Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Video: The Health Care Slime Machine

Last night's Daily Show with Jon Stewart was another example of classic television as only Jon Stewart and company can make.

After returning from a weeks vacation Stewart wants to know who is really responsible for fanning the flames of violence over health care reform following the passage of the health care bill.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Health Care Slime Machine
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Reform

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie's approval rating drops 9 points after budget proposal

It looks like the Honeymoon is over for Chris Christie, according to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey the governor's popularity around the state has taken a 9% nose dive since the beginning of March when a similar poll found that Christie enjoyed a 52% job approval rating before making dramatic announcements of cuts to the state budget.

Better than two-thirds of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing, and independents approve by 49%-19%, while Democrats disapprove by 45%- 23%. The governor approval rating in non-public-employee households is 44%-28% but drops in public-employee households to 37%-49%.

“It’s a bad time to be governor of any state,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “You’re damned if you cut the budget and damned if you raise taxes.”

Read more from NJ.com >>> Here

Monday, March 29, 2010

What Were They Saying Before The Decision To Cancel The Sports Complex

I went back to my archivist to see if he could grabbed me some audio clips of what everyone had to say about using the bonded funds for the artificial turf fields for other uses.

He sent me 5 clips of Township Attorney Brian Nelson,Township Administrator Tony Mercantante and Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger stating that the bond money has to be used for recreation or turf fields. These clips are from Committee meetings on February 1st, March 1st and March 15th .

Nelson and Mercantante address a person's question concerning whether or not the bond for the turf fields could be appropriated for other use during the February 1st meeting.

Scharfenberger adds his two cents in the following three sound bites, the first two of which are from the March 1st Township Committee Workshop meeting where he is heard saying that the money for the turf fields could not be used for other projects but could be appropriated for a different facility. He later stated that the turf fields were part of Green Acres and there for needed to be discussed at an official public meeting that would be scheduled for the end of March.

The last clip is from the March 15th Township Committee meeting and is of Mayor Scharfenberger announcing that the resolution that would give the go ahead for CMX Engineering to finalize plans and proceed to mark up project bidding specifications for the sports complex at West Front Street was being pulled, but they were going to move ahead with the field at WFSP anyway just not with all the amenities.

Then all of a sudden at the informal March 23th Neighborhood Meeting at Croydon Hall, Gerry Scharfenberger announced that himself and those members of the Township Committee that were in attendance that evening came to a consensus decision to cancel the turf project all together due to concerns over state aid figures that he had just been informed of, and because of this the Township would recall the bond and return the money to the lender.

Using the decline in state aid as a cover story for cancelling the turf projects was just a convenient excuse on Scharfenberger's end. Both he and Pam Brightbill, had been telling everyone for months prior to the meeting that the bonded funds for the turf fields had no impact on the budget and based on the article that appeared in the Independent, the Township knew a week earlier about the state aid cut, which they had been talking about for the past few Committee meetings anyway.

So will the audio shine anymore light onto the shady dealing that go on down at Town Hall? Not really, but they do give a little bit of insight into the thinking of for what and how the money that was bonded for the turf fields in 2006 could be used for even if it was contrary to the actual language of the bond ordinance.

Michael Steele Spent RNC Money on Bottle Service at a Bondage Club

It amazes me how this guy still has a job, his creditability has to be close to zero. I bet those in the GOP can't wait until his term as Chairman is over.

Posted at GAWKER.com

Michael Steele is just wasting RNC money on limos and private planes and, yes, private bondage-themed nightclubs with topless ladies.

Tucker Carlson's The Daily Carlsoning has a wonderful story about how Michael Steele considered buying a private plane, because he spends so much time flying to nightclubs and Hawaii, but he decided not to. Instead he found many other creative ways to waste money.

Once on the ground, FEC filings suggest, Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.

Now, Voyeur is not really a "strip club" so much as a terrible-sounding nightclub with bottle service, long lines, Lindsay Lohan, and, yes, half-naked ladies simulating oral sex on each other. Which, to be honest, sounds way stupider than a proper, respectable strip club. Shame on you, Michael Steele, for encouraging this kind of thing.

The GOP really has to get around to firing the embarrassing and inept Michael Steele eventually. Steele spent $1.4 million on the GOP's terrible new website, he charges $15,000 for speaking appearances, and his RNC continues to spend more than it takes in as we begin the campaign season in earnest.

But it would still present a bit of an image problem to fire the one prominent black Republican in America.

NJPP Monday Minute 3/29/10: Proposed budget cuts anger many at budget hearings

New Jersey citizens and groups have been packing hearing rooms throughout the state as the legislature begins public hearings on Gov. Christie's FY2011 budget proposal. The governor has repeatedly said everything but spending cuts are off the table to close the nearly $11 billion budget gap, a move that has angered advocates for children, schools and healthcare to name just a few.

In her March 23 testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, NJPP Interim President Mary Forsberg stated that the economic crisis facing New Jersey is too severe for just one approach, as the governor seems bent on doing. "You can respond to shortfalls like these in three ways," she said. "You can raise taxes, you can reduce expenditures, or you can opt for a balanced approach that includes increased revenue and responsible savings."

Senior Policy Analyst Raymond Castro's testimony on March 25 before the Senate Budget Committee focused on the governor's cuts to FamilyCare, noting that Gov. Christie had already closed enrollment to all parents above 133 percent of the federal poverty level and plans to increase premiums for many of parents remaining in the program.

"While closing enrollment to 39,000 parents in 2011 will save $25 million in state funds, it results in a loss of $45 million in federal funds-the last thing New Jersey needs in a recession," said Castro.

The proposed budget also ends all state funding for FamilyCare outreach, making it impossible for the state to meet its goal of insuring all children by 2013. Again this results in a loss of federal funds.

As part of the Better Choices for New Jersey coalition, NJPP has identified $1.6 billion in additional revenue and savings that would allow the state to avoid the worst of these cuts:

  • Restoring the marginal tax rate increase on those making over $400,000 a year would generate about $1 billion in revenue.
  • Increasing the motor vehicle registration fees on gas guzzlers could bring in $140 million.
  • Retaining the surcharge on corporate business tax liabilities and increasing it to eight percent instead of four percent would provide $160 million in revenue.
  • Closing corporate loopholes and instituting a system of combined reporting for businesses could save New Jersey taxpayers close to $250 million.

The Senate and Assembly will continue to hold hearings over the next few months in the lead up to negotiations with the governor over a final budget, which must be signed by the end of the day on June 30, 2010. There are still opportunities to testify about the impact of the budget on issues of concern to you. It is possible to sign-up either online or by phone.

In addition you can contact your legislator. Tell him or her that everyone should share in the sacrifice-not just students, teachers, public employees, transit riders and those who have no voice.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons: SUPERMAN & THE MAD SCIENTIST

Look, up in the sky!

It's a bird...It's a plane....NO IT'S SUPERMAN!!

It's cartoon time

President Obama's Weekly Address: 3/27/10 Two Major Reforms on Health Care & Higher Ed

The President looks back on a week that saw the passage of two major sets of reforms: one putting Americans in control of their own health care, and one ensuring student loans work for students and families, not as subsidies for bankers and middlemen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


March 25, 2010

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today highlighted benefits of health insurance reform that would go into effect within the year. Holt attended President Obama’s bill signing on Tuesday.

“Health care reform has been a long time coming – almost 100 years in the making. Yet, the benefits will be felt immediately, giving families and small businesses control over their health care,” Holt said. “Small businesses will soon receive tax credits, patients will no longer lose coverage when they get sick, and seniors will have help paying for prescription drugs and have access to free preventive care. And as it turns out, lawyers combing the legislation have failed to find any death panels.”

The following reforms would go into effect within the year:

• Providing tax credits for small business owners who help pay health insurance for employees

• Providing $250 payments to help seniors who find themselves in the prescription drug donut hole (and eventually the donut hole will be eliminated)

• Banning insurance companies from dropping coverage when someone gets sick

• Preventing Insurance companies from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions

• Prohibiting insurance companies from setting lifetime limits or restrictive annual caps on benefits

• Extending free preventive care in all new private plans

• Establishing a new independent appeals process for those who feel they have unfairly been denied an insurance claim

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), health insurance reform legislation would cut the deficit by $143 billion in the first ten years and by $1.2 trillion in the second decade. CBO determined that the bill would extend Medicare’s solvency by at least 9 years and expand health coverage to 32 million Americans, guaranteeing coverage for 95 percent of Americans.

Health insurance reform: How will it affect YOU this year!

From my friends at Newjerseynewsroom.com:

"Health care reform has been a long time coming - almost 100 years in the making," said U.S. Rep Rush Holt (NJ-12). "Yet, the benefits will be felt immediately, giving families and small businesses control over their health care.

"Small businesses will soon receive tax credits, patients will no longer lose coverage when they get sick, and seniors will have help paying for prescription drugs and have access to free preventive care. And as it turns out, lawyers combing the legislation have failed to find any death panels."

The following are key provisions that take effect within a year:


SMALL BUSINESS TAX CREDITS — Offers tax credits to small businesses to make employee coverage more affordable. Tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums will be immediately available. Effective beginning for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2014, small business tax credits will cover 50 percent of premiums.)


BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE — Provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010. Effective for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2011, institutes a 50% discount on brand-name drugs in the donut hole; also completely closes the donut hole by 2020.)

FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER MEDICARE — Eliminates co-payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program. Effective beginning January 1, 2011.

HELP FOR EARLY RETIREES — Creates a temporary re_insurance program (until the Exchanges are available) to help offset the costs of expensive health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees age 55-64. Effective 90 days after enactment


NO DISCRIMINATON AGAINST CHILDREN WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS — Prohibits health plans from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Effective 6 months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, this prohibition would apply to adults as well.)

NO RESCISSIONS — Bans health plans from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Effective 6 months after enactment.

NO LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE — Prohibits health plans from placing lifetime caps on coverage. Effective 6 months after enactment.

TIGHTLY REGULATES ANNUAL LIMITS ON COVERAGE — Tightly restricts new plans' use of annual limits to ensure access to needed care. These tight restrictions will be defined by HHS. Effective 6 months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, the use of any annual limits would be prohibited for all plans.)

FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER NEW PLANS — Requires new private plans to cover preventive services with no co-payments and with preventive services being exempt from deductibles. Effective 6 months after enactment.

NEW, INDEPENDENT APPEALS PROCESS FOR NEW PLANS — Ensures consumers in new plans have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal decisions. Effective 6 months after enactment.

MORE FOR YOUR PREMIUM DOLLAR — Requires plans to put more of your premiums into your care, and less into profits, CEO pay, etc. This medical loss ratio requires plans in the individual and small group market to spend 80 percent of premiums on medical services, and plans in the large group market to spend 85 percent. Insurers that don't meet these thresholds must provide rebates to policyholders. Effective on January 1, 2011.

NO DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SALARY — Prohibits new group health plans from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that have the effect of discriminating in favor of higher wage employees. Effective 6 months after enactment.


IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS (INTERIM HIGH-RISK POOL) — Provides immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre- existing condition — through a temporary high-risk pool — until the Exchanges up and running in 2014. Effective 90 days after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, health plans are banned from discriminating against all people with pre-existing conditions, so high_risk pools would phase out).

EXTENDING COVERAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO 26TH BIRTHDAY THROUGH PARENTS' INSURANCE — Requires health plans to allow young people up to their 26th birthday to remain on their parents' insurance policy, at the parents' choice. Effective 6 months after enactment.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS — Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for nearly doubling the number of patients served over the next 5 years. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.

MORE PRIMARY CARE DOCTORS — Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.

HEALTH INSURANCE CONSUMER ASSISTANCE — Provides aid to states to establish offices of health insurance consumer assistance to help consumers file complaints and appeals. Effective beginning in FY 2010.

CREATES NEW, VOLUNTARY, PUBLIC LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM — Creates a long-term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become functionally disabled. Effective on January 1, 2011.





CAP ON OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES for private health plans.

Questions Remain About the Sudden About Face On The Middletown Sports Field Issue

There are still many questions that remain and need to be answered when it comes to the sudden announcement that Gerry Scharfenberger made during Tuesday night's Neighborhood Meeting at Croydon Hall.

It has become apparent based on an email I received that some are starting to ask those questions and want answers:

I'm sure many of you have heard the news, about the fate of the turf fields, that was announced at last night's Neighborhood Meeting. There are many questions still unanswered about this decision:

1. The Neighborhood Meetings were billed as an event that "no formal action will take place". The Mayor decided to take formal action by announcing this decision. I have announcements, below, that explain the purpose of the Neighborhood Meetings.These were taken from the Township website and the alert system that the Township has in place.

Neighborhood Meeting - Senior Center
3/23/2010 - 7:00:00 PM
The Township Committee will hold a Neighborhood Meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23 At the Middletown Senior Center, 900 Leonardville Road, to give residents an opportunity to speak informally with township officials and staff about life in Middletown. Township Committee members, and representatives from the departments of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Planning; Police and Public Works are scheduled to attend. No formal action will be taken.

Middletown Senior Center
Croydon Hall
900 Leonardville Road

Leonardo, NJ 07737



Neighborhood Meeting 3-22-2010
posted Monday, March 22, 2010 4:08 PM
Dear Resident:The next Middletown Neighborhood Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23rd at the Middletown Senior Center, 900 Leonardville Road. Neighborhood meetings are held annually to give residents an opportunity to speak informally with township officials and staff about life in Middletown. Township Committee members, and representatives from the departments of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Planning; Police and Public Works are scheduled to attend. No formal action will be taken. The last Neighborhood Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 30th at the Tonya Keller Bayshore Community Center, 50 Bray Ave.



2. At what public meeting did the Committee decide to return the bond? This is not a decision that can be made by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, or any other Committee person. It must be decided in a public meeting with a vote by ALL Committee members. I believe that a bond ordinance must be have approval of at least 4/5 of the Committee to become effective. The question is, Can the Mayor legally announce this since no formal action was taken on his decision?

3. According to the by-laws of the Township, the Mayor is a member of the Committee and is appointed by the other members of the Committee. His sole functions are to lead Committee meetings and sign legislation that is passed by the Committee. I don't believe that he has any other authority than that, besides what the other Committee members have. Any announcements, coming from the Township, should be with the approval of the whole Committee, not just one member of the Committee.

These questions need to be asked as well as:

- How much interest have WE paid over the past 4 years on this bond?
- How much has OUR bond counsel (Middletown GOP Chairman) charged US to sell the bonds and now buy them back?
- What other legal expenses are associated with the whole bond. beginning with the sale to retirement?
- Why isn't the plan presented, by Mr. Vrabel, acceptable? Who determined this?

The sudden announcement of the cancellation of the turf projects at a neighborhood meeting that wasn't suppose to be an official meeting where actions would be taken on any subject specific subject is troubling.

What really changed the collective mind of the Township to drop plans for the fields and when and with whom were theses plans discussed with? As the email stated, the Mayor doesn't have the authority to act alone when making decisions regardless if the Town Administrator or others thought that the plan should be cancelled. This is a decision that would have had to be have been made during a formal meeting with every committee member present and from what I know that did not happen.

Middletown's "shadow government" has once again crept in from the darkness and reared its ugly head.

$140 million Middletown school budget calls for tax hike, layoffs

Here is the latest news from last night's Middletown Board of Education budget meeting, I couldn't make it there so I have been waiting for word about what transpired:

BY JENNIFER BRADSHAW - The Asbury Park Press

MIDDLETOWN — The Board of Education unanimously approved a proposed $140.3 million budget tonight that calls for a 3.9 percent tax increase and 124 layoffs to close a gap in the spending plan.

Superintendent Karen Bilbao said in order to make more than $9 million in cuts, all nontenured teachers in the district would have to receive notices of nonrenewal.

Supplemented by a $123.8 million tax levy, the budget had to be substantially trimmed after state aid was cut by $7.2 million for the 2010-11 school year. In addition, $2.8 million in state aid was cut from this year's budget.

After the state announced its aid numbers for 2010-11, layoffs grew to 72 teachers, 20 paraprofessionals, 16 secretaries, eight facilities staff members and seven administrators for $4.1 million in savings.

At the crowded meeting, Bilbao asked the public not to think of the cuts as "people" but rather as "positions," meaning that tenured teachers in those cut positions could be reassigned.

Bilbao announced at the meeting that she, in addition to several others in the central office, would be freezing their salaries for a year, in light of the cuts.

According to the district, the 3.9 percent total tax increase will add $183 a year in taxes to an average assessed home of $435,000.

If state aid cuts had not been so deep, the tax increase would have been 2.7 percent, the district said.

Tonight's meeting was the first introduction of the district budget, originally scheduled to be unveiled at the March 18 workshop meeting. It was postponed after state aid numbers came out a day earlier.

Bilbao also said the district teachers union was asked for a salary freeze regarding the following school year, as well as a freeze on stipends for those teachers involved in extracurricular activities, but both requests were denied.

Linda McLaughlin, president of the teachers union, read from a prepared statement in defense of the union's stance, stating that the existing contract between the union and the district was hard to come by, after hostile negotiations in previous years.

The teachers of the district are also taxpayers and not exempt from economic troubles, she said. A freeze would "(Make) our families even more vulnerable in a shaky economy," she said.

Earlier in the month, it was announced that the district was already working with a $4.3 million budget hole, caused by increased district costs, and a loss of $2.8 million in surplus funds, through an executive order mandating all districts to use the money in their surplus accounts to cover expenses for the remainder of the 2009-10 school year.

Business administrator Bill Doering then said that the district's surplus funds are often used as budgeted tax relief for the coming school year, with an absence of those funds causing a hole in the subsequent year's budget.

To see the Final Budget Presentation and the Final 2010-2011 Proposed Budget from the Middletown Board of Education, you can go to the BOE's website by clicking >>> Here to read them.

This is a bad job by the teachers union when so many in Middeltown and around the state are hurting, they should be ashamed of themselves! What about the families of the 124 people that will now lose their livelihoods in this vulnerable economy?

It's just another case of I have mine to hell with you if you don't have yours.

They should have accepted the wage freeze.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's Your Town Newsletter Volumn 2, Issue 6 For 3/15/20

This edition of It's Your Town Newsletter covers the Middletown Township Committee meeting of March 15, 2010.

This was the meeting in which the members of the Pop Warner Chargers organization introduced their plan to the Mayor and those on the Committee, for the upgrade and expansion of Trezza Field.

It includes all of the ordinances and resolutions that were voted on or discussed by the Township Committee and the 20 page bill list to show Middletown residents how their tax dollars are being spent.

You can download your copy of the newsletter >>> Here

Lincroft Sports Complex Is Dead; Plans For Artificial Turf Fields For Croydon Hall and Lincroft Are Dropped.

At last night's Middletown Neighborhood Meeting at the Middletown Senior Center at Croydon Hall a very interesting turn of events was announced by Gerry Scharfenberger, the plans for the installation of artificial turf fields in Lincroft and at Croydon Hall are being dropped.

There will be no sports complex built or field upgrades at West Front Street Park that met so much opposition from the residents group SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood's Integrity and Character) and the Pop Warner Lincroft Chargers organization, and no upgrade for the field at Croydon Hall which is used by the Middletown Eagles Pop Warner team.

According to the Asbury Park Press article posted online late last night, Scharfenberger use the current economic conditions affecting the Township as the reason for why the turf field projects were being dropped. Scharfenberger is quoted as saying:

"…In a difficult budget year in which the township's state aid has been cut by $1.3 million, 14 retiring employees will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in parting costs, and snow removal expenses were at least $500,000 above normal, it makes no sense to also take on a fields project…I see no way to go forward with this… In terms of what had to go, this became something of a no-brainer."

The article went on to state that Township Administrator Tony Mercantante said the $2.4 million bond that was originally issued for the project in 2006 will be returned to the lender.

So why the sudden change, why did the Scharfenberger and Mercantante drop the plans for the turf installations? You can't tell me it was because of the sudden realization that the Township is facing a budget deficit of over $5 million and this was a prudent decision on the part of the Township Committee. The Township has known for weeks that it would not be receiving the same level of state aid as in years past and Scharfenberger, Mercantante and crew said that the $2.4 million that was bonded for the turf projects was already in the bank, waiting to be used and would have absolutely no effect on the current budget process.

I feel that the real reason why they decided to cancel plans for the turf fields was the embarrassment that they felt when confronted at last week's March 15th Township Committee meeting by members of the Chargers organization and SONIC when they present a plan to the Township that clearly showed that a multi-sport field could indeed be placed at Trezza Field, the home of the Chargers for over 40 years as originally called for in bond ordinance, with no impact to wetlands that the Township based its decision on as a reason for not going ahead with the field upgrade.

If Tony Mercantante accepted the Chargers' plan, he would have had to admit that the advice from the town's engineers and other professionals was wrong. He would have had to essentially throw them under the bus, which would have lead to questions of competence and may have raised doubts about other projects around town that residents question.

I know that this announcement will upset some people, particularly the Middletown Soccer League and the Pop Warner Eagles; Middletown Soccer aligned themselves with the Township in pushing for the field upgrades at West Front Street and the Eagles who became the victims of the collateral damage inflicted on members of the Township Committee by SONIC and the Chargers in the fight against the sports complex at West Front Street.

It was never in dispute, the playing field of the Pop Warner Eagles at Croydon Hall was going to be upgraded as a multi-sports playing field as part of the Township's turf project but Parks and Recreations Director Greg Silva made it clear during at meeting with the Chargers, that if they succeeded in their efforts to derail the West Front Street field upgrade then the upgrade at Croydon Hall would also be canceled as a result. So I guess he wasn't lying.

While this is a clear victory for SONIC and those who questioned whether or not it was prudent for the Township to move forward with this turf project because of current economic conditions, the victory for the Chargers is somewhat less and not much of a victory at all.

With the bad blood and hurt feeling inflicted on the Township Committee by the Chargers, Trezza Field may never get the field upgrades that are so badly needed for the continued and future success of their program.

The Independent has a related story that should also be read.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Audio: Anthony Malone Scolds Pam Brightbill During Public Comments Portion of 3/15/10 Township Committee Meeting

You asked for it and now you have it!

Lincroft resident Anthony Malone scolds Committeewoman Pam Brightbill after she lost her cool while being questioned by Pop Warner Chargers support Jim Cody at last Monday nights Township Committee meeting.

Mr. Malone was very passionate and boisterous during his time at the podium and demanded respect be given to the residents as opposed to Committeewoman Brightbill telling speakers and those in attendance to be respectful of her and her colleagues sitting on the Dias.

MTEA Refuses Wage Freeze And Plans to Stand Up To "Schoolyard Bully" Christie, But At What Cost?

I received the following email while at work last night so I was unable to post it here until this morning. The email is from MTEA President Linda Guyer and was sent to all members of the Middletown teacher’s union Friday afternoon. After reading it my jaw was left hanging open.

With the Middletown Board of Education facing an $11million budget deficit and in the face of potential layoffs of many of its members that would affect class size and loss of programs throughout the district, the MTEA is planning on taking the advice of its parent organization, the NJEA and stand up to the “bullying” tactics of Governor Christie. They are planning to oppose any and all attempts at reopening their existing contract that would lead to wage freezes or any other type of givebacks by their members.

Instead they will attempt to get the message out to parents of district school children about how looming layoffs will affect their kids and to put a spotlight onto “lies” that the governor is telling everyone about their union, essentially using the children that they teach as a wedge between parents and Trenton.

In the past, I always thought of myself as a good union man, but there are times that battles should be fought and times when union members should use their heads and common sense should rein. With an $11million budget deficit staring them in the face, the MTEA should be worried more about protecting the jobs of its members and not about fighting over a wage freeze.
The economy is bad and the state unemployment rate is over 10%, there is little sympathy to go around for public union members who, over the past few decades have gotten fat off the land while private sector employees have had to deal with corporate downsizing, stagnant wages and rising health care co-pays, so if the MTEA expects township residents to be behind them, I think they are in for a rude awakening.

Since my kids have been categorized as “other learning disabled” and have had IEP’s, I have tried not to speak out against the school system or their teachers even though we have had to fight the system. As a result, my kids have been very fortunate to have some of the most caring professionals teach and look out for them, so I can empathize with the situation that the MTEA finds itself under, but it’s time to bite the bullet and do what’s right.

Protect your union members by taking a wage freeze and protect the taxpayers of the district and their children by helping to keep the looming budget cuts and tax increases to a minimum.

If program that benefit my kids and kids like them are cut or eliminated and their education and futures are put at risk then I would hold the MTEA and its members accountable for their failures just as I plan on holding Governor Christie accountable 4 years from now for putting all of us in this situation in the first place.

*From:* Guyer, Linda A
*Sent**:* Friday, March 19, 2010 4:15 PM
*Subject:* URGENT!! General Membership Meeting
*Importance:* High

To All MTEA members,

As you all are acutely aware, we a facing the fight of our professional lives right now. The devastating cuts that the governor has proposed will have chilling effects across our state and impact /our/ school district to the tune of over 11 million dollars! This will mean layoffs, larger class sizes and a possible loss of programs. The Board of Education and the Superintendent are in the process right now of developing a budget that will be presented to the County Superintendent on Monday.

We need to stand up to the bullying tactics that our governor is using to incite the public through the media. Governor Christie has said that he would be /happy/ to sign bills that would violate collective bargaining. NJEA has said that we need to PROTECT our collective bargaining agreement! We must think of it as our bible in the workplace! Our collective bargaining agreement gives meaning and integrity to our workplace. Our contract is never reopened in boon economies to provide
the benefit of an increase, and we should not be expected to reopen it now, when we bargained fairly for our settlement. On Thursday March 11^th at Representative Council, a motion was made, seconded, and unanimously passed */_not_/* to agree to or approve a salary freeze. The NJEA’s stand is also very clear on this critical issue, “We will not open our contracts or freeze our salaries”. Our principles are not for sale.

I welcome any and all suggestions that our members have in order to face this crisis and get the truth out to our community about the lies that the governor is telling. We need as many members as possible to attend the upcoming budget meeting on March 24^th to get the word out to the community about how the looming layoffs will affect their children. We as a union must stay together and take action where we can.

This is what NJEA recommends that we can and should do in the next 72 hours:

* Call your Assemblymen
* Visit their offices
* Write letters if you haven’t done so yet
* Get your family members and friends to write letters
* Visit the NJEA website for talking points
* On the NJEA website is a separate area called Keep the Promise
where you will find the analysis of the bills, Q & A, and the
truth about pension funding
* Use the Legislative section on the NJEA website to Cyber Lobby and
also watch the video about our pensions and pass it on to friends
and family

We know that there are many questions and concerns that need to be addressed and are going to be holding a General Membership meeting on Tuesday, March 23^rd at Jacques at 4:00, to discuss them. Our NJEA Uniserv Representative, Marc Abramson will be in attendance as well. Please make every effort to attend this very important meeting in order to be informed and united as we navigate these unprecedented changes.

We need to fight the schoolyard bully and not back down!


Linda Guyer, President

Amy Johnson, 1^st Vice President

Monday, March 22, 2010

After A Year's Search, Middletown Appoints CFO

After all that went on during last weeks Township Committee meeting, lost in the events of the evening was the rather low key and unceremonious announcement of the hiring of the Townships new CFO. It was so low key as a mater of fact, that even I didn't think twice about making a big deal about it.

Nick Trasente, the former finance director of Hoboken, was sitting quietly at the table in front of the dias with Town Administrator Tony Mercantante, Township Engineer Ted Maloney and Clerk Heidi Brunt. A few people were wondering who the "new guy" was until it was revealed at the beginning by Mayor Scharfenberger that the new guy was indeed the new CFO.

Now maybe we can finally see that plan of Gerry's, that he likes to tell everyone he has but doesn't let anyone know about on how to close a $7 million budget shortfall before the end of the month when budgets have to be submitted to the State for review.

So far the only paper to pick-up on Nick Trabsente's appointment as Middletown's new CFO is the Two River Times, nice job on there part. Below is the article written by Ryan Fennell just incase you haven't read it yet:

MIDDLETOWN - ON Monday night, nearly a year after Middletown's former CFO Richard Wright took a leave of absence citing health concerns, the Township Committee formally appointed Nick Trasente as Middletown Township's new Chief Financial Officer on Monday night.

Trasente left his position as finance director in Hoboken on March 9, a position he held since January 2009, to accept the Middletown CFO position.

Middletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger said that the process for finding a new CFO was extensive.

"We had a better response than the last time we were looking for a CFO," Scharfenberger said.

According to Scharfenberger, the Township received responses from nine individuals, which was narrowed down to three.

After several interviews, Trasente was determined to be the most qualified candidate for the position.

"I thought he was everything we were looking for," Scharfenberger said. "He's got the credentials. He's got great experience. He seems to be very enthusiastic about wanting to do what he's going to be doing. Also, he seems t know how to keep the town from getting itself into a bind. He understands what we're up against."

And what the Township is up against is an approximate $5 million shortfall in the 2010 budget.

Scharfenberger said that he, along with several other area mayors, were briefed on Governor Chris Christie's budget prior to the governor's address last Tuesday and he was made aware of potentially significant cuts in state aid.

Scharfenberger said that township department heads have been instructed to cut their budgets as well as several other initiatives that the mayor plans to reveal during upcoming committee meetings.

"We're looking for ways to cut and save without putting people's lives or properties in jeopardy. That's the bottom line," said Scharfenberger. "Everything's on the table."

President Obama On the Passage of Health Reform

President Obama speaks moments after the historic passage by the House of Representatives of the Senate's health reform legislation.

Historic healthcare bill passes; On a 219-212 vote, the sweeping change in health policy heads to the president

Los Angeles Times-

Ending the Democrats' decades-long quest to create a healthcare safety net to match Social Security, the House of Representatives on Sunday night approved sweeping legislation to guarantee Americans access to medical care for the first time, delivering President Obama the biggest victory of his young presidency.

The bill, which passed 219 to 212 without a single Republican vote, would make a nearly $1-trillion commitment in taxpayer money over the next decade to help an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans get health coverage.

And it would establish a broad new framework of government regulation to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage and, advocates hope, to begin making healthcare more affordable to most Americans.

"Tonight, at a time when the pundits said it was no longer possible, we rose above the weight of our politics," the president said in a televised address from the East Room of the White House after the House completed its last vote. "We proved we are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges."

On the House floor, Democrats erupted into cheers of "Yes, we can!" at 10:45 p.m. Eastern time as the decisive 216th "yes" vote was recorded, capping a tortuous campaign that several senior lawmakers linked to the historic battle for civil rights two generations earlier.

"This is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st century," said Democratic Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the top-ranking black member of the House....

Read more >>> Here

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Just hours before todays historic vote on health care reform, Congressman Rush Holt issued the following press release:

(Washington, DC) – Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) announced his support for the health insurance reform package that will provide secure and stable health coverage regardless of job status, ensure Americans will never be denied care if they get sick, and extend coverage to those not well served by the current system. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the package would expand coverage to 32 million Americans while cutting the deficit by $143 billion in the next ten years and by $1.2 trillion ten years after that. Information about the bill - including bill text, a detailed summary, and a timeline for implementation – is available at holt.house.gov. The House is expected to vote on the package Sunday night.

“For me, the debate about health insurance reform always has been about the families who struggle to secure the coverage they need. It’s about the small business owners who face rising premiums. It’s about the seniors who can’t pay for their prescription drugs,” Holt said. “In supporting reform of our broken health insurance system, I stand with the families, seniors, and small businesses who I represent and who will soon have greater control over their health care.”

The legislation would provide millions of Americans with coverage they don't have, provide significant consumer protections to the hundreds of millions of Americans with private insurance, and provide improvements to Medicare by closing the prescription drug “doughnut hole” and providing free preventive care. The bill would benefit those with and without insurance by:

Establishing important consumer protections for all Americans. Insurers would be prohibited from excluding coverage or charging more based on pre-existing conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or pregnancy. Insurers also would be prohibited from dropping coverage if someone becomes sick and prohibited from setting annual or lifetime limits beyond which the insurer refuses to pay, leaving families facing bankruptcy. Insurance companies would have to spend more (at least 80 percent) of each premium dollar on actually providing healthcare.

Creating an insurance marketplace for those not well served by the system now. Those between jobs, employees of small businesses, or those who do not get coverage through their work would be able to purchase health insurance at group rates. All insurance plans in the marketplace would need to cover a comprehensive set of necessary services and follow all the consumer protection standards. Through competition and choice, coverage would be more affordable and accountable and would provide care better aligned with the best medical standards.

Strengthening health care for seniors. The package would strengthen Medicare in a number of important ways, including emphasizing more primary and preventive care, eliminating the doughnut hole in the Medicare prescription drug benefit, reducing redundant tests or unnecessary procedures, and eliminating wasteful subsidies to insurance companies.

The health care reform package would lower health costs for families by increasing competition across all states through the new marketplace. It would reduce costs by promoting coordinated medical care to eliminate duplicative tests; by reducing waste, fraud, and abuse; and by switching from paper to electronic records. The bill would decrease costs by expanding research on which treatments work best for different patients, helping physicians and nurses provide effective medical care. Long term, the legislation would limit costs by shifting to a focus on health outcomes and rewarding physicians for treating the whole patient.

“Health care reform has been a long time coming – almost 100 years in the making. Yet, as soon as the President signs this into law, benefits will be felt immediately,” Holt said. “Small businesses will be able to receive tax credits to purchase insurance, insurance companies will be banned from dropping coverage when someone gets sick, and seniors confronting the ‘donut hole’ will receive $250 to pay for prescription drugs.”

Congressman Rush Holt: What a Real Government Takeover Looks Like

From the Huffington Post

As Congress convenes today to pass long-awaited health insurance reform, I'm reminded of one of the last times we voted on a Sunday: March 20, 2005, when Republicans forced an extraordinary vote to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo.

To know what a real government takeover looks like, one should revisit that resolution. That midnight vote was a grotesque legislative travesty. For 215 years it had been a solid principle of this country that Congress not get involved in life-and-death issues like the tragic case of Ms. Schiavo. Yet, on that Sunday -- Palm Sunday -- Congress broke with tradition and inserted its own judgment. On that Sunday, the Republican Congress sent the message that it knew better than families, doctors, and hospital chaplains.

To my friends on the other side of the aisle who repeatedly claim that Congress is passing a "government takeover" -- I kindly remind them that's their work, not ours. Our work expands private insurance while increasing choice and competition and protecting consumers from the worst abuses of the insurance industry and leaving medical decisions in the hands of doctors and their patients. We intend that patients, families, and doctors -- not the government, not insurance companies -- have control over health decisions.

Cody Vs. Brightbill; What Did Pam Have to Say About Trezza Field While Defending Herself ?

Here is the last audio clip that I have from March 15th Township Committee meeting that deals with the Pop Warner Chargers, Sonic and Trezza Field.

In this audio Clip you can hear Lincroft resident and Chargers supporter Jim Cody confront Committeewoman Pam Brightbill about what she had told those in attendance of a Pop Warner fundraiser in 2008 about upgrades that would be made to Trezza Field, the home of the Chargers.

Committeewoman Brightbill in trying to defend herself against accusations of improprieties and false statements becomes frustrated, at one point she threatens to have someone removed from the courtroom while her voice raises to a shrill.

The exchange between Cody and Brightbill was an act of classic showmanship on Cody's part. It showed that when the heat is on, most of those on the Committee can't take it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What Did Tony Fiore Have To Say About Trezza Field?

Middletown Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore, was not able to attend the March 15,2010 Township Meeting but was able to participate via phone call from Orlando Florida while attending work related business.

His comments were made after the business portion of the meeting was finished, during the Committee comments portion of the meeting just before the floor was opened up to the public.

He agreed with much of what Committeeman Sean Byrnes had to say about COAH and the rezoning of the Avaya property in Lincroft then went on to address the concerns over Trezza Field.

At approximately 2:35 into the audio Fiore starts to address Resolution 10-121 (Resolution 10-121 was going to authorize CMX Engineering to finish design plans for the West Front Street sports complex and develop specs so that the project could go out for bid) and the reason why the Committee pulled if from of the agenda and did not vote on it.

At approximately 5:05 into the audio Fiore talks about how, if differences with the BOE can't be worked out and if there was a possibility that some improvements could be done at Trezza Field then it could be done from the "...design from "OUR" engineers or the perspective of "OUR" professionals come through, we may have to go down that road..."

With that type of thinking in mind prior to Alan Vrable's presentation and the many other people that spoke in opposition to the project, one would diffinately get the idea that no matter what plans or ideas residents came up with, Fiore and crew were not, could not or will not throw their professionals under the bus by stopping the work that would be going on at West Front Street.

But the question remains, what will the Township do about Trezza Field? Will they or wont they take the Chargers/Sonic design plan for Trezza Field seriously enough to stop sports complex from going forward at West Front Street and be redirected where it was orginally intended to be, at Trezza Field?

We should hear something soon.

President Obama's Weekly Address: 3/20/10 Time for Action on Financial Reform for the Economy

As a key committee in the Senate takes up reforming the ways of Wall Street, the President lays down a marker: “I urge those in the Senate who support these reforms to remain strong, to resist the pressure from those who would preserve the status quo, to stand up for their constituents and our country. And I promise to use every tool at my disposal to see these reforms enacted: to ensure that the bill I sign into law reflects not the special interests of Wall Street, but the best interests of the American people.”

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Birds in the Spring

By the looks of it outside spring has sprung and the song birds are singing their tunes just outside the windows. It's time to finish up your wheaties and get out to enjoy the day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

President Obama: "We are going to make history" Final Push For Health Care Reform

President Obama delivers his closing argument for health reform before the vote in the House of Representatives. George Mason University in Virginia, March 19, 2010

Comments Made By Sean Byrnes During The March 15th Township Committee Meeting: The Budget, COAH And Trezza Field

When it came time for Committee comments after the business part of the March 15th Middletown Township Committee Meeting, Committeeman Sean Byrnes had a lot to say.

Sean Byrnes address his support of the efforts that Governor Christie was making towards potentially solving the State's budget crisis and how he hoped that Middletown would be able to address it's own budget problems. Byrnes went on the discuss the potential changes to the COAH laws and hoped that once COAH was redefined Middeltown would be able to zone back recent rezoned properties around town to their prior pre- COAH zoning, most noticably the Avaya property in Lincroft.

Byrnes then went on to address the issue of turf fields in town and his potential support to relook at the fesiblity of expanding Trezza Field, the current home of the Pop Warner Chargers, instead of supporting the planned sports complex at West Front Street that has been loudly opposed by the Chargers and the citizens group SONIC.

As you can imaging, Byrnes gained a rousing and vocal show of support for his comments by the members of the Chargers and SONIC that were in attendance.

His comments about Trezza Field start about 4 minutes into the audio clip below for those that are interested in hearing what Sean Byrnes had to say.

Christie Cuts State Aid To Middletown's Schools By $7.2 Million, What does It Mean?

Wednesday afternoon School Districts all over the state learned how much state aid they could expect from Trenton this year, some districts had all state aid withheld while other had little to no aid cut from their budgets.

In Middletown's case more than $7.2 million or roughly 34% has been cut from state aid, which is on top of the loss of over $2.8 million in surplus funds that Gov. Christie instructed the school system to use earlier this month to make up for the difference in aid that would not be coming to finish out the school year.

At last nights Board of Education meeting, the Board was suppose to unveil its proposed budget for the upcoming school year but could not due to the latest announcement.

Earlier this month, the Board already announced the layoff of 36 teachers, 18 paraprofessionals,2 administrators, 4 secretaries and 4 facilities staffers as a result of the aid cut, now what is the school district suppose to due about this latest announced aid cut that will amount to an $11 million hole in it's budget, how many more staff members will Middletown lose as a result? I would think doubling the amount of staff cuts would be the starting point.

How many teachers, administrators and support staff will have to be let go? Will a school somewhere in the district have to be closed? If so, which one and what will that do to class sizes throughout the district. Class size averages about 22 kids per class right now, will class size increase to 35 or more per classroom?

How about after school programs and extra-curricular activities? Will sports programs be cut, what will Middletown do without football, soccer, wrestling, field hockey or other sports to keep the community and kids active, involved and engaged in school spirit, self-worth and education?

Gov. Christie doesn't seem to be all that concerned about how these cuts in aid will effect the education of Middletown students or students in other school districts receive. It seems that all he is concerned about is breaking the back of the NJEA and its members, with little regard for the collateral damage that he will cause in the process.

Christie has told school districts across the state that there should be no need to cut programs or teachers to balance their budgets, he has stated to them that in essence, all a school district needs to do is break existing teacher contracts by freeze pending contractual teacher salary increase and imposing higher health care co-pays on the NJEA members. Which makes a lot of sense since Christie himself realized that he couldn't do the same thing to state workers in order to balance the State's budget.

Other than breaking the backs of the public unions in this state, which I'll admit need to be overhauled in someway, Christie is going after the public education system in order to push his plans for Charter School vouchers and school choice.

Both he and his Education Secretary Bret Schundler, are advocates for Charter Schools even though it has been shown that charter schools often have worse track records at teaching our kids than public schools have.

Charter schools are for profit operations that do not always make the right decisions for children based on education standards, they make decisions that effect their bottom line and in so doing the quality of education suffers. Statistics show that for each charter school that has some success 2 or more fail and go out of business.

Is that what New Jerseyians really want for their kids education, a weakened public education system that will drive children to a possibly inferior Charter School? I don't think so, residents for the most part believe in the public school system and feel that it is an important institution that needs to be maintained.

It may not be perfect but neither are most Charter Schools that are more interested in their bottom line than the overall quality of their education.

This latest announcement of cuts in State aid to education will have devastating effects on Middletown and other municipalities through out Monmouth County and the State.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Audio: Vrable Solves Middletown's Problem During Township Committee Meeting

By now everyone that is interested in or effected by the proposed sports complex in Lincroft that the township wants to build is familiar with the events that transpired during the Middletown Township Committee meeting on March 15, 2010.

You know that the meeting was loud, raucous and at times on the verge of being out of control if you were lucky enough to be there. If not, I have a series of audio clips from the night that I will be sharing over the next couple of day that will let everyone know exactly what they missed.

The audio clip that I have posted is of Lincroft resident Alan Vrable, who was speaking on the behalf of both the River Plaza/ Lincroft Chargers Pop Warner Football team and SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood's Integrity & Character).

Vrable presented a detailed, engineered plan to the Township Committee that show beyond a reasonable doubt that Trezza Field ( the home of the Chargers) could in fact be resurfaced and expanded into a multi-purpose sports facility with little impact on the wetlands, that Township engineers have given as a reason why Trezza Field could not be upgraded in favor of West Front Street Park.

This is the first of 6 audio clips that I will be posting between now and the weekend from Monday nights meeting.

The other clips include comments from Sean Byrnes, Tony Fiore and Jim Cody questioning Pam Brightbill, which isn't to be missed. It was classic!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

APP Monday Night Follow-Up: Middletown Examining Residents' Plan For Ballfields

I was happy to see that Kevin Penton and the Asbury Park Press wrote a follow-up article that appeared in print today about the events that transpired during Monday night's Middeltown Township Committee meeting.

Today's article gave a better depiction of the events that went down Monday night then the first article that was published yesterday.

In this article Penton has quotes from Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, who many feel is the real person behind the West Front Street field proposal.

In the article Mercantante is quoted as saying "If it fits, it fits, but that is yet to be determined.", which was in reference to the multipurpose field, two baseball fields and 221 parking spaces depicted on the plan which was presented by Alan Vrable on behalf of the River Plaza/Lincroft Chargers Pop Warner Football team that plays it games at Trezza Field, to the Township Committee.

Vrable told Mercantante and the Township Committee that the plan for Trezza Field was based on the 2007 T&M Engineering wetlands study, the same study that the township used to determine that Trezza field was not a viable location for the field upgrade and which made the Township decide to build the sports complex at West Front Street instead.

The article also went on to state:

"Middletown's analysis of the residents' plan will include a cost estimate for earth disturbance so parking spaces can be added to Trezza Field, Mercantante said. The residents' plan eliminates a playground and a basketball court that are currently at the site, he said." ...

And concludes with words from Mayor Scharfenberger about how the Committee would take a serious look at the plan and determine if the plan was a viable alternative or not.

On the surface you may want to take what Mercantante and Scharfenberger had to say at face value and give the the benefit of the doubt, but after thinking about the quotes I was left to think that this just may be lip service.

Mercantante didn't seem convinced that the plan would work and seemed to question the fact that the plan as presented by Alan Vrable eliminated a playground and a basketball court in favor of parking.

Would eliminating a playground and a basketball court be considered a viable alturnative by Mayor Scharfenberger? I don't know.

Also I would like to point out that in both of Kevin Penton's articles on the meeting he quoted Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore who was not there but was on the phone from Orlando Florida attending a work related continuing education class, about how the closing down of CMX Engineering was just a little speed bump in the road and that it wouldn't hold up the process of deciding about the installation of the fields.

But what stood out to me during Fiore's comments wasn't what he had to say about CMX but what he said about the field installations in general, which was that the Committee would listen to "OUR" engineers and "OUR" professionals when determining what would be the best location for the installation of turf fields.

With this all being considered, I wonder if Mercantante, Scharfenberger and Fiore meant what they said, because if they do except the plans that were presented on the behalf of the Chargers than they would be admitting that their engineering firm gave them bad advice or is incompetant and they would be throwing them under the proverbial bus if they don't proceed with the exsisting plan for building the sports complex at West Front Street.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Reporter Dustin Racioppi from RedBankGreen.com also attended last nights Middletown Township Committee meeting, I think his article did a better job at capturing the overall atmosphere and feelings that were present in the room, more so than what was published in the Asbury Park Press. He also has a few good pictures worth checking out.

Below is his take on how things went last night:

Podium pounding. Yelling. Fingerpointing. The only things missing from Monday night’s Township Committee meeting were pitchforks and torches.

To say the least, the residents are getting restless.

About 200 of them turned out to hear how the town intended to go forward with contentious plans to upgrade two athletic areas to artificial turf and add more fields to them in order to accommodate more sports. Many came to voice their concerns, some to give the committee a stern talking to and others just to grandstand.

It wasn’t for naught.

Because of a potential sale of the project’s engineer, CMX Engineering, the committee decided not to move forward just yet in finalizing plans to upgrade fields at Croydon Hall and West Front Street Park.

The governing body also nixed its plans to add lighting, a public announcement system and concession stand at West Front, which have long been a bone of contention among neighbors.

Still, a certain level of outrage remained concerning West Front.

A number of residents in the Lincroft section of town — at least 400, if you go by signed petitions gathered by resident Mary Mahoney — are against the town’s plan in one way or another. Some believe that although the committee resolved not to add the amenities now, it may try to do so in the future.

A seemingly larger number are still angered because they’d rather see Trezza Field, the longtime home of Pop Warner’s Chargers, get the improvements.

Originally the committee wanted that, too. But plans drawn up by T&M Associates to add baseball fields, multi-use fields and parking to Trezza Field proved to be an unwise choice for the town, primarily because of limited space and surrounding wetlands, said Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger. As a result, the focus shifted to the fields at West Front Street.

Since then, residents have decried the plan, saying it will increase traffic and otherwise alter the area’s quality of life. And at the meeting, Allen Vrabel tried to prove that T&M was wrong, when he took his five minutes of the public comment portion to break out a schematic drawing from an unnamed engineer and pass out copies of it to the crowd showing that the fields will fit at Trezza with sufficient parking and without impinging on wetlands.

The crowd erupted with hoots and applause.

“What you’re proposing is like putting a square peg in a round hole on West Front Street,” Vrabel said. “These can go out to bid tomorrow.”

Vrabel’s comments opened up the gates for the public to skewer the committee, which took it with aplomb — particularly Scharfenberger, who got an earful from Barbara Thorpe.

Thorpe, who scolded Scharfenberger for not paying close enough attention to her, argued that now isn’t the time to spend the estimated $2.5 million on these upgrades.

“Your priorities are all screwed up,” she said to Sharfenberger. “I don’t know what planet you come from or live on, but you are oblivious.”

The $2.5 million to support the field upgrades comes from money set aside in a 2006 bonding package, and is specifically approved for the fields, Committeewoman Pamela Brightbill said.

More pressing at the moment, though, is the fate of CMX. Scharfenberger said he’s not sure of the specifics or how a sale could potentially affect the timeline of the field work, but said the town is looking into it.

“There’s lots of variables. We’re sort of in limbo right now,” he said.

Scharfenberger said the committee is going to also look into the feasibility of Vrabel’s proposal.

“We’re going to look at this very seriously. We wanted to put (more fields) at Trezza, but conditions, as we explained, precluded that,” Scharfenberger said. “We’re going to consider everything that is viable.”

Middletown's Committee Meeting Was Loud, Raucous and Uncomfortable At Times: Have Plans For Turf Fields Now Changed?N

I've been to plenty of Middletown Township Committee meeting over the past six years, most are sparely attended with little to no dissension among those in attendance or between those that sit on the Dias, last night was different. I haven't seen it like that since the Township was rocked by the arrest of former Mayor Ray O'Grady, who was caught up in Operation Bid-Rig a number of years ago.

The courtroom was packed and people flowed out into the lobby, to say people were upset would be an understatement.

I am still getting my thoughts together on what transpired last night and will have more to say about it later. I saw this morning that the Asbury Park Press has an account of what happened last night online today. The article was written by reporter Kevin Penton and is somewhat accurate.

I say somewhat because you really had to be there to witness what happened yourself, it was loud, raucous and at times uncomfortable to watch.

I am posting Penton's article below with a few pictures that I took placed in between:

MIDDLETOWN — Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger said Middletown needs to further question the firm, CMX Inc. of Manalapan, which told the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development on Friday that it intends to layoff all of its 196 employees by May 11.

Before the postponement, the committee was expected to vote on finalizing the engineering plans, and seeking permits and bids for the planned installations at Croydon Hall and West Front Street Park.

The West Front Street Park installation would not include lights or a concession stand, Scharfenberger told a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 residents.

Many of the Lincroft residents — who have attended the public meetings at which the fields were discussed for several weeks — have said they believe those amenities would add traffic, parking congestion and noise to their neighborhood.

Committeeman Anthony P. Fiore, who participated in the meeting via a telephone connection from Orlando, Fla., said CMX's departure only represents a "little speed bump in the road."

"We weren't completely blindsided," Fiore said, referring to CMX's notification last week.

Middletown officials had asked the company about its situation, he said.

"We were told things were status quo," Fiore said.

A somewhat dramatic moment came when resident Allen Vrabel, standing at the podium during the public comments portion of the meeting, waved his hand towards the back of the jammed meeting room.

Before long, two people walked towards the front of the room and placed two large sets of plans on easels. Simultaneously, others handed out copies of the same plans to people sitting in the audience.

The plans show 221 parking spaces, a 200-foot-by-360-foot, multi-purpose field; a baseball field with 90-foot base paths and 225-foot foul lines; and a baseball field with 60-foot base paths and 200-foot foul lines at the current site of Trezza Field, where the Pop Warner Chargers currently play.

Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante has repeatedly said that Trezza field could not be part of the turf fields project because of wetlands concerns.

But Vrabel said that engineers hired by Lincroft residents and members of the Chargers organization, using a 2007 wetlands study by T&M Associates, were able to make the plan work at Trezza Field.

"These plans didn't cost me $194,000, I can tell you that," said Vrabel, who declined to say the firm that prepared the plans.

Township officials said they would study the plan.

"We are going to look at this very seriously," Scharfenberger said. "We are going to see if this is viable."

As I said, I'll have more to say about what happened last night later, it was a lot to take in. But I think the Mayor and his fellow suporter may have had a change of heart last night after have their heads beaten in by Vrabel and others.