Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas


2020 has been quite a year, but I'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and happy and health New Year nonetheless. I hope it's filled with joy, happiness and endless possibilities for all those we love and cherish.






Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Patch: Four-Year Gap In Middletown Republicans' Campaign Finance Reports

The Middletown Patch posted an article this morning about the Middletown Republicans not filing campaign finance reports for the past 4 years. This is a big issue and people shouldn't be looking the other way.

And before someone says something .... submitting ELEC reports 4 years after they are due doesn't negate the fact that they weren't filed when they needed to be.... This is still a very serious situation that is being investigated.

From the Patch:

MIDDLETOWN, NJ — There was a missing four-year period where the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) did not have campaign finance reports from the Middletown Republican Committee. 

 The campaign finance reports were missing from the years 2016 through 2020. It was sixteen reports that were missing, from each four quarters of those four years. As of Oct. 21 of this year, all the missing reports have now been filed and are on record with ELEC. 

 Campaign finance reports are vital because they show who has donated to a political party and how the money is being spent. American political parties are required by law to submit them for public record, and to not submit them is a serious violation, as well as a breach of public trust. 

 The Middletown Republican Committee says they filed the reports accurately as required every year. They said they have no idea why ELEC did not have any record of the reports and chalked it up to a clerical error on ELEC's part. 

 "Every report for every quarter was sent by regular mail to P.O. Box 185 Trenton NJ 08625 (ELEC headquarters) as instructed," said a Middletown Republican Party spokesman. "We were informed by a Facebook inquiry that reports were missing. We contacted ELEC and inquired where these reports were placed. They could not find them quickly and asked us to resubmit the reports and they would once again place them in the appropriate quarter. The reports have been resubmitted and upon review are back on the site. We were surprised to learn about this clerical issue as all reports for candidates and the party have always been filed timely." 

It was the job of Alannah Perry, the Middletown Republican Party treasurer, to submit the campaign finance records to ELEC. Perry is the wife of current Middletown Mayor Tony Perry and her father is Gerry Scharfenberger, now a member of the New Jersey Assembly. Before he became an assemblyman, Scharfenberger sat on both the Middletown Township Committee and the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders since 2016.....


Continue reading  

Press Release: Middletown Republican Party fails to file campaign finance reports for 4 years

For Immediate Release 
10/26/2020 


 MIDDLETOWN – On October 22, 2020 -- in “Middletown GOP says they’ve filed campaign finance reports. NJ says they haven’t.” -- the Asbury Park Press reported an alleged serious violation of New Jersey campaign finance law by the Middletown Township Republican Organization, involving the Organization’s failure to file quarterly financial reports to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC) for the last four years. Even though the State sends written reminders to political organizations to file these reports, the Middletown Township Republican Organization has not filed a report since the 3rd quarter of 2016, when it reported $39,000 on hand.  State Assemblyman Gerard Scharfenberger’s daughter, Alannah, was listed as the Treasurer when the last report was filed in October 2016. She is married to Middletown’s Mayor, Tony Perry, who was appointed to the Township Committee in November 2017 to fill his father-in-law’s seat. Since 2016, the Organization has made contributions to other political campaigns and committees in the amount of $22,650, per the ELEC reports filed by those other entities. Those outflows and the initial collection of monies have gone unreported by the Middletown Republican Organization. The Asbury Park Press obtained copies of multiple violation notices mailed out by ELEC. 

These reporting requirements matter. New Jersey’s Pay-to-Play Law prohibits a local government from awarding a contract to a vendor who has made a political contribution unless a “fair and open process” has been used. For the last 4 years, the donors to the Republican Organization in Middletown are unknown. This hurts transparency and diminishes the ability of the citizenry to hold public officials accountable. The State’s Pay-to-Play laws are also intended to address “wheeling”, the practice of channeling money through different political committees to circumvent contribution limits. When political organizations ignore their reporting requirements, enforcing the law becomes difficult. 

The flagrant refusal to abide by the law is especially damaging in Middletown, where the Middletown Republican Organization oversees a network of appointments and contributions that can be financially rewarding for the professionals who participate. The all-Republican Township Committee laid the groundwork for pay-to-play when they abandoned a more rigid pay-to-play ordinance in 2012. https://patch.com/new-jersey/middletown-nj/new-pay-to-play ordinance-adopted-at-committee-meeting. Since then, Committee members Fiore, Settembrino, and Hibell have been depositing campaign checks from T&M Engineering; the firm has somehow always been appointed as Middletown’s Engineering firm under this “fair and open” process for over 30 years. This appointment can lead to revenue for the firm exceeding $1.0 Million in a single year. Campaign donations have also come from Maser Consulting, the engineering firm consistently hired by the Middletown Sewerage Authority year to year, and from the law firm of our Township Attorney (Archer & Greiner). 

 More disturbing, Gibbons PC, the law firm of the Republican Party Chairman, Peter Carton, has been appointed as bond counsel to Middletown for decades. (Mr. Carton is quoted in the APP article and claims the required ELEC reports were filed but somehow went missing, and that he, a partner at one of the largest law firms in the State, has no copies.) Middletown is also an important cog in the County Republican sphere of influence, and it is there that he makes his biggest score, where every year his law firm, Gibbons, is appointed Bond Counsel for the County of Monmouth, earning $495/hour for this work. So much for competitive bidding. Remarkably, when Middletown receives financing from the Monmouth County Improvement Authority, Carton’s firm represents both the County and Middletown.

The “fair and open process” exception in the State’s Local Unit Pay-to-Play Law is intended to drive down contract costs through competition, but is a joke when Middletown appoints the same professionals every year. The Township has had the same engineering firm for approximately 40 years. The Middletown Committee members vote together on almost every single matter put before them, because, we believe, they have no choice.

Since 2016, numerous republican candidates have been elected or appointed to the five-member Middletown Township Committee, including Patricia Snell, who is currently running for re election on the 2020 ballot. The gravy train of donations is no secret. Public records between 2016 and 2020 tell a familiar story. In 2018, Tony Perry received two donations from T&M Engineering of $1600 and $1200. (We also should not be surprised that More Monmouth Musings blogger Art Gallagher was actively blogging in support of the republican team, since his company, Gallco Media, https://www.linkedin.com/in/artgallagher/, is getting paid by them. Mr. Perry’s campaign made payments of $1360 to Mr. Gallagher’s company (Gallco) for “Social Media Consulting”.) Committeeman Rick Hibell is no stranger to the benefits of the township’s amended pay-to-play ordinance, having received in 2018 $600 from T&M and $1,000 from Archer & Greiner, the law firm of Middletown Township Attorney Brian Nelson. Newcomer Ryan Clarke has joined in this professional largesse in 2020, receiving $1,000 from the law firm of the Township Attorney, $1,750 from Maser Consulting, the engineering firm of Middletown’s Sewerage Authority, and $1,450 from the ever-reliable T&M Engineering.

But when it comes to collecting professional donations, Committeeman Tony Fiore reigns supreme. In his campaign in 2017, our Township Engineers (T&M), whom Mr. Fiore voted to reappoint every year since then, made donations of $2,600 and $600 to his campaign. Maser Consulting, our perennial Sewerage Authority Engineers, made donations of $2,600 and $1,200. Not to be outdone, Archer & Greiner, the law firm of our Township Attorney, Brian Nelson, donated $2,000. That’s $9,000 in donations for Mr. Fiore from outside professionals working for Middletown. Committeeman Settembrino was right behind him with the following donations from T&M for his 2016 campaign: $2600 on 5/10/2016, $900 on 7/21/2016 and $600 on 9/13/2016. In 2019, Settembrino raked in $1,600 from T&M, $1,000 from our Township Attorney, and $1,200 from Maser.

“This is a serious matter,” said Middletown’s Democratic Chairman, Michael Morris. “We should question not only the ethics of Republican officials, but whether taxpayers have been overcharged for contracts that were awarded without competitive bidding when the law required it,” Morris continued. “That is not putting taxpayers first,” he said.


For supporting documentation .... Click Here

 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Statement: Middletown Republicans Failed to File 4 Years’ Worth OF NJ ELEC Campaign Finance Reports

For Immediate Release: 
10/24/20

 A Statement from Middletown Democratic Chairman Michael Morris concerning the failure of the Middletown Township Republican Executive Committee to file 4 years’ worth of campaign finance reports.

 Middletown –In response to the recent Asbury Park Press article, “Middletown GOP says they’ve filed campaign finance reports. NJ says they haven’t”, which uncovered a serious violation of NJ campaign finance law by the Middletown Township Republican Organization. The Organization has failed to disclose campaign financial records to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC) for the last four years. 

 The last report on file with NJ ELEC on behalf of the Middletown Republican organization is from the 3rd quarter of 2016 and showed over $39,000 on hand. Since that time the Middletown Republican organization has made contributions to others in the amount of $22,650, all of which has gone unreported and there is now no way to tell who campaign contributions came from, to whom the Middletown Republicans donated funds to or what amount of money changed hands during this period.

New Jersey pay-to-play laws are very specific and are designed to end the practice of “wheeling”, which is when an entity channels money through different political committees to avoid contribution limits.

 Chairman Morris states:

 “It’s said that if you want to uncover the facts all you need to do is “follow the money”. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible here. There is no way for the public to know who campaign contributions came from, to who the Organization directed funds to or what it spent money on over the past four years. Apparently, the Middletown Republicans must think they’re above the law.

 “In addition, we find out the Treasurer responsible for filing these reports is none other than the Mayor’s wife, Alannah Perry who also happens to be the daughter of former mayor, now NJ State Assemblyman, Gerry Scharfenberger. You would think she’d know better."

 “When you combine this with the release of thousands of private email addresses from the township’s emergency alert database, that Tony Perry’s 2018 campaign used to make false and misleading accusations against a Democratic rival in 2018, you have to wonder about the ethics of not just the Perry family but the entire Middletown Republican Organization”.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Failure To File NJ ELEC Paper Work Puts Middletown Republican Organization In Financial Jeopardy: Should Tony Perry Resign?


It came to light yesterday that the Middletown Township Republican Executive Committee (Middletown GOP) has failed to file required New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC) paperwork for the past 16 quarters, going back to October 2016. The last report on file with the NJ ELEC is for the 3rd quarter of 2016

This is bad on so many levels and furthers the argument that myself and others have been making over the years, Middletown Republicans are corrupt to the core. Where are they getting their money from? Who are they giving money to? Pay-to-Play comes to mind as well as the wheeling of campaign donations and expenses and potentially money laundering isn't out if the question.

As for the last report on record with NJ ELEC all the way back in 2016, the Middletown Republicans had $39,439.11 on hand after reporting. How much money did they have on hand afterwards to end the year? We don't know because a 4th quarter, year end report was never filed, neither were subsequent reports thereafter for the next 15 quarters leading up to October 2020.

We know the Middletown Republican Executive Committee has been active during this time because expenditures of $19,650 have been reported by outside candidates and committees in their NJ ELEC filings, the most recent being a $650 donation to Sheriff Shaun Golden for his reelection campaign, made in February of 2020.

Maximum fines associated with this non-compliance can be as large as $8,600 per incident. 16 quarters  of failing to file reports with NJ ELEC could cost the local Republicans upwards of $138,000. Interestingly however, the organization is not responsible to pay these fines. As punishment, it's the organizational Treasurer and potentially the Organizational Chairman who are on the hook for payment.

What's so interesting and intriguing about that little fact is that the organizational Treasurer for the last report filed back in October 2016, was the wife of current Middletown Mayor, Tony Perry. Mrs. Perry also happens to be the daughter of former mayor, now LD 13 Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger.

There is a major conflict here and it just might behoove  Perry to resign from the mayorship of the Township as well as step down from the Township Committee itself.  Since Scharfenberger appointed his son-in-law to the Township Committee back in 2017 and his daughter failed to file the proper paperwork with NJ ELEC, he has some explaining to do himself .... Stay tuned for further developments. 



 






Friday, October 16, 2020

Beware of the Sample Ballot

Sample Ballot
 

FYI - Be prepared and let everyone know, it has come to my attention that sample ballots will be mailed out to residences through out the State and Monmouth County starting on 10/23 whether you have already returned your vote-by-mail ballots or not.

People no doubt, will be confused as to why they are receiving a sample ballot even though they have voted already. People should be aware and let others know that they can ignore the sample ballot when it arrives, especially if they have already voted. 

The sample ballot could be identical to the vote-by-mail ballot that everyone has already received .... it will not and does not replace the mail-in ballots that everyone already has or has sent back to the County. 

It should be noted that sample ballots did not go out to voters before the Primary elections earlier this year as normal. People need to know they can ignore them if they have already voted. If people haven't voted yet, they need to know not to mail or drop off the wrong voting form.


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UPDATE 10/20:  There's no need to fear as previously warned. It appears that if voters receive anything in the mail over the next few days from the County Clerk, it will information on where to physically vote (polling locations in your town) and the locations of County Dropboxes. An actual sample ballot should not be mailed to residents as previously mentioned. --MM


What's the Deal with Voting on Nov. 3rd?


Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted since July 4th! A lot has been going on since then which I'll fill everyone in on at a later time. But for now, people have been asking me, what's the deal with voting on election day? So let me try and explain as best I can. Keep in mind, this information is Middletown specific but for the most part it is similar throughout Monmouth County and the State.

So here's the deal that everyone must know and understand ... the polling locations will be open on Nov. 3rd and there will be 10 locations available in Middletown where residents can vote. There are 46 voting districts in Middletown, so each of the polling locations will hold multiple districts within. It should be noted however, that if anyone goes to a polling location to vote in-person they will be asked to fill out a paper provincial ballot, which will be counted after all other ballots are counted.

From what I understand there will be 1 voting machine per location (not district), which may or may not be the case. In order for someone to vote by machine, that person must be disabled and unable to psychically fill out a paper ballot. That person must also sign an affidavit claiming that they are in fact disabled. If it is found that they aren't disabled, they can be prosecuted for voter fraud.
Be aware that the mail-in ballots can be taken to the polling locations on Election day to be handed in. However, the person handing in their ballot will need to sign the "book" and show ID at that time. The ballot may then be treated as a provisional ballot and not be counted until all other votes are counted.
Locally, the best bet is to drop off ballots at a dropbox located at either Middletown Town Hall, Middletown's Croydon Hall, the Hazlet DMV location or any other location within Monmouth County.
If people prefer to mail their ballots via USPS the ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3rd and received no later than Nov.10th ... the sooner they are mailed the better.
There is also an option to vote in person anytime at the Monmouth County Board of Elections (and Clerks office, I think).

I hope that answers everyone's question.

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UPDATE 10/20:

There is still a little confusion regarding mail-in ballots that are delivered to the polls on Election Day. Those ballots will NOT be treated as provisional ballots and counted after all other ballots. They will however be the last mail-in ballots counted before provisional ballots are counted.

Before provisional ballots are counted the local Board of Elections must certify those that filled out provisional ballots on Election Day, did not also mail-in a ballot previously. Provisional ballots will be crosschecked with mail-in ballots to ensure that no one votes twice.... MM

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Successful Rally for Social Justice and Spread Love Not Hate In Middletown

Last Sunday's "Rally for Social Justice and Spread Love Not Hate" in Middletown was very peaceful, respectful and to everyone's opinion successful.

As stated previously, the protest rally was organized by current students and recent alumni from Middletown Schools and took place with the full support of the Township Committee and the Middletown Police Department. Middletown's Chief of Police, CraigWeber was among the several speaker to address those gathered; his comments were well received by all.

The Middletown Patch posted afterwards, "Police Chief, Students Speak At Middletown Social Justice March" describing, pretty accurately the event that day. Full disclosure, I happen to be quoted in the article and approve of its content.

I also want to give a shoutout to those who organized this rally (I know and they know, who they are), they did a great job of keeping it peaceful and respectful for all who attended, which I estimate at 300-400 people,which you can tell by the pictures, not the 150 the Middletown Police estimated for the Patch.

Also of note as you can tell, everyone had a mask!




Middletown Police Chief Craig Weber



MHSN Valedictorian Jada Tulloch

                                   






Saturday, June 20, 2020

Peaceful Middletown Solidarity Rally For Social Justice

I am amazed that something like this is actually happening here in Middletown. Middletown as we know, is a vastly white and generally conservative community that tends to forget that 6% of the community is minority based. As a results, there is a denial by many that think racism doesn't exist here ... but it does. I undersatnd that this rally has the support of Middletown Mayor Perry,  Police Chief Weber and School Superintendent Dr. George as well as the Middletown Board of Education.

This "Peaceful Middletown Solidarity Rally For Social Justice",  has been organized by a group of current students and recent alumni of the Middletown school system, some of which signed an "Open Letter to Dr. George, the Board of Education, and the MTPSD Faculty" requesting that Middletown schools diversify it's curriculum and "...delve more deeply into the struggles that marginalized groups have faced throughout American history..."

For those interested in joining the students, they will meet at the Middletown High School North parking lot at 3pm. They will walk down Tindall Rd to Park Ave to East Rd to Schwartzel Dr and back to High School North, at which point there will be a number of guest speakers.

I would suggest if you plan on attending, bring a chair and a couple bottles of water. You'll probably be glad you did.


Monday, April 6, 2020

British Writer Pens The Best Description Of Trump I’ve Read

MARCH 8, 2019 ~ MICHAEL STEVENSON


Someone on Quora asked “Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?” Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England wrote the following response:
A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.
So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

• Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
• You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum. God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:
‘My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.

hat tip - Carolyn Schwebel

Monday, March 23, 2020

March 16, 2020 Middletown Township Committee Meeting: The CoronaVirus Edition


Last weeks meeting of the Middletown Township Committee meeting could be characterized as the 'Coronavirus" edition. The meeting lasted just over 17 minutes while Committee members, as well as the paid professionals took seats well spaced from each other, due to the potential contamination from the virus.

Here are the highlights:

Proclamations were read into the record due to no recipients to receive them.

An ordinance was adopted that allows the Township to exceed the municipal budget appropriation limits, if needed. Another ordinance was introduced to purchase property on the east side of Hubbard Ave., by Shadow Lake. There will be a public hearing and a vote to approve this purchase on April 6.

Resolutions were adopted to extend contracts for tree trimming, plumbing and electrician services with the current contractors. Other resolutions were adopted to permit the CFO to pay bills if public meetings are cancelled, to reaffirm the townships' opposition to the Northeast gas pipeline that is proposed to run in the Raritan Bay and another to apply for a grant to help the township become more energy sustainable.



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.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Middletown Health Department Receives Confirmation of COVID-19 Case at Tomaso Towers

For Immediate Release
March 18, 2020



MIDDLETOWN, NJ – The Middletown Township Department and Health and Social Services received confirmation that a resident of Tomaso Towers has tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. The resident is currently hospitalized. Any and all close contacts have been contacted directly by the Health Department.

There are currently three confirmed cases in Middletown. They will be continually monitored by local health officials and positive cases will be shared with the public. Information will be released as it becomes available, however this will be limited by privacy laws. Direct contact persons, organizations and place of work will be notified by health officials as they receive information from the patient.

On March 16th, Mayor Tony Perry and Emergency Management Coordinator Charles Rogers, III signed a local declaration of disaster emergency. This declaration was enacted to protect the health and safety of our community. Click HERE to read the emergency declaration. Access to all municipal facilities has also been restricted through Tuesday, March 31st.

We continue to stress the importance of social distancing in an effort to flatten the curve of this public health crisis. We also ask that you monitor yourself and family members for signs and symptoms of this virus, including fever, cough, shortness of breath or other respiratory illness. If you experience any of these, please contact your medical provider by phone before walking into their office.

If you have general questions about COVID-19, please call the public hotline at 1-800-962-1253 or 1-800-222-1222. Trained professionals are standing by to answer your call 24/7 or visit nj.gov/health. Please note that the hotline is not to locate testing, to get test results or for medical advice. If you have further questions, call the Health Department at 732-615-2095, email covid19@middletownnj.org or visit www.middletownnj.org/coronavirus.