Wednesday, November 26, 2014

President Obama Pardons a Thanksgiving Turkey

From the White House Blog:

Since 1947, the chairman of the National Turkey Federation has presented a turkey to the President. Each Thanksgiving, the President “pardons” that turkey, ensuring that the bird gets to spend the rest of its days living on a farm in Virginia. Today, President Obama celebrated the 67th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation by pardoning two 20-week old, 48-pound turkeys. And just like last year, the American public decided which of the two turkeys – Mac or Cheese – would become the National Thanksgiving Turkey by casting a vote for #TeamMac or #TeamCheese online.

During the ceremony, the President reminded us why we Americans look forward to Thanksgiving each year:

“Tomorrow is a pretty special moment when we give thanks for the people we love, and where we're mindful of the incredible blessings that we have received.”

President Obama has pardoned a turkey every year since he took office. However, during his first turkey pardon in 2009, Malia and Sasha had to intervene on behalf of Courage, that year’s winning turkey. On that occasion, President Obama said, “Thanks to the intervention of Malia and Sasha -- because I was ready to eat this sucker – Courage will also be sparred this terrible and delicious fate.”

This year, President Obama made sure to mention that he thought the turkeys looked “pretty happy” about their avoidance of their delicious fate.

It's All About That Baste

No excuse for layoffs at Brookdale

Vin Gopal is chairman of the Monmouth County Democrats and is the author of this article that appeared in yesterday's Asbury Park Press:

The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders has gutted funding to Brookdale Community College three years in a row. It’s plain and simple: What was once the educational pearl of Monmouth is now in jeopardy as a direct result of the one-party-controlled freeholder board.

A recommendation made last week by the college’s Board of Trustees (most of whom are selected by the all-Republican freeholder board) announced a plan for 210 layoffs of faculty and staff. This comes after the third year in a row of significant cuts by Monmouth County’s freeholder board to Brookdale’s funding.

Monmouth County’s funding has dropped an astounding 23 percent in just three years — more than $6 million. The college is expecting another $1.5 million cut in county funding for 2015, a 6 percent drop in a year. Brookdale officials are expecting funds raised by tuition and fees to increase by 2.5 percent next year and enrollment has dropped 12 percent in just three years.

The freeholders claim that money for Brookdale is not there. That is simply not true. Instead of properly funding Brookdale Community College, the board has allowed $6.5 million taxpayer money, annually, to be wasted on managing two county-run nursing homes. Government-funded nursing homes are a thing of the past and counties including Mercer, Sussex and Salem have all successfully sold their own to competent private buyers, all of whom have done an excellent job operating them with the same quality of care.

Government used to run these types of care centers in the 1960s and 1970s, but we do not need to be in the nursing home business in 2014. We need to be providing students and their parents with affordable educational options, especially at a time when the importance of a college degree is increasing faster than ever. Monmouth freeholders have the opportunity to do this and protect those jobs at Brookdale.

This past election, in a big landslide year for national Republicans, Monmouth County residents narrowly voted to re-elect Monmouth County Republican Freeholders Lillian Burry and Gary Rich with 53 percent of the vote. This should be a wakeup call to county Republicans, not a moment of celebration. County Republican freeholders usually win Monmouth by larger margins. Residents are realizing, more and more, that county Republicans are responsible for our high taxes and waste.

There is no Republican or Democratic way to fix a pothole. There is a right way and a wrong way. The Monmouth County Democrats have taken the position that privatizing the nursing homes because it is what is right for the 630,000 residents of this county.

The solution for Brookdale is crystal clear. The All-Republican freeholder board can privatize the nursing homes and save Brookdale students and families a tuition increase and save the 210 folks about to get laid off. The ball is in their court.

Join us in holding them accountable by locally joining a political party that will fight for every taxpayer in this county. Locally, the Monmouth County Democrats are fighting for taxpayers in our 53 towns.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Performance By At Middletown's Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Extravaganza Dec. 7th

Middletown, N.J. (November 25, 2014) – On Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 5:00 p.m., the Middletown
Arts Center (MAC), located at 36 Church Street in Middletown, N.J., will host Middletown's Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Extravaganza. The free annual event will begin outside with caroling, the tree lighting ceremony and a visit from Santa Claus on the fire truck. The event will continue indoors with hot chocolate and treats, holiday crafts for the children and pictures with Santa. It is requested that those interested in getting pictures taken with Santa bring their own camera. The MAC will also be collecting items for Operation Jersey Cares and attendees can make a holiday card for the troops. The MAC’s 2014 Winter Wonderland Art Exhibition will be on display in the gallery throughout the event.

The Middletown Arts Center will also present a Christmas Variety Show featuring dancers from instructor Miss Deena’s dance program and musicians of all ages from across the region participating in TubaChristmas. Tuba and euphonium players who are interested in participating in the TubaChristmas performance at the MAC can contact Joseph Lawlor at 732-787-4067. More details at

About TubaChristmas
TubaChristmas is a music concert held in cities worldwide that celebrates those who play, teach and compose music for instruments in the tuba family, including the tuba, sousaphone, baritone and euphonium. Some participants bring rarer members of the family such as the hélicon, ophicleide, serpent and double bell euphonium. TubaChristmas concerts vary in size from a quartet (two euphoniums and two tubas), to several hundred at their largest events. Any musician can play in a TubaChristmas concert as long as he or she plays an instrument in the tuba family. Visit for more information.

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.

Letter: Time For An Anglosphere Union

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

Dear Editor,

As we see the evolution of globalization, we need a new union for the anglosphere nations.

Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, United States, Ireland and English speaking Caribbean nations all share a common history and cultural bond.

A common marketplace, customs union, immigration union and harmonized laws could provide a firm foothold to continue the hayday of the anglosphere for future generations.

We should all be proud of what our people, with shared values have accomplished for the betterment of humanity. We have strength in both our diversity and shared bonds.

A supranational social democracy similar to the European Union, could be the answer to ensure the prosperity and political unity of our people.

We can have an international single payer free healthcare system, free universities and a strong welfare state where poverty is eliminated.

Create an Anglosphere Union today.

Eric Hafner

Pallone Statement on St. Louis County Grand Jury Decision

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) released the following statement after a St. Louis County Grand Jury announced it will not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was shot and killed in August:

“The St. Louis County Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson is a failure of our justice system. The principle of ‘Equal Justice under Law’ must apply to all Americans. My thoughts and prayers are with Michael Brown’s family, especially his parents, who have endured such unimaginable pain and hardship over these past few months.”

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pallone Statement on Proposed Sandy Hook Fee Increase

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) issued the following statement in response to the U.S. National Park Service’s proposal to increase Sandy Hook’s camping and parking fees:

“Sandy Hook is a treasure along the New Jersey shore that should remain affordable for anyone who wants to visit, regardless of his or her economic situation. I want to see the park continue to encourage tourism, create recreational opportunities and serve as an economic driver for the local economy.

“I have always been an advocate for the preservation and upkeep of Sandy Hook and will continue to be, but I do not support asking hardworking New Jersey families to fork over more money in order to spend time together at one of our nation’s national parks.

“It was just two years ago that the National Park Service increased fees at Sandy Hook by fifty percent and there was significant opposition at that time. I am requesting that the National Park Service schedule a public hearing on the issue at Sandy Hook so that the local community and all interested parties can have their voices heard. I encourage everyone to make their feelings on this matter known to the National Park Service.”

The Gateway National Recreation Area is seeking public comment on the proposed fee increase. To do so, send an email to or send a letter to the Office of the Superintendent, Gateway National Recreation Area, ATTN: proposed parking and camping fee increase, 210 New York Ave., Staten Island, NY 10305.

Action Alert - Proposed Pilgrim Pipeline in Northern New Jersey

An Action Alert for Jerseyites!

The proposed Pilgrim Pipeline in Northern New Jersey is two parallel pipelines from Albany to Linden that will carry Bakken shale oil south and refined products north. This proposed pipeline crosses five NJ counties, thirty NJ towns and many environmentally fragile water sources and areas. Right now there is a strong growing opposition to this pipeline being built in New Jersey.

Currently, the Coalition to Stop Pilgrim Pipeline (CAPP) is looking for more volunteers that live in the municipalities in the pipeline's route to help pass resolutions and to advocate against the pipeline. All volunteers are welcome! But, they strongly need help from people that live in Bloomingdale, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes, Riverdale, East Hanover, Livingston, Florham Park, Chatham Township, New Providence, Fanwood, Scotch Plains, Clark, Westfield, and Cranford.

As you are aware, at this critical time of crisis with climate change, we do not need more investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, we need more investment in a renewable energy infrastructure.

For more information regarding the pipeline and the growing movement against it, you can go to:

If you are interested in becoming active in advocacy against the pipeline, please contact Kate Millsaps at the NJ Sierra Club at and/or the Coalition To Stop Pilgrim Pipeline (CAPP) at

Thank you for your continued advocacy for water and Earth!


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.


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.”