Saturday, January 21, 2017

Pallone on President Trump’s ACA Executive Order




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2017


Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) issued the following statement today after President Trump issued an executive order directing federal agencies to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “to the maximum extent permitted by law:”

“On a day when President Trump painted a very dark picture of our nation, it’s deeply disturbing that he signed an executive order that will lead to even more economic hardship for middle-class families. This order demonstrates President Trump’s determination to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the health care of millions of Americans in anyway he can. This action only encourages Congressional Republicans to move forward with repealing the Affordable Care Act, which would strip health care away from millions of Americans, and increase costs and limit benefits for millions of others. If President Trump really believes the dark picture he described in his Inaugural Address, he should seriously reconsider any actions that will create chaos in our healthcare system and economic uncertainty.”

January 17, 2017 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

Last Monday night's meeting of the Middletown Township Committee was brief, lasting just 30 minutes. Here are the highlights:

  • Mr. Charlie Rogers was recognized for his 50 years of service with the Pt. Monmouth Fire Dept.
  • A salary ordinance for non-contractual employees was adopted, as well as, ordinances introduced to exceed the budget appropriation limits and establish a CAP bank and to provide $3.1M in bonds for capital projects, which would include $1.3M to replaced the bridge at Stevenson Park.
  • Resolutions were adopted to continue the appointments to various boards and commissions and to refinance $23M in bonds from 13 different ordinances over the years.




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.

Thought of the Day



"On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." ~ H.L. Mencken:


Saturday, January 14, 2017

President Obama's Weekly Address 1/14/17: The Honor of Serving You as President



WASHINGTON, DC — This week, President Obama delivered his final weekly address thanking the American people for making him a better President and a better man. Over the past eight years, we have seen the goodness, resilience, and hope of the American people. We’ve seen what’s possible when we come together in the hard, but vital work of self-government – but we can’t take our democracy for granted. Our success as a Nation depends on our participation. It’s up to all of us to be guardians of our democracy, and to embrace the task of continually trying to improve our Nation. Despite our differences, we all share the same title: Citizen. And that is why President Obama looks forward to working by your side, as a citizen, for all of his remaining days.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Russian For Trumpkins

If you voted for Donald trump this past November and consider yourself a "Trumpkin", the Middletown Library is offering a class just for you! Russian for Beginners

That's right, now you too can show your love for Mother Russian and it's leader Vladimir Putin, the same way that our soon to be president Donald Trump does. Only now, you can do it after you learn how to express yourself verbally after learning how to say, "I love you" in Russian, instead of relying on an incoherent, 3 am Twitter tirade.

Classes are for adults only on Thursday nights, so hurry up now and sign up. Your comrades are waiting.





Thursday, January 12, 2017

Election Security Seminar To Be Held At Princeton U

Next week on Thursday, January 19th,  Princeton University will be holding a seminar on Election Security. If this type of thing interests you, you should plan on attending. Rigging election machines is easier than people think.

Here is the flyer with the information:


Pallone Calls inability of FEMA to Resolve Sandy Claims “Unacceptable”






FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2017



Washington, DC - Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator W. Craig Fugate to express disappointment with the continued delays for claim reviews from victims of Superstorm Sandy. Although Superstorm Sandy occurred over four years ago, 36% of Sandy claims still remain open.

"These policyholders have been waiting for years to get their claims resolved, and are eager to move on with their lives,” said Pallone. “I have heard from constituents who began the process with a FEMA contact, only to have that person leave their position, causing the victim to spend weeks or months trying to connect with their new contact. FEMA should be focused on resolving claims, not blaming victims for delays.”

In May, Pallone led a bipartisan letter from members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to Administrator Fugate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting that it take swift action on behalf of those who have suffered from documented, widespread fraud perpetrated by private insurance companies in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The lawmakers asked for an explanation of why it is taking FEMA so long to process the insurance claims of these victims and to detail the steps FEMA is taking to swiftly rectify the situation.

After that letter was sent, Pallone and Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) met with Roy Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to demand that FEMA take swift action to process claims for victims of Hurricane Sandy. At the meeting, Wright stated that FEMA would have the unprocessed claims finished by the end of the summer.

Last year Congressman Pallone introduced the Flood Insurance Reimbursement Standards Transparency (FIRST) Cap Profits Act and he will introduce in the new Congress. The bill would require increased oversight and transparency of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and cap the profits of private companies providing flood insurance at 10%. Pallone’s bill also includes a provision to require that private flood insurance companies cover the legal fees of plaintiffs if the company is found to have committed fraud.

The text of the letter can be found below:


W. Craig Fugate
Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate:

I write to express my disappointment with FEMA’s continued delays for Superstorm Sandy victims, specifically those who had requested third-party claim reviews. It is unacceptable that these victims have to continue to wait because of errors on the part of FEMA. As of December 16, 2016, more than four years after the homes and businesses of victims were destroyed, 36% of Sandy claims remain open. FEMA’s continued slowness in resolving these claims is not acceptable. I respectfully request that you prioritize expediting the Sandy claims review process in your final weeks at FEMA, and that you strongly encourage your successor to work to complete this process as quickly as possible.

Last month, FEMA announced more delays for Sandy Claims policyholders for those opting to request a third-party claim review. According to FEMA, the process is experiencing delays due to policyholders submitting “lengthy and/or unrelated supplemental documentation,” which must then be reviewed by the Adjuster.

The issue of too much documentation could be avoided with clear direction from FEMA as to what documentation is needed to ensure that the claims review process can move forward smoothly. These policyholders have been waiting for years to get their claims resolved, and are eager to move on with their lives. I have heard from constituents who began the process with a FEMA contact, only to have that person leave their position, causing the victim to spend weeks or months trying to get in connect with their new contact. FEMA should be focused on resolving claims, not blaming victims for delays.

When I spoke with Roy Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation, in May 2016, he assured me that the agency was making substantive progress and would have fully processed all claims by the end of the summer. As of FEMA’s status report in mid-December, that target still has not been reached. This is frustratingly slow progress, especially since a claim being “processed” means it has only gone through a desk review. FEMA has to pick up the pace.

The halting progress of the Sandy Review process has become a source of exasperation for many Sandy victims, and I remain committed to pushing for my constituents to receive their due benefits without further unnecessary delay. While I recognize that your time at FEMA is coming to a close, victims of Superstorm Sandy cannot move on while their claims hang in limbo. I call on you to work with your successor to ensure a smooth transmission at FEMA that prioritizes the completion of the Sandy claims review process.

Sincerely,



FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress



GAO Report Confirms Need for Pallone’s Bill on Flood Insurance Transparency




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2017


Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on the compensation paid to Write-Your-Own (WYO) companies that administer the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The report confirms the need for Congressman Pallone’s Flood Insurance Reimbursement Standards Transparency (FIRST) Cap Profits Act, which he introduced last year and will introduce in the new Congress. The bill would require increased oversight and transparency of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and cap the profits of private companies providing flood insurance at 10%.

The report states “FEMA continues to lack the information it needs to incorporate actual flood expense data into its compensation methodology as well as determine how much profit WYO companies make and whether its compensation payments are appropriate.” In July 2016, Pallone led a bipartisan letter asking FEMA to fulfill its legal obligation to provide oversight of the WYOs.

“It is shameful that private insurance companies have profited from Sandy while failing to meet their basic obligations under the NFIP. This reports confirms yet again that FEMA has failed to provide proper oversight of those entities - especially when Congress has already empowered and required the agency to do so,” said Pallone. “FEMA has a responsibility to ensure that policy holders are treated fairly and charged a fair market price for the service they purchase, and it better get to work.”

In May, Pallone led a bipartisan letter from members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to Administrator Fugate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting that it take swift action on behalf of those who have suffered from documented, widespread fraud perpetrated by private insurance companies in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The lawmakers asked for an explanation of why it is taking FEMA so long to process the insurance claims of these victims and to detail the steps FEMA is taking to swiftly rectify the situation.

After that letter was sent, Pallone and Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) met with Roy Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to demand that FEMA take swift action to process claims for victims of Hurricane Sandy.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

JCP&L Public Hearing January 25th



On January 25 there will be a public hearing with JCP&L regarding the 230kV power lines they have proposed installing along the NJ Transit right of way from Red Bank to Aberdeen. The meeting will be held in the Auditorium of High School North at 7pm.

If you are unsure of what this project involves, or the impact it could have on all property owners in Middletown, you should attend. If you are opposed to this project, for any reason, you should attend to show your support in opposing it.

This will be the only public hearing where you can get up and go on the record to tell JCP&L how you feel about this. Opposition to the project is mounting and there will be hearings by the BPU to determine if it is warranted. NJ Transit has not provided JCP&L access to the right of way along the train tracks. They have not denied them access either. if there is enough public support, NJ Transit could deny access to JCP&L and the project will be terminated.



Scharfenberger To Seek 13th Assembly Seat

I'm a little late to the party on this one but I just have to give my thoughts on the matter.

It was reported on the Middletown  Patch (and other places) this past Monday, that Middletown's appointed mayor Gerry Scharfenberger,plans to seek a seat in the NJ State Assembly for District 13 and made his intentions known on his Facebook page.  It was also reported that current Monmouth County Freeholder Serena Dimaso and Fair Haven Councilman Bob Marchese will also be seeking that seat. The three will face off against each other during the June Primary to see who will run against the eventual Democratic nominee.

The Assembly seat that the three are vying for will either be Assemblywoman Amy Handlin's seat or Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon's. Both are seeking the party nomination to succeed retiring Monmouth County Senator Joe Kyrillos, in the NJ State Senate.

I knew that when Joe Kyrillos announced that he wasn't seeking reelection that someone on the Middletown Township Committee would be looking towards Trenton.

 At the time, I personally thought that it would have been Tony Fiore, seeing how he's a co-chair for the Monmouth County Republicans and may have been looking for a venue change. However, I changed that opinion recently when Scharfenberger's buddies on the Township Committee reappointed him mayor during Reorganization day on January 1st.

It's always been the M.O. of the Middletown Republicans to appoint those that are seeking reelection as Mayor or Deputy-Mayor, which would have made either Stephanie Murray or Tony Fiore, the ones to fill those positions. It was in fact Murray this time who was appointed Deputy-Mayor and Scharfenberger who was appointed mayor. I suppose it's more impressive if you give the impression that you are the appointed elected mayor of Middletown, seeking higher office rather than just a sitting Committeeman.

That being said, here is my primary day prediction; Gerry Scharfenberger will bee seeking Amy Handlin's seat in the Assembly. I think both Handlin and Scharfenberger will win their primary campaigns easily. The reason is simple; nearly a third of all registered GOP voters in the 13th District are from Middletown! That's one hell of an advantage for anyone seeking election in the 13th to overcome.








Saturday, January 7, 2017

President Obama's Weekly Address 1/6/17: President Obama’s Farewell Address to the Nation


WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, President Obama discussed his upcoming farewell address to the nation. In 1796, as George Washington set the precedent for a peaceful, democratic transfer of power, he also set a precedent by penning a farewell address to the American people. And over the 220 years since, many American presidents have followed his lead. Next week, the President will return to his hometown of Chicago to say a grateful farewell to the nation. This will mark the first time that a President has returned to his hometown to deliver such a speech. The President has said that the running thread through his career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together, things change for the better. This belief is at the heart of the American experiment in self-government – and it gives purpose to new generations. Through his address, the President will thank his supporters, celebrate the ways we have changed this country for the better these past eight years, and offer his vision on where we all go from here. The President will deliver his farewell address at 9:00 PM EST on Tuesday, January 10, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. To tune in on Tuesday, visit WhiteHouse.gov/live.



BOE Reorganization Meeting - January 4, 2017


This past Wednesday night the Middletown Board of Education(BOE) held it's annual Reorganization meeting. By BOE standards the meeting was relatively short, just 32 minutes.

The real highlight of the meeting was the swearing in of  Board members Lenora Caminiti, John Little, Jr. and Mike Donlon along with the appointments of a new Board president, Danielle Walsh and Board vice-president John Little, Jr.

The meeting ended with the Board breaking for Executive session to discuss pending litigation. The Asbury Park Press reporter, Russ Zimmer attended the meeting and wrote about the meeting. For a little more information you can read about it ... HERE




You can find the Meeting Agendas ...  HERE

NFL Wild Card Weekend Playoffs: Who Will Win?

The NFL playoffs are upon us! If you're a fan of the NFL, this is what you've been waiting for. The final 12 teams left standing, slugging it out until there are just 2 teams left standing. They will meet on February 5th, on a field in Houston for the title of  Super Bowl LI Champion!

This weekend is the Wild Card round of playoff games for 8 NFL teams and Yahoo Sports attempts to answer the question, Who Will Win?

Below are the 4 games that will be played over the course Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, let's see how well Yahoo's experts did figuring out the winners.

Houston Texans vs. Oakland Raiders



Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions



Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers



New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers



Friday, January 6, 2017

APP: Red Bank mayor, aided by ex-con's loan, set to payoff tax debt: Similar Situation Similar Thoughts


Early last month the Asbury Park Press reported that Middletown's Stephanie Murray (newly reappointed Deputy-Mayor), had a federal tax lien of $78,000 placed against her and her home on Wallace Rd. was being included in an upcoming County Sheriff's sale.  At the time, I commented on both which you can find HERE and HERE.

It was (and is) my opinion, that if you're an elected official, regardless of party affiliation, if you can not pay your taxes and have a lien of any kind on your property or other holdings, than you shouldn't be in office. After all, if you can't control your own finances, how can taxpayers trust you controlling their tax dollars? Also, one has to consider the possibility that a sitting politician, who is in dire financial straits, could be susceptible to some kind influence pedaling or bribery by someone who may "just want to help" in return for a favorable town ordinance or planning board outcome.  

Do I need to remind everyone of former Township Mayor Ray O'Grady? Remember, he was arrested when he got snagged by the F.B.I.  in Operation Bid Rid and went to jail for bribery and extortion

At the time, I received a few comments, basically calling me a hypocrite, because if the shoe were on the other foot and it was a Democrat, as opposed to a Republican, I wouldn't be so quick to judge or even point out the issue.

In response to that, I point to the December 29th article in the Asbury Park Press which pointed out that Red Bank's Mayor, Pat Menna, has a similar tax federal tax lien against his home as Stephanie Murray has on hers.

Mayor Menna however seems to be open to addressing the issue and has answered questions about his situation. According to Mayor Menna, his financial problems seems to be from a combination of health problems and business losses. Whereas, no one really knows what the situation is with the Murrays. Stephanie Murray is keeping quite about her financial troubles, insisting it's a private matter.

Having a Federal tax lien against you is a serious issue. If you're an elected official, you have a moral obligation to disclose the information to the residents of the community that voted for you. You can't hide behind a curtain and plead for privacy insisting that there's nothing to see.  

For the record, I will reiterate my position. If an elected official, regardless of office, has financial problems and for whatever reason, cannot pay his or her taxes, then they shouldn't be in office. They should resign or if possibly, be placed on administrative leave until such time as their situation is resolved satisfactorily by authorities. If their situation cannot be resolved in a timely and satisfactorily way and the elected official refuses to step aside or be placed on leave, every attempt should be made by authorities and the taxpayers, to remove them from office.

Here is a snippet from the APP concerning Mayor Menna. I encourage everyone to read it and make up their own mind as to what should or shouldn't be done.
RED BANK - Mayor Pasquale "Pat" Menna said he plans to pay off a $40,000 federal tax lien by year's end, his financial woes eased by a $75,000 loan from a convicted car thief. 
The IRS placed the $40,146 lien on Menna's home in October 2013 after what the mayor described as a "confluence of circumstances," including a significant shift in his law practice and major health issues that cut into his income. 
"It's painful, but it's a reality," Menna said. "I've tried to deal with it quietly." 
Menna is the third official whose federal tax lien has become public in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the Asbury Park Press revealed Middletown Committeewoman Stephanie Murray has a $78,000 tax lien on her home. A week later, news broke that Ocean County GOP chairman George Gilmore was being investigated by the IRS, which placed $1 million in federal liens on his property....
Read more


Bipartisan Members of NJ Delegation Call on Commerce Secretary to Stop Summer Flounder Quota Cuts



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2016


LONG BRANCH, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and a bipartisan group from the New Jersey Congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker asking her to prevent rulemaking that would reduce the summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing from going into effect. The letter asks the Secretary to direct NOAA Fisheries to reexamine its methodologies and conduct a new benchmark summer flounder assessment before making any decision to reduce summer flounder quotas. Under the rule, the summer flounder Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) would be reduced 29% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. The recreational and commercial limits would both be reduced by approximately 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and Congressmen Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Tom MacArthur (NJ-03), joined Pallone in the letter.

Pallone has long been a supporter of fisheries and the economies of coastal communities. Recently Pallone appeared before the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to reiterate his opposition to NOAA’s quota reductions because of the harm they would cause New Jersey coastal communities. Pallone and Senator Booker sent a letter to NOAA Fisheries about its proposal to reduce the ABC recreational and commercial quotas for summer flounder in 2017 and 2018. The New Jersey lawmakers requested that NOAA Fisheries postpone any decision on reducing summer flounder quotas until it conducts a new benchmark summer flounder assessment.

Earlier this year, Congressman Pallone sent a letter to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission calling for fair and less restrictive policies relating to summer flounder. Last year, the Congressman decried NOAA’s final rule on 2016 summer flounder – which also reduced catch limits.


January 5, 2016


The Honorable Penny Pritzker
Secretary
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
Dear Secretary Pritzker:

We write in regards to a final rule recently announced by NOAA Fisheries to significantly reduce the commercial quotas and recreational harvest limits for summer flounder in 2017 and 2018. This rule will have a dramatic impact on coastal communities in New Jersey that rely on the summer flounder fishery, harming the livelihoods of recreational and commercial fishermen. The consequences of allowing this rule to go forward are serious, and we respectfully request that you consider taking emergency action to prevent these quota reductions from going into effect.

As you know, the final rule announced by NOAA Fisheries reduced the summer flounder Acceptable Biological Catch by 29% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. The recreational and commercial limits were reduced by approximately 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018 respectively.

Many of our constituents have raised concerns to us about the science and methodology used by the agency in estimating the summer flounder population to make these determinations.. For example, the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) estimated that Connecticut and New York recreational fishermen greatly exceeded limits on summer flounder in 2016, in part due to an increase in fishing trips in July and August. In order for the MRIP estimate to be accurate, there would need to be a 68% increase in fishing trips for Connecticut in those months, and a 35% increase for New York during July and August 2016, an increase of 400,000 people fishing. However, data from the Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA) shows that the number of fishing trips along the Eastern Seaboard has been declining, with a drop of 8 million fishing trips from 2007 to 2014. Many of our constituents feel that a sharp reversal of this trend is unlikely.

These reductions will harm coastal communities that rely on the recreational and commercial fishing industries along the Jersey Shore. From 2007 to 2014, JCAA has reported that there was a loss of 2 million fishing trips in New Jersey, and 40% of fishing trips in New Jersey are in pursuit of summer flounder. In short, these communities are already struggling, and these reductions will result in lost jobs for fishermen, and hardship for their families. Those working in the tourism and boating industries along the Shore will be adversely impacted as well.

That is why we are respectfully requesting that you consider preventing this rule from going into effect, and directing NOAA Fisheries to reexamine its methodologies and conduct a new benchmark summer flounder assessment before making any decision to reduce summer flounder quotas. New Jersey fishermen and their families should not be made to suffer because a federal agency uses disputed data.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,