Friday, March 24, 2017

Pallone Calls on New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to Reject Monmouth County Reliability Project

March 23, 2017

Long Branch - Today in a letter to Richard Mroz, President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) asked the board to accept a motion by Monmouth County local communities to stay consideration of Jersey Central Power and Light’s (JCP&L) application to construct the Monmouth County Reliability Project (MCRP). The plan for JCP&L’s new transmission line would impact Aberdeen, Hazlet and Middletown in Pallone’s district and run along New Jersey Transit’s North Jersey Coast line.

Earlier this year, the state Rate Counsel raised questions about the necessity of the project to increase reliability in Monmouth County. The Rate Counsel described a number of technological alternatives that could increase reliability without requiring the construction of a transmission line like MCRP. Additionally, many residents have argued that the project is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the public health, environment, and economy of their communities. The plan states that poles will be up to 210 feet tall in some places, and many residents are worried that this will negatively affect their home values. Pallone testified at the January 25th public hearing on MCRP in Middletown and expressed his opposition.

Pallone has long voiced concerns with JCP&L’s proposal. In October, Pallone sent a letter to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) voicing his concerns over JCP&L’s proposal for the MCRP. In August, he shared his concerns with BPU regarding JCP&L’s proposal to transfer all of its transmission assets to Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission. JCP&L withdrew its transfer proposal in September, a week after Pallone’s statement.

The text of the letter is below.

March 23, 2017

The Honorable Richard Mroz
New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
44 S. Clinton Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08625

Re: Docket No. EO16080750

Dear President Mroz:

I write regarding the upcoming March 24, 2017 meeting of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to consider the motion by Monmouth County local communities to stay consideration of Jersey Central Power and Light’s (JCP&L) application to construct the Monmouth County Reliability Project (MCRP). I strongly encourage you and the other commissioners to grant their motion.

As part of seeking approval for the proposed 10-mile transmission line, which would run through my Congressional district, JCP&L must obtain permission from NJ Transit to use existing rights-of-way along the North Jersey Coast Line. Despite having failed to consider fully other options, JCP&L has made it clear that it believes that this route is the only viable one for this project. NJ Transit has not yet consented to use of its right-of-way.

There is no substantive reason for the BPU to continue consideration of JCP&L’s project application for the MCRP until the company obtains the necessary approval for use of the right-of-way from NJ Transit. Going forward with proceedings is a waste of resources for all parties until JCP&L can produce the required land-use agreement. Recognizing this, in October, communities that would be impacted by the MCRP filed a motion to dismiss or stay the approval process. Unfortunately, Administrative Law Judge Cookson declined to grant that motion. The towns have now appealed to BPU, and the Board should seriously consider their case. Failure to grant this motion ensures that additional time and resources will be devoted to considering this ill-conceived project, despite JCP&L having failed to secure the land and other perquisites necessary for it to build the project.

Additionally, it is important to point out that, when JCP&L proposed a substantially similar transmission project in 1989, Administrative Law Judge Perselay ruled that if the utility had not secured a land-use agreement with NJ Transit prior to the evidentiary hearing’s start date, the approval process could not move forward. BPU should honor that precedent when considering its decision on the towns’ appeal to reconsider their motion.

Thank you for attention to this matter.


Member of Congress

BOE Special Voting Meeting - March 15, 2017: The Budget

The last 10 days have been pretty hectic. I wanted to post this video from the March 17th, Middletown Board of Education meeting last week but wasn't able to get around to it. This meeting was important because the proposed budget for the upcoming 2017/2018 school year was presented to the board.

I watched just the first 20 minutes of the video and wanted to get back to it before posting. However, the Asbury Park Press published an article "Pension ruling blows hole in Middletown school budget", a few days ago and listed all the juicy details that I hadn't got around to viewing. The article was enlightening . If you haven't read it, I think you should. It's not good news for homeowners.
MIDDLETOWN - Annual school taxes for homeowners would jump by $217 on average under a new budget that was forced to account for a multimillion dollar mistake made by the school board 10 years ago.

For the first time, the school board is circumventing the 2 percent cap on property tax increases — nearly doubling it in fact — as the district attempts to move ahead with a $160 million spending plan that includes the equivalent of seven new full-time employees as well as $1.4 million for new turf field and track at High School South.

Also tucked into the budget is an unanticipated $763,000 payment for the Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund. The money, which represents the first of five annual payments, is a longtime district fear that has now become reality....
Continue Reading

All I'll say at the moment is, I'm not happy. I think some of the frills need to be placed aside for the time being until the pension payments that the BOE has to repay are completed, then they can look at replacing the turf field and track at High School South, along with some of their other proposed capital projects.

A $217 tax increase, on average, for homeowners is a very tough nut to crack. I think this is going to be a big deal!    

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pallone & Neal Statement on CBO Report for House GOP Health Care Repeal Bill

March 13, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) released the following joint statement today after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report detailing cost and coverage estimates for House Republicans’ health care repeal bill:

“Today’s CBO report now confirms what we already knew: despite promises that ‘everyone would be covered’ and ‘no one would be worse off,’ this Republican bill would rip away health insurance from 24 million Americans over the next decade and ask millions to pay more for less coverage. Despite warnings from independent experts like CBO and others, Republicans continue to recklessly jam this bill through Congress without so much as a single hearing on what effects their plan will have on middle-class families. This report also reaffirms that the Republican plan does absolutely nothing to control costs or protect consumers. Instead, it guts Medicaid, raises costs on older Americans, and pulls billions of dollars from Medicare, all in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

“This is a major step backwards for millions of Americans who now enjoy the benefits and protections of quality health insurance gained under the Affordable Care Act. We strongly urge Republicans to back off their politically-motivated march to sabotage our health care system and instead work with Democrats to strengthen it.”


President Donald J. Trump: “Everybody's got to be covered…I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now…But we're going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it's going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.” [CBS News, September 27, 2015]

President Donald J. Trump: “Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts, have to do it. Get rid of the fraud, get rid of the waste and abuse, but save it.” [June 16, 2015]

House Speaker Paul Ryan: The Republican healthcare plan will leave “no one worse off.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 5, 2016]

House Speaker Paul Ryan: When asked why the Republican plan would “send more money to the people who have gotten the richest”, Ryan responded “I am not concerned about it.”[Fox News, March 9, 2017]

HHS Secretary Tom Price: “Nobody will be worse off financially” under Republican bill. [Meet the Press, March 12, 2017]

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney: “We’re looking at it in a different way, Mark, because insurance is not really the end goal here, is it?” [Morning Joe, March 8, 2017]

March 6, 2017 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

Last week the Middletown Township Committee held it's monthly workshop meeting. Below are the highlights:
  • An ordinance was introduced to repeal part of the township code relating to retirement incentives.
  • Some of the resolutions adopted include appointing the Township Attorney to provide land acquisition services in Pt. Monmouth, extending the contract for tree trimming services, to purchase vehicles for DPW, allocate funds to cover costs of running the town and an increase in the costs of providing ADA improvements at Tonya Keller.
  • Residents expressed concerns of the number of accidents at the intersection of Hosford Ave and Leonardville Rd., the lack of information from the township on the new municipal center and the progress of the required ADA improvement plan adopted in 2012.

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, March 9, 2017

Pallone Blasts Trump Administration Proposal to Use Flood Insurance Fees to Pay for Wall

March 9, 2017

Washington, DC- Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) issued the following statement on the Trump administration proposal to use a surcharge on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders to build his border wall.

Throughout his campaign and presidency President Trump has repeatedly tried to deceive the American people by claiming that Mexico will pay for an impractical and unnecessary border wall. Now with his lie becoming apparent, President Trump is turning to working families, many of whom suffered during Sandy, to pay for his beloved wall. I will fight any proposal to place the burden of President Trump’s extreme immigration policy on flood insurance policy holders and New Jersey’s working families.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Pallone: GOP Repeal Bill is a Disgrace (Video)

March 8, 2017

"We will expose these policies for what they are – a prescription for disaster.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) delivered the following opening remarks today at the full Committee markup of the Republican’s proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The video of his opening statement can be found here:

The Republican repeal bill before us will seriously harm American families. Most people who gained health insurance under the ACA will lose their coverage. Those who retain health insurance will pay a lot more for less coverage. And states will seriously ration care for those who still have Medicaid.

For seven years Republicans claimed to have a better way. But it turns out – that is nothing more than an empty slogan. After seven years of sabotaging and obstructing the ACA, Republicans have finally presented a repeal bill – less than two days ago – that is incredibly destructive to the little guy—for the average working men and women.

I am not a fool. And neither is the American public. Throughout the coming days and weeks – Democrats and advocates alike will band together to bring transparency to this process and we will expose the GOP’s policies for what they are – a prescription for disaster.

Republicans—both the Speaker and our Committee Chairman repeatedly said they would follow regular order. Not one hearing has been held on their repeal bill. And we also have not received analysis from CBO. Regular order would require a hearing and a markup in the Health Subcommittee before we get to the full Committee markup today.

Can Republicans guarantee that the 20 million who have insurance today will continue to have health insurance under their plan? Clearly not. How many more millions of Americans will lose their health insurance as a result of this bill? Who will be covered and what will people pay for needed health care? There’s been no response from the GOP.

Let’s talk about what we do know about the Republican repeal bill.

With devastating cuts and caps on Medicaid, it will ration care for the 76 million Americans who rely on Medicaid, including seniors with long-term care needs, Americans with disabilities, pregnant women and vulnerable children – virtually ending Medicaid as we know it.

Working families could see their premiums and deductibles increase by hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Seniors will pay an age tax and be forced to pay premiums five times higher than what others pay for health insurance—one reason that AARP came out strongly against the GOP repeal bill yesterday.

The bill also shortens the life of the Medicare Trust Fund, putting the care of 57 million American seniors and people with disabilities at risk.

The Republican repeal bill will institute a cancer tax and Americans with pre-existing conditions will suffer. Insurers will once again be able to charge more or discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions when their coverage lapses for any reason at all.

The Republican repeal bill is a giant transfer of wealth. Taking from hardworking families and giving to the rich. In fact, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the bill would cut taxes for the rich and corporations by about $600 billion. So billionaires will benefit, while Republicans dump huge out-of-pocket costs on working families. Frankly, this is a disgrace.

Americans today have better health coverage and health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The American people do not want to see it repealed, and Democrats will fight Republicans’ efforts to dismantle the health and economic security of millions of hard-working Americans.

I yield back.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Former Middletown Committeeman, Sean Byrnes, Enters Race for LD 13 Senate Seat

March 7, 2017

Former Middletown Committeeman, Prosecutor, Coast Guard Commander Enters Race for Senate

MIDDLETOWN - Today, former Middletown Committeeman Sean F. Byrnes announced his Candidacy for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District. Byrnes served on the Middletown Township Committee from 2008 to 2011. He previously served as a Municipal Prosecutor, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Community YMCA and as a Coast Guard Officer, both on active and reserve duty, including time spent recalled to active duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom and as the Assistant Chief of Staff in New Orleans during the response to Hurricane Katrina. He was also one of the original Board Members of the Parker Family Clinic and currently serves as a Board Member for the Monmouth County SPCA.

Former Middletown Committeeman, Sean F. Byrnes 
Starting with a pledge that his campaign will take no corporate money, Byrnes said his campaign will focus on what he calls the “rigged economy”. “Make no mistake, individuals, consumers, homeowners, and heads of households have all lost ground, because the laws have been rigged over the last 30 years to favor the largest political donors. From bailed out banks refusing mortgage modifications, to banks and cell phone providers charging ridiculous fees, to public institutions charging excessive tolls to cross our bridges or purchase tickets to ride trains and buses, our elected officials have forgotten our citizenry. Our families are under siege.” Byrnes proposes legislation to create re-education and re-training programs within our system of higher education, along with a high-tech research campus in New Brunswick, to arm workers with the skills to compete in the modern economy.

“I have spent the last twenty years defending and advocating for individuals and small businesses, and I understand their needs. I will challenge and upend a system that has provided huge tax advantages to large multi-national corporations while reducing income and wealth for the small business owner and average family.”

Byrnes noted that his likely opponent, Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, is a nice person, but a creature of Trenton. He supported the gas tax and Chris Christie's infamous book deal. Byrnes emphasized that “we cannot allow business to continue as usual. Our State has wasted vast sums of money in the public sector. I will investigate and propose legislation to re-structure the Port Authority, New Jersey Transit, and the Turnpike Authority. Projects like the Xanadu nightmare and a $4 billion dollar subway station make plain that public corruption is alive and well.” Byrnes said, “I believe that these unaccountable agencies, with their enormous budgets must be streamlined and held accountable before we begin the inevitable infrastructure investment that will drive our State forward in the next decade.”

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February 21, 2017 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

On the same night as the most recent Middletown Board of Education meeting there was a meeting of the Middletown Township Committee. Below are the highlights from the February 21st meeting.
  • The Township accepted a $500 donation from the Veterans Affairs Committee to restore the Doughboy statue in Belford.
  • Patrolman Nicholas Manochio and Corporal Ryan Riffert were presented with Stork Awards for delivering a child of a woman on her way to the hospital.
  • Kylie Reid and Shannon McCully were recognized for donating Over $5,500 to purchase bullet proof vests for police K-9s.
  • The Mayor received the Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion Award.
  • The Arts Center and SPUR received the Spinnaker Award.
  • The DPW Director provided a presentation on making $1.7M in improvements while utilizing a Green Acres grant that will provide 25% of the cost.
  • And during public comments there was some public discussion regarding the proposed new municipal center.

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.

BOE Voting Meeting - February 21, 2017

I will admit, I haven't really seen this video of the February 21st meeting of the Middletown Board of Education (BOE) meeting. I've attempted to watch the video a few time over the past week and keep being taken away from it by circumstances beyond my control. I'm several minutes into it and hope to finish it over the weekend and be able to comment if necessary. This was a Voting meeting so there should be a full good details to look out for.

A list of Agendas and Attachments items for this meeting can be found ... HERE


The Two River Times had an article last week announcing the construction of a new Middletown Town Hall complex. The complex has been mentioned a number of times over the past couple of years but the township wasn't ready, willing or able to say much about it publicly.

The devil as they say, is in the details. When reading the article watch for Gerry Scharfenberger's comments, he loves to over exaggerate and use expressions like Wonderful and Fabulous, much like Trump, to make things seem much better than what they are.

Some of us who have regularly attended Township Committee meetings or have watched the video from the meetings,  knew this new complex was being developed and coming, but make no mistake, while this new complex may realistically be needed, it will cost taxpayers a minimum of $10-$15 million even after any outside funding or the selling of township assets realized.

MIDDLETOWN – Penciled into the township’s to-do list in 2017: a complete overhaul to their 1 Kings Highway facility.

On Feb. 10, Middletown Township posted a request for proposal (RFP) on its website, looking for architectural firms to place bids on a possible $20 million complex which would become an overall administrative hub at the township’s main campus.

“We have all these township offices spread all over, and it’s very difficult and inefficient for our residents,” Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger said by phone on Saturday afternoon. “It would be nice to go to one building and take care of a few things in one area.”

Preliminary plans for the project came in on Sept. 12 and Nov. 16 of last year from Arcari + Iovino, PC – an architectural firm that was retained as the Architect of Record by Middletown at the reorganization meeting on Jan. 1, 2017.

The RFP says this project would be an approximately 23,000-square-foot, multistory building in a new spot at 1 Kings Highway that would host all township administrative offices, along with the police department.
Continue Reading

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


(Trenton) — Today, as Chris Christie appeared before the legislature in Trenton to discuss the annual budget, the Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee John Currie slammed him for apparently funding a multi-million dollar drug addiction advertisement campaign featuring the governor with monies meant to feed women and infant children.

“The governor has zero credibility talking about budgetary matters. But it is shocking that he -- quite literally -- has been promoting himself by taking food out of the mouths of women and children. He continues to treat the public treasury as though it exists for him to promote himself, and that's not right. He's cost our state millions already,” said Chairman Currie.

“Most everyone agrees that addiction is a growing concern that must be addressed, but the way to do it is not by secretly skimming funds from programs targeted at New Jersey's most vulnerable families,” Currie added.

Yesterday, a news report exposed the governor for paying for television and radio advertisements in which he is featured with money from the state's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. That program provides low-income families with resources for food and heath care.

Jersey Shore Workcamp Applications Due March 15

From Middletown Public Information:
 February 24, 2017

Teenagers from across the U.S. will come to Monmouth County this summer as part of Jersey Shore Workcamp VIII to repair homes for low income, elderly or disabled residents. Teams of 5 teenagers and at least one adult leader will do the work. The work camp is hosted by St. John's United Methodist Church and Group Cares.

Eligible repairs may include: exterior house painting (vinyl & aluminum siding included), interior home painting, limited roofing (no tear-offs), mobile home roof coating, mobile home skirting, wheelchair ramps, exterior step repair or replacement (no plumbing or electrical work). Both labor & materials will be free to qualifying homeowners. (Must own home--no rentals). Applications will be carefully reviewed to determine qualification. In order to be considered, return applications no later than March 15, 2017. Call Bill or Gail Bechtoldt for more information at 732-671-1036.

Download: Jersey Shore Work Camp Application

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Wrong Way to Rebuild the Democratic Party

An excellent and thought provoking article for Democrats was published this past weekend over at stating how Democrats need to embrace a new vision, that dumps the failed leaders of the past.

"...Ours must be a community created through inclusion. But people will never feel included if progressives embrace the same old losing playbook and elevate the same powerful insiders to positions of privilege. Instead of propaganda, Democrats need to articulate values and vision for America—to spread messages Democrats truly believe in, messages that resonate on an emotional level and speak to people’s real material concerns. If the Democratic Party can’t offer something inspirational that is grounded in the core values of justice, equality and solidarity, we may need to build a party that does...."

 It really is something that Democrats should be thinking about, but I don't think they will. Right now the Democratic elite are still in denial after loosing the election last November, which became evident on Saturday when they chose Tom Perez as the new head of the DNC rather than a more progressive and forward looking leader like Pete Buttigieg.

You can read the full article .... HERE  

Pallone Statement on Bomb Threats at Jewish Institutions

February 27, 2017

Washington, DC - Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) issued the following statement after several Jewish centers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware – including the Katz Jewish Community Center and Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey in Cherry Hill– were evacuated Monday amid a series of bomb threats to Jewish institutions nationwide. Last week, 158 members of Congress, including Congressman Pallone, signed a letter urging federal agencies to take “swift action” to address threats to the Jewish community in recent weeks.

“These threats against our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community are completely unacceptable,” said Pallone. “New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the country and it is imperative that we send a strong message that we will not tolerate this bigotry. I will do everything within my power to ensure that the federal government provides local and state authorities with whatever resources are necessary to investigate and prosecute these hate crimes. There can be no ambiguity from those charged with our nation’s security about the seriousness of these crimes.”