The Middletown Library Board of Trustees will consider hiring a part time executive director to replace Susan O’Neal.
O’Neal submitted her resignation to the board last evening as part of a negotiated termination. Board President Brock Siebert declined to comment on O’Neal resignation, citing a confidentiality agreement. The termination won’t be official until approved by the Middletown Township Committee. Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger also declined to comment.
O’Neal’s continued employment became untenable when her emails with Linda Baum, a Democratic candidate for Township Committee revealed that she was colluding with the Middletown Democratic Party to undermine the authority of the Board of Trustees. The emails were released as a result of an Open Public Records Act request on the part of Committeeman Tony Fiore. Fiore became suspicious that O’Neal and Baum were colluding when Baum shared confidential information she should not have been privy to at a public meeting. Baum unsuccessfully sued to block the release of the emails.
Brock said the board’s personnel committee will meet next week to discuss a search for O’Neal’s replacement. Hiring a part time executive director is one option he wants to committee to consider.
Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik told NJ.com that Governor Chris Christie is playing politics by not supporting Marlboro’s decision to post armed police officers at each of their schools as a reaction to the Newtown, CT massacre.
“Unfortunately, I believe that if Governor Christie was not contemplating running for President or was not running for re-election, he would be firmly behind [Marlboro’s actions], but politics has had its influence on him,” said Hornik. “Politics can’t come into play when you’re talking about children’s safety. We need gun control in this country, and we need to get rid of assault weapons and multi-bullet clips. I don’t see a need for them, while recognizing the Second Amendment, at all. But the reality is that guns are out there, right now.”
Since the day after the Newtown shooting, Christie has said that he does not think cops at schools are conductive to the learning environment nor are such deployments the answer answer to mass shootings.
At the press conference for the Belmar boardwalk groundbreaking this week, the governor said that he would not take action to stop communities that decide to have police at their schools.
Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger told MoreMonmouthMusings that Hornik’s comments sound political. “Maybe Jon’s running for governor,” said Scharfenberger, “his comments sound just plain silly. I don’t hear anything political in what Christie said. He is sharing his philosophy and a lot of people agree with him.”
Hornik told MMM that he’s not running for anything this year. “I doing my job as mayor. No other office excites me. You never know what will come your way, but I am not pursuing anything politically.”
Dr. Gerry Scharfenberger, PhD, is slated to become Mayor of Middletown Township on Sunday January 6 when the Township Committee reorganized for 2013. Committeewoman Stephanie Murray will be Deputy Mayor.
Scharfenberger, an archaeologist who teaches at Monmouth University, is the Director of the State Office of Planning Advocacy within the Department of State. A Township Committee Member since 2005, he previously served as mayor in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
Murray, the owner and co-founder of Crescent Moon Press, is serving her first term on the Township Committee.
Under the Township Committee form of government the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are selected annually by the Committee Members.
Middletown, as well as most of Monmouth and Ocean Counties faced a storm that became one of the five worst in the last 140 years, with 30 inches of snow and winds equivalent to a category 2 hurricane. Township crews and private contractors began working the streets at approximately 10:00AM on Sunday, December 26th.
Hours before the storm weather predictions were for about half of what we actually were faced with. One of the most difficult issues with this storm was how quickly the snow accumulated. For the first 24 hours crews out plowing and using front end loaders were severely hampered by an extraordinary number of emergency calls requiring fire, first aid and police response. From Sunday, December 26th through Thursday, December 30th 3,449 calls for assistance were received. Of these, 1,009 calls required some form of emergency response and many were 911 calls. There were 204 reports of disabled motor vehicles (many stranded or abandoned and many of which were emergency vehicles), 123 First Aid and/or Fire responses and 102 reports of motor vehicle crashes.
Each emergency response required the diversion of a snow crew from wherever they were working to the location of the emergency so that access could be quickly provided to the address. This effort was continually hampered by again, an extraordinary number vehicles being stuck on the road, including numerous police cars, ambulances, tow trucks, and plows. There were also numerous cars left abandoned on roads, further hampering plowing operations.
Many pick-up trucks with plows were simply overwhelmed by the volume and weight of the snow and unable to function. In most areas, front end loaders were needed. Although front end loaders are very efficient in the volume of snow they can move, they do move very slowly. This is especially true in areas with a lot of on-street parking and we have a lot of neighborhoods like that.
Besides the complication of the tremendous volume of snow and the enormous number of calls for emergency response, two other factors contributed to the difficulties encountered. Because the storm hit Sunday and peaked Sunday night, there were a lot more cars parked on the streets that there would be for a weekday storm. In addition, on some roads conditions were made worse after mostly well-intentioned people moved snow from driveways and walkways and put it back into the streets.
The Township has had crews on the road, both township employees and private contractors, constantly since Sunday morning. Typically there are about 24 to 30 workers on either plows, front end loaders, or salt/sand trucks at any given time. The town is divided into four districts and each district has a supervisor that moves the crews from place to place within their district.They also re-deploy vehicles as needed to respond to emergencies. These crews, which include both township employees and private contractors, have worked round the clock since Sunday morning and will continue to do so for as long as necessary.
Each year the Township awards contracts to 6-7 private contractors to supplement our municipal operations. In response to this snow emergency, we added two more contractors. While one did show up and performed very well for us, the other contractor simply failed to appear.The area this contractor failed to cover had to be picked up by others causing further delay.
Middletown is comprised of 42 square miles compared to Manhattan with only 23 square miles. Our large geographic area presents a number of substantial challenges during storm events like this. The sheer number of roadway miles in Middletown is daunting when you think of plowing snow. Crews have to plow 330 roadway miles, which is the equivalent of plowing from Middletown to Richmond, Virginia.
We are confident that Middletown’s emergency responders and road crews did their very best through this extremely powerful storm. However, we realize that there is always room for improvement. We will be making every effort to review our operations and procedures used to respond to such storms and will implement several changes that will help us to handle such events more expeditiously in the future. We thank you for and appreciate your patience and perseverance. We will make every effort to continue improving our operations to the best of our ability.
Finally I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Monmouth County and the State of New Jersey. In addition to clearing the County roads, Freeholder John Curley was instrumental in sending us three front end loaders and operators to help clear Middletown roads. Similarly, the New Jersey Department of Transportation was quick to clear the State highways that run through Middletown and a representative from the Governor’s office even reached out to me personally to offer any assistance we needed. We thank them for partnering with us during this extraordinary storm event.
Thanks to the Asbury Park Press making Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger the most famous Director of the Office of Planning Advocacy in the State’s history, the Middletown Republican Club has come up with a great stocking stuffer.
On Wednesday I made the casethat the Neptune Nudniks are unfair, biased, dishonest and incompetent based upon the amount of ink that gave the news of Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger’s job as Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy and the fact that he did not want his job to be an issue in his reelection campaign, vis-à-vis other stories of more consequence that they chose to ignore or bury.
Today I make the case that the APP’s coverage of the Scharfenberger story itself is unfair, biased, dishonest and incompetent.
Not in the job three months yet, Scharfenberger has already saved the State $386,000, more that his annual salary X 4, according to the APP’s own account. Why are they questioning Gerry’s qualifications?
In their editorial on the matter, the nudniks argue that Governor Christie is not serious about eliminate double dipping. They use Scharfenberger’s appointment and Jackson Mayor Mike Reina’s appointment to a job at the Department of Transportation as examples. To use the APP’s own words, they are being “disingenuous at best and downright dishonest at worst.” It is also possible that they are just plain incompetent. I don’t know which is worse, disingenuousness or incompetent…you decide.
Christie’s proposed reforms call for the end of dual office holding, i.e. the same person holding two elected offices AND prohibition of one person earning more than one government salary. Christie was clear on the campaign trail last year and has been clear in town hall meetings this year that he has no problem with government employees serving their communities in elected office, so long as they do so as volunteers. Scharfenberger was a volunteer as a member of the Middletown Township Committee before he got his new appointment. Reina gave up his salary as Mayor of Jackson after he was appointed to his job at DOT. (Though, to the APP’s credit, Reina did not give up his Jackson salary until after the nudniks brought it up…more on that and the culture of trough swillers in a soon to follow post about “greed and arrogance”).
There is no question that Scharfenberger did not want his new job to be an issue in the Middletown campaign. The APP say their reporter asked Gerry about his employer and he didn’t mention it. Scharfenberger denies this and Penton, the APP reporter who wrote two articles about the job since the election has not responded to inquiries from MMM. I believe Gerry because he was honest with me when I asked him specifically about the job over the summer. Penton either asked the wrong question or is being disingenuous at best in his reporting.
The APP says Scharfenberger not announcing the job with great fanfare was mendacity. I say it was clever and good politics. The APP’s coverage of the story and the Middletown Democrats reaction to it, since I broke it, demonstrates that Scharfenberger’s political instincts were spot on. The Dems, and the APP at their behest, have distorted the issue and misreported the facts. To his credit, Sean Byrnes, Scharfenberger’s opponent in the election told The Independent that the issue of Gerry’s job would not have changed the outcome of the election, “its not a 2000 vote issue,” Byrnes said. However, as we have seen since I broke the news of the job, the issue would have changed the tenor of the Middletown campaign. The Dems and the APP would have very likely distorted the issue, like they have since, and made the campaign about Gerry’s job, rather than about the issues pertinent to Middletown.
The nudniks conclude their editorial with a call for Scharfenberger to resign one of his positions or for Christie to either insist upon a resignation or explain why he has changed his thinking on public servants holding more than one job. That was never Christie’s thinking, and the nudniks call for Gerry’s resignation from one of the jobs is thoughtless and irresponsible given his record in Middletown and his performance in the new job so far.
Scharfenberger won re-election by a large plurality in a year with strong anti-incumbent sentiment and the local Democrats conducting a yearlong smear campaign that included stealing, smashing and defacing his campaign signs. The reason he won so big? He is clearly one of the best, most effective elected officials in the state. The residents admire his down to earth, no nonsense style and his reputation for personally contacting people who call or write to his office. Under his leadership, Middletown has one of the lowest municipal tax rates in the region, one of the smallest work forces per capita and most importantly, one of the lowest spending per capita in the state. Middletown has also been named one of the top 100 places to live in the country by Money Magazine for three years in a row of eligibility. His innovative ideas include devising one of the first municipal Green Initiatives in the state and the first municipal Veterans Affairs Committee in the state. He was also the first mayor in the state to sign his town up for the Adopt-A-Unit program, which collected tons of supplies and well wishes to our troops overseas. He has also been a tireless advocate on behalf of Middletown in fighting COAH, unfunded mandates, and excessive union contracts, among other harmful policies.
Scharfenberger is also a career volunteer who currently serves on the Middletown Landmarks Commission, the Open Space Committee, the Middletown Drug and Alcohol Alliance, and the Monmouth County Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee. He even serves on the Township Committee as a volunteer, foregoing his salary out of respect for the taxpayers. He was recognized for his service by the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce with the Public Servant of the Year award in 2009, an honor given to Governor Christie in 2008 and Lt. Governor Guadagno in 2010.
His appointment to the position of Director of the Office For Planning Advocacy (OPA) was a brilliant move on the part of the Christie Administration. Scharfenberger brings a unique combination of municipal and professional experience to the position. Prior to serving on the Township Committee, he served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment and has served as a Landmarks Commissioner for over 14 years. As mayor, he has been involved in several major redevelopment, brownfields mitigation and development projects. He was also integral in the aquaculture study to revitalize the Bayshore and the NPP grant to revitalize North Middletown. Professionally, he is a Ph.D. with numerous professional publications who has worked on hundreds of land use projects in every county in the state for such diverse entities as the NJDOT, NPS, NJDEP, SCC, NJ Transit and dozens of private organizations. Of the past 10 directors of the OPA, Scharfenberger’s overall credentials put him at or near the top. Even with his state position, he has shown his consideration for the taxpayers of New Jersey by waiving taxpayer funded health benefits and retaining his own at a cost of $6,000 per year. He has also enrolled in the deferred compensation program, the state’s 401K which he contributes to himself.
This is who the APP wants to drive out of public service.
The Neptune Nudniks’ coverage of Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger’s job as Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy, and the fact that he did not announce the job with great fanfare during the Middletown campaign for Township Committee demonstrates just how unfair and biased the Asbury Park Press is when you compare their coverage, or lack there of, to other stories of far more consequence.
All media outlets are biased. It is impossible not to be. We’re all human and have our point of view. MMM proudly declares that we are fair and biased in our logo welcoming readers to the site. Newspapers like the Asbury Park Press are disingenuous when they claim to be unbiased. The APP even claimed that they and other “real journalists” work hard to be unbiased in a editorial bashing the owners of FoxNews for donating $1 million dollars to conservative causes last summer. I say FoxNews is more trustworthy. At least they disclosed their owner’s bias. The APP, and many many others persist with their facade that they are unbiased when their behavior clearly demonstrates otherwise.
With their article and editorial today, combined with Friday’s article and Bob Ingle’s blog post on Sunday, APP.com has published 2547 words in four pieces on three separate days to the story of a volunteer Mayor who was appointed to a State job over the summer and did not make it an issue in his reelection campaign.
Contrast this to the news that Congressman Frank Pallone and three of his colleagues used their political influence to get the FDA to approve an unsafe medical device in exchange for campaign contributions. The FDA reversed itself after an internal investigation. The issue was national news for a few days. But not for the Asbury Park Press and their sister papers that cover the 6th congressional district. Three days after the Kansas City Star published the story of Pallone and his crooked cronies putting Americans’ health at risk in exchange for campaign cash, the APP published one articleof 619 words with a pro-Pallone spin. Ingle added 194 words with the appropriate slant two days later.
The APP is unfair and biased in what they cover and it how they cover it.
The same reporter, Kevin Penton, wrote the Pallone/FDA story and the Scharfenberger stories.
Referring to the report that exposed the Pallone/FDA scandal, Penton wrote “The report — the result of an investigation requested in May 2009 by three congressmen, including Pallone — does not specify who in Congress made the persistent inquiries.” There was no further follow up published by Penton or anyone else from the APP.
Yet, Penton spent all day yesterday on the phone and on his computer keeping the Scharfenberger story alive. All those people Penton quoted in his article today…do you think they called him? Do you think they were even aware that Scharfenberger is the Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy? Of course not. Penton made thestory. At least we know he has it in him to do some follow up. It is too bad that he, and his bosses, are unfair and biased about the stories that they actually decide to put work into, as opposed to what they often do, which is regurgitate what the subjects of their “news” tell them.
Penton’s article and the editorial state that Scharfenberger was asked about his employment in October and did not mention the State job. Neither Penton nor the editorial name the reporter. Scharfenberger denies this. He told MMM that he had not spoken to Penton about his job since July, before he was hired by the Christie administration. Penton has not responded to a phone call and an email from MMM to either verify or dispute Scharfenberger’s account. Scharfenberger said he was very careful to be truthful during the campaign in how he answered inquiries about his employment with reporters and members of the public in general.
Scharfenberger knew his state job was common knowledge in certain circles but he did not want it to become a campaign issue. “What was I going to do, go around town saying ‘vote for me, the Governor thinks I’m so great he hired me’?” “I did not want to use the job in my favor and I did not want the Democrats to use it against me. I wanted the campaign to be about Middletown issues, not who I work for.”
Scharfenberger’s account is consistent with my experience. I knew about Scharfenberger’s job in late August or early September. I chose not to report it. I did not find out about the job from Scharfenberger. He was not happy when I asked him to confirm it. He assumed I would report on it.
I’m not a full time journalist. I haven’t taken a journalism course since I was in high school writing for Bear Facts, the Bergenfield High School newspaper. Why did I know about Gerry’s job and full time journalists didn’t? Google has this neat service called “Google Alert.” Penton and the folks over in Neptune should check it out. I received anecdotal confirmation of Gerry’s job before I asked him about it.
I chose not to report about Scharfenberger’s job until after the election because, after observing the Middletown Democrats over the last 13 years I suspected they would distort it and make the campaign about it, rather than the issues facing Middletown. Feel free to criticise me for not reporting it. I told you I was fair and biased the moment you got here. If you’re going to criticise me, please also credit me for my competence. The APP and the Middletown Democrats, and maybe even you, still wouldn’t know about Gerry’s job if I hadn’t reported it.
To prove that I am fair as well as biased, I now disclose that I am aware of two elected officials in Monmouth County, one Democrat and one Republican, who have full time state jobs and are still collecting their stipends from the municipalities that they serve. The Democrat I found about last week. The Republican this morning. I’m not going to tell you who they are, at least not right now. Now that they know that I know, they have a few days to do the right thing and heed the spirit of Governor Christie’s call for reform and only collect one government salary. I also want to see if the Neptune Nudniks have what it takes to find out what I already know, or if they care.
There’s a video on YouTube which is a good analogy for how Scharfenberger handled his job during the campaign. You may have seen it already as it has over 6 million views. Here it is:
In the video, consider Scharfenberger the quarterback and the Middletown Democrats and the Neptune Nudniks the yellow shirted defense. Did the quarterback do anything illegal? No. Did he do anything unethical? No. Was he clever? Yes. Is clever bad? If you laughed at the video, you don’t think so.
Had the yellow shirted defense been rigorous and paying attention, the quarterback would have looked like a fool. As it was, and as it is in the case of Middletown and the APP, the nudniks are foolish.
An international crime syndicate raided Middletown’s bank accounts of $379,000. The Asbury Park Press did not judge that to be newsworthy, even after arrests were made and law enforcement officials were willing to talk about it.
A Freeholder who made ethics and transparency the theme of his tenure in office and the theme of his reelection campaign was exposed asking another Freeholder to make a political appointment in exchange for campaign contributions. The Asbury Park Press did not find that to be newsworthy.
New Jersey’s two U.S. Senators and two Congressman, one of whom represents the APP’s coverage area, pressured the FDA to approve an unsafe medical device in exchange for campaign contributions. The FDA reversed itself and issued a mea culpa two years later. The scandal make national news. The Neptune Nudniks reluctantly covered the story in obscure locations on their website and in their print editions days after the issue was national news.
Basically what the Middletown Dems are saying is that had they known about Gerry Scharfenberger’s new job as the Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy that they would have made it a campaign issue. Gerry would have had to respond by making the case that his job is a positive for Middletown.
As it was, the Middletown campaign was about the township’s recent tax increase. An issue much more relevant to the majority of Middletown residents. The Democrats charged that the Republicans recklessly raised taxes and manage the township poorly. The Republicans explained the tax increase and defended their record. The voters chose the Republicans. A relevant campaign. The voters chose. Case closed. Now the Democrats protest because they would have made the campaign about something irrelevant to the voters if they had the information.
Why was Gerry’s job irrelevant to the campaign? Quick, off the top of your head with no research, name Gerry Scharfenberger’s predecessor at the Office of Smart Growth. That’s why.
What the Democrats’ protest and the APP reporter’s complaint included in the article demonstrates, in addition to their pettiness, is their ineptitude. The Democrats and the reporter should have known about Gerry’s new job without him telling them about it. In this information age, there is no justification for politicians not knowing all information on the public record about their opponents and there is no justification for reporters not knowing all public information about the subjects they cover. There is no justification but there are two explanations: ineptitude and laziness.
Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger has been appointed Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy, formerly the Office of Smart Growth.
The Office of Smart Growth was formerly under the auspices of the Department of Community Affairs. It has been renamed and transfered to Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno’s portfolio in the Department of State as an element of the Business Action Center. The Business Action Center (BAC) is the Chrstie Administration’s effort to facilitate economic growth by attracting, retaining and growing businesses in New Jersey.
Scharfenberger, who is a volunteer in his capacity as a member of the Middletown Township Committee, manages a staff of 11 and earns $95,000 in his new position.
Governor Christie will be rallying Anna Little, Sheriff Shaun Golden, Freeholder Rob Clifton, Mayor Tom Arnone, Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger and Kevin Settembrino and hundreds of their supporters at Bachstadt’s Tavern, 8 Bray Ave, Middletown.
The event starts at 7PM.
In Middlesex County, Governor Christie Stops at the Middlesex County Victory Office with Scott Sipprelle and the Middlesex County Republican Ticket
Start Time: 6:30PM
Location: Middlesex County Victory Headquarters
4095 Route 1 South
Located in the South Brunswick Square Mall
Monmouth Junction, NJ