Remembering Tara Ryan

Tara Ryan. Photo courtesy of Ken Braswell, ShoreGrafx.com

Tara Ryan. Photo courtesy of Ken Braswell, ShoreGrafx.com

By Art Gallagher

Tara Ryan, 63, of Highlands, succumbed to complications of diabetes on Friday, April 1. Tara was with her loving husband Joe Killeen, and other family members when her time came.  Her family and the Highlands community are mourning her loss and celebrating her remarkable life which was devoted to improving the lives of others.

A one term borough councilwoman, Tara was a community leader in Highlands throughout her 21 year residence in the borough.  She was courted by both parties to run for council many times before finally agreeing to run as a Democrat in 2012.

She served on the Board of Education of Highlands Elementary School and the Highlands Zoning Board for many years.

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Posted: April 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Highlands, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Remembering Tara Ryan

Monmouth Democrats Endorse Tara Ryan-Killeen In Highlands’ Non-Partisan Council Race

Highlands Councilwoman Tara Ryan. photo via facebook

Highlands Councilwoman Tara Ryan. photo via facebook

The Monmouth County Democratic Party has endorsed incumbent Councilwoman Tara Ryan-Killeen for reelection in the non-partisan municipal election in Highlands on November 3.

In a sponsored advertisement on facebook, Chairman Vin Gopal’s organization lists every nominated Democratic candidate in Monmouth County on the County, State and Municipal levels, plus Ryan-Killeen in the non-partisan election in Highlands. The Democrats did not endorse any candidates in the only other non-partisan election this November, in Tinton Falls, which is uncontested.

Incumbent Councilman Kevin Redmond, who ran with Ryan-Killeen as a Democrat when they ran in 2012, did not receive the endorsement of Gopal’s organization.  Highlands changed to non-partisan municipal elections in 2014.

Redmond and Ryan-Killeen appear to be running together, as the share a facebook page, lawn signs and have issued a joint mailer.  However, they have different slogans on the ballot.

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Posted: October 15th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: 2015 Elections, Highlands, Monmouth County News, Monmouth Democrats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Highlands Council Votes To Give DeBlasio His 6th Government Job

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.

In Carteret, DeBlasio also serves as a member of the Parking Commission.

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.”

Posted: December 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Francy, Frank Nolan, Highlands | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Highlands Mayor Nolan Calls For Sharing Municipal Accounting Services, Criticizes Proposal To Give CFO Candidate A 6th Government Job

If one person can do six government jobs for $300,000, why can’t those governmental entities get together and hire one person to do that work for half the amount or less?

photo by Tim Larsen, Governor's Office

Highlands Mayor Frank Nolan, photo by Tim Larsen, Governor’s Office

In his column on facebook and Atlantic Highlands Herald, Highlands Mayor Frank Nolan said there is currently a contract being negotiated for a new Chief Financial Officer in the borough.  The candidate, who Nolan did not name, currently has five government jobs, including another job in Highlands, and earns $244,606. If hired as Highlands’ new CFO, the candidate would have to work 160 hours per week, theoretically, to justify the combined full time and part time salaries which would exceed $300,000.

As of this writing, there is a contract being written for someone to fill that position that already has 5 municipal jobs across the state. If this individual was to be given this 6th municipal job at our council meeting on December 18th they would be one of the top paid public employees in the state and would hold 2 jobs in the Borough of Highlands. His current salary listed on the state website is $244,606 for his 5 current positions. If we add another $65,000 to the total and highlands would be putting him over the $300,000 per year mark.

By definition most part time jobs are about 20 hours per week. The average fulltime job is 40 hours. If you have 4 part time jobs, that means you are working, in theory, 80 hours per week on those jobs. Plus you have 2 full time jobs. That’s another 80 hours. The person who is potentially being given a 6th municipal job at the Wed, December 18th council meeting that will be held at Highlands Elementary School at 8:00pm for the public. This person will be working 160 hours per week. There are 168 total hours in a 7 day week. How can someone work 6 jobs and be effective? The answer is: they can’t.

MMM believes the accountant is Highlands Tax Collector Patrick DeBlasio, who, according to APP’s Data Universe, has two jobs in Carteret, and one job each in Keansburg, North Plainfield, in addition to his tenured position in Highlands, all of which will pay a pension.

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Posted: December 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Government Waste, Highlands | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Highlands Mayor Nolan Calls For Sharing Municipal Accounting Services, Criticizes Proposal To Give CFO Candidate A 6th Government Job

Senate Budget Committee Hearing in Highlands

The State Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee toured the damaged areas of Union Beach and Highlands today before convening their scheduled hearing at the Henry Hudson Regional High School in Highlands.

State Senator Joe Kyrillos, who represents the Bayshore in Trenton, issued the following statement following the hearing:

Touring the damage today in Union Beach and Highlands gave my colleagues in the Senate a good visual of the destruction this storm wrought on our district and Monmouth County as a whole.  However, the testimony from members of the community who are putting their lives back together best illustrated the anguish and exhaustion our friends and neighbors are going through.  I thank members of the Committee for coming out to the Bayshore today.

They also got to see the best New Jerseyans have to offer: neighbors helping neighbors, residents rebuilding with dedication and courage, and the generosity of charities such as the Robin Hood Foundation that announced today their contribution of hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief efforts in Sea Bright, Highlands, Keansburg, and Union Beach.

As FEMA continues to assess the damage and make plans to compensate victims and help them rebuild, I encourage them to remember words of the residents who came to Highlands to testify.  The perception that the New Jersey shoreline is only for wealthy vacationers who live elsewhere is a false one.  This area is full of hard-working, middle class families whose homes have been in their families for generations and will have a difficult time rebuilding what they’ve lost even with flood insurance.  It is incumbent upon us to work together and ensure they are able to rebuild their homes to the condition in which they existed prior to the storm, or help them find a new home elsewhere if rebuilding in certain areas is too dangerous.  Only then will their lives truly be made whole after this unique event.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon said that the tour and the hearing dispelled any notion that some legislators have heard from their consitituients that FEMA and the State are bailing out exclusively well to do and second home owners on the shore who should have known better than the build near the water.

“This one was different,” said O’Scanlon, “properties were never touched by previous major storms and hurricanes were destroyed this time.  Hard working familes whose homes have been passed down four generations lost everything.  Every town is different and it is appropriate that the Committee came and meet the people of the Bayshore.”

Highlands Mayor Frank L. Nolan gave FEMA a “D” when asked to grade the federal agency by Senator Jeff Van Drew. “Do you say B?” ask Van Drew.  “D, as in not good,” responded Nolan.

Nolan gave the FEMA personnel on the ground an A+, saying his issues are with the agency’s bueracracy and red tape.

Nolan also announced that the Rainbow Foundation has pledged $200,ooo for Highlands recovery.

Councilwoman-elect Tara Ryan asked the committee to keep up the pressure on the National Park Service to open Sandy Hook by this summer, citing the park’s importance to the Northern Monmouth economy.

Posted: December 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Highlands, Hurricane Sandy, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Senate Budget Committee Hearing in Highlands

MMM Predictions for Election 2012

By popular demand (from Matt Rooney and a Democratic operative who doesn’t want people to know he/she talks to me) your favorite blogger is shifting his focus away from the Sandy Aftermath and back to politics on this election eve.

Rooney said, “Let’s hear your projection, Gallagher.”  My response: “The power will be off at my house for the rest of the week.”

Here are my predictions:

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Posted: November 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Congressional Races, 2012 Predictions, 2012 Presidential Politics, 2012 U.S. Senate Race, Elections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »