Friday, October 21, 2016

Pallone, Army Corps and DEP Announce Beginning of Construction for Phase II of $105 million project for Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction in Port Monmouth

October 20, 2016

Long Branch, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) joined Colonel David A. Caldwell, Commander of the New York District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bob Martin, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection and Middletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, to mark the beginning of construction for Phase II of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project in Port Monmouth.

In July of 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $13,696,687.00 contract to fulfill this second phase of the project. The plans for Phase II include constructing a system of levees, a floodwall, a tide gate, road closure structures, road raising and pump stations The awarded contract is specifically for the construction of the flood wall and a road closure gate east of the existing Keansburg levee. Phase I was successfully completed in June of 2015. This contract is part of the estimated $105 million project to protect Port Monmouth, and is paid for by funds in the Sandy relief package that Pallone worked to secure in 2013.

“All along the Bayshore, flooding has become an increasingly common as severe storms have become more frequent and residential and commercial development has increased,” said Pallone. “That’s why I’m pleased to see this project moving forward with the funds we worked to secure after Sandy. I will continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and DEP to ensure that Phase II is completed on budget and in a timely manner.”

“Today marks an important milestone for this critical project, which will ultimately see floodwalls, levees, a tide gate, road closure structures and pump stations throughout Port Monmouth,” said Bob Martin, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “The Port Monmouth Coastal Storm Risk Reduction project will provide protection to low-lying residential and commercial structures. It marks another key component in the Christie Administration’s plan to bring greater resiliency to coastal and flood-prone areas of the state.”

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, is thrilled to have reached this significant milestone in the groundbreaking of Phase 2 for the Port Monmouth Coastal Strom Risk Reduction Project," said Col. David Caldwell, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District. "We're in the middle of another Hurricane season and though we haven't been directly impacted, I believe the events taking place in other parts of the country re-emphasize the need to continue increasing the resiliency of our towns and communities with robust flood risk reduction projects like those currently underway in Port Monmouth. This brings us one step closer to that goal."

“The start of the Port Monmouth Flood Control Project’s second phase is a welcome sight since it means we’re another step closer to recovery after Superstorm Sandy,” said Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Ph.D.. “Port Monmouth homeowners and businesses will be safer in the future thanks to the flood control measures that are being constructed. The Army Corps of Engineers has been doing a great job and we are looking forward to seeing the project completed.”
The first phase of the project was completed in June of 2015 and involved dune restoration, beach replenishment, groin work, extension of the fishing pier, and construction of protective dunes. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates the project will be completed in its entirety by 2019.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Halloween Safety (1985)

Remember what Halloween was like way back in the 1980's? Here's a vintage Halloween safety video that covered everything from carving pumpkins to avoiding strangers

Saturday, October 15, 2016

President Obama's Weekly Address: Ensuring America Leads the World Into the Next Frontier

In this week’s address, President Obama highlighted the White House Frontiers Conference, where many of America’s leading innovators came together to discuss how we can empower people through science, technology, and innovation to lead our communities, our country, and our world in the future. The President said the advances we’ve made as a nation demonstrate how investing in science and technology can help develop new jobs and industries, and new discoveries that improve lives – and that innovation is in our nation’s DNA. And that’s why the President made the largest single investment in basic research in history; modernized the government’s approach to innovation for the 21st Century; and spurred a clean energy revolution, among many other accomplishments in science and technology. That’s what the President’s leadership has been about – ensuring America is the nation that leads the world into the next frontier. Click here to learn more about the President’s accomplishments in science, technology, and innovation – and click here to learn more about the White House Frontiers Conference.

Democrats Exploring Legal Options; Imploring Voters To Stand Against Intimidation

October 13, 2016

HAZLET – Following a report in the Asbury Park Press that voters throughout Monmouth County are having their Vote By Mail ballots returned, Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal announced that he will be exploring legal options and called on voters throughout the county to refuse to be intimidated by the chaos and confusion being created as a result in advance of Election Day.

“We have run a vigorous Vote By Mail program so that Monmouth County voters without transportation or the ability to vote on November 8th would be able to make their voices heard against candidates Donald Trump, Shaun Golden, Rosemarie Peters, Tom Arnone, Serena DiMaso and their entire team. As the Monmouth County Republican Chair, Shaun Golden has publicly stood in silent support of Trump for months, even as he denigrated veterans and seniors and escalated his racist and misogynistic rhetoric day after day. Now, with just days remaining before Election Day and people across Monmouth County casting their votes, thousands may be disenfranchised.

The inexplicable inability of the County Clerk Christine Hanlon’s office to properly design the Vote By Mail envelopes, even after being informed of the problem as far back as June, has already caused chaos and confusion among voters that will only heighten as we approach Election Day. While we will be exploring all legal options, we are also imploring Monmouth County voters to not be intimidated by this latest development and to immediately inquire into how they can make sure their votes count in this important election.”

Monmouth County Republican Chairman Shaun Golden, previously labeled “a strong leader” by County Clerk Christine Hanlon, is on this year’s ballot for re-election as County Sheriff.

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(Photo from the Monmouth County Republicans Facebook Page where County Clerk Christine Hanlon is at the head of the room helping to run a Municipal Chairs GOP Meeting)

October 4, 2016 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

The Workshop meeting of the Middletown Township Committee was over within 20 minutes of starting. Nothing of major importance was discussed in public. It seems that these meetings are a nuisance for those involved and the sooner they are over with the better.

Below are the highlights:

  • All resolutions were adopted as a consent vote.
  • The Township Employee Manual was updated to reflect changes for pregnancies and personal use of vehicles. 
  • All Committee members thanked the supporters and staff for a successful Middletown Day.
  • A proposal was made by members of the Lincroft Village Green Association (LVGA) to install a sprinkler system at Lincroft Village Park. The proposal included drilling a well, which the LVGA stated to fund.

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.

Pallone Discusses Legislation to Improve Medicare Benefits and Update Enrollment Process at Keansburg Senior Center

October 13, 2016

Displaying image004.jpgLONG BRANCH, NJ – Today at the Bayshore Senior Center in Keansburg, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) outlined his newly introduced Medicare Affordability and Enrollment Act, which would improve Medicare coverage for all seniors and those with disabilities and modernize the enrollment system to help facilitate easier enrollment. The legislation seeks to make several key improvements to Medicare by establishing a maximum out-of-pocket spending cap for traditional Medicare, expanding access to premium and out-of-pocket payment assistance for low-income beneficiaries, and updating and improving the current Medicare enrollment process.

“As a growing number of Americans begin to enroll in Medicare, we have to make sure the program continues to meet their needs and provides affordable, high-quality health coverage,” said Pallone. “This bill would help simplify Medicare for seniors, make coverage more affordable for more Americans, and enable individuals with disabilities to obtain their coverage without a waiting period. This bill reaffirms our commitment to ensure the program works for all Americans who paid into it.”

The bill would:

· Set a maximum out-of-pocket cap of $5,500 for medical services under traditional Medicare, which exists today for Medicare Advantage and most commercial insurance plans;
· Significantly expand the number of low-income beneficiaries eligible for financial assistance to cover premiums and out-of-pocket costs;
· Reduce cost-sharing for “near-poor” beneficiaries who are not eligible for any assistance today;
· Eliminate the arbitrary two-year waiting period for people with disabilities to enroll in Medicare;
· Modernize the Medicare enrollment system to facilitate easier enrollment, allow people to begin coverage earlier and reduce arbitrary late-enrollment penalties that today are paid for over a lifetime;
· Extend cost-sharing assistance for Part D enrollees for their prescription drugs in Puerto Rico, which is currently offered to all other eligible Medicare beneficiaries; and,
· Increase and extend permanent funding for low-income Medicare beneficiary outreach and education activities.

The bill has been endorsed by the following organizations: National Coalition on Aging, Medicare Rights Center, The Arc, AFSCME, Justice in Aging, Dialysis Patient Citizens, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Families USA, and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care.

Pallone Unveils Legislation to Protect Student Loan Borrowers

October 12, 2016

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ– Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced his introduction of the Student Borrower Higher Education Lending Protection (“HELP”) Act, new legislation to protect student borrowers and co-signers from egregious debt collection practices. The legislation will address lending practices by the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), including its refusal to allow loan forgiveness to a mother whose son died and a borrower who battled cancer and became unemployed after graduating from college. Congressman Pallone discussed the legislation with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senator Sandra Cunningham and students at Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ. Sweeney and Cunningham are working in Trenton to advance legislation that would also protect New Jersey students from abusive lending practices and make college more affordable and accessible.

The bill amends the Truth in Lending Act with three main provisions for private lenders, including HESSA. The provisions include:

  • Requiring total loan forgiveness for any student borrower who is subsequently determined to have a permanent disability or any family member who is a cosigner of a loan taken out by a student borrower who dies.
  • Deferment of loan payments (without any financial penalty) for borrowers with a temporary disability.
  • Requiring private lenders to disclose the default rates in their student loan portfolio on loan documents so borrowers are aware before signing any documents of the financial risk of entering into a contract with that lender.

“To succeed in the 21st century economy young Americans needs to have access to higher education,” said Pallone. “However, too many New Jersey families face daunting student loan bills and financial institutions unwilling to provide flexibility for those facing hardships. The least we can do is protect those families that are put in extraordinarily difficult situations and protect them from harassment from debt collectors.”

“College affordability is a shared priority that Congressman Pallone is fighting for in Washington as we fight for it in Trenton,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, who recently introduced a comprehensive, nine-part package of bills to help make higher education more affordable and more accessible. “Helping to reduce and control student debt is an important part of the effort. Students should be treated fairly when they take out loans and they should be treated fairly in managing their debt and making payments. I applaud Congressman Pallone for advocacy for the HELP Act. It provides consumer protections for college students and their families so they can afford a degree and can manage their loans. We can’t open the door of college opportunity for students only to slam it shut with the burden of debt. We must keep higher education available and affordable for all students.”

In August, Congressman Pallone solicited opinions from students at Rutgers University on their experiences with student loans and what they would do to assist New Jersey families facing $31 billion in student loan debt. Congressman Pallone is already the cosponsor of HR 1434, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow undergraduate borrowers repaying private or public student loans to refinance those loans at an interest rate of 3.86 percent.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


October 11, 2016

HAZLET – Following today’s front page investigative report from the Asbury Park Press exposing the fact that Monmouth County Freeholder Serena DiMaso has been in violation of receiving family health coverage at the expense of Monmouth County residents, Sue Fulton today called on DiMaso to immediately reimburse county taxpayers. Fulton is a candidate for freeholder who has twenty years experience managing at Fortune 100 companies.

Freeholder Serena DiMaso
“Today’s investigative report exposes exactly what is wrong with our government in Monmouth County,” said Fulton. “Serena DiMaso has worked the system to all of our detriment, giving taxpayers the bill for her family health coverage in clear violation of the law. Freeholder DiMaso owes Monmouth County taxpayers a proper explanation for why she betrayed the public’s trust and forced us all to pay for her family health coverage and she should immediately pay back every dime.”

According to the APP, DiMaso paid for COBRA, the federal system offered to former full-time county employees in which they pay monthly in order to keep their health benefits for up to 18 months after leaving their jobs. DiMaso was operating in violation of a years old resolution stating that county freeholders cannot receive health benefits. Also according to the APP, on January 21st of this year the Monmouth County freeholders unanimously passed a resolution that extended health benefits to part-time employees who work 30 hours a week, even though that threshold has been in place since 2008. The resolution from this year, which DiMaso voted on, also removed the restriction on the freeholder’s ability to receive coverage.

“Freeholder Dimaso is not a full-time employee, she should not have been receiving COBRA through the county, and she certainly should not have voted on a resolution that could only serve to try and justify her actions in advance of her campaign for re-election,” said Fulton. “Serena DiMaso’s actions would have swift consequences in the private sector, I can’t imagine why her position in the service of county taxpayers should be any different.”

Monday, October 10, 2016

LVGA's Candidates Night Oct. 18th


Monmouth County Democrats Endorse Middletown's Phil Murphy For Governor

For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2016

HAZLET - Today, Over 120 Monmouth County Democratic Party Leaders, Mayors & Councilmembers have formally endorsed Former Ambassador and Middletown Resident Phil Murphy for Governor in 2017

Phil Murphy
"Upon consultation with State Democratic Committee Chairman John Currie and our mayors and municipal leaders, we are proud to endorse and give our full support to Monmouth County's own, Phil Murphy, for the 2017 Democratic Nomination for Governor. Since starting his campaign a few months ago, he won over person after person through his progressive ideals and affable personality. He will make an outstanding Democratic Nominee and I look forward to working very hard to see that he is elected Governor of the State of New Jersey in November of 2017," stated Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal

"This is a great day for Monmouth County. Phil Murphy is progressive visionary and he will make a great governor for New Jersey. So many volunteers and supporters helped to get us to this position today," stated Monmouth County Murphy for Governor Coordinator Mike Beson

“Phil is more than just a constituent of mine, but a true leader in our community and a good friend, and I am happy to give him my endorsement,” said Pallone. “I know he shares my commitment to growing clean energy alternatives and protecting our environment, ensuring access to quality health care for all residents, and focusing on rebuilding our infrastructure and economy. He doesn’t shy away from challenges or accept the easy way out, and our next governor must be someone who will serve honestly and with an eye to what is best for the next generation. That’s why Phil has my support," stated U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.

“After much discussion with Phil, I’m confident that his vision for New Jersey will provide even more opportunity for us to further the cost saving and job creating measures we have undertaken locally over the past years. Taxpayers in Marlboro, and across the state, will benefit from the fresh new perspective and strong, inclusive, leadership Phil Murphy will bring to the Governor’s Office and I look forward to working with him as our next governor," stated Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik

"We are proud to support Monmouth County's own Phil Murphy for Governor in 2017. It is clear that new leadership is needed after eight years of Chris Christie mismanagement of the state's finances and budget and we are excited to work hard to elect Ambassador Murphy as the next Governor. He has the skillsets we need to move New Jersey forward," stated Assemblymembers Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey

Below is a full list of the 120 leaders who are endorsing today...

Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal
Monmouth County Democratic Vice-Chairwoman Mary Foster
Monmouth County Democrats Treasurer David Brown

United States Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch)
State Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune)
State Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Freehold Township)
Former Monmouth County Freeholder John D'Amico
Former Monmouth County Freeholder Amy Mallet
Former Monmouth County Surrogate Patricia Bennett

Unanimous Endorsement from the Middletown Democrats - Ambassador Murphy's Hometown
Don Watson - Middletown Democratic Chairman
Roxanne Judice - Secretary
Mary Foster - Corresponding Secretary
Mary Jo Fabiano - Candidate & Executive Committee member
Ralph Borgess - Candidate & Executive Committee member
Mike Morris - Executive Committee member
Marilyn Maguire - Executive Committee member
Paul Jansen - Executive Committee member
Mike DiCicco - Campaign Treasurer

2016 County-Wide Candidates
Jeff Cantor, Vincent Solomeno, Matt Doherty & Sue Fulton

Aberdeen Mayor Fred Tagliarini
Asbury Park Mayor John Moor
Atlantic Highlands Mayor Randi LeGrice
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty
Lake Como Mayor Brian Wilton
Loch Arbour Mayor Paul Fernicola
Manasquan Mayor Ed Donovan
Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik
Matawan Mayor Joe Altomonte
Neptune Mayor Kevin McMillan
Ocean Twp. Mayor Chris Siciliano
Oceanport Mayor Jay Coffey
Red Bank Mayor Pat Menna
Roosevelt Mayor Jeff Ellentuck
Spring Lake Heights Mayor Tom O'Brien

Aberdeen Councilman Robert Swindle
Aberdeen Councilman Arthur Hirsch
Aberdeen Councilman Joseph Martucci
Aberdeen Councilwoman Margaret Montone
Aberdeen Councilman Greg Cannon
Aberdeen Councilwoman Connie Kelly
Allentown Council President William Borkowski
Allentown Councilman Rob Schmidt
Asbury Park Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton
Atlantic Highlands Council President Roy Dellosso
Atlantic Highlands Councilman Chuck Lero
Belmar Councilwoman Janis Blackburn
Belmar Council President Brian McGovern
Belmar Councilwoman Jennifer Nicolay
Belmar Councilman Tom Brennan
Fair Haven Councilman Aimee Humphries
Freehold Borough Councilman Kevin Kane
Freehold Borough Councilman George Schnurr
Hazlet Township Committeeman James DiNardo
Hazlet Township Committeewoman Barbara Ronchetti
Keyport Councilman Matt Goode
Keyport Council President Joe Sheridan
Keyport Councilwoman Sophia Lamberson
Keyport Councilman Isaiah Cooper
Lake Como Councilman Michael Noonan
Lake Como Councilwoman Hawley Scull
Lake Como Councilman Doug Witte
Manalapan Township Committeeman David Kane
Manasquan Councilman Michael Mangan
Matawan Councilman Mike Vergaretti
Matawan Councilman Nick Reeve
Marlboro Councilman Jeff Cantor
Marlboro Councilwoman Carol Mazola
Marlboro Councilman Scott Metzger
Marlboro Councilwoman Randi Marder
Marlboro Councilman Mike Scalea
Neptune Deputy Mayor Dr. Michael Brantley
Neptune Township Committeeman Nick Williams
Neptune Township Committeewoman Carol Rizzo
Neptune Township Committeeman Robert Lane
Ocean Township Deputy Mayor William Garofalo
Red Bank Councilwoman Kathy Horgan
Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich
Roosevelt Councilwoman Peggy Malkin
Sea Bright Councilman Marc Leckstein
Sea Bright Councilman Charles Rooney
Shrewsbury Township Committeeman Ed Nolan
Spring Lake Heights Councilman Art Herner
Spring Lake Heights Councilman Tom Vorbach
Union Beach Councilman Tim Perrella
Union Beach Councilman Jeff Williams

Aberdeen Democratic Chairman Greg Cannon
Allentown Democratic Co-Chairs Alice Lloyd and Rob Schmidt
Asbury Park Democratic Chair Joe Grillo
Atlantic Highlands Democratic Chairman Chair Regina Hawley-Keelen
Avon-By-The-Seat Democratic Chairwoman Patricia Sheehan
Belmar Democratic Chairwoman Claire Deicke
Brielle Democratic Chairman John Pirnat
Bradley Beach Democratic Chair Steve Lozowick
Eatontown Democratic Chairman Bill Robinson
Farmingdale Democratic Chair Beau Byrtus
Freehold Borough Democratic Chair Kevin Kane
Freehold Township Democratic Chair Haven Franklin
Hazlet Democratic Chair Audrey Tyler
Highlands Democratic Chair Chris Francy
Holmdel Democratic Chair Larry Luttrell
Howell Democratic Chairman John McCabe
Interlaken Democratic Chairman Bob Napoli
Keyport Democratic Chairwoman Joy Johnson
Loch Arbour Democratic Chairman Paul Fernicola
Manalapan Democratic Chairman David Kane
Manasquan Democratic Chairman Michael Mangan
Marlboro Democratic Chair Lynn Franco
Matawan Democratic Chair Joe Altomonte
Middletown Democratic Chairman Don Watson
Neptune Township Democratic Chairman Jim Mowczan
Ocean Township Democratic Chairman Don Yacavone
Oceanport Democratic Chairman Mike Sikand
Red Bank Democratic Chairman Ed Zipprich
Roosevelt Democratic Chairwoman Peggy Malkin
Rumson Democratic Chairman Michael Steinhorn
Sea Girt Democratic Chair Altha Morton
Sea Bright Democratic Chairman Marc Leckstein
Shrewsbury Borough Democratic Chairwoman Norma Rosenbloom
Shrewsbury Township Democratic Chairman Ed Nolan
Spring Lake Heights Democratic Chairwoman Eileen Eilenberger
Tinton Falls Democratic Chairman Sam Loffredo
Union Beach Democratic Chairmann Ken Connors
Wall Township Democratic Chairman Eric Brophy

Reps. Pascrell, Pallone Call for State Action on Mismanagement of Superstorm Sandy Funds

October 7, 2016

Congressmen who called for audit showing mismanagement request State action to protect residents

MOONACHIE, N.J. – Today, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06) hosted a press conference in Moonachie, NJ calling on the State to respond to the findings of improper management, oversight, and disbursement of federal recovery dollars to Hammerman & Gainer Inc. in a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Inspector General OIG audit. The Congressmen also sent a letter calling on Governor Chris Christie to proactively address the documentation issues the HUD Office of Inspector General notes in its audit; ensure Hammerman & Gainer is held accountable for every dollar it improperly spent; and implement oversight programs to adequately administer future disaster fund contracts.

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"We want answers for the folks who were left without homes," said Pallone and Pascrell. "We want answers because this federal funding was spent improperly. We want answers and we want action to ensure this doesn't happen again when the next storm hits New Jersey."

In January 2014, Reps. Pascrell and Pallone wrote a letter to HUD requesting they investigate the State’s contract with Hammerman & Gainer. The HUD Office of Inspector General conducted the audit because the contract involved a significant amount of funds, was critical to the implementation of three of the State’s disaster programs, and was terminated less than one year into the three-year contract. The audit concluded that New Jersey did not use federally accepted controls, overspent on real estate and labor, and dozens of expenditures were submitted without receipts or not authorized by compliance officers.

The HUD Office of Inspector General audit is available here.

Today’s letter can be found below:

Dear Governor Christie,

As you know, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report this week after investigating the State of New Jersey's contract with Hammerman & Gainer Inc. (HGI) to distribute Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds after Hurricane Sandy. In light of the revelations and recommendations included in the report, we are writing to express our strong concerns with the State’s oversight of this contract. Additionally, we urge you to fully account for CDBG-DR funds spent by HGI and ensure that HGI pays back any funds that HUD determines must be returned. New Jersey taxpayers should not be on the hook to repay federal funds because of HGI’s mismanagement or your Administration’s inadequate oversight.

As you know, Hurricane Sandy housing recovery programs are funded with federal CDBG-DR dollars provided through the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which became law on January 29, 2013. These funds were to be spent on expenses related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization in the most impacted and distressed storm-affected areas. However, throughout the Sandy recovery process, there have been numerous complaints of a lack of transparency in the selection criteria and distribution process of certain CDBG-DR funded programs in New Jersey.

In January 2014 we wrote a letter to HUD because we were concerned about this lack of transparency and accountability. More specifically, we requested that HUD investigate the manner in which New Jersey’s contract with HGI, the firm handling the largest Sandy recovery program, was terminated.

The HUD OIG report resulting from this request concluded that New Jersey did not disburse disaster funds to HGI in accordance with HUD and other federal requirements. Specifically, the report notes that your Administration “did not ensure that (1) disbursements met a national objective, (2) expenses were incurred after the contract was executed, (3) other direct costs were fully supported and the prices paid were fair and reasonable, (4) labor costs were fully supported, (5) travel costs were fully supported, and (6) disbursements were for costs that were reasonable and necessary.” The report highlights this happened because New Jersey “did not have adequate controls in place to administer its contract and monitor contract performance and was not fully aware of Federal procurement and cost principle requirements.”

As a result, we urge you to proactively provide HUD with the proper documentation necessary to demonstrate that the federal dollars paid to HGI were eligible, supported, reasonable, and necessary. Further, we urge you to ensure HGI is held accountable for any improper funds it was paid, not New Jersey taxpayers. Finally, we urge you to put in place adequate controls to administer future disaster recovery funds so New Jerseyans can swiftly receive the support they need to put their lives back together after an extreme weather event.

We fought hard to ensure that New Jersey got its fair share of federal disaster recovery dollars after Sandy, which is why it is disappointing that the State did not do all it could have to ensure these funds were spent in compliance with federal requirements. The New Jerseyans who struggled to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy deserved better. Thank you for your attention to this request, and we look forward to your response.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Lawrence Twp. Council and Board of Ed. charged with OPMA & OPRA violations

For immediate release
October 5, 2016

Lawrence Township Board of Education and Municipal Council have both been taken to court for allegedly running afoul of the state's open public meetings and records laws.

Filed this September in Mercer County Superior Court as separate actions (docket numbers MER-L-1831-16 and MER-L-1832-16, respectively), the lawsuits are the latest two brought by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) to improve governmental compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

The initial hearing in both cases is scheduled for November 29, 2016, at 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM, respectively, before Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Trenton. The hearings will address OPRA counts, with OPMA counts heard at a later date.

NJFOG began to file lawsuits against public agencies in 2014 for what the organization views as significant violations of the OPMA and OPRA laws. The two new cases follow NJFOG's successful OPMA/OPRA lawsuit against the Trenton Board of Education in Mercer County in 2015 and will be heard by the same judge who presided over the Trenton case.

"We are following up now by reviewing other Mercer County agencies in the wake of the Trenton School Board decision, which should have put other offices in the county on alert," said NJFOG president John Schmidt.

Both Lawrence Township entities were sent warning letters two years ago explaining the deficiencies, but NJFOG’s more recent review of their practices showed ongoing non-compliance with the OPMA and OPRA statutes.

"Ideally, public bodies would self-correct their own behavior when they learn that a neighboring town has been taken to court. That's the ripple effect we're looking for," added John Paff, NJFOG treasurer as well as chairman of the organization's Affirmative Litigation Committee.

NJFOG is represented by attorney Anthony H. Ogozalek, Jr. of Cinnaminson.


The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) is the only non-profit organization in the state dedicated solely to improving public access to governmental records and meetings. We work to educate the public about the Open Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act as well as increase governmental compliance, transparency, and accountability.

BOE Voting Meeting - September 27, 2016

I haven't had the time to review this latest video of the Middletown Board of Education's September 27th meeting as of yet. The video is nearly 2 1/2 hours long and I just haven't had time to look at it without interruption. If there is anything to truly comment on, I'll do so later after viewing the complete video.

Here is the link to the Meeting Agenda

For a list of attachments to the Meeting Agenda click HERE

I'm Voting Against Christie's Gas Tax Increase Here's Why


New Jersey needs to increase the gas tax to fund road and bridge repairs and infrastructure improvements, but the 23 cent a gallon increase coupled with a $600 mil. tax cut for our wealthiest residents is not the way to do it.

Also, the cost of transportation work in New Jersey is many time more costly than all other states.

Here's what must be done:

1. No tax cut for the wealthiest NJ residents.

2. Reforms to cut costs of construction and to include citizen oversight of spending of government agencies like the Port Authority and NJTransit.

3. Phase in gas tax increases over three years so motorists aren't hit with sticker shock and reforms to cut costs and include citizen oversight are enacted.

We need to fund road and bridge repairs and improvements but their's a wrong way and a right way. The current proposal is the wrong way.

Click Here To Read More

Pallone Highlights Importance of Living Wills at JFK Medical Center in Edison

October 5, 2016

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ– Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) discussed the importance of developing a living will at JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ. Pallone was joined by medical professionals and patients during the discussion, which was one of the monthly discussions held on important topics by JFK. Pallone took the opportunity to complete his own living will, highlighting the importance for all Americans, not just those immediately facing end of life care, to develop their own living will.

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“I want to thank JFK for its work to educate its patients about the importance of a living will,” said Pallone. “By preparing my living will, I was able to begin a conversation about what would be best for my family and me in difficult times. My hope is that New Jerseyans will consider completing their own living will and ensure that their wishes are known during end of life care.”

A living will is a written, legal document that clearly states what types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures a patient does and does not want. They can include being placed on a ventilator (a machine that breathes for you), tube feeding, surgery, etc.

Living wills allow individuals to make their own choices about life support and helps prevent confusion about the type of care the patient does or does not want to receive in the event they are incapable of communicating their wishes. Without a living will, one’s family members and doctors will make these health care decisions.

Both medical and legal experts recommend preparing a living will, however currently only 30% of Americans have done so.