Saturday, April 18, 2015

4/23/15 Public Info Session on GSP Interchange 109

Middletown Public Information:

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority will host a Public Information Center in Middletown to present information about proposed improvements to Garden State Parkway Interchange 109. The event will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23rd, in the Middletown Library Community Room, 55 New Monmouth Road, Middletown.



President Obama's Weekly Address 4/18/15: Climate Change Can No Longer Be Ignored

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President spoke about his commitment to combatting the threat of climate change and to keeping ourselves and future generations safe. The effects of climate change can no longer be denied or ignored – 2014 was the planet’s warmest year recorded, and 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have happened this century. Climate change poses risks to our national security, our economy, and our public health. The President has already taken historic steps to address climate change, but there’s more that the United States and the international community can do. That’s why next Wednesday, on Earth Day, in the latest part of his effort to call attention to and act on the threat of climate change, the President will visit the Florida Everglades and speak about the threat that climate change poses to our economy and to the world.

Pallone Writes to NOAA in Opposition to Seismic Testing Near Jersey Coast




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2015


WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D NJ-06) today released a letter he sent with Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in opposition to an application for seismic testing during a geophysical survey conducted by Rutgers University less than 16 miles off the coast of Long Beach Island, New Jersey. The letter requests a 60-day extension of the public comment period.

In their letter, the Senators and Congressman wrote, “Scientific studies are essential to better understanding climate change and its impacts. However we are concerned that seismic activity during the peak summer season just miles off of New Jersey’s coast have the potential to not only cause significant harm to marine life and habitat, but will threaten our coastal economy as well… Allowing for seismic surveys off the coast of New Jersey sets a dangerous precedent for future efforts to explore offshore for oil and gas, something we have strongly opposed in the Mid-Atlantic region and will continue to strongly oppose off of New Jersey.”

The Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and National Science Foundation applied for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA), which would allow for the injury or disturbance of marine mammals during a marine geophysical survey. An IHA was approved last year despite Congressman Pallone’s opposition but the project did not move forward due to mechanical issues.

The full text of the letter follows.

April 16, 2015

Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan
Administrator
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 5128
Washington, DC 20230

Dear Administrator Sullivan:

We write today in regards to the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory and National Science Foundation’s application for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) which would allow the take of marine mammals by harassment during a marine geophysical survey conducted by Rutgers University less than 16 miles off the coast of Long Beach Island, New Jersey.

Scientific studies are essential to better understanding climate change and its impacts. However we are concerned that seismic activity during the peak summer season just miles off of New Jersey’s coast have the potential to not only cause significant harm to marine life and habitat, but will threaten our coastal economy as well. In fact, during a similar cruise last summer, the Research Vessel Marcus G. Langseth encountered at least 108 animals over the course of just 15 days of observation. According to the project’s Protected Species Mitigation and Monitoring Report, observers recorded visual detections of protected species 41 times, including detections of multiple types of sea turtles, three types of dolphins, and a Humpback whale.

Allowing for seismic surveys off the coast of New Jersey sets a dangerous precedent for future efforts to explore offshore for oil and gas, something we have strongly opposed in the Mid-Atlantic region and will continue to strongly oppose off of New Jersey. In March, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) determined that the project is inconsistent with the state’s rules on Coastal Zone Management. In the determination, DEP cited foreseeable adverse impacts to fisheries, endangered or threatened wildlife, and to New Jersey’s coastal resources.

We respectfully request a 60-day extension to the public comment period so that members of the public have sufficient time to thoroughly review the proposed study and environmental assessment and provide meaningful input. We appreciate your time and attention to this matter and look forward to your response. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.

Sincerely,


Cory A. Booker            Robert Menendez               Frank Pallone

United States Senator   United States Senator        Member of Congress






Emergency Preparedness Training Offered this Spring

From Middletown Alerts:


The Community Emergency Response Team program educates people about preparing for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as first aid, fire safety, light search and rescue, and team organization. A free multi-session training program will be held this spring at Hazlet Town Hall, 1766 Union Avenue. Interested participants can register on-site on April 22nd at 7:15pm or send an email with contact information to oem@hazlettwp.org.

Using the skills learned in this program, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members are also encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness. Call Middletown Emergency Management at 732-615-2129 for more information.

Unwanted Medication Collection April 25 at Police Headquarters

From Middletown Alerts:

It’s time for Spring Cleaning. Turn in unwanted or expired medication for safe disposal at the Middletown Police Department on Saturday, April 25th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Police Headquarters is located at Town Hall, 1 Kings Highway. Call 732-615-2039 for local information. Medications only. No needles please. Call the Health Department at 732-615-2095 for needle disposal.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

NJ Watchdog: Christie keeps $95k expense account secret



New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended his failure to report any of his $95,000 annual entertainment allowance on tax returns, arguing the money isn’t income because he has accounted for it.

Just don’t ask him to make those records available to the public. Through his press secretary, Christie rejected New Jersey Watchdog’s request to disclose how he spent the cash.

Government-transparency advocates and tax specialists fired back.

“If it’s not public, then you’re not being accountable because it’s the public who decides whether or not you have a job,” said Bill Allison, senior fellow at Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit advocate for transparency in government. “I don’t know how they can be saying these are not public records and can’t be disclosed.”

“To hold your public officials accountable, you have to know what they’re spending money on,” said Sheila Weinberg, CEO of Truth in Accounting, a non-profit watchdog for fiscal responsibility in government. “The public has a right and a need to know.”

The full story is online at http://watchdog.org/212497/christie-expense-account-secret-2/.

The NJ Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Foundation Honors the 40th Anniversary of Operation Babylift

Saturday, April 25, 2015, Vietnam Era Museum, 1 Memorial Lane, Holmdel, N.J., 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

HOLMDEL, N.J. -- On Saturday, April 25, 2015, the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation, in conjunction with Vietnam Babylift, will honor the 40th Anniversary of Operation Babylift from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Foundation's Vietnam Era Museum located at 1 Memorial Lane in Holmdel, N.J. The free event is open to the general public. The Vietnam Babylift, or “Operation Babylift,” was a humanitarian effort that took place in April 1975, when over 2,547 babies, toddlers and children under the age of 10 were evacuated from Vietnam to the United States, Canada and several European countries. Special guests include individuals from around the globe who participated in and had their lives changed by Operation Babylift.

Jen Noone and Brian J. Harms, May, 1975
 (Credit: USAF photographer) 
The free all-day program includes a VVA "Liberty Bell" Chapter 21-Gun Salute and Tribute, Plaque Gifting with C-5A Casualties Name Reading, and select cuttings/scenes from the play “Children of the April Rain" produced by Infinite Variety Productions, NYC, Ashley Adelman, Founder. Hall of Fame Speaker and New York Times best-selling author LeAnn Thieman will share photos and her story of Operation Babylift. Thieman is the author of This Must Be My Brother, and her latest book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Joy of Adoption has 5 stories from Operation Babylift families.

There will also be an open forum, Q & A, Benediction, art and artifacts exhibit, showing of docu-films, a book signing and reception. Visit www.njvvmf.org for a timeline of the day's activities.

The play “Children of the April Rain” is based on oral histories and memoirs of the Fall of Saigon. It reenacts the events that took place in April 1975 by the heroes involved in Operation Babylift. The play is co-authored by several original Babylift participants, including William Bryant Doty, Lana Mae Noone and LeAnn Thieman.

The event organizer Lana Mae Noone and her husband Byron adopted an Operation Babylift baby named Heather who died just a month after her arrival to the United States due to illness. The night before her death, Noone made a promise to her that Operation Babylift would not be forgotten. Even as they mourned, the Noones took in another child —the very last baby taken from Vietnam, and the very last baby up for adoption. Today, their daughter Jennifer Nguyen Noone is 40 years old. Lana and her daughter Jennifer appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), “Searching For” on April 18, 2011. The program shared Jennifer's journey and also paid tribute to the Americans who took part in the humanitarian Operation Babylift.

“I am honored to coordinate the Vietnam Babylift 40th Anniversary Event at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial,” says Lana Noone, Operation Babylift 40th Anniversary Event Coordinator. “The Memorial has been an outstanding venue for previous Babylift Programs and I am very grateful for the continued support on this momentous 40th Anniversary and play performance.”

For more information on the Vietnam Babylift, visit www.vietnambabylift.org. For more information on the 40th Anniversary Operation Babylift event and the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Foundation, visit www.njvvmf.org.

About New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Foundation

The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation offers a meaningful and engaging experience that recognizes the sacrifice, courage and valor of Vietnam Veterans and encourages and fosters a thorough understanding of the Vietnam Era including the political, historical, social, cultural and military aspects, which affected the United States, and especially New Jersey. To support the Foundation, visit www.njvvmf.org.

Timeline of the Day’s Events
  • 10-10:30: Opening Remarks, Meditation Garden
  • VVA "Liberty Bell" Chapter 21-Gun Salute and Tribute Plaque Gifting with C-5A Casualties Name Reading
  • 10:45-12:15- readings from “Children of the April Rain” followed by author and actor meet and greet
  • 1:00-3:00-Speakers Panel and slide presentation 3:00-3:30-Q & A Panel and Benediction
  • 3:30- Continuation of meet and greet
  • All Day: Book Signings and author meet and greet in lobby


Pallone Announces Nearly $2.5 Million for Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority Repairs




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2015


WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today announced an additional $2,473,024.95 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA) to repair Superstorm Sandy damage to Blower Building Two.

“Sandy severely damaged critical components of infrastructure at BRSA, and this grant will help make necessary repairs still affecting the Bayshore’s sewerage system,” said Congressman Pallone. “I am pleased to see grant money continuing to come in to help BRSA with a full recovery from the storm, and I will continue to work to see that they receive the funds they need.”

BRSA serves Hazlet, Union Beach, Holmdel, Aberdeen, Keansburg, Keyport, Matawan and parts of Marlboro. BRSA suffered extensive flooding as a result of Sandy causing damages of about $20 million. This grant to BRSA is awarded in addition to three FEMA grants, totaling nearly $20 million, announced in 2013, to repair damage done to sewerage incinerators at the facility, the raw sewage main pump station and three surrounding facilities.

Congressman Pallone has visited BRSA to discuss the damage sustained during Sandy and the critical repair work necessary to repair this important infrastructure. Hurricane Sandy flooded the 24-acre facility with up to 3 feet of water, and the Authority lost electric power for seven days, phone service for two weeks and internet for three weeks.

NJ Watchdog: Christie fails to report income, avoids $152,000 in taxes





Gov. Chris Christie failed to report as income or pay taxes on $380,000 in expense allowances he received from the state, according to a New Jersey Watchdog examination of Treasury data and the governor’s tax returns.

By not declaring the allowances on their joint returns, Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, avoided roughly $152,000 in federal income taxes over four years.

Despite an exchange of emails, Christie's press office did not offer comment.

In addition to his $175,000 a year salary, Christie gets a $95,000 a year expense account. In the state budget, it’s described as an “allowance to the governor of funds not otherwise appropriated, for official reception on behalf of the state, operations of an official residence, and other expenses.”

The governor is not required to provide receipts, refund surpluses or provide information to the state on how the money is used. But failure to report a “non-accountable” allowance to the Internal Revenue Service is a different matter.

Contrary to IRS rules, Christie did not declare the allowances as income on federal returns for 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013. The 2014 return is due Wednesday, but Christie typically receives six-month filing extensions.

The full story is now online at http://watchdog.org/211787/christie-avoids-income-taxes/.

Pallone, Pascrell, Sires, Watson Coleman, Norcross Urge Rejection of Proposed Exxon Settlement




     Lawmakers cite prospect of settlement funds being diverted away to balance NJ state budget

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, joined Reps. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Donald Norcross (NJ-01) in sending a letter to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) in strong opposition to the Christie Administration’s proposed settlement in the State’s lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corporation for the company’s contamination of two oil refineries in New Jersey.

“Despite the fact that the State Attorney General’s office was seeking a nearly $9 billion settlement, the Christie Administration opted for a settlement of $225 million in damages – roughly three cents on the dollar – and does not require Exxon to fully restore the land to its original condition,” the lawmakers wrote. “The proposed settlement also includes 16 additional sites not included in the original lawsuit. The residents of the contaminated areas deserve to have the sites cleaned up, the natural resources there restored, and an assurance that political influence did not inappropriately impact this settlement.”

The full text of the letter is as follows:

April 13, 2015

NJDEP
Attn: Exxon Mobil Bayway Comments
P.O. Box 420 Mail Code 401-06Q
Trenton, N.J. 08625-0420

To whom it may concern,

We are writing to express our strong concerns with the Christie Administration’s proposed settlement in the State’s lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corporation for the company’s contamination of two oil refineries. If approved, we believe that this settlement would be wholly inadequate in properly restoring the sites and compensating the State of New Jersey for decades of rampant pollution.

For more than a century, oil refineries now owned by Exxon have discharged more than 600 hazardous chemicals over more than 1,500 acres of lands held in the public trust in northern New Jersey, including wetlands, marshes, and meadows. These same facilities contaminated our ground water and dumped hazardous waste into our ponds and streams. The ecological health of our natural environment has been ruined and will require decades and billions of dollars to not just restore the lands but compensate the public for the loss use and damage from the oil spills. Expert report compiled for the State by Stratus Consulting Inc. of Colorado and Toxicological & Environmental Associates Inc. of Alabama assessed the cost of undoing of more than 100 years of pollution at the Bayonne and Linden refineries at $8.9 billion, indicating that it would require $2.5 billion to restore the sites and an additional $6.4 “to compensate for the decades of harm.”

Despite the fact that the State Attorney General’s office was seeking a nearly $9 billion settlement, the Christie Administration opted for a settlement of $225 million in damages – roughly three cents on the dollar – and does not require Exxon to fully restore the land to its original condition. The proposed settlement also includes 16 additional sites not included in the original lawsuit. The residents of the contaminated areas deserve to have the sites cleaned up, the natural resources there restored, and an assurance that political influence did not inappropriately impact this settlement.

Finally, we are concerned about the prospect of settlement funds being diverted away from their intended use and instead transferred into the State’s general fund to balance the budget. As you know, New Jersey state law allows the transfer of any recovered funds in excess of $50 million to the state general fund. In 2013, Governor Christie redirected $147.5 million of the $165 million settlement between the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Occidental Chemical Corporation over toxic pollution in the Passaic River into the general fund.

Reversing the damage done to the natural resources surrounding Exxon’s Bayway and Bayonne operations will be a difficult but important undertaking. However, we do not believe that the settlement proposed by the Christie Administration will achieve this important goal. We urge you to ensure that any settlement includes sufficient funds to restore the lands that these refineries have destroyed.

Thank you for consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

________________________
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress


 ________________________
 Frank Pallone, Jr.
 Member of Congress


________________________
Albio Sires
Member of Congress


 ________________________
 Bonnie Watson Coleman
 Member of Congress


________________________
Donald Norcross
Member of Congress


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Letter: Make NJ 1st In The Nation



Dear Editor,

To promote tourism to New Jersey, our state should make our presidential primary the first in the nation.

People should be calling their state legislators to ask why we’re last and letting the folks in New Hampshire and Iowa determine our fate.

Change the New Jersey 2016 primary date to Monday, January 4th.



Eric Hafner
Toms River

Letter: Don't Develop Manchester Nuclear Site


Dear Editor,

The New Jersey legislature should take action to prohibit development on and around the land with radioactive contamination at the Heritage Minerals quarry in Manchester township, near Lakehurst in Ocean County.

This area is contaminated and therefore should not be inhabited by humans. Nuclear material does not go away and will cause cancer.

Hovsons Inc., a Neptune-based real estate developer, is putting their profits above public safety in seeking to develop this highly toxic land.

A statewide ban of development on properties with a history of radioactive contamination is necessary to protect public health from a township council and planning board that does not care to understand science, combined with developers who out to make a quick buck.

If the land glows, just say no.



Eric Hafner
Toms River

Pallone Announces Cancer Research Grant to Rutgers




WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6) today announced a grant award through the National Institutes of Health to Rutgers University to provide over $351,000 for cancer research. The grant will support research designed to develop an understanding of what makes certain faulty genes lead to the development of breast cancer. A better understanding of these genes could lead to treatments that are minimally invasive, yet effective in preventing the onset of cancer.

“As technologies and science improve and progress, our commitment to cancer prevention must be strengthened as well,” said Congressman Pallone. “This grant, which I am pleased was awarded to Rutgers, brings us one step closer to preventing breast cancer and is a prime example of the commitment that is necessary in this fight.”

The research will attempt to better understand the link between faulty BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes and the development of cancerous tumors. Mutations in these genes account for approximately 5-10% of all breast cancers developed in the world. Those carrying the mutated BRCA1 gene are at a nearly 80% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and a nearly 40% risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 4, 2015 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

At last week's April 4th Township Committee workshop meeting an ordinance was introduced to refinance $3.2M of the township debt, which now totals just above $70M. Among the resolutions approved was one to pay out over $75K to a retiring police officer and another that would approve the purchase of 3 DVRs for police surveillance.

Police Chief Weber attended this meeting to explain some of the reorganization taking place within the police department. He said that changes are in the process of being made that will produce more efficiencies on each shift.

Committeeman Fiore requested that commuter parking be monitored around bus stops along Rt. 36 because the commuter parking lots are not being utilized and suggested that street parking restrictions be implemented to direct commuters to park in the lots.

However, the real standout of the meeting happened to be Deputy Mayor Steve Massell who ran the meeting in the absence of Mayor Stephanie Murray. It seems that after several years as a member of the township committee, Massell still doesn't know how to manage a meeting. He bumbled his way through the meeting and seemed disconnected from the proceedings at times. Obviously this is not how our township committee people are supposed to conduct meetings.



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.


Martin O'Malley: A Hillary Alternative

There are many Democrats around the country that aren't ready to just hand Hillary Clinton the Democratic nomination next year, many of us feel that she needs to earn it first.  That is why many of us are looking for an alternative. Unfortunately, alternative Democrats are hard to find at the moment. It seems they are afraid of the Clinton juggernaut unless that is, you're the former governor of Maryland and your name happens to be Martin O'Malley.

O'Malley has been quietly going around Iowa and New Hampshire seeking support in advance of his own 2016 campaign announcement.  He hasn't been flashy or made a lot of headlines as of yet but he is a true progressive, isn't afraid to show it and he has a record to stand on. Martin O'Malley is a former a two-term Mayor of the city of Baltimore and a former two-term Governor of Maryland:
"Called “the best manager in government today,” Governor O’Malley has been nationally recognized for his skillful leadership of Maryland through the recession, as well as his success in implementing critical progressive priorities such as raising the minimum wage to $10.10, signing marriage equality into law, abolishing the death penalty and passing the DREAM Act to provide in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. During his two terms, O’Malley recovered 100% of the jobs lost during the recession, first and foremost by investing in education, innovation and infrastructure. Under his leadership, Education Week magazine named Maryland’s public schools #1 in the nation for an unprecedented five years in a row, the College Board listed Maryland as one of the top states in the country for holding down the cost of college, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named Maryland #1 in innovation and entrepreneurship three years in a row. As a leader in sustainability, O’Malley expanded renewable energy, accelerated energy conservation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and took bold action to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay. 
Prior to serving as Governor of Maryland, O’Malley served two terms as Mayor of Baltimore. Governor O’Malley received his bachelor’s degree from Catholic University and his law degree from the University of Maryland..."

Check out his website and his Twitter page @GovernorOMalley to start familiarizing yourself with him. I think he makes an attractive alternative for the anti-Hillary crowd.