Saturday, April 22, 2017

Action Together: Meet Some of the Democratic Candidates

ActionTogetherNJ - Monmouth County
Organizer of Meet Some of the Democratic Candidates

We are Action Together Monmouth County and are a county group within Action Together NJ & Network

We fight for civil liberties, social justice, and environmental protection. We advocate for equality and human rights for all people. We protect those who face discrimination, disenfranchisement, and persecution. We fight for legislation that helps the working class, and supports equal pay and a living wage for all workers. We support and collaborate with existing advocacy groups who share our beliefs. We will fight to elect progressive leaders who share our values. And we will fight against elected officials who don’t.



Hope you can join us to meet some of the democratic candidates.

Introduction by Congressman Frank Pallone

Monmouth County Freeholders:
-- Dr. Margie Donlon and Mayor Brian Wilton, Esq.

NJ State Senate:
--LD 11: Vin Gopal
--LD 12: David Lande, Esq.
--LD 13: Sean Byrnes, Esq.
--LD 30: Amy Sara Cores, Esq.

NJ State Assembly:
--LD12: Gene Davis
--LD13: Mariel DiDato and Tom Giaimo, Esq.
--LD30: Eliot Colon

Register for the April 29 event at https://meetmonmouthcandidates.eventbrite.com/.



Earth Day 2017


We need to take care of the Earth, it's the only planet that we have.





"The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out."

Walt Whitman, "Leaves of Grass," 1855


"There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”

Carl Sagan


“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”

Neil Armstrong 



"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

 ~Native American Proverb

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia


I don't necessarily believe the entire premise of this article but there are many bitter Democrats that do.


(Photo: DonkeyHotey/flickr/cc)


Common Dreams
by Norman Solomon


After Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss nearly six months ago, her most powerful Democratic allies feared losing control of the party. Efforts to lip-synch economic populism while remaining closely tied to Wall Street had led to a catastrophic defeat. In the aftermath, the party’s progressive base—personified by Bernie Sanders—was in position to start flipping over the corporate game board.

Aligned with Clinton, the elites of the Democratic Party needed to change the subject. Clear assessments of the national ticket’s failures were hazardous to the status quo within the party. So were the groundswells of opposition to unfair economic privilege. So were the grassroots pressures for the party to become a genuine force for challenging big banks, Wall Street and overall corporate power.

In short, the Democratic Party’s anti-Bernie establishment needed to reframe the discourse in a hurry. And—in tandem with mass media—it did.

The reframing could be summed up in two words: Blame Russia.

By early winter, the public discourse was going sideways—much to the benefit of party elites. The meme of blaming Russia and Vladimir Putin for the election of Donald Trump effectively functioned to let the Wall Street-friendly leadership of the national Democratic Party off the hook. Meanwhile, serious attempts to focus on the ways that wounds to democracy in the United States have been self-inflicted—whether via the campaign finance system or the purging of minorities from voter rolls or any number of other systemic injustices—were largely set aside.

"Rather than just calling for what’s needed—a truly independent investigation into allegations that the Russian government interfered with the U.S. election—the party line became hyperbolic and unmoored from the available evidence."
Fading from scrutiny was the establishment that continued to dominate the Democratic Party’s superstructure. At the same time, its devotion to economic elites was undiminished. As Bernie told a reporter on the last day of February: “Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.”

Amid great luxury and looming catastrophe, the party’s current hierarchy has invested enormous political capital in depicting Vladimir Putin as an unmitigated arch villain. Relevant history was irrelevant, to be ignored or denied.

With dutiful conformity from most Democrats in Congress, the party elites doubled, tripled and quadrupled down on the emphatic claim that Moscow is the capital of, by any other name, an evil empire. Rather than just calling for what’s needed—a truly independent investigation into allegations that the Russian government interfered with the U.S. election—the party line became hyperbolic and unmoored from the available evidence.

Given their vehement political investment in demonizing Russia’s President Putin, Democratic leaders are oriented to seeing the potential of detente with Russia as counterproductive in terms of their electoral strategy for 2018 and 2020. It’s a calculus that boosts the risks of nuclear annihilation, given the very real dangers of escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow.


Along the way, top party officials seem bent on returning to a kind of pre-Bernie-campaign doldrums. The new chair of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, can't bring himself to say that the power of Wall Street is antithetical to the interests of working people. That reality came to painful light this week during a live appearance on national television.

During a 10-minute joint interview along with Bernie Sanders on Tuesday night, Perez was a font of exactly the kind of trite empty slogans and worn-out platitudes that oiled the engines of the dismal Clinton campaign.

While Sanders was forthright, Perez was evasive. While Sanders talked about systemic injustice, Perez fixated on Trump. While Sanders pointed to a way forward for realistic and far-reaching progressive change, Perez hung onto a rhetorical formula that expressed support for victims of the economic order without acknowledging the existence of victimizers.

"The politically motivated missile attack on Syria showed just how dangerous it is to keep Russia-baiting Trump, giving him political incentive to prove how tough he is on Russia after all."

In an incisive article published by The Nation magazine, Robert Borosage wrote last week: “For all the urgent pleas for unity in the face of Trump, the party establishment has always made it clear that they mean unity under their banner. That’s why they mobilized to keep the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representative Keith Ellison, from becoming head of the DNC. It’s why the knives are still out for Sanders and those who supported him.”

While Bernie is hardly a reliable opponent of U.S. war policies, he is significantly more critical of military intervention than the Democratic Party leaders who often champion it. Borosage noted that the party establishment is locked into militaristic orthodoxies that favor continuing to inflict the kind of disasters that the United States has brought to Iraq, Libya and other countries: “Democrats are in the midst of a major struggle to decide what they stand for and who they represent. Part of that is the debate over a bipartisan interventionist foreign policy that has so abjectly failed.”

For the Democratic Party’s most hawkish wing—dominant from the top down and allied with Clinton’s de facto neocon approach to foreign policy—the U.S. government’s April 6 cruise missile attack on a Syrian airfield was an indication of real leverage for more war. That attack on a close ally of Russia showed that incessant Russia-baiting of Trump can get gratifying military results for the Democratic elites who are undaunted in their advocacy of regime change in Syria and elsewhere.

The politically motivated missile attack on Syria showed just how dangerous it is to keep Russia-baiting Trump, giving him political incentive to prove how tough he is on Russia after all. What’s at stake includes the imperative of preventing a military clash between the world’s two nuclear superpowers. But the corporate hawks at the top of the national Democratic Party have other priorities.


Pallone Announces $13 Million in Grants to NJ to Combat the Opioid Epidemic




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2017


Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced that the Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $12,995,621 in grants to the state of New Jersey to help combat the opioid epidemic. The funding comes from the 21st Century Cures Act, which Pallone played a leading role in advancing through the House of Representatives as the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law in December. More than $485 million in grants were awarded nationwide to combat the epidemic.

“Opioid abuse affects everyone – people of every faith, every ethnicity, every sexual orientation, and every background,” said Pallone. “They are our friends, family, and neighbors. This funding will help our communities to strengthen our defenses against the opioid epidemic that has impacted so many of us. While this is an important step, the fight to combat the opioid epidemic is just beginning and more must be done. I will continue to fight for whatever funds are necessary to assist New Jersey families facing addiction.”

Funding will support a comprehensive array of prevention, treatment, and recovery services depending on the needs of recipients. In New Jersey, more than 184,000 individuals have been admitted to substance abuse treatment facilities for heroin or opioid abuse since 2010 and more than 5,000 have died from heroin-related deaths since 2004.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

VOX: How To Talk To A Conservative About Climate Change


Debbie Dooley, one of the founders of the Tea Party movement and a Donald Trump supporter, has some advice for talking to conservatives about climate change.



Read More at VOX

Happy Tax Day Special Deals and Freebies Await


I hope you're not a procrastinator who waits till the last minute to file your taxes (mine were done back in February), word is you have until midnight to file or seek an extension.  Afterwards, you can take advantage of some great deal and promos being offered.



 Check out Forbes.com for a full list:

  • Bob Evans. This year, guests at Bob Evans Restaurants are also certain to save with a coupon for 30% off their entire purchase on Tuesday, April 18, the official end of tax season. Find coupon for download here: http://www.bobevans.com/taxday
  • Boston Market. On Tuesday, April 18, any guest who dines in-restaurant at Boston Market can purchase a $10.40 Tax Day Meal Special. Offer includes a Half Chicken Individual Meal with 2 sides, cornbread, a regular fountain beverage and a cookie.
  • Chuck E Cheese's. This tax season, families can enjoy a guaranteed return at Chuck E. Cheese's. For every large pizza purchased between April 18 and 20, guests can get one large cheese pizza for free. See more here: https://www.chuckecheese.com/tax-day-offer
  • Firehouse Subs. Firehouse Subs is inviting guests to stop by to receive a Firehouse Subs 2017 Tax Day offer: free medium sub with the purchase of a medium or large sub, chips and a drink (valid April 18 - April 20). To redeem, guests may print or show the offer on their smartphone. Please CLICK HERE to view the full offer.
  • Noodles & Company. From Wednesday, April 12 – Tuesday, April 18, Noodles & Company’s "File Online, Order Online" offer gives those who file their taxes digitally (and those who don’t!) $4 off any $10 purchase placed through order.noodles.com using the code "TAXDAY17" at checkout.
  • Quiznos. To celebrate Tax Day, Quiznos is offering a 10.40 percent deduction off any purchase on April 18 to loyalty members. And, Quiznos Fans who download the Toasty Points loyalty app will receive a free 4-inch sub upon download.
  • Schlotsky's. Schlotzsky’s is helping ease the stress of Tax Day by treating guests to a FREE The Original Sandwich with a purchase of a medium drink and a bag of chips only on April 18. This 'tax break' will allow guests to enjoy the one-of-a-kind sandwich that started it all, featuring 13 fresh, flavorful ingredients served on Schlotzsky’s legendary Fresh-from-Scratch sourdough buns baked in restaurants daily.
  • Sonic Drive-In. You crushed your taxes, now it’s time to crush these Cheeseburgers. Get flavorful, tasty, Half-priced Cheeseburgers All Day Tomorrow, April 18th for Tax Day at SONIC. Single-patty cheeseburgers only. No Limit. Tax not included. Add-ons cost extra. Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer valid Tuesday 04/18/17, at participating SONIC Drive-Ins while supplies last.
TRAVEL
  • Hertz. Tax Day Just Got A Little Less Taxing. Reward yourself with 30% off the base rate of your next rental if you pay now. 2 days only (expires on Tax Day, April 18, 2017). Offer valid for rentals picked up at a participating U.S. Hertz airport location through June 15, 2017. Find out more here.
  • JetBlue. This year, JetBlue is giving customers the chance to win a one-way flight with the first-ever JetBlue Tax Return Return Flight. Here's how it works: (1) Visit JetBlueTaxReturnFlight.com before April 25; (2) Fill out the required fields and let us know if you owe money this year to Uncle Sam. Clicking “yes” will enter you to win a one-way flight; and (3) Wait to see if you win! We will notify you if you’ve won a one-way flight for your next trip on JetBlue.
  • Viceroy Central Park New York. On April 18th, Viceroy Central Park New York (pictured above) will be offering a ONE day only sale of 18% off hotel rooms booked in 2017.
  • Westin New York Grand Central Hotel, NYC. The Westin New York Grand Central Hotel doesn't want guests to "feel taxed" during tax deadline time, so the hotel is throwing in the tax for free with a special promotion that offers a 15% reduction off pre-paid rates through December 31, 2016 when booked now through May 19, 2017. Starting rate is $169. Lodging taxes in NYC are approximately 15%, so the discount covers the tax! In the heart of midtown just steps from majestic Grand Central terminal, the hotel offers complimentary guided Manhattan runs with their Running Concierge, a modern design and signature Westin amenities. The Tax Break offer is valid for weekends (Thursday through Sunday). Use the rate plan TAXBRK when booking online at www.WestinNewYorkGrandCentral.com, just click "Offers".
FAMILY, HOME & OFFICE
  • Office Depot & OfficeMax. Free bulk bin shredding of up to five pounds is available to help taxpayers dispose of private financial information. Visit officedepot.com/shredding to print a coupon for this free bulk bin shredding offer, valid through April 29 and can be redeemed at any Office Depot or OfficeMax stores.
  • Planet Fitness. From Saturday, April 15 – Saturday, April 22, consumers can receive a free HydroMassage at any Planet Fitness location. De-stressers need only bring in a coupon available on PlanetFitness.com (starting April 15) before relaxing their cares away.
  • Taxfyle. Taxfyle, the "done-for-you" tax app has a few last-minute deals available for Tax Day: Use code TaxDay18 for $20 off or 50Deal for $50 off.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pallone Blasts Reported Trump Administration Plans to Expand Offshore Drilling



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2017


Washington, D.C. –Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) issued the following statement today after reports that the Trump administration is planning an executive order seeking an expansion of drilling off the U.S. coastline.

“The Trump administration’s reported plans to expand offshore drilling is just the latest development in its dangerous and reckless anti-environment agenda that threatens the future of our environment and New Jersey’s coast.

“Oil spills don’t respect state borders. The fact remains that opening up the Atlantic Ocean for fossil fuel development is unnecessary, poses a serious threat to our coastal communities, and is the wrong approach. An oil spill anywhere along the Atlantic Coast would cause severe environmental damage to fisheries, popular beaches and wildlife – which is why members of both parties have stood up against proposals to expand coastal drilling.”

Rep. Pallone has been a longtime leader in the fight to protect the Atlantic coast, sponsoring legislation since 2010 to prevent expansions of offshore drilling. Pallone wrote to the Secretary of the Interior in 2010 voicing strong opposition to a plan to enable drilling in the Atlantic. He did this even before the Deepwater Horizon disaster brought offshore drilling to the forefront of the news.

Pallone was a leader in the fight to remove a dangerous provision from the Obama Administration’s 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program that would have authorized new offshore oil and gas leasing along the southern Atlantic coast. And in December, after Pallone led a letter signed by 73 of his colleagues urging a permanent ban to coastal drilling along the Artic and Atlantic coasts, President Obama exercised his authority to do just that – permanently banning offshore drilling in deep water canyons from Virginia to New England, including off the New Jersey coast, and in much of the Arctic Ocean.

April 3, 2017 Middletown Township Committee Meeting


How does a 15 minute open public meeting benefit residents? Answer. It doesn't. If you blinked, you missed it.

Here's what very quickly happened:
  • Ordinances were passed to add regulations to the clothing bin laws, establish senior recreation activity fees, amend the ABEF flood control ordinances and amend the dumping laws.
  • Committee members had no comments to make during discussion items or the Committee comments portion of the meeting.
  • One member of the public spoke about the decrease of water level at Shadow Lake. Someone else from the LVGA announced some of the activities the LVGA were conducting during the Spring Season.


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.


March 29, 2017 MCRP Hearing at Brookdale Community College


The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) conducted this public hearing to obtain evidence in order to make a recommendation to the BPU on whether JCP&L should be allowed to use the NJ Transit right of way to construct a 230kV power line from Aberdeen to Red Bank.

You can read the Asbury Park Press for a quick take on what transpired during the meeting.







BOE Workshop Meeting - March 22, 2017 & BOE Voting Meeting - March 28, 2017


I'll admit, I haven't watched these videos yet but it will.



You can find the Agenda for the meetings HERE and the Minutes to the March 22nd meeting HERE


Friday, March 24, 2017

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




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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
President
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.

Sincerely,


FRANK PALLONE, JR.
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




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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.”

Background

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]