Saturday, April 14, 2018

Middletown Board of Education (BOE) Voting Meeting - 3/28/18

Due to the Spring break, it took a while for this video to be posted. The video of the meeting is only 33 minutes long so it's a breeze to watch. Not much happened other than a tentative vote on approving the FY 2018/19 budget; two board members voted against the budget due to cuts being made to school improvements that are badly needed. A final vote on the budget is expected to take place at the April 17th meeting.

There was also a discussion on tentative dates for district promotion and  graduation  ceremonies. Since the district lost several days to inclement weather this winter, days needed to be added to the school calendar which has an impact on where and when these ceremonies can take place.

There were also a few members of the public to speak before the meeting was adjourned.

To view the Meeting Agenda and it's various amendments, you can find them on the BOE Website.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Middletown Man Pleads Guilty To Child Pornography

Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office
April 12, 2018

FREEHOLD, NJ – A Middletown man who was arrested as part of Operation School’s Out pleaded guilty to the distribution of child pornography, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Dale Williams, 46, of Leonard Avenue in Middletown, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Pornography) before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano, Jr.

In pleading guilty, Williams admitted he used Peer-to-Peer file-sharing software to download child pornography images and videos.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the State agreed to recommend a sentence of 3 years in New Jersey State Prison. Upon his release from prison, Williams will also be subject to the provisions of “Megan's Law.” Sentencing is scheduled to take place on July 6, 2018 before Judge Falcetano.

Williams was arrested on July 21, 2017 as part of “Operation School’s Out,” a summer-long operation into online consumers of child pornography that resulted in the arrest of 14 individuals. The operation was carried out by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force between July 20 and August 31, 2017.

Assisting in Operation School’s Out were members of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit, New Jersey Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, New Jersey ICAC Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Federal Bureau of Investigations, New Jersey State Parole Board, and the Asbury Park, Belmar, Eatontown, Freehold Township, Hazlet Township, Holmdel Township, Howell Township, Keansburg, Keyport, Long Branch, Manalapan Township, Marlboro Township, Middletown Township, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Sea Bright, Tinton Falls, and Wall Township police departments.

The case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Margaret Koping.

Williams is represented by Richard Lomurro, Esq., of Freehold.

Pallone Announces Extension of Deadline for Sandy Victims to Complete Mitigation Projects

April 12, 2018

Long Branch, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has extended the deadline for Sandy victims to complete mitigation projects using Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) funding by 3 years. Last month, Pallone and members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation asked FEMA Administrator William “Brock” Long to extend the deadline.

ICC provides up to $30,000 towards the significant cost of elevating, moving, or otherwise flood-proofing homes in order to come into compliance with local floodplain management laws and ordinances. As a result of delays in recovery for some Sandy survivors, many homeowners have found themselves unable to complete projects, and were at risk of losing the ability to access their ICC funds by the previous October 29, 2018 deadline.

“I am glad that FEMA heeded the call to extend the deadline three years. It is the right and moral decision. Homeowners still struggling to rebuild from the devastation of Sandy should not be forced to meet an arbitrary deadline,” said Congressman Pallone. “The combination of flood insurance payouts being delayed and the failures of the past state administration in its recovery program has prevented many New Jerseyans from rebuilding. These residents paid premiums to receive coverage and they should not be cut off from receiving this badly needed assistance.”

Ranking Member Pallone’s Opening Remarks at Hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

For Immediate Release:
April 11, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following opening remarks today at a full committee hearing on “Facebook: Transparency and Use of Consumer Data:”

Thank you for being here today, Mr. Zuckerberg.

Facebook has become integral to our lives. We don’t just share pictures of our families. We use it to connect for school, to organize events, and to watch baseball games.

Facebook has enabled everyday people to spur national political movements. Most of us in Congress use Facebook to reach our constituents in ways that were unimaginable 10 years ago. This is a good thing.

But it also means that many of us can’t give it up easily. Many businesses have their only web presence on Facebook. For professions like journalism, people’s jobs depend on posting on the site.

This ubiquity comes with a price. For all the good it brings, Facebook can be a weapon for those like Russia and Cambridge Analytica that seek to harm us and hack our democracy.

Facebook made it too easy for a single person, in this instance Aleksandr Kogan, to get extensive personal information about 87 million people. Kogan then sold this data to Cambridge Analytica who used it to try to sway the 2016 Presidential election for the Trump Campaign. Facebook made itself a powerful tool for things like voter suppression in part by opening its platform to app developers with little or no oversight.

But it gets worse. The fact is no one knows how many people have access to the Cambridge Analytica data. And no one knows how many other Cambridge Analyticas are still out there.

Shutting down access to data to third parties isn’t enough. Facebook and many other companies are doing the same thing. They are using people’s personal information to do highly targeted product and political advertising.

And Facebook is just the latest in a never-ending string of companies that vacuum up our data but fail to keep it safe. This incident demonstrates yet again that our laws are not working.

Making matters worse, Republicans here in Congress continue to block or even repeal the few privacy protections we have. In this era of nonstop data breaches, last year Republicans eliminated existing privacy and data security protections at the Federal Communications Commission.

Their justification: those protections were not needed because the Federal Trade Commission has everything under control. Well this latest disaster shows just how wrong they are. The FTC used every tool Republicans have been willing to give it and those tools weren’t enough.

That’s why Facebook acted like so many other companies and reacted only when it got bad press. We all know the cycle by now: our data is stolen and the company looks the other way; eventually reporters find out, publish a negative story, and the company apologizes. Congress then holds a hearing; and then…nothing.

By not doing its job, this Republican-controlled Congress has become complicit in this nonstop cycle of privacy by press release.

This cycle must stop because the current system is broken.

I was happy to hear Mr. Zuckerberg concede that his industry needs to be regulated. I agree.

We need comprehensive privacy and data security legislation.

We need baseline protections that stretch from internet service providers to data brokers to app developers and to anyone else who makes a living off our data.

We need to figure out how to make sure these companies act responsibly even before the press finds out.

But while securing our privacy is necessary, it’s not sufficient. We need to take steps immediately to secure our democracy. We can’t let what happened in 2016 happen again. To do that, we need to learn how Facebook was caught so flatfooted in 2016. How was it so blind to what the Russians and others were doing on its systems? Red flags were everywhere—why didn’t anyone see them? Or were they ignored?

So today’s hearing is a good start. But we also need to hold additional hearings where we hold accountable executives from other tech companies, internet service providers, data brokers, and anyone else that collects our information.

Congresswoman Schakowsky and I introduced a bill last year that would require companies to implement baseline data security standards, and I plan to work with my colleagues to draft additional legislation. It’s time for this Committee and this Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to prevent incidents like this in the future.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Playing For Change: Listen to the Music | Song Around The World

In the past I've posted videos from Playing for Change here on the blog that I thought were pretty good and should be shared. This video is no different.

In this video the 70's rock band, the Doobie Brothers, team up with various Playing for Change musicians on this rendition of their hit song, "Listen to the Music".

Listen to the Music | Song Around The World from Playing For Change on Vimeo.

" In music as in life, the things that make us different make us stronger. All the various instruments, tones, perspectives, and cultures in this recording combine to create a new version of this classic Song Around The World.
The idea was born a few years ago during breakfast at the Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia. Our friend and drummer, Peter Bunetta, introduced me to Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers and we talked about taking "Listen to the Music" around the world. We started the track with an acoustic guitar demo played to a click track and then added bass from Colombia, tablas and veena from India, and then headed to the Redwood Forest in Northern California to record and film Tom Johnston live outside. We then recorded and filmed Patrick Simmons and John McFee playing along to the track in a park in San Diego. The journey then continued throughout North and South America, Europe, The Middle East, Asia, and Africa. This final version features 30 musicians from 12 countries united through their love of music.
Listen to the music and change the world! "

April 2, 2018 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

There was a Middletown Township Committee meeting last Monday night, but if you blinked you might have missed it. The open public workshop meeting was all of 13 minutes long, if you had intended to go to the meeting but were running a little late, you would have missed it and been left wondering, "where did everyone go?". It's a good thing that we have  video to prove that a meeting actually took place.

Here are the brief  highlights:

  • Ordinances were adopted to establish a property tax "CAP" bank and to set a fair market value for some property the township wants to either purchase or acquire by eminent domain in Belford.
  • Ordinances were introduced to reissue an ordinance from 2017 authorizing to borrow $3.172M for various projects and the other to allocate $259K to begin funding the construction of the new municipal building.
  • Resolutions were adopted to purchase a truck for DPW, award a contract for GIS services, award a contract to construct a pavilion at Poricy Park and to establish an agreement between the township and the Affordable Housing Alliance to prevent homelessness.

For further information on these, you can access the agenda for the meeting at the link below the video.

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.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Letter: Strongly Against Bad Bills To Expand Accessible Parking Permit Holders

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

To the Editor:

I am strongly against the two current bills mentioned in the media that would expand accessible parking permits to new groups.

As the current rules make clear, the accessible spaces are needed for individuals with physical conditions who need closest parking to get to stores, restaurants, medical facilities. The spaces are crucial for wheelchair-using people, who need the wider access aisles that are part of the accessible parking places to drop down their van ramps and have room to turn off the ramp.

The bills have not been thought out and are "feel good" bills, written without understanding of the issues I am describing.There is no need for those with PTSD, autistic people, or caregivers of disabled people to receive the placards. Instead of the care givers, the placard must be issued to the one who needs it, as is current law. The placard can go with that person to the driver's vehicle while the disabled person is in the vehicle. It would be tempting for care givers to park in the spaces even when they are not transporting a person with a disability.

PTSD does not require an accessible space. If the veteran has a physical disability, he or she can get a permit based on that fact.The same is true for people with autism.

Please remember the legal requirement under the New Jersey and federal law,(Americans with Disabilities Act , ADA) to provide parking for those with physical needs that prevent them from accessing places without those essential parking spaces.

We need much better enforcement of the mandated fines of $250 for first offenses; towing is also a legal punishment. Police should check that a disabled person with a required "disabled person's ID" card is using the space. If he or she loans the placard to someone not eligible, the placard can be confiscated!

As with spots set aside for pregnant drivers, a second tier for the proposed classes could be provided as a courtesy, but not in the legally reserved spaces under our current accessible parking laws.

All legislators should read the excellent N.J. Guide to Accessible Parking and refuse to pass the proposed laws.


Carolyn Schwebel, Director
"Equalizers, "Advocates for People with Disabilities"

E&C Announces Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Will Testify April 11th

April 4, 2018

Washington, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) released the following statement after confirming that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the committee on Wednesday, April 11th, at 10:00 a.m. regarding the company’s use and protection of user data.

“This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online. We appreciate Mr. Zuckerberg’s willingness to testify before the committee, and we look forward to him answering our questions on April 11th," said Walden and Pallone.

More details on the hearing will be posted here as they are available.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Crucifixion and Easter

"If we think of the Crucifixion only in historical terms we lose the reference of the symbol immediately to ourselves. Jesus left his mortal body on the cross, the sign of the earth, to go to the Father with whom he was one. We, similarly, are to identify with the eternal life that is within us. The symbol at the same time tells us of God's willing acceptance of the cross - that is to say, of participation in the trials and sorrows of human life in the world. So that He is here within us - not by way of a fall or a mistake, but with rapture and joy. Thus the cross has a dual sense - one, our going to the divine, and the other, of the divine coming to us. It is a true cross-ing.

"What has always been basic to resurrection, or Easter, is crucifixion. If you want to resurrect, you must have crucifixion. Too many interpretations of the Crucifixion have failed to emphasize that. They emphasize the calamity of the event. And if you emphasize calamity, then you look for someone to blame. That is why people have blamed the Jews for it. But it is not a calamity if it leads to new life. Through the Crucifixion we are unshelled, we are able to be born to resurrection. That is not a calamity. We must look freshly at this so that its symbolism can be sensed.

"St. Augustine speaks of going to the Cross as a bridegroom to his bride. There is an affirmation here. In the Prado is a great painting by Titian of Simon of Cyrene as he willingly helps jesus with the cross. The picture captures the human participation, the free, voluntary participation we all must have in the Easter-Passover mystery."

Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That, p.112 - 113

Friday, March 30, 2018

March 20, 2018 BOE Workshop Meeting

I'm about halfway thru watching this video from the March 20th workshop meeting of the Middletown Board of Education (BOE). I'm posting it now because the video from Wednesday night's March 28th meeting will be posted soon. People should get caught up with the current video if possible before watching the one that will be posted to the Middletown Board of Education YouTube channel.

It was during this meeting that the BOE presented an overview of the new 2018/2019 FY School Budget that would be voted on at the March 28th meeting, which included funds for additional security officers and school improvements. 

The various meeting agendas for this meeting can be found on the BOE's website.

What If There Were Cell Phones At The Resurrection?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Hill: TripAdvisor to stop advertising on Laura Ingraham's show

Words have consequences but it seems that right-wing talking heads forget that until they loose their advertisers.
Online travel website TripAdvisor is planning to stop advertising on Laura Ingraham's show after the Fox News host posted a critical tweet about a Parkland, Fla., high school student.
A company spokesperson said in a statement that the company doesn't "condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster," according to CNBC.
"In our view, these statements focused on a high school student cross the line of decency. As such, we have made a decision to stop advertising on that program," the spokesperson said.

Ingraham on Wednesday shared a Daily Wire story that reported Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School student David Hogg was rejected from four colleges.

“David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA...totally predictable given acceptance rates),” Ingraham tweeted....

Continue reading  

Stay Tuned ...

There is some drama roaming the hallways of Town Hall this week that I don't want to comment on at the moment. I will later, after a little more information is gathered.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

After Zinke Closed Door Meeting with NJ Republicans on Offshore Drilling, Pallone asks for Meeting with Democrats

March 26, 2018

Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) called on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to meet with New Jersey Democratic Members of Congress about the Trump administration’s sweeping offshore drilling plan that has received bipartisan criticism across the state. The request comes after Secretary Zinke met with Republican members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation without extending an invitation to Democrats. Pallone also asked Zinke to respond to to his letter asking the Interior Secretary to come to New Jersey and meet with citizens who would be affected by offshore drilling.

“While it appears that Secretary Zinke made certain promises to NJ Republicans, we need greater transparency and clarity when it comes to the Trump administration’s plans for offshore drilling,” said Pallone. “The administration’s environmental record has been a disaster and vague statements made behind closed doors will do little to ease the fears of New Jerseyans over offshore drilling.”

The text of the letter can be found below and the letter is also attached.

March 26, 2018

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
United States Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Zinke:

I write to request that you meet with the New Jersey’s Congressional Democrats to outline the Administration’s plans for implementing the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program.

According to multiple media reports, you met with Republican members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation on February 27th to discuss the Administration’s offshore leasing plans. The New Jersey Congressional Delegation is unified in its opposition to the Administration’s proposed OCS leasing program and all members would benefit from greater insight into your thinking. A frank and direct conversation on this important matter will promote transparency and help ensure the voices of those we represent are heard by the Administration, and I urge you to work expeditiously to schedule a meeting to discuss this issue with the Democratic members of the delegation.

On a related note, I would like to follow up with you regarding a January 11, 2018 invitation to personally visit New Jersey to meet with the Governor, lawmakers, and constituents who would be impacted by the 2019-2024 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program. I have not received a response from your office on this matter. As you know, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held a public meeting in New Jersey on February 14, 2018. While constituents from across the state came to voice their opposition to the OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024, there was no opportunity to submit verbal testimony. In light of the large scope of the proposed program and the tremendous local risks associated with the program, I again ask that you schedule a Secretarial visit and afford the people of New Jersey the opportunity to share their views at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your consideration of these requests. I look forward to hearing from you.


Member of Congress

Friday, March 23, 2018

March 19, 2018 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

There was another meeting of the Middletown Township Committee this week. If you weren't there, take a few minutes and watch the video below. The videos are always entertaining and you just might learn a thing or two about your local government.

Here are a few highlights:

  • The CEO introduced the 2018 budget.
  • The Township Committee presented Gerry Scharfenberger with accolades and awards for his years of service.
  • Proclamations were read into the record declaring April National Alcohol Awareness and Autism Awareness month.
  • The annual shared service agreement to share health services was presented.
  • A contract was awarded to hire a company to staff recreation programs.
  • Protective fire clothing was authorized to be purchased.
  • An online auction was approved to sell 10,000 cu, yds of leaf compost
  • Approval was granted to allocate funds to pay for bills and a performance bond was released to Atlantic Pier Company.

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.