Year in review: August 2015

Dylan Gowan, a 19 year old Highlands man, spent the the night of August 11 and early morning hours of August 12 on a buoy 4 miles off the coast of Sandy Hook after the wave runner he was riding from Brooklyn failed and while the U.S. Coast Guard and the NYPD Marine Unit searched New York Harbor for him via helicopter and boat.

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Posted: December 31st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Democrats show up for ballot drawing with temperature gun

Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal’s entourage showed up at County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon’s office today for the ballot positioning drawing, armed with a space age temperature gun.

Not Linda Baum

Not Linda Baum

Linda Baum, a Middletown Democrat who has twice been defeated for Township Committee, and who got the Middletown Librarian fired when they conspired together to politicize library operations behind the backs of the Library’s Trustees, was on the scene in Freehold to take the temperature of the capsules containing the names Democrat and Republican for the ballot positioning drawing.

Gopal issued a press release this morning wherein he accused former County Clerk M. Claire French of refrigerating the capsules in the past in order that she could pick the cold one to assure the Republicans win the favored ballot position.

Baum, who’s  certification in temperature gun operation is unclear, pointed her gun at the capsules while Bertha Sumick, the Clerk of Elections and a Deputy County Clerk looked on.

Hanlon had recused herself from presiding over the drawing, because she is on the ballot in November.

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Posted: August 10th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County News, Monmouth Democrats, Vin Gopal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Winners and Losers of 2013, Part 3

Monmouth County’s Biggest Losers

Vin SmugVin Gopal. When you’re twenty-eight years old and the most popular governor in the nation singles you out as a practitioner of the “politics of yesterday,” twice in four months, you’re having a bad year.

Worse for the Monmouth County Democratic Chairman, he doesn’t have the juice to enforce the retribution he promised to Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long and Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider, two Monmouth County Democrats who endorsed Governor Chris Christie’s reelection.

When you’re a twenty-eight year old County Chairman and the elite statewide power players of your party convene for dinner in your county, twice, and you’re not invited, you’re having a bad year.

When, after a devastating county-wide electoral loss, a member of your party leaks your declaration of victory taking credit for wins in races you lost and for a victory in a non-partisan election you weren’t involved in, you’re having a bad year.

But none of those things are what landed Vin Gopal on MMM’s biggest loser list.

Gopal in on this list because of his reckless, mean-spirited and false attempted character assassination of a Republican candidate for Red Bank Borough Council.

Gopal launched his inaccurate attack against Sean DiSomma in a press release late on a Friday afternoon in October.   He encouraged reporters to print his allegations on over the weekend and do their fact checking on Monday, after the story had legs.  Some did, to their own detriment.

In his desperate zeal to win in a Democratic town where he was losing, Gopal ruined his credibility with members of the media who had come to rely upon him as a reliable source.

The Bayshore Tea Party GroupOnce respected as a powerful and principled political force, Barbara Gonzalez , Bob Gordon and their shrunken band of zealots traded their welcome at Republican power tables where they could have made a difference for the road less taken of self-righteous irrelevancy.

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Posted: December 31st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Election | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Middletown Library Will Consider Part Time Executive Director

Susan O'Neal. Photo courtesy of Middletown Patch.

Susan O’Neal. Photo courtesy of Middletown Patch.

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 salary is $119,816, according to Data Universe.

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.


Posted: September 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Democrats, Middletown Library | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Middletown Library Will Consider Part Time Executive Director

Fire The Asbury Park Press Editorial Board

For the last several years this site has derided the Asbury Park Press Editorial Board Neptune Nudniks for their ignorance of the facts and processes about which they opine, and for their religious bigotry.

The Nudniks’ editorial today about the controversy surrounding the emails exchanged between Middletown Library Director Susan O’Neal and Democratic candidate for Middletown Township Committee Linda Baum is a firing offense.  They apparently didn’t even read or comprehend their own reporter’s article about the issue, before publishing their ignorant opinion.

APP reporter Suzanne Cervenka reported the story accurately on July 4.  Middletown Township Committeeman Tony Fiore made an OPRA request for emails between O’Neal and Baum.  Baum took the issue to Court, arguing that the emails were private, had nothing to do with library operations and that she in no way acted as an agent of the library.  Judge Lawrence M. Lawson ruled that, as a matter of law, the emails were government documents subject to OPRA and ordered them released.

In their editorial, the Nudniks said that Fiore took the matter to Court when in fact Baum took the matter to Court.  They said Lawson should have refused to hear the matter.  If Lawson kept the Court out of it, the emails would have been released without Baum being heard on the matter.  The Nudniks said Fiore was being petty for following his instincts that O’Neal was undermining the public’s oversight of the $4.6 million dollar operation she directs.

Monmouth and Ocean County citizens deserve better from their largest newspaper/news site.  We’ve deserved better for a long time. We should demand better.

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Posted: July 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Asbury Park Press, Neptune Nudniks, NJ Media, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Middletown Library Director and Democratic Committee Candidate Worked Together To Undermine Oversight, Raise Funds For Democratic Campaign

State Senator Barbara Buono and Linda Baum, Democratic candidate for Middletown Township Committee, 8/25/12 facebook photo

State Senator Barbara Buono and Linda Baum, Democratic candidate for Middletown Township Committee, 8/25/12 facebook photo

Middletown Library Director Susan O’Neal submitted incomplete and haphazardly organized emails between herself and Linda Baum, a past and present Democratic candidate for Middletown Township Committee, in response to Judge Lawrence M. Lawson’s ruling last week that the emails are government documents subject to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.

MMM received the 298 pages of emails which include numerous duplicates, many truncated pages that cannot be fully read and omit relevant attachments, late this morning from Middletown Township via OPRA request.  The emails can be viewed via Scribd at the end of this post.

The emails reveal a ongoing endeavor between O’Neal and Baum to undermine the oversight of the library by its Board of Trustees and the Township Committee.  Additionally, Baum and O’Neal planned to use the library to forward the political objectives, including political fundraising, of Baum and the Middletown Democrats.  Middletown Democratic Chairman Don Watson was copied on several of the emails.

In his ruling dated July 1 denying Baum’s motion to thwart the release of the emails requested by Middletown Clerk Heidi Brunt on behalf of Township Committeeman and Library Trustee Tony Fiore, Lawson wrote that Baum argued the emails have “absolutely nothing to do with the official business of the library” and do not relate to public operations.

Lawson wrote that “Baum argues that she has no relationship with the Library, nor is she an agent of the library in any respect.”

The emails reveal otherwise.

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Posted: July 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Election, Middletown, Middletown Democrats, Middletown Library, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Court | Tags: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments »

Emails Between Middletown Library Director and Democratic Candidate Will Be Released

Linda Baum trying to convince voters to support her last summer. facebook photo

Linda Baum trying to convince voters to support her last summer. facebook photo

Linda Baum, a past and present Democratic candidate for Middletown Township Committee, presents herself as an advocate of open government and transparency. She even wrote an article on her campaign website about how citizens can made Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests.

Yet, when it comes to her own email correspondence with Middletown Library Director Susan O’Neal, Baum is far from open and transparent. She sued the Library Board of Trustees and Township Clerk Heidi Brunt to prevent her emails from being released under an OPRA request made by Brunt on behalf of Township Committeeman Tony Fiore. Fiore is the Township Committee’s representative on the Library Board.

Judge Lawrence M. Lawson ruled on Monday that Baum’s emails with O’Neal are government records and must be released per the OPRA request. Lawson’s decision can be viewed here.

Baum argued that the emails were private, had nothing to do with Library operations, and could be used against her politically.

Fiore asked Brunt to file OPRA requests for the emails that O’Neal exchanged with Baum and Melanie Elmiger from January 2012 and May 15, 2013 when it became apparent that Baum and Elmiger had information about Library business that had only been discussed in executive sessions and was not yet public.

“I look forward to seeing the emails that Linda Baum attempted to illegally block from the public,” Fiore said, “It is a shame that her frivolous lawsuit will cost the taxpayers of Middletown and the Middletown Public Library thousands of dollars that could have been used for other purposes.”

Posted: July 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Middletown, Middletown Democrats, Middletown Library | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

Lucas Farm Purchase Approved By Manalapan, Freeholders

Andrew Lucas will finally get his $1,152,000.

After almost three years since the Manalapan Township Committee Member purchased a 97 acre farm in Iron Ore Road, the Manalapan Township Committe and the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders approved the funding of their respective portion of the purchase of the development rights to the property.  Manalapan is paying $186,969.10 of the purchase price. Monmouth County is paying $277,920. The balance is coming from State coffers for the purpose of Open Space preservation.

Manalapan’s all Republican Committee approved their funds, 2-1, on Wednesday evening, according to ManalapanPatch.  Committeeman Ryan Green voted no. Deputy Mayor Jordan Maskowitz abstained.  Mayor Susan Cohen, the Monmouth GOP Vice Chair, and Committeeman Donald Holland voted to approve the purchase.  Lucas recused himself from the proceedings.  Maskowitz and Lucas are both up for reelection this November.

The isssue was heated at the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders meeting last night, with John Curley accusing his fellow freeholder, Lillian Burry, of colluding with Lucas. Lucas hosted a fundraiser for Burry at the farm in 2011, according to the Asbuy Park Press.   The APP said the exchanges between Curley and Burry were so intense that Freeholder Director Tom Arnone called multiple recesses.  Arnone voted with Curely against the purchased.  Gary Rich and Serena DiMaso joined Burry in voting for the purchase.

Democratic Freeholder candidate Lawrence Luttrell asked Burry to recuse herself.  County Counsel Andrea Bazer advised Burry that she had no conflict that would prevent her from voting.

Former Middletown Democratic Township Commitee candidate Linda Baum also spoke against the purchase on ethical grounds.

The issue has been controversial for years because, while he recused himself from voting as a committee member on the purchase, Lucas participated in deliberations about the transaction.  The State Local Finance Board approved the ethics of Lucas’ participation due to the fact that he sought the advice of the Township’s attorney.  In their opinion, the Finance Board indicated that they would be issuing new rules to cover future similar circumstances.

Posted: March 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Manalapan, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

Democratic Candidate for Middletown Township Committee Campaigns for Underage Votes

It seems better than soliciting votes at a cemetery, but it is still illegal.

Linda Baum, the Democratic candidate for Middletown Township Committee was asked told to leave Middletown High School South on Tuesday.  Baum was greeting students on their way into school.  When school started she entered the building and asked the administration to announce her presence over the intercom and have students come to meet her.

This was not Baum’s first attempt at seeking ineligible voters.  Over the summer she campaigned at the River Plaza Elementary School.

Baum did not return MMM’s calls seeking comment.    She is challenging Deputy Mayor Steve Massell for a three year term on the committee.

Posted: October 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Middletown, Middletown Democrats | Tags: , , | 17 Comments »

Thanks for a great month

June was by far the most active month in MMM’s history.  There have been 32,000 visits and 57,000 page views so far month.  71% of those visitors were repeats.  Google analytics says that all of that traffic came from 8700 computers.  Unbelievably to me, the average visit is for 11 minutes, which is longer than it takes to read an entire issue of the Asbury Park Press.

According to alexa.com, only 15,850 websites in the New York area and 125,439 in the United States get more traffic than MMM.

Special thanks go out to Anna Little, Ernesto Cullari, John Bennett, Christine Hanlon, Vin Gopal, Frank LaRocca, Barbara Gonzalez, Bob Gordon, Linda Baum  Rachel Alintoff, Judge Paul Escandon, Louise Murray and everyone who wears bathing suits on the Asbury Park Boardwalk.  I can’t forget Bob Menendez’s opposition research team.

I doing my monthly review, I couldn’t help but notice the success of my friends in Asbury Park.

Congratulations to Dan Jacobson and Molly Mulshine at the AsburyParkSun.  In only three months they have made a significant impact in the local media market.  Alexa.com says that APS is in the top 200,000 of all websites nationally and in the top 35,000 in the New York area.   Mulshine was the first to report the Asbury Park Boardwalk beach attire controversy, a story that went national.

UPDATE: July 1

Wow!  I haven’t had such a busy last day of the month since I was in the car business.  The final numbers for June are 32,959 visitors fromm 9,194 unique IPs and 58,768 page views.  Ranked 120,646 in the U.S. on Alexa.

As Lois mentioned in the comments, thank you so much to all the commenters, especially the “congregation” as Lois called the regulars.  I won’t name them all because I’m sure to leave an important one out.


Posted: June 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: NJ Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »