China today announced sanctions against Congressman Chris Smith, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, according to multiple media reports.
The sanctions, which are as yet unspecified, will “correspond” to sanctions imposed upon Chinese officials by the Trump Administration last week over the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in its Xinjiang region.
The Highlands Borough Council passed a resolution last night, in a 3-2 vote, to appoint Patrick DeBlasio to be the borough’s Chief Financial Officer effective May 1, 2014. DeBlasio is the CFO of Carteret, North Plainfield, and Keansburg. He is the treasurer of the Carteret Board of Education and the tax collector in Highlands.
The 40,000 salary that comes with the appointment will bring his total compensation from his six jobs to $284,606. All of DeBlasio’s jobs provide a pension. The borough plans to hire him an assistant for an undetermined salary.
Governor Chris Christie earns $175,000, as do U.S. Senators and Members of Congress. State Cabinet Officers earn $141,000. Superior Court Judges earn $165,000
The borough did not advertise the position or explore a shared services agreement with another town, as Mayor Frank Nolan and Councilman Chris Francy advocated. Rather, they voted to hire DeBlasio on the recommendation of retiring CFO Stephen Pfeffer, according to Council President Rebecca Kane and Councilwoman Tara Ryan’s remarks explaining the hire when they moved and seconded the resolution. Pfeffer earns $69,580 as CFO in Highlands and $157,738 as the CFO of Tinton Falls.
During the public portion of the council meeting, Kane said she would reevaluate the decision after one year. However Borough Attorney Bruce Padula said that the appointment is for a four year term. DeBlasio would be tenured after the initial four years. Kane’s term on the council expires in June, due to a referendum passed by Highlands voters in November making the borough’s election non-partisan. She is expected to run for another term.
In his remarks opposing DeBlasio’s appointment, Nolan said, “We are often the laughing stock of Monmouth County. This is one of the reasons why.”
Highlands resident Derek Gordon street kayaking after this afternoon's storm. Photo credit: Brian Cobb
The center of town, which is both residential and business, is at a lower elevation than the shore line. During a storm, water comes from the Sandy Hook Bay/Shrewsbury River and storm water comes rushing down to the below sea level downtown from “the hill,” the highest elevation on the east coast of the United States which includes parts of Highlands and the Monmouth Hills section of Middletown. During a big storm at high tide and a full moon, downtown Highlands looks like Venice without the charm and romance.
Councilman Chris Francy convinced the rest of the governing body to have T&M Associates, the borough’s engineers, design a flood mitigation system that includes new pumps and pipes to get the water out of town and back into the bay/river. The project is said to be “shovel ready” and will cost roughly $4 million dollars. The governing body is applying to FEMA to cover $2.2 million of the cost. Congressman Frank Pallone is on board to advocate for the project with FEMA. At a town hall meeting on Monday night, Francy, Pallone and Mayor Frank Nolan said that Highlands is currently number three on FEMA’s list of such projects in New Jersey but that only two will be approved. Pallone is working to get Highlands bumped up on the list and secure the funding. That might be good for Highlands and bad for a community along the Passaic River.
The governing body is set to vote on a resolution tonight that will put the project on the ballot in November as a non-binding referendum. The referendum would ask the voters consent to fund the entire project without FEMA money.