ordinance To Dissolve Middletown Human Rights Commission Was Flawed

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

Middletown Township Committee Meeting, November 17, 2014.
Comments by John C. Schwebel:

On March 17, 2014 the Middletown Township Committee approved Ordinance no. 2014-3014, dissolving the Middletown Human Rights Commission, by a 5 - 0 vote.

I pointed out at the time that this was a flawed ordinance. In particular, I urged removal of the following non-sensical clause:
WHEREAS, not only did the Commission fail to perform its statutorily defined duties, it involved itself in matters entirely outside of the jurisdiction of the Township’s governing body, in one instance it was even used to promote a pet food drive for a charity associated with a member of the Commission;
This clause refers to a pet food drive for the Monmouth County SPCA, a joint project of Middletown Township and the Middletown Human Rights Commission and approved by Mayor Brightbill.

Again, I pointed out that it was non-sensical and horrible precedent setting to disallow township involvement with charity drives. This should have been obvious. Yet, all of you voted for it, not questioning the legal flaws in this document.

Let me repeat the offending clause:
, it [the MHRC] involved itself in matters entirely outside of the jurisdiction of the Township’s governing body, in one instance it was even used to promote a pet food drive for a charity associated with a member of the Commission;
Yet you all failed to object to this and mutely voted for it.

And I endeavored to follow your hypocrisy in this matter since you obviously had no intention of disassociating yourself from any charity drive.

Yet, now, Township Committee members, representing the Township have, to quote your approved ordinance: "involved itself in matters entirely outside of the jurisdiction of the Township’s governing body," by supporting the new MCSPCA adoption center in Middletown.

In fact, supporting the same charity, MCSPCA, that caused the Middletown Human Rights Commission to be axed by all of you..

Will you now all step down and dissolve your Township Committee membership?


John Schwebel
Leonardo, NJ

Letter: How Will Chris Christie's Megalomania and Abuses of Power Transcend If Elected President?

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

Dear Editor,

We have already seen the megalomaniac abuses of power of Chris Christie as Governor. Now imagine what he would do as President, with command of the military and intelligence services at his fingertips.

While it seems that due to his misconduct on Bridgegate, unethical obstruction of medical marijuana and his violent, manic tendencies and delusions of grandeur becoming more visible everyday, the chances of this mad man making it to the White House are becoming less and less, the risk is still present and we cannot live in a country run by Chris Christie.

If Chris Christie is elected President, the people of New Jersey must rise up and declare independence from the United States and immediately seek to join the United Kingdom or Canada, to save us from a national Christie dictatorship.

We cannot survive a U.S. President who behaves like Joseph Stalin. While people in other states may be fooled by the Christie personality cult, New Jersey knows the real Chris Christie, and he's a scary tyrant who rules with an iron fist.

Diplomacy or Compromise? If you disagree with Christie, he will tell you, like he told former Asbury Park Councilman Jim Keady when inquiring about the status of aid to Sandy victims to, "Sit down and Shut Up". If Christie were President, Mr. Keady would probably have woken up afterwards in Guantanamo.

Yes to freedom. No to Chris Christie.

ERIC HAFNER
TOMS RIVER NJ

Op-Ed: Elimination of 210 Educators and Staff At Brookdale Is Outrageous

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

It is outrageous that Brookdale Community College is proposing to eliminate 210 educators and staff, to balance a budget that was subject to theft by College President Peter F. Burnham and mismanaged by Chairman Howard Birdsall, who is under indictment for political corruption.

When the Parole Board considers Mr. Burnham's case, they will not be allowed to release him early if they believe he is likely to re offend. I believe he is likely to re offend because he already misused an executive position of public trust to defraud the public. Even after he was under investigation, Burnham embezzled federal financial aid funds using his son's information. Burnham could still be prosecuted by federal authorities for the financial aid funds theft, and it would be in the public interest for federal prosecutors to do so.

Burnham simply should not be paroled. His crimes were not victimless. The students, faculty and staff are paying the price for his crimes.

I believe the best way to fix Brookdale would be to terminate every executive employee and make the institution a northern branch of Ocean County College. OCC President Jon Larson is a decorated military commander with strong ethics and he has proven himself as a true visionary with efficient, goal-oriented executive leadership that shows results. It would also be sensible for Monmouth County taxpayers to share a community college with Ocean County.

The people of Ocean County would be honored to welcome our friends and family in Monmouth to join our county's relentless pursuit of quality higher education, that is both affordable and accessible to all by expanding Ocean County College northbound.

Shared services agreements have a track record of saving money and maximizing the quality of government services offered. It would be a disservice to the people of Monmouth County to continue attempting to salvage what is clearly a broken institution, especially given it's dark criminal past.

I truly hope the Monmouth County and Ocean County Freeholders will work together to make a shared community college system a reality, to help assist our residents seeking to expand their academic horizons and employment opportunities, especially given the challenges of living in a post-Sandy environment with an unemployment rate above the national average.

ERIC HAFNER
TOMS RIVER

******
ERIC HAFNER IS A TOMS RIVER RESIDENT AND LONG-TIME NEW JERSEY POLITICAL OPERATIVE. MR. HAFNER PREVIOUSLY SERVED AS MEDICAL CANNABIS POLICY ADVISOR TO MANALAPAN TOWNSHIP.


Letters to the Editor

Over the last few days I've received a handful of  letters to the editor that I will be posting after this comment:

I am always open to posting reader letters and op-eds if readers are inclined to send them to me. I don't care who sends them as long as they are signed and are about a legitimate issue or concern. I don't care if the letters are from Conservatives or Liberals or Republicans or Democrats.  If you have something to say and wish to express it in an intelligent and meaningful way, I'll print it whether or not I agree with it. That has always been my policy and always will be. I'll let the people who like to leave comments, debate the merits of the letters if they so choose.