Saturday, February 13, 2016

President Obama's Weekly Address 2/13/16: The State of American Politics

SPRINGFIELD, IL — In this week’s address, the President spoke from the place where his political career first began in the Illinois State Senate. Building on his State of the Union, the President discussed his time in the State Senate working in good faith across party lines with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to effectively govern as an example of proof that a better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. The President also built on his call to make it easier to vote, as well as the need to address the way we draw our congressional districts. Nine years after Barack Obama chose the steps of the Old State Capitol – where Abraham Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together – he returned to ask Americans to join him in the unfinished business of perfecting our union. Because in the final year of his Presidency, it’s clear that he’s followed through and that, together, we’ve made real progress building a better future for the next generation.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pallone Statement on President Obama’s FY 2017 Budget

February 9, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) issued the following statement today upon the release of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget.

Recently, Pallone has been the lead on legislation that addresses several of the priorities in the President’s budget, including combating the substance abuse crisis in his Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act and increasing funding for innovative biomedical research in the 21st Century Cures Act:

“President Obama’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2017 is a bold, fiscally-responsible plan that expands opportunities for hard-working Americans and invests in our country’s economic future.

“I am particularly pleased that the President’s budget focuses on creating good jobs here at home by bolstering American manufacturing, expanding access to job training, and making critical investments in our infrastructure. This budget also helps middle class families by making higher education more affordable and continuing to expand access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage.

“Americans have always been at the forefront of innovation, which is why I am so encouraged to see the President devoting new resources to tackling some of the greatest challenges of our day. The President’s budget increases funding for potentially life-saving medical research and boosts our efforts to combat the threat of climate change. It also supports important programs that will help to address the substance abuse crisis that has affected far too many families in New Jersey and across the country.

“Budgets are about more than dollars and cents—they are statements of our values as a nation. This forward-looking budget proposal helps to ensure that our economy works for all Americans, and it deserves to be considered in the House. However, Congressional Republicans, in an unprecedented move, are refusing to even allow a hearing on the President’s budget. We should be working together to grow our economy, not playing politics with the budget process. I look forward to helping advance these common sense, responsible proposals that will help make us safer and stronger for years to come.”


(Trenton) -- Today, New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman John Currie complimented Republican primary voters for rejecting Governor Chris Christie’s candidacy, and for sending him back to the state he has neglected for 261 partial or full days last year and most of this year -- roughly 300 days in total.

“New Jersey appreciates Iowa and New Hampshire primary voters rejecting Chris Christie’s policy failures, scandals, and misleading rhetoric. He has no business being promoted to the presidency after what he’s done to New Jersey,” said Chairman Currie. “It’s time for him to grab a mop and attend to the countless messes he created and then avoided for so long. Better yet, he should do what a majority of New Jersey wants him to do: resign.”

Despite media efforts to prop him up and his penchant for misleading others about both his prospects and his record, Christie’s presidential campaign finally appears to be over. However, Christie’s legacy of scandal and mismanagement remain, along with countless lingering policy failures.

New Jersey’s credit rating has been downgraded a record nine times, property taxes have risen, job growth is among the weakest in the nation, survivors of Superstorm Sandy are still reeling from the Christie administration’s botched recovery effort, the governor’s promise to fund public employee pensions remains unfulfilled, the state's transportation trust fund is empty, and our infrastructure is dangerously dilapidated.

“So, welcome home, Governor Christie,” added Currie, sarcastically.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Congressman Smith Betrays Survivors Of Human Trafficking (S. 178)

Intro to Timebanking - Feb. 17

MonmouthCares is hosting a free community-building event: Introduction to TimeBanking, on Wednesday, February, 17 2016, from 4:30 - 6 PM at the Long Branch Free Public Library - 328 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ 07740. Individuals, Families, and Organizations are welcome; Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Ashley Lobbato or 732-222-8008 ext. 118.

What is Timebanking??

(from Timebank Media, PA)
While timebanking was created over thirty years ago, it is a new concept to many of us. The basic premise of timebanking is that it is an organized way to "pay it forward". For every hour you invest doing work for someone via the TimeBank, you receive an hour that you can spend on any service offered via the TimeBank (not just with the person to whom you provided the service). On the surface this premise seems simple, but when looked at more deeply, time banking offers new ways of thinking about time, wealth and community.

You can learn more about Timebanking by following the links HERE, HERE and HERE

Monday, February 8, 2016

February 1, 2016 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

At last Monday night's Township Committee meeting a public hearing was held on an ordinance to establish a cap bank to in order to potentially exceed the 2% budget cap . The ordinance was adopted.

Resolutions were adopted to renew some shared service agreements that will allow the township to use a meter to detect lead in paint and another to utilize some health services provided by the county. The Township Committee also adopted a resolution to accept a Planning Board determination that the Belford seaport area is an area that is in need of redevelopment.

A Discussion also took place about increasing fees for recreation activities and the Green Team will apply for grant funds to conduct educational activities, which will allow the township obtain a silver status rating.

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.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Independent: Backpack Crew packs food to help families

There's a good article in this week's Independent about some great people trying to make a difference by feeding hungry kids in Monmouth County. The Backpack Crew 

From the Independent:

By KAYLA J. MARSHStaff Writer

RED BANK — For many families in Monmouth County, the free/subsidized lunch children receive during school is sometimes their main and only meal of the day, according to local officials.

What happens though when they are not in school or are just feeling hungry because they do not have full meals at home?

One local nonprofit is working to answer these questions.

“It is hard to believe that lunch is the best meal of the day for these kids,” said Suzanne Dice, founder of The Backpack Crew. “You never think that it is your own community, that it could be your neighbors.”

The idea for The Backpack Crew came a year after superstorm Sandy when Dice was listening to a local teacher talk about her school and how there were families still struggling to get by.

“My husband and I always wanted to start a program and we talked about it, but it was always just something [to do] down the road,” Dice said.

“This woman was basically asking for prayers for her school and the families who were still trying to get back on their feet from Sandy, and when I heard this story, I was so moved and just felt like we needed to do something.”

Cindy Squassoni, a member of The Backpack Crew team, said she feels after the storm all that was discussed were problems residents were having with insurance companies or other issues.

“I don’t think anyone really heard about the long-term impact that [the storm] had on these families, these people who lost their jobs because of it, who were never homeless before that suddenly were and who could provide for their family beforehand but couldn’t anymore,” said Squassoni. “It was new for them and I think this teacher brought all of that to the conversation.”

Based out of The United Methodist Church of Red Bank at 247 Broad St., The Backpack Crew was founded in October 2013 and is dedicated to delivering weekend groceries to families in need and raising awareness about childhood hunger.

Here is how it works. Families are assigned their own backpack, which is delivered to the school each Friday filled with groceries such as macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, oatmeal packets, granola bars, peanut butter and fruit cups. In the backpack is two days’ worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. The backpack is then returned to the school on Monday to be refilled.

“We have limited space in those backpacks but we make the most out of it and jam as much as we can into those bags,” Dice said.

After starting out with one school, The Backpack Crew has expanded to feed families in five different schools throughout Red Bank, Middletown and Highlands.

“When we were designing this program with the first school nurse, our main number one goal was to keep it private for the families,” Dice said. “We wanted families to feel comfortable in accepting the help. I don’t know any of the families or their names. We know how many adults and children are assigned to each bag since every bag has a number, so we know how many to pack for, but we drop off the bags to the nurse and that is where it ends for us.”...

Continue reading.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Madden NFL 16 Predicts Super Bowl 50 Winner

For the past 12 years EA Sports has been running game simulations using it's Madden NFL video game to predict the eventual outcome of the Super Bowl. In doing so, they have been able to tell us the winners of 9 of the last 12 Super Bowls with uncanny accuracy.

Last year, Madden NFL 15 not only predicted that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl, it predicted that they would come from behind in a last minute comeback to defeat the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 28-24.

It also predicted that:
  • The Patriots would score first - Correct
  • Tom Brady would win MVP - Correct
  • Tom Brady would have 4 touchdown passes - Correct
  • Julian Edelman would catch the game winning touchdown - Correct
Madden NFL 15 amazingly close to other game day stats such as:
  • Tom Brady would pass for 335 yard (he throw for 328, 7 yards shy of total)
  • It was only 3 yards and 1 catch away from perfectly calling Julian Edelman’s entire game.
  • Halftime score 17 - 14 (game was actually tied at 14)
Thus far, last year's Madden game simulation was the most detailed and amazingly accurate one of them all.

For this year's game, which will be played on Sunday, EA Sports Madden NFL 16 once again goes out on the limb to predict the outcome of Super Bowl 50. The game will be played in San Francisco between the Caroline Panthers and the Denver Broncos.

According to the Madden 16 game simulation,Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers dominate the first half of the game by jumping out to a commanding lead of 17-0 over the Broncos. Peyton Manning and the Broncos then flip the game on its head by owning the second half and going ahead of the Panthers 20-17 in the 4th quarter. The game then comes down to game ending, final minute drive by the Panthers to win it by the score of 24-20.

How accurate will this year's game simulation be? Will it be successful in predicting the winner of the Super Bowl for the 10th time in 13 years? We'll have to wait until Sunday to find out.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


February 3, 2016

On the Ropes, He Says He’d "Beat [Secretary Clinton’s] Rear End"

(Trenton) — Leading New Jersey Democrats are expressing disgust at the sexist remarks of New Jersey’s absentee Governor, Chris Christie, who said of Secretary Clinton "I'll beat her rear end.” The remark was captured on video by ABC News.

“This is childish and inappropriate, even for Governor Christie. His poor performance in Iowa and the chaos of the Republican field, do not give him license to ignore basic rules of decorum or to throw all civility out the window,” said John Currie, the Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.

Christie’s latest remarks echo a comment he made about another strong, progressive female official, who would not let him have his way. Speaking of Loretta Weinberg, the Majority Leader of the New Jersey State Senate, the Governor encouraged the media to " take a bat to her.”

“I am sure Chris Christie will argue that this is just who he is, but I hardly think that his violent tendencies are a selling point. This kind of demeaning language is unacceptable, and it begs the question: Would he speak of Senator Sanders or Martin O’Malley in these immature, and sexist terms?” asked Vice Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee Lizette Delgado-Polanco.

Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle also responded, saying, “This is typical. When times get tough, Gov. Christie resorts to name calling, bullying, and one of his all time favorites behaviors -- misogyny. After finishing next to last in Iowa, the only rear end he should worry about is his own!”

Governor Christie’s remarks also lack foundation. While his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination is on the ropes after his pathetic, 10th place finish in Iowa’s Republican caucus, Secretary Clinton finished in first place, after energizing and mobilizing tens of thousands of the state's Democrats in support of her candidacy.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, roughly two-thirds of the people who know him best believe he would make a bad president. A solid majority want him to resign from office, and save our state any more embarrassment.

Middletown Crime Index Drops to Lowest Level Since 1969

Middletown Public Information
February 3, 2016

The number of index crimes in Middletown hasn’t been so low since 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first landed on the moon, the Jets and Mets won championships and Woodstock rocked a small town in upstate New York.

“This landmark reduction in crime reflects Middletown’s unwavering commitment to public safety,” said Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Ph.D. “It’s a testament to the fact that our Police Department has some of the nation’s finest and most dedicated officers.”

The Middletown Police Department has reported there were 520 index crimes in 2015, which equates to an Index Crime Rate of 7.82 per 1,000 people. Index crime decreased by 9.72% in 2015, down from 576 index crimes in 2014 when the Index Crime Rate was 8.66 per 1,000 people. Overall, the Index Crime Rate has decreased by more than 23 percent since 2013, when there were 677 index crimes and the Index Crime Rate was 10.18 per 1,000 people, said Police Chief R. Craig Weber.

Index crimes are murder and non-negligent homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, and arson, Chief Weber explained.

“We had to comb the archives and go all the way back to 1969 to find the last time there were fewer than 520 index crimes recorded in Middletown. In 1969 there were 496 index crimes. Although there were 24 fewer crimes 47 years ago, the Index Crime Rate would have actually been higher at 9.18 per 1,000 people because the population was lower,” Chief Weber said. He noted the population in 1969 was approximately 54,000; today it’s approximately 67,000.

Under Weber’s watch, the number of burglaries in 2015 was also at a 15-year low with 86 burglaries reported, which was a 25 percent decrease from 2014. Comparatively, there were
245 burglaries recorded in 1969. There were also 42 cars reported stolen in 1969, compared
to nine cars stolen in the Township during 2015.

“At this point 2015 marks Middletown’s safest year in nearly five decades,” said Chief Weber who took the helm in 2014. “I’m very proud of the outstanding job our officers have been doing. The amazing record-breaking results they have achieved with these historically low crime figures speak for themselves.”

Police attribute some of their success to a more focused approach on crime, including anti-crime patrols. In the last year, patrol and plain clothes officers caught several suspects in the act of committing burglaries. Another factor has been the relentless investigation of criminal activity. For example, detectives were recently able to solve a burglary from 2013 based on fingerprint evidence and arrested a suspect, Chief Weber said. He noted that leveraging advanced technology and improved information sharing are other contributing factors.

“We are very pleased with the downward trend in crime. Middletown is a great town and we appreciate the ongoing support from the community,” said Chief Weber, a life-long resident.

There are nearly 18,000 agencies that report crime statistics to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. Visit to learn more about crime reports.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Middletown Patch: 137% Increase in Middletown Parking Tickets

Well, this is one way to increase revenue in order to balance the budget - MM

Middletown hired a special police officer in 2015 specifically assigned to parking enforcement, the township tells Patch.
Middletown, NJ - If you think Middletown police have been handing out more parking tickets lately, well, you’re right. They are.
The number of parking tickets written by Middletown Township police increased a whopping 137% in the period of July 2015 through December 2015 compared to that same time span a year earlier, July 2014 through Dec. 2014. 
This is according to new data released by New Jersey’s court system, which compiles statistics for every municipal court in the state. The state keeps a record of all criminal court filings, as well as DWI, traffic and parking tickets, said Winnie Comfort, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey court system. 
Middletown officials said the increased number of tickets is because the township hired a Special Law Enforcement Officer last year, specifically assigned to parking enforcement.
“The increase in parking enforcement is primarily due to a change in personnel, which involved the addition of a Special Law Enforcement Officer assigned to parking enforcement,” Cindy Herrschaft, public information officer for the township, told Patch Tuesday. ”Previously, the duties had been handled on a part-time basis by a civilian employee who had other primary duties.”...

Continue reading

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Happy Groudhog Day: Phil Predicts an Early Spring!

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Now, this Second Day of February, Two Thousand and Sixteen, the One Hundred and Thirtieth Annual Trek of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club….

Punxsutawney Phil, the Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of All Prognosticators, was awakened from his borrow to the cheers of his thousands of faithful followers….

In Groundhogese, he directed the President and the Inner Circle to the precise prediction Scroll, which translated reads:

The inner circle goes to great ends
To keep me abreast of latest trends
Down in my burrow I never get bored
Riding on my hover board
And I sure have fun flying my drone
But weather forecasting is my comfort zone
Is this current warm weather more than a trend?
Per chance this winter has come to an end?
There is no shadow to be cast,
An early Spring is my forecast!

ICYM - Staten Island Chuck also predicted an early spring today

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Boba Fett - Star Wars Holiday Special Cartoon

It's been a while since I last posted a cartoon on a Saturday morning. Lately, I've been into all things Star Wars thanks in part to the new movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I found this cartoon on YouTube that was part of the ill advised and now infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.

This cartoon features the very first appearance of bounty hunter Boba Fett. Unlike many fanboys, I was never a big fan of bounty hunter Boba Fett. This cartoon doesn't change my mind about how I feel towards the character but it does give us a little insight into future events in the Star Wars universe.


"George Lucas is commonly quoted as saying that if he had the time and a hammer, he would personally “smash” every bootlegged copy of the disastrous "Star Wars Holiday Special." However, fans almost universally agree that the best part of the much-maligned Wookie-centric variety show is the Nelvana-produced cartoon segment, directed by Clive Smith. The cartoon features the voices of the original cast, and famously introduces a new character: Boba Fett..."

President Obama's Weekly Address 1/30/16: Giving Every Student an Opportunity to Learn Through Computer Science For All

WASHINGTON, DC —In this week’s address, the President discussed his plan to give all students across the country the chance to learn computer science (CS) in school. The President noted that our economy is rapidly shifting, and that educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing that CS is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity. The President referenced his Computer Science for All Initiative, which provides $4 billion in funding for states and $100 million directly for districts in his upcoming budget; and invests more than $135 million beginning this year by the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to support and train CS teachers. The President called on even more Governors, Mayors, education leaders, CEOs, philanthropists, creative media and technology professionals, and others to get involved in the efforts.