Monday, August 29, 2016

How To Cut The Cost Of Infrastructure Construction In NJ




New Jersey's cost of road and bridge construction is the highest in the nation by far. It doesn't have to be.

Forty states use design build bidding which uses the competitive process to design the most efficient construction -reducing construction costs and overhead. New Jersey does not.

On multi-contractor, multi-agency construction, like the Rt. 35 project which cost taxpayers $25 mil for a contractor doing no work for months, a construction project manager could have avoided the work stoppage that kept a contractor idle because of a lack of communication among state and local officials.

Inexplicably Governor Christie suspended Phase II of a contract with Rutgers to recommend measures to cut the cost of infrastructure construction. The cost of Phase II was $60,000.

"Phase II of this study will conduct an analysis of toll road authority expenditures and produce a detailed case study analysis of various NJDOT and toll authority roadway and bridge projects to understand cost efficiency variation more completely."


NEWS RELEASE


Rutgers study estimates cost to build and maintain NJDOT roads

(Trenton) - New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials today announced the release of a new study conducted by Rutgers University's Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center that determined the average cost to plan, construct, operate, and maintain one mile of roadway under NJDOT jurisdiction is $183,757.

The study is part of a two phase effort to provide an understanding of aggregate costs associated with NJDOT roadways and bridges. Rutgers will conduct additional research to understand more completely the factors that influence cost efficiency.

“The New Jersey Department of Transportation is committed to providing a modern, safe, and reliable transportation system throughout the State in the most effective manner possible,” NJDOT Acting Commissioner Richard T. Hammer said. “The study is part of an on-going effort to identify those factors that drive costs in New Jersey’s public transportation sector.” 

Click Here To Read More




The Swearing Robot

If this video doesn't put a smile on your face, nothing will.

(Video from the Facebook page Fun Vids)



Sunday, August 28, 2016

President Obama's Weekly Address 8/27/16: Taking Action Against the Zika Virus

WASHINGTON, DC — This week, President Obama called on Republicans in Congress to take action and vote to fund the Administration’s response to the Zika virus. In February, the President asked Congress to fund emergency resources, including mosquito control, fast-tracking diagnostics tests and vaccines, tracking the spread of the virus, and monitoring women and babies with Zika. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have failed to take action on this issue. So the President continues to direct his Administration do what it can without help from Congress, with the primary focus of protecting pregnant women and families planning to have children. Today, the CDC continues to work with state public health officials and has an emergency response team on the ground in South Florida, agencies have moved to expedite the development of a vaccine, and the administration is working with the private sector to develop more options to test and prevent infection. The President reiterated this is about more than politics and Republicans should make this their top priority when they return from their summer recess.

Pallone Announces Legislation to Repair School Water Fountains Containing Lead





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2016


NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ– Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ 06), Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced new legislation to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide assistance to schools to replace older drinking water fountains that may contain lead. The bill H.R.5886, coauthored with Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL), would establish a grant program to provide assistance to local educational agencies for the replacement of drinking water fountains manufactured prior to 1988. Pallone made the announcement at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in New Brunswick. Dozens of New Jersey schools, including those in New Brunswick have reported lead levels over the federal action level this year.

“Lead in school drinking water is an immediate and serious threat for children in cities across New Jersey and this nation,” said Pallone. “This important bill could quickly eliminate a main source of lead in schools, protecting countless schoolchildren. With another school year approaching, we need to take action on these issues as soon as possible.”

The proposed bill would authorize $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021 to help replace older fountains and also to supplement the costs of monitoring and reporting lead levels in the drinking water of schools of a local educational agency receiving such funds, as determined appropriate by the Administrator.

Attendees at the event voicing support for the legislation were Nina Arce, Communication Coordinator for the Housing and Community Development Network; Dena Mottola Jaborska, Associate Director of New Jersey Citizen Action; and Elyse Pivnik of the Director of Environmental Health, Isles.

Congressman Pallone has been a leader in calling for action to improve our water infrastructure and remove lead from our drinking water. In February, Pallone introduced the AQUA Act, which significantly increases water infrastructure funding authorization levels so local communities can repair and replace their aging water systems to ensure residents have access to clean and safe drinking water.

Earlier this year, Pallone led his colleagues in sending a letter to Cathleen Bennett, Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDH), asking for more information on the federal funding the state receives to help detect dangerous levels of lead in communities. Pallone asked for information on exactly how these funds are used and if additional resources are needed to combat this serious public health challenge. The Christie administration has not responded to the letter.

Pallone also sent letters to the New Jersey Department of Health and New Jersey Department of Human Services raising questions about the management of a program to provide lead poisoning screenings for pregnant women, children, and uninsured adults in counties impacted by Hurricane Sandy. New Jersey earmarked $11.7 million of funding for increasing access to blood lead screening and case management to address “new environmental hazards in New Jersey Homes” created by Hurricane Sandy. Yet, it appears that the state has only tested a fraction of the 220,000 individuals that it planned to screen annually for lead poisoning. The Christie administration has not responded to the letters.



Monday, August 22, 2016

BOE Special Voting Meeting - August 17, 2016: Selection of Middletown BOE Member Was a Farce

There was a special voting meeting of the Middletown Board of Education (BOE) last Wednesday night, where the order of business was to select a new member of the board, to fill the unexpired term of Board member Helene Henkel. Henkel stepped down from the board for personal reasons last month. Out of a dozen candidates to fill the position, ten of which were present to be interviewed, the BOE settled on Andy Nicholes. Nicholes, some may recall, ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat on the BOE. He teamed up with Board President Jim Cody, but came in 5th (there were 3 seats available). Nicholes’s selection raised a few eyebrows Wednesday night.

There are some, myself included, that believe Andy Nicoles had be given the interview questions prior to the selection process, to ensure that he’d have an upper hand during the interview for Henkel’s seat.

Three questions were asked of each candidate; what do you think your role as a Board member is? What do you think you can contribute as a Board member? And, what do you think is the biggest problem with the Middletown school system?

Each candidate was given an opportunity at an opening statement or comment to introduce themselves to the board members, followed by each candidate being asked the same 3 questions by Board President Jim Cody. There were no probing or follow-up questions to any of the candidates answers from any the board members present; I found out afterwards, follow-up or others questions from sitting board members were not allowed by Cody and that each interview had a 10 minute (or less) time limit.

As the interviews progressed throughout the meeting, it was pretty obvious that Andy Nicholes, who had the opportunity to be interviewed 3rd, had been given the questions early. Unlike those that went before or after, Nicholes had an extensive and well prepared opening statement, that he had taken out of a folder and read as if a script. The answers to his first two questions were pre-prepared and also read (with apparent bullet points) from a piece of paper. Only his last answer, which seemed well thought out, appeared to be off the cuff. Watch the video below, Nicholes questioning begins at the 11:54 mark and finishes at 17:29.

No other candidate was as prepared for the process like Nicholes was. Sure, as the night’s proceedings progressed, the answers from the others being interviewed became more thought out and detailed. I attribute that however, to the fact that the same 3 questions were being asked and they had time to take in what was being said by others to formulate their ideas and give some very good answers.

In my opinion, those that stood out during the selection process and should have been given better preference over Nicholes were in no particular order, Robin Stella, who was the first to be interviewed, John Little, Scott McPherson, Peter Memon and Keshia Guthrie. All have professional backgrounds and had ideas to move the district forward.

Andy Nicholes’s selection to fill Henkel’s seat on the BOE was a farce and looks like a good ol’ boy appointment that could lead to some issues going forward; there are reasons why he came in 5th last November.

Nicholes is a teacher who works in the Parsippany-Troy Hills School District. There will be numerous votes that take place which he’d be prohibited from voting on such as, union and pension issues and possible tenure or other personnel issues. Superficially but no less important to some, Andy Nicholes doesn’t own a home in Middletown (last I’ve heard, he lives with his parents in Leonardo) and unlike others, he has no children attending school in the district.

I don't know if Andy Nicholes will turn out to be a good member of the Middletown Board of Education or not. I've watched the video of the meeting and feel that better choices were available. I do know however, that the dynamics of the BOE isn't likely to change with his appointment.



You can read more about the controversy of Nicholes's appointment to the Middletown Board of Education on the Facebook page MIDDLETOWN New Jersey.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 15, 2016 Middletown Township Committee Meeting

At last Monday's Middletown Township Committee meeting, the court room was packed with residents which lead to the meeting lasting over 2 hours.

During the meeting:


  • The township swore in 4 new police officers.
  • Ordinances were adopted to amend the sidewalk construction account, to set fees for micro-chipping pets and to borrow $5.3M for capital improvements.
  • An ordinance was introduced authorizing a lease agreement between the township and the Middletown Emergency Medical Services. The vote to approve this ordinance will take place at the September 6 workshop meeting.
  • Another ordinance was introduced to change the zoning on property along Rt. 35 from commercial to residential.The vote to approve this ordinance will take place at the September 19 workshop meeting.
  • The Township Committee also authorized the sale of $3M in bonds to redeem bonds that were issued in 2009.


During Public Comments (54:56),  many residents who filled the courtroom, spoke out against the installation of high voltage power lines along the NJ Transit right of way by JCP&L.



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.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

President Obama's Weekly Address 8/20/16: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service



WASHINGTON, DC — In this week's address, President Obama commemorated the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and encouraged Americans to "Find Your Park." First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Laura Bush are serving as honorary co-chairs of the National Parks Centennial Celebration to raise awareness and help Americans connect with their favorite parks and public lands. Today, military families can access all national parks for free through the Joining Forces initiative, and families with a fourth grader can get a free pass by visiting EveryKidInAPark.org. The President emphasized his commitment to building on the American tradition of conservation - noting his record of protecting more lands and waters than any other administration. With the threat of climate change, the President said that protecting our public lands and waters is more important than ever. In the years to come, we must do what we can to continue to protect our parks and our planet for future generations.

Pallone Statement on Justice Department Ending Use of Private Prisons




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2016


Washington, DC - Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) released the following statement after the Justice Department announced it will end contracts with private prisons.

“The Justice Department’s decision is an important step towards correcting the nation’s issues with mass incarceration. Last week’s Inspector General Report yet again demonstrated that private prisons suffer from a myriad of issues that run contrary to the mission of promoting public safety and rehabilitation. Profit motive has no place in our justice system.

“To build on these reforms, Congress must also enact comprehensive criminal justice reform to address the many other factors that have made the nation’s incarceration rate the highest in the world. I am thankful that President Obama and the Department of Justice have taken this necessary step and look forward to working with them as we move forward.”


Pallone Highlights Importance of Summer Meals Programs in Edison






FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2016


NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ 06), visited the Kiddie Keep Well Camp in Edison, NJ to highlight the importance of federal food aid, including critical summer meals programs. Lisa Pitz, Program Director of Advocacy, Outreach & Education, NJ Anti-Hunger Coalition also joined Pallone at the camp.

Displaying image001.jpgNational summer meals programs, provided through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, were created forty years ago to help vulnerable students get nourishment when school is out of session. Under the current program, federally reimbursed meals are available to kids at sites around the country, including schools, faith-based programs and community centers. According to the latest USDA data, 15.8 million children live in households facing a constant struggle against hunger. On an average day during last school year, a record 21.7 million low-income children received free or reduced-price lunches. In New Jersey over 400,000 children qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

Congressman Pallone discussed the importance of reauthorizing child nutrition programs under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which expired in September 2015. While summer meal programs continue, he stressed the need to make sure the programs are funded and reach those that are most in need.

“Hunger doesn’t take a vacation. The summer food program ensures that when schools let out for summer break, millions of low-income children do not lose access to the school breakfasts and lunches they rely on,” said Congressman Pallone. “I will continue the fight in Congress for needed funding for child nutrition and school meal programs – we owe it to our country’s most important resource, our children.”

The Kiddie Keep Well Camp is dedicated to providing summertime fun and enjoyment to the less privileged children of Middlesex County. Each summer the camp accepts about six hundred children, ages 7-15, from an applicant pool of 800 to 1000 children for one of four 11-day sessions at no cost to the families. The camp asks school nurses to recommend students to the camp, and also receives referrals from guidance counselors, principals and the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Need a Job? Middletown Is Hiring






Looking for a job? If so, Middletown has posted several job openings online today for the Public Works Department and Library.



Public Works FT Heavy Equipment/Diesel Mechanic

Seeking candidate with college or vocational school and a minimum of 5 years’ experience with repair and maintenance of Heavy equipment, Heavy truck, Diesel and gasoline engines. Basic Welding and cutting torch abilities and CDL are also required. Ability to use Volt/Ohm meter, scanners, Hydraulic and pneumatic test and other various testing equipment is also required. CNG engine experience is preferred.

Position is M-F 7:00am-3:00pm with OT when required
Interested candidates please forward application/resume to cvenezia@middletownnj.org
Or mail to Middletown Township 1 Kings Highway, Middletown NJ Atten: HR



Public Works FT Mechanic

Automotive/Light Truck-seeking candidate with college or vocational school and a minimum of 5 years’ experience with repair and maintenance of engines, transmissions, differentials, brakes, electrical systems, air-conditioning, snow plows and sanders. CNG engine experience preferred. Must have knowledge of volt/Ohm meters, scanners, A/C machine and other various testing equipment.

Position is M-F 7:00am-3:00pm with OT when required.
Interested candidates please forward application/resume to cvenezia@middletownnj.org
Or mail to Middletown Township 1 Kings Highway, Middletown NJ Atten: HR



Public Works FT Welder/Fabricator

Must be familiar with Heavy metal welding/fabricating-vertical, horizontal. Flat and overhead along with knowledge of stick, mig, plasma and oxy/acetylene. Should be able to rig and lift heavy objects. Welding certification and experience operating construction equipment/forklift. CDL is required.

Position is M-F 7:00am-3:00pm with OT when required.
Interested candidates please forward application/resume to cvenezia@middletownnj.org
Or mail to Middletown Township 1 Kings Highway, Middletown NJ Atten: HR


Public Works FT - Small Engine/Lawn Mower Mechanic

Candidate must be able to maintain and repair small engine equipment such as chain saws, weedwackers, pole saws, snow plows, tampers, farm tractors, driven attachments and all other lawn equipment. Must be knowledgeable in the use of Volt/Ohm meters, chainsaws and lawn mower blade sharpening, tire machine, welder, etc. Seeking 3 years of experience in the maintenance and repair of various types of small engines. College or vocational school training is preferred.

Position is M-F, 7:00am to 3:00pm with OT when required.

Interested candidates please forward application/resume to cvenezia@middletownnj.org or mail to Middletown Township 1 Kings Highway, Middletown NJ Atten: HR



Library Building Service Worker (PT evenings)

Seeking someone that is reliable and can work independently to perform janitorial duties and building maintenance at the Library. Duties include but are not limited to cleaning floors, offices and bathrooms. Keep stock of cleaning materials, set up meeting rooms for programs and events. Candidate must possess a valid NJ driver's license and be able to lift and carry items weighing up to 20lbs.

Hours are Monday-Thursday 4:30pm-9:00pm and Fridays 12:30pm-5:00pm, rate $11.00 per hour. Interested candidates please submit an application or resume to cvenezia@middletownnj.org or drop off at Human Resources at 1 Kings Highway, Middletown, NJ 07748, Johnson Gill Annex.



Long Branch Jazz & Blues Festival Ends Summer on a Good Note

The jazz and blues festival on August 27 will feature live music, food, and fun for all ages

Long Branch, NJ  – The Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation’s (JSJBF) Summer Series of Festivals ends the summer on a good note with live jazz and blues music in Long Branch, NJ. The festival will be held Saturday, August 27 from 12 – 9:45 p.m. at The Great Lawn on the Boardwalk, located on Cooper Ave.

Thousands are anticipated to turn out for a day of live performances by talented jazz and blues musicians, food, crafters and sponsor exhibits, and activities for the entire family. The festival is rain or shine, free to the public, dog friendly and all ages are welcome to attend.

The festival will showcase the best jazz and blues artists around, including Jan Findlay, Dana Gaynor Band, Audrey Silver Quartet, Geoff Achison & The Soul Diggers, Joe Benjamin &A Mighty Handful. Trudy Lynn Blues Review featuring Steve Krase will headline the festival with their mix of blues and soul.

Sometimes called Houston's "First Lady of the Blues" or "First Lady of Soul," the dynamic Trudy Lynn was still in her teens when she sang onstage with "Iceman" Albert Collins's band and opened for Ike and Tina Turner. Even so, her recent success has arguably put the sixty something singer in the prime of her career.

Each year, sponsor donations from the Summer Series of Festivals raise essential funds for the nonprofit Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation’s operational expenses. Sponsors this year include Comcast, News 12 New Jersey, and New Jersey 101.5.

“Our award-winning summer festival has been entertaining jazz and blues fans on the Jersey Shore for more than 25 years," said festival organizer Dennis Eschbach. "We attract thousands of visitors of all ages, and in recent years the festival series has introduced new generations to the genre. Thanks to the support of our musicians, volunteers, sponsors and host towns, we're able to keep jazz and blues music alive on the Jersey Shore."

About the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation
Founded in 1987, the nonprofit Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation remains dedicated to its efforts to preserve, promote and perpetuate jazz and blues on the

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Pancake Breakfast

President Obama's Weekly Address 8/13/16: Providing a Better, Cleaner, Safer Future for Our Children


WASHINGTON, DC — In this week's address, President Obama discussed the progress we have made to combat global climate change. During the Obama Administration, we have made ambitious investments in clean energy and achieved reductions in carbon emissions – increasing wind power and solar power, and decreasing the amount of carbon pollution from our energy sector to its lowest level in 25 years. We have also set standards to increase the distance cars and light trucks can travel on a gallon of gas every year through 2025. The President noted that although America has become a global leader in the fight against climate change, there's still work to do. Together, we must continue to work domestically and build upon the progress we've made along with other countries – such as the Paris Agreement, the most ambitious climate change agreement in history. President Obama said if we continue to work together, we will leave a better, cleaner, safer future for our children.

Thanks Liberals


Thank your local Liberals who really did make America great, not just for a few, but for all.




Pallone Statement on 81st Anniversary of Social Security





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2016


Washington, DC - Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today made the following statement to mark the 81st anniversary of the Social Security Act being signed into law, which will take place this Sunday.

“Since 1935, Social Security has provided seniors the opportunity to retire with dignity, and disabled workers and families who lost a loved one to meet their expenses. This week we celebrate this crucial program and its promise between generations that now lifts 21 million Americans, including 1.6 million New Jerseyans out of poverty. However, in the face of repeated threats from Congressional Republicans to privatize Social Security, we must reaffirm our commitment. I will continue to work tirelessly to protect and strengthen Social Security for future generations.

“We must also make sure that Social Security meets the demands of seniors in the 21st century. I was deeply disappointed that Social Security recipients did not receive a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in 2016. Not accounting for increases in the cost of living is, in effect, a cut to the earned benefit of Social Security that threatens seniors’ independence and quality of life. Critical expenses for many seniors, like prescription drugs, continue to outpace inflation and failing to increase the Social Security COLA is devastating for many families throughout New Jersey, especially with our state’s high cost of living. I have called on the Social Security Administration to reevaluate the formula it uses to determine yearly cost of living increases to ensure seniors can continue to live in dignity and receive the benefits they have earned.”