Saturday, June 27, 2015

President Obama's Weekly Address 6/27/15: The Affordable Care Act is Here to Stay

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week's address, the President called the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act a victory for hardworking Americans across the country, whose lives are more secure because of this law. The Affordable Care Act is working, and it is here to stay. So far more than 16 million uninsured Americans have gained coverage. Nearly one in three Americans who was uninsured a few years ago is insured today. The uninsured rate in America is the lowest since we began to keep such records. With this case behind us, the President reaffirmed his commitment to getting more people covered and making health care in America even better and more affordable.

Letter: Say No To Christie Bigotry With Glitter!

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

Dear Editor,

Governor Chris Christie has crossed a final line in his attacks on various groups of people in New Jersey - his various targets have included school teachers, public employees, medical marijuana patients and he is now attacking the United States Supreme Court for supporting the simple right to marriage equality for the LGBT community, after he long blocked gay marriage in New Jersey.

The citizens of our state are truly a rainbow mosaic of diversity and Christie has shown his true colors to New Jersey. He is too extreme for our state and his staff have been criminally indicted for alleged corruption.

I encourage citizens in favor of LGBT equality to mail envelopes filled with glitter in celebration of gay marriage being legalized to: Governor Christie, PO Box 1, Trenton, NJ 08625

New Jersey, Say no to Christie bigotry with glitter!



Eric Hafner
Toms River, New Jersey

NJ Watchdog: Christie vetoes tax hikes as White House run nears




Preparing his run for the White House, Gov. Chris Christie polished his image as a tax-cutter Friday with a billion dollars’ worth of vetoes to the state budget passed by the New Jersey Legislature.

Politically, it was good timing for Christie, who plans to formally announce his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday at Livingston High School, his alma mater.

The governor vetoed a “millionaire’s tax” that would have raised an estimated $688 million, plus a one-year increase in the corporate tax to generate an additional $435 million. The Democratic-controlled Senate and Assembly sought those funds to help restore $1.8 billion Christie had slashed from next year’s annual pension contribution.

“If I had the money today to make the full pension payment, I would,” said Christie, speaking at a news conference. “We don’t – and I’m not going to raise taxes on all the people in New Jersey to benefit 625,000 (pensioners) in a system that’s completely broken.”

Christie also proposed a new tax break for lower-income families, increasing the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to 30 percent of the federal credit. Democrats had approved a raise to 25 percent; the current EITC in New Jersey is 20 percent.

“I hope the legislature will concur quickly,” said the governor. “I want to cut taxes for everyone. The legislature won’t let me cut taxes for everyone, so now we’re going to cut taxes for the working poor in the state.”

At the news conference, Christie refused to discuss his upcoming campaign for president.

“I’m not here to talk about my political future,” he said. “We’ll have plenty of time to talk about my political future next week.”

The story is online at http://watchdog.org/226277/christie-vetoes-tax-increases/

June 15, 2015 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

The Monday night, June 15th meeting of the Middletown Township Committee must have set a new record for it's brevity - from start to finish the meeting lasted less than 24 minutes. If you take out the time that it took to introduce the girls from Middletown South's girl softball team the meeting would have been shorter than the 17 minute Workshop meeting from earlier in the month.

Is this really the best way to inform the public of what goes on in this town? Is it not important to discuss business in public? Evidently so.

Here is a quick meeting summary:

- The Middletown High School South girls’ softball team and their coach were recognized for winning the 2015 NJSIAA Group III State Softball Championship.

- The minutes were adopted for various Township Committee meetings (regular and executive sessions) from January 4, 2015 to March 16, 2015.

- Two ordinances were introduced with public hearings to be held on July 20, 2015: 1) Ord. 2015-3142, proposed amendments to Chapter 16 Planning and Development Regulations to modify the mixed use (B-1A) zone to provide flexibility in residential density maximum thresholds; 2) Ord. 2015-3143, replacing ordinance 2014-3116 and amending/supplementing Section 257-86 of the Township Code. The Committee did not discuss either ordinance at all. Ord. 2015-3143 concerns the crosswalk at the MAC.

- The Committee adopted a consent agenda, including Resolutions 15-178 through 15-189. There was no discussion of Resolution 15-189, for which there was NO mention on the agenda handout at the meeting or the agenda then posted online.

- Bingo and raffle applications and volunteer firefighter applications were approved.

- The Committee adopted Resolution 15-177 authorizing payment of bills for June 15, 2015.

- Committee comments begin at time stamp 13:15.

- There were no public comments.



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.


Free Beach Parties

from Middletown Alerts:

Free! Ideal Beach Party – Friday, July 17th, 5:00 - 8:00pm

Free! Leonardo Beach Party – Friday, August 14th, 5:00pm to 8:00pm

Don’t miss these FREE family events filled with fun and games, music and dancing. A DJ will be on hand to provide the evening’s entertainment. Bring a beach chair or towel. Games, activities and prizes for all children. Watch the beautiful sunset overlooking the Sandy Hook Bay. Ideal Beach is located at Bayside Parkway. Leonardo Beach is located off Beach Avenue.

Middletown Summer Concert Series

from Middletown Alerts:

FREE! Every other Tuesday starting July 14th, 7-9 pm
Middletown Art Center's Northern Lawn

The public is invited to bring their lawn chairs, blankets and refreshments. Alcohol is prohibited. Free parking is on site. In the event of inclement weather, concerts will be moved indoors. Call the MAC at 732-706-4100 or visit www.middletownnj.org for more information. The series is presented by the Middletown Township Cultural and Arts Council and the Middletown Recreation Department

Upcoming Shows:
July 14th: Rave On
July 28th: Goldenseal
August 11th: The Weeklings
August 25th: The Kootz


Friday, June 26, 2015

Quote Of The Day




"There's so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to every American. But today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we've made our union a little more perfect."

-- President Obama, in his remarks on today's Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage

Pallone Statement on Historic Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality





WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) made the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, which protects the right to same-sex marriage nationwide.

“The ruling is a huge victory for equality and our country. The Supreme Court has held what I have long argued and advocated – the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantees of due process and equal protection support marriage equality. I commend the Supreme Court for choosing inclusion rather than discrimination today. An immeasurable amount of time and effort has been dedicated over the years by groups and individuals committed to the basic fairness of marriage equality and proper recognition of its constitutionality. Today’s ruling is a historic culmination of those efforts. The landmark decision reflects what the majority of people in our country believe – all Americans have the freedom to marry whom they love.”

Pallone Statement on Supreme Court Ruling that Maintains Health Insurance Subsidies for New Jerseyans



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2015


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on King v. Burwell that individuals enrolled in health insurance plans through the federal marketplace can continue to receive federal health care subsidies.

“I am pleased, but not at all surprised, that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of preserving subsidies for people who have purchased insurance in both state and federal health insurance marketplaces.

“Ever since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, Republicans in Congress have made it their mission to tear down the law, strip Americans of their health insurance and bring us back to a time when insurance companies could treat people like numbers on a balance sheet. Today’s ruling – which allows 6.4 million Americans, including 172,000 New Jerseyans, to keep subsidies that enable them to afford health insurance – is an important moment of affirmation for our goal of ensuring all Americans have coverage.

“The ACA is working, and the future looks even brighter. It has already helped reduce New Jersey’s adult uninsured rate by over 20% and has brought the national uninsured rate to about 10% – down from over 20% before implementation of the law. After 60 votes to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act and countless taxpayer-funded time wasted on their political effort, I hope that the ruling encourages my Republican colleagues to stop dwelling on the past, and join Democrats in looking towards the future.”

NJ Watchdog: Christie runs for president - and away from pension mess



Fresh from a failure to fix New Jersey’s pension system and its $170 billion deficit, Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to formally announce his run for the White House next week.

But first, Christie is expected to veto parts of a state budget that would restore $1.8 billion he cut from the state’s scheduled pension contribution. The governor is slated to hold a news conference Friday to explain his rejection of budget changes approved Thursday by the Democratic-controlled Senate and Assembly.

Then next Tuesday morning, Christie has a date at his alma mater, Livingston High School, to tell the world why he should be the next president of the United States. That afternoon, he’ll fly to New Hampshire for the ninth time this year to try to convince primary voters that he should be running the country.

Meanwhile, New Jersey’s fiscal dilemma will be in its governor’s rearview mirror as he travels the nation to audition for a new job. And his pledge to fix the state’s pension system is not likely to be repeated in his campaign speeches.

“We will tackle this problem now and we will solve it,” promised Christie during his budget address in February. “That is what real leadership produces for our people.”

“I am committed to working with each and every one of you in good faith to make a promise to the people of this state that we will not push this off...we will not leave it for another day... for another year... for another generation,” said the governor.

Instead, Christie convinced the state Supreme Court that his own pension reform of 2011 was unconstitutional – a decision that legitimized his decisions to strip billions from the pension contributions required by the law.

The full story is online at http://watchdog.org/226135/christie-president-pension-mess/.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Worse than Corzine: Christie's approval ratings hit all-time low


I have to agree with the comment from my friend Shane Derris who posted this comment on his Facebook page:

"Worse than Corzine - What's impressive is that Corzine had these low numbers in the heart of the recession, but CC has more or less inflicted it on himself. CC is just another epic hero trapped by his own hubris."


From NJ.com

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie's job approval rating in the state has hit another record low, according to a new poll released Tuesday, which found he has a lower rating than his Democratic predecessor, Gov. Jon Corzine, had when Christie defeated him in 2009. 
Christie's approval rating dropped to 30 percent, with more than half polled — 55 percent — saying they disprove of the job he's doing, according to the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey. The approval rating is a six-percentage point drop from a similar poll PublicMind conducted in April. 
Corzine left office with 58 percent job disapproval and only a third of voters — 33 percent — who said they approved of his performance, according to PublicMind January 2010 poll. 
The new survey comes as Christie, a Republican, is on the cusp of announcing a 2016 presidential campaign. 
"The good news is that none of his potential presidential opponents have emerged with a decisive lead yet," said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of PublicMind. "The bad news is that he is the governor in a state where a sizeable majority give a thumbs down to his leadership." 
Worse than Corzine" - What's impressive is that Corzine had these low numbers in the heart of the recession, but CC has more or less inflicted it on himself. CC is just another epic hero trapped by his own hubris.
Continue Reading 

Vietnam Veteran Wins Local Phase Of National Writing Competition

For Immediate Release:
6/23/15


Carl Burns
Holmdel, N.J. (June 23, 2015) — Carl Burns, a Vietnam veteran residing in Manalapan, N.J. won first place in the New Jersey Veterans Administration local phase of the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition. His essay, “Hangar Crew,” tells the story of a group of veterans who came together to restore a Bell-UH-1D helicopter (“Huey”), left in a field in New Jersey for 20 years, forgotten by time. The essay has moved on to the national portion of the competition. The winner will be announced at the end of June.

“I wrote this for the guys, it’s not for me,” said Carl. “That’s what makes it so special.”

Carl tells the unlikely story of the restoration of the helicopter, a “hunk of metal with broken windshields and missing parts.” The Huey eventually found a home, mounted and displayed at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Holmdel.

For 14 months, a group of veterans from Vietnam and Afghanistan, along with the occasional visit from grandsons, daughters and others, met each Monday, painstakingly and lovingly restoring the once forgotten piece of machinery that was such an important part of Carl’s life story.

“Once we got the helicopter, we never got a ‘no’ from anyone,” said Carl. “Needed parts magically showed up. No contractor or supplier said no to our requests.”

“Vietnam was full of the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Carl. “This is nothing but the good.”

Carl is no stranger to writing. “Centaurs in Vietnam: Untold Stories of the First Year,” was published in 2008 and is full of tales from Carl’s first year in Vietnam as an air cavalry helicopter pilot and the troop based at Cu Chi.

The Huey became the symbol of U.S. combat forces in Vietnam. In country, more than 12,000 helicopters served alongside our troops. The 7,000 Hueys that served flew 9,713,762 hours. At home, millions watched them fly on nightly news reports. The Huey is an iconic image of the Vietnam Era and a fitting display at the Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center.

The restored Huey was dedicated on May 7, 2014, the helicopter’s 50th birthday. It is a fitting tribute to all who have served our country, as well as a unique and historically important teaching tool for the thousands of students and visitors who experience the Memorial and Museum each year.

Interested in seeing the newly-restored Huey? Visit at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and Museum on the grounds of the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. Free, guided tours of the memorial are offered the first Saturday of each month at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tours are also available by request. Visit www.njvvmf.org for more information.

For a $350 donation, a personal message can be engraved on one of the pavers within the Plaza. Each personal message is a maximum of 3 lines with 14 characters per line. Proceeds from paver sales support programming at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center. For more information, call (732) 335-0033.

About New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Foundation

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

The Foundation operates and manages the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial and the adjacent Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center located at 1 Memorial Lane off Exit 116 (PNC Bank Arts Center) in Holmdel, NJ. The Memorial honors all those who served our country and state during the Vietnam War, especially the 1,563 New Jerseyans who did not return home. It is a powerful and fitting tribute to their sacrifice. The Memorial is open 24 hours, seven days a week. The Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center is the first educational center and museum of its kind in the United States. Dedicated in September 1998, the Museum is devoted solely to gaining an understanding of the conflict in Southeast Asia and the surrounding political strife in America. For hours and directions, visit www.njvvmf.org.


NJ WATCHDOG: Christie challenges court order to release public record

I have little doubt that the Christie administration is one of the most secretive and corrupt gubernatorial administrations in NJ's long history of political corruptness. - MM




Gov. Chris Christie is challenging a court order for his office to release a high-tech media list, assembled at taxpayers’ expense, as a public record.

In a bizarre appeal, Deputy Attorney General Daniel M. Vannella argued the list is a “valuable asset” that would give New Jersey Watchdog an “unfair competitive advantage” over other media outlets. In his brief, Vannella cited a law that allows the state to withhold inside information from contractors who bid on government jobs.

New Jersey Watchdog does not bid on government contracts. It is a non-profit investigative news site that freely shares its content with other news outlets.

Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson ordered the governor’s office to turn over a copy of the list to New Jersey Watchdog by June 12. But instead of complying, the state attorney general filed a last-minute motion on the governor’s behalf, asking Jacobson to reconsider her decision.

Release of the media list “would be an unprecedented release of proprietary press information…that would provide an unfair competitive advantage to plaintiff,” wrote Vannella.

In reality, the list gives Christie a competitive advantage over his rivals and competitors in the political arena. It is an integral cog in a publicly-funded publicity machine that launched him into the national spotlight and towards a probable run for the White House in 2016.

It contains contact information for roughly 2,500 reporters, producers and editors, subdivided into categories, which enables Christie and his staff to selectively target efforts to promote their political ambitions.

The list was created by the governor’s communications staff, which consists of 16 full-time state employees paid $1.36 million in salaries last year.

It has helped the governor score countless national television appearances, not to mention 8,761,511 views on YouTube, 176,955 likes on Facebook and 6,810 tweets to 489,000 followers on Twitter during his first five years in office.

Vannella likened the media list to “trade secrets and proprietary commercial or financial information.” That exclusion in the public records statute was intended to protect confidential information that private businesses are required to share with state regulators.

That argument suggests the governor has a proprietary, or ownership interest in the list. But the governor’s office is not a private business. And while the media list may be a valuable asset for his political future, it is a governmental record, not Christie’s property.

“Gov. Christie should let the sun shine in, acknowledge the judgment of the court, and make this government-prepared information public,” said Prof. Charles Lewis, executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.

“It's the law,” added Lewis, an advocate for transparency in government. “Honestly, he should know better.”

The report is online at http://watchdog.org/225235/christie-challenges-court-order/.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day



A few Father's Day quotes

“Any fool can be a Father, but it takes a real man to be a Daddy!”
- Philip Whitmore Snr

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
- Theodore Hesburgh, Catholic Priest and President Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”
- Jim Valvano

“One night a father overheard his son pray: Dear God, Make me the kind of man my Daddy is. Later that night, the Father prayed, Dear God, Make me the kind of man my son wants me to be.”
- Unknown

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
- Fathers Day Quote by: Mark Twain, “Old Times on the Mississippi” Atlantic Monthly, 1874

“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.”
- Unknown

President Obama's Weekly Address 6/20/15: Creating New Pathways of Opportunity for Americans Like You

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week's address, the President spoke to his priority of growing the economy and opening new avenues of opportunity for hardworking Americans. While the United States has already made economic progress, with more than 12 million new private sector jobs created over the past five years, there’s still more to be done. That’s why the President has continued to press for strong, high-standard trade agreements that are good for American workers and good for American businesses. And it’s why his Administration has partnered with mayors and governors across the country on issues such as minimum wage and paid leave that impact hardworking Americans. The President discussed impactful initiatives like these in his address before the Conference of Mayors on Friday.