By Art Gallagher
Because he wants his friend Sean Byrnes to be reelected to the Middletown Township Committee, and because he wants to create a distraction among the Tea Party members during this crucial last week of the election.
The wonderful thing about Integrity is that is isn’t shaken when its questioned. It is strengthened by being questioned. If you ever see someone get upset by their integrity being questioned, it is a sure sign that he or she has an integrity issue. Someone with their intergrity intact simply answers the question when it is asked.
So, as a member of the Tea Party Movement in Monmouth County, and a visible supporter of Gerry Scharfenberger, I am happy to answer the questions Vin raises.
I am not a spokesperson for any Tea Party group. The official spokespeople know they are welcome to submit their own material for the front page or simply comment.
I, and I think the Tea Party groups, support Gerry Scharfenberger for another term on the Middletown Township Committee, not only because of the R after his name, not even primarily because of the R after his name. I support Gerry because he has done an excellent job leading Middletown. I support him because he is one the hardest working most conscientious elected officials I know.
The Tea Party groups have not blindly supported Gerry because he’s an R. They’ve held his feet to the fire over the budget and operations of Middletown. He has answered their questions and earned their support.
Vin raises five issues as reasons not to support Gerry. 1) This year’s municipal budget which accounts for the majority of the property tax increase, 2) the recycling robocalls, 3) the arts center, 4) the municipal pool, and the sewage authority.
The most important concern is the budget. Gerry has explained this years difficult budget well. Taxes had to be increased because of a loss of state funding ( I refuse to call it aid), an almost $1 million unpredictable increase in the cost of snow removal last winter, unexpected retirements that cause big payouts in unused vacation and sick time, and a decline in revenue from recycling.
Had Gerry asked me, I would have advised him to wait on the recycling robo calls until after the election. My reasoning would have been political, not governmental. The moment I received the robo call while sitting at my desk at 9PM, I knew it would be criticised politically.
From a governmental point of view, there should probably be robo calls the day before every recyling pickup until the majority of people’s behavior changes and recycling increases. Robo calls are cheap. The reaction the recent ones prove they get attention. An increase in recycling will be good for the townships budget and good for the environment. Gerry should keep making those calls….after the election…and before 8PM.
The art center and the pool are silly issues to use against Gerry. They were both in the works either before or very early in his tenure on the township committee. I agree the art center was too expensive and is under utilized. Now that it is there, we need to maximise its use and keep the costs down. The pool should be sold.
The sewage authority is a patronage pit, as are countless authorities throughout New Jersey. Gerry didn’t create the pit and Sean Byrnes will not clean it up. Governor Christie has started the process of cleaning up the cess pool of New Jersey’s waste and abuse in all levels of government, including authorities. Gerry Scharfenberger is the Governor’s partner in the clean up.
Even though the sewage authority is a patronage pit, my sewer bills are lower in Middletown than they are in the other Monmouth County towns where I own property.
Even though my Middletown taxes went up, they are lower, as a percentage of property value, than the other towns in Monmouth County where I pay property taxes.
Yes, I am a partisan Republican, like Vin is a partisan Democrat. Yet, I have used this blog prominently over the years to criticise Republicans, including Gerry. I admire Vin telling us he didn’t vote for Ellen Karcher or Jon Corzine. I understand why he’s not telling us which Democrats he’s not voting for this year, however his questioning of the Tea Party’s integrity would have more weight if he was honest about which Democrats he’s not voting for this year and if he went public about that before the election. I don’t expect him too, but like he said, if we’re going to lay the cards on the table…..
Even though I am a partisan Republican, as a taxpayer I appreciate divided government. Early in is tenure, I had hoped Sean Byrnes was the kind of Democrat I could support in a minority position. He has not proven himself to be that. He hasn’t added value to the governance of Middletown. He has used his minority status to try to create partisan wedges rather than to improve the service and costs of Middletown government.
That the government employees unions contributed $74,000 to Byrnes Freeholder race last year tells me all I need to know. When the Governor’s tool kit gets passed, Middletown will be able to run government even more efficiently than it does now. If Byrnes is beholden to the unions, he will not be as aggressive as need be in reducing the costs of government.
That Byrnes, as a member of the Township Committee, voted on an appointment of a community member he was involved in litigation with as a private attorney, raises sufficient questions about his judgement to disqualify him for another term.
Under Republican leadership, Middletown has the one of the lowest, if not the lowest, costs of municpal government per capita than any other town in New Jersey. The number of municipal employees has decreased by almost 25% over the last 10 years, 10% this year.
As I have asked many many times, name a town in New Jersey where Democrats are doing a better job than Republicans are doing in Middletown. Let me amend the question for this year; name an municipality with a population and land mass the size of Middletown where the municipal government has done a better job in the last six years than Middletown’s municipal government has done in the last six years with Gerry Scharfenberger’s leadership.
Vin’s a good friend to Byrnes. I’m proud to call him my friend too, and I am proud to be able to be friends with my political adversaries. We need more of that kind of relating as we fix our broken state.
To my Tea Party friends, don’t be distracted by Vin’s volley. We have too much work to do this week.