Monthly Archives: April 2008

American Idol weeps?

I literally just finished watching Brooke get booted off American Idol.

That blonde freak of nature could not stop wailing.

Her final song was a struggle comparable to watching wounded animals spasm and squirm.

Then, when she finished butchering yet another Neil Diamond song (didn’t HE do that already?), she proceeded to ball her eyes out yet again and start walking towards the back of the stage.

Brook, hello: You were on the show longer than you should have been and yet you still don’t realize there is NO EXIT at the back of the stage?

I’m dying here. At least the happy-go-way-too-lucky chick is gone.

David Cook, anyone?

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Filed under American Idol

To support Congressman Pallone’s FEMA legislation . . .

Attention Bayshore residents, all of you, no matter what your current flood zone designation:

Congressman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., introduced legislation that, were it passed, would put a moratorium on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) implementation of the newly reevaluated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

This meaning: You do NOT have to go out right this second and buy flood insurance, and if FEMA addresses all concerns, you might never have to.

While Pallone would prefer FEMA take it upon itself to administratively cease any and all implementation until questions and concerns are addressed, he said his legislation could be introduced as early as next week, if needed.

Pallone needs as much support as he can get, including Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

It helps a great deal when elected officials know how much residents are concerned.

To have a voice in this issue, I urge you to call Sen. Menendez’s office.

The numbers are listed below.

To reach his N.J. office: (973) 645-3030
To reach his D.C. office: (202) 224-4744

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, FEMA, Flood Map Fallout Series, Sen. Robert Menendez

Autism Awareness: Seeing in pictures

I was forwarded an article about Temple Grandin, an associate professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

Grandin has designed one-third of all livestock facilities in the U.S. She also has autism.

Because April is Autism Awareness Month, and because I didn’t blog about it as much as I’d have liked, I wanted to share some of Grandin’s story.

Grandin said she lives by associating words with her “library of experiences.” She communicates in the only way she knows how to and suggests that, rather than teach someone not to do something “wrong” by saying so, show them how to do something good.

I love Grandin’s term, “library of experiences.” Living in the abstract is something society often chokes on. This is something refreshing and simple.

For example, when Grandin hears the word “love,” it is not an abstract thought but a concrete image. Love is a song, a movie scene or a fond memory. Love is not some superimposed cloud in the sky everyone wants but few can reach.

Grandin’s work is to design more humane facilities for animals at ranches and slaughterhouses. Her research over the past years has added to her knowledge and experience.

She said, “I get great satisfaction when a rancher tells me that my corral design helps cattle move through it quietly and easily. When cattle stay calm, it means they are not scared. And that makes me feel I’ve accomplished something important.”

It is always my hope that people will never categorize others based on their “inabilities,” but rather what they have done as people, as human beings. Grandin is a remarkable person.

People first, criticism later. To read more of her story, follow this link.

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Filed under Autism, Autism Awareness Month, Colorado State University, Temple Grandin

Corzine says "NO"

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine said yesterday the state cannot “afford” a gas tax break.

N.J. can, however, continue to boast the third lowest gas tax rate in the nation, at about 14.5 cents per gallon.

Corzine said alleviating the tax, which would certainly give residents some monetary relief, would risk projects to cut congestion and improve mass transit.

At this rate, I don’t think Corzine should be worrying about cutting congestion and improving mass transit: No one is going to be able to afford to travel if gas prices keep skyrocketing. What will eventually start increasing are bicycle sales.

Just last month, I remember a gallon of of regular gasoline being just under $3. We all reminisce about the days when gas was anywhere from $1.50 to $2 per gallon. Remember those days?

It was just “pretend” when New Jersey’s gas prices finally followed suit and began increasing faster than residents could say “Fill ‘er up.”

Corzine said the state is battling budget deficits and will run out of money to pay for transportation improvements in three years.

To that I say, GOOD. Let the budget run out of money for transportation. Then maybe this state will focus on projects and issues that are actually important, such as education and health care.

I hope Corzine drives a giant SUV that costs hundreds of dollars to fill every week. He won’t cut a break for us, I see no reason why any breaks should be cut for him.

Then again, I’m sure it’s “just our tax dollars” that eventually pay for his gas anyway.

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Filed under Gas Hike, Gas Tax, Gov. Corzine, New Jersey

Courier covers Beach Sweeps 2008

New Jersey swept its beaches clean on Saturday, April 26. The sweeps were sponsored by Clean Ocean Action.

The boroughs of Keyport and Keansburg were two such locations where residents of all ages turned out with gloves, working shoes and plenty of trash bags to clean up their beaches.

The chairman of Keyport’s Environment Commission, Rowland Seckinger, said the importance of these exercises is for residents to collect trash from their beaches and tally it as data. This is to see exactly what is polluting their home so as to stop it at the source.

Clean Ocean Action provided data cards for participants to use. The borough will send their cards to Clean Ocean Action, who will then summarize their information and send back results.

Check out this week’s issue of The Courier to read about my experience in Keyport and Courier Senior Staff Writer Alyssa Passeggio’s trip to Keansburg.

PHOTO: “Savin’ the fishies, don’t you know?” (Melissa L. Gaffney)

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Filed under Alyssa Passeggio, Beach Sweeps, Clean Ocean Action, Keansburg, Keyport, Keyport Beach Sweep

Keansburg recycled TONS over the weekend

Keansburg Borough recycled about 2,750 pounds of paper and about 6 tons of electronics this weekend at the First Annual Earth Day Recycling Expo on Saturday, April 26.

Residents from across Monmouth County turned out to have their sensitive documents shredded and dump various computer parts, television sets and stereos.

Recycling Coordinator Jim Falco said the borough coordinated with Monmouth County and Data-Guard, an on-site document destruction company based in Lakewood.

To read more about what it meant for Keansburg to provide these recycling services and who turned out on Saturday, pick up a copy of The Courier on May 1.

To learn more about Data-Guard, visit its Web site.

PHOTO: I was fortunate enough to be lifted up in the loader truck to take pictures of the already full dumpster. What a view! Don’t worry, I’m not actually in with this load. (Melissa L. Gaffney)

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Filed under Data-Guard, First Annual Recycling Expo, Going Green, Keansburg, Monmouth County Recycling Coordinator, Recycling

Pallone will attempt to pass legislation where FEMA is concerned

Below is a press release that was forwarded to me.

Read with interest. These outcomes determine a lot where FEMA and the Bayshore are concerned.

My comments to follow in the next week.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Andrew Souvall, (202) 225-4671

April 25, 2008

PALLONE WILL INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PUT MORATORIUM ON FEMA FLOOD PLAN

Long Branch, N.J. — U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today announced plans to introduce legislation as early as next week that would place a moratorium on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) plans to expand flood zones. The New Jersey congressman is also calling on FEMA, as an agency, to implement the moratorium on its own for the Bayshore area.

Pallone voiced concern over a new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) that would expand the flood zone maps to more than 4,300 more homes in the Bayshore area of our district. The proposed plan has created a great deal of confusion in Hazlet, Keansburg, Middletown and Union Beach, and Pallone said, to date, FEMA has not been particularly helpful in addressing the residents’ concerns.

Under Pallone’s legislation, the national moratorium would remain in place until FEMA has developed an extensive public notification plan so that all affected communities are individually briefed and affected residents have the opportunity to investigate whether their homes were placed in the flood zones appropriately.

“FEMA’s expanded flood maps are causing confusion and frustration in the Bayshore area of my district,” Pallone said. “I would imagine that these new maps are causing similar feelings nationwide. At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet during a national recession, Congress must institute a moratorium on these expanded flood maps until FEMA has properly addressed serious questions that are rightfully being asked by affected homeowners.”

The New Jersey congressman said a moratorium is needed in light of several questions that he has asked FEMA that have gone unanswered. In an April 9th letter to FEMA Regional II Director Steve Kempf, Pallone asked the following questions: What formulas were used to calculate the expanded flood zones? What has changed in terms of the topography of the area to create such a large increase of the flood zone? Would the requirements for the flood zones change if there were infrastructure upgrades to the area in question? And, are there any provisions in current law that help property owners pay for flood insurance?

“The proposed maps will negatively affect thousands of my constituents who have not been properly briefed on many of the issues that I raised in my letter earlier this month,” Pallone continued. “FEMA needs to develop a better plan for reaching out to the public so that all affected residents have the opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed.”

Pallone also plans to bring together the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to discuss ways to remove the area in question from the new flood zone.

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, FEMA, Flood Map Fallout Series, Flood Maps, Floodplain Management, Floodwall, Hazlet, Keansburg, Keyport, Middletown