Monthly Archives: June 2008

Hathaway ‘ex’ tied to Colts Neck? Hmm.

The New York Post’s Page Six Magazine from Sunday had an interesting feature about Raffaello Follieri (Anne Hathaway’s apparent ex) and the recent trouble he’s found himself in.

What I found most intriguing was this — Apparently, Follieri wrote a bad check ($215,000, to be exact) to real estate developer John Morrongiello, for which he was issued a “desk appearance ticket” by NYPD officers.

The kicker, in my mind: Morrongiello is from Colts Neck, N.J.

Follieri has alleged ties to the Vatican, Bill Clinton and even the Mob.

I’d say it’s no surprise he was dipping into New Jersey real estate, especially in Colts Neck. (Have you driven through there recently?)

The Italian playboy did eventually pay up the $215,000 and charges were dropped.

Does make me wonder, though . . .

PHOTO: (From People.com)

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Filed under Anne Hathaway, Colts Neck, Raffaello Follieri

Yet another FEMA Open House . . .

This one will take place on July 16 at the Middletown Senior Center, Leonardo, from 2 to 8 p.m.

What a shocker. And they say the FEMA issue isn’t a political one.

More details forthcoming.

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Filed under Bayshore Flooding, FEMA, FEMA Open House, Middletown

Brightbill will take all the ink she can get

As if it weren’t bad enough, the letter I referenced in the previous post also contains what I might call “campaigning.”

Done in this manner, it’s just wrong on so many levels.

Anyway, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger writes that Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill “has devised a Strategic Plan for Middletown, which will result in a review of all our departments and a plan for expanded cost-saving proposals and potential interlocal agreements for the township, all done at no cost to the taxpayers.”

Let’s sell* Pam some more. (*Definitely not my first choice of words, but the other option is a bit harsh.) I’d like to see the details of all her “interlocal” work.

I don’t see one mention of what Committeeman Patrick Short has done “at no cost to the taxpayers,” which is heck of a lot more than sit during meetings and stare at the ceiling.

The committeeman recently completed the Municipal Elected Officials Certification Program, from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy Center of Government Service, at Rutgers University.

Short said this program, the cost of which totaled about $1,000, was done entirely on his own time and at zero cost to the taxpayers. “It helped orientate me to the job and provided me advanced training to address fundamental issues and current issues that confront elected officials,” he said. “I would highly recommend the program to newly elected officials, as well as, those with experience.”

(A general description, as well as more information, is listed on the program’s Web site.)

Short clocked about 35 hours in courses, not including travel time. Some of the seminars he experienced included “Conducting a Public Meeting” and “Municipal Budget Process for Elected Officials.”

Perhaps the Township Committee would be wise to tap into Short’s extensive knowledge — including what he learned from this course — and enlighten Pam as to how a meeting should actually run.

Correction: How an effective, fair and unbiased meeting should run.

It’s really a shame the mayor would rather highlight some ineffective campaign tactic rather than a committeeman who actually took the time to educate himself for the betterment of the entire community.

I wonder if presenters talked about Middletown’s “wonderful” budget process during the later seminar. I mean, considering it’s such a good model and everything . . .

PHOTOS: (above) Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill; (below) Committeeman Patrick Short

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Middletown matters? Then stop printing bull and learn how to budget properly

I picked up the June issue of Middletown Matters. I did this for one reason: To read Mayor Gerard Scarfenberger’s “message.”

I just put it down and am utterly disgusted. I can only imagine how discomforting this is to residents who know what actually goes on behind Middletown doors.

Firstly, the mayor addresses the “adoption” of the 2008 municipal budget. Um, hello Gerry, you have to vote on that tonight at 8 p.m. in Town Hall. Are you kidding me? So assumptive, it makes me want to puke. Yes, the ridiculous budget will probably get passed because of the Township Committee’s Republican majority (gag), but that is certainly nothing to be proud of.

I was also greatly disturbed by the manner in which the mayor depicts taxes. He makes it seem as if residents “merely” contribute some hundred dollars to the township, while the rest of their tax money goes to other locations. Yes, that is the process — The municipal budget is only a portion of a resident’s tax bill. But in no way does that make deceitful spending, wasted money and fiscal gluttony OK. Don’t make excuses, mayor.

Scharfenberger also bashes Trenton, as usual. Laughably, he notes how Middletown’s budget “process,” if that’s what he wants to call GOP-controlled spending, is lauded and used as a state model. And he thinks spending is poor in Trenton now?? WONDER WHY, if they’re using models like Middletown. I’m scared for my state, and if I lived in Middletown . . . I’d be scared out of my mind.

He also voices displeasure with unfunded state mandates, such as a “truck wash.”

“Thus our ‘reward’ for operating the town in cost-efficient, fiscally conservative manner is to have the small return on all of the money we send to Trenton cut even further,” Scharfenberger writes. I’m not even going there. EVERY municipality had cuts in state aid. I don’t know why the mayor is so worried anyway, Middletown will just bond what it can’t fund, thus leaving a legacy of decades of debt.

Mm, but I think my favorite part of this message was when Scharfenberger said there was a budget hearing during which the mayor, the deputy mayor and township administrator heard from department heads where cuts were made. WOW, not like there are three other people on the Middletown Township Committee or anything. Not to mention a chief financial officer attended that hearing. And an attorney. And a clerk.

Oh, and a great majority of the public. Guess they don’t “matter” all that much, huh?

I feel sorry for any resident who takes this message as it is intended: genuinely. There is nothing true or genuine about it. It’s the perfect example of certain elected officials feeding the public what they want it to know.

All in all, I should have expected this b/s. We are talking about Middletown, after all.

The vote on the 2008 municipal budget will take place tonight at 8 p.m. in Town Hall. Contrary to the mayor’s apparent intentions, the public is invited.

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Filed under 2008 Municipal Budget, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, Middletown

Oh goodness . . . The dinosaurs are at it again

I found the absolute best article from the Los Angeles Times.

Its focus? John McCain’s MOM, Roberta McCain.

This woman is 96 years old. Let me say that again: She’s 96. God bless her and all her wisdom. Jeez.

The article paints a candid picture of Roberta, but it sounds like the reporter wasn’t able to get much out of her. After all, she has been “muzzled,” as they say. She knows it; he knew it.

I wonder why they won’t let the woman speak. She clearly has some great stories to tell. And a sense of humor to boot.

I’d let her campaign as much as possible. I mean, it might kill her, but it might also kill John. (He’s 71, let’s not forget.) Americans like people they can relate to. Mrs. McCain has almost 100 years of relatability.

I’d say that’s worth more than a some cheesy slogan.

I wonder if Obama has an antiquated mama. Hmm, highly doubt that.

Click on the headline to read the article.

PHOTO: Isn’t she sweet? (Thanks to Mary Ann Chastain of the Associated Press; taken from the site)

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Filed under Barack Obama, Roberta McCain, Sen. John McCain

Accountabily has no party affiliation

There are several political parties in the United States. Today, I don’t want to attend a single one of them.

One of my recent posts was apparently written in the “context of a Republican philosophy.” Let me clarify: Republicans are the only ones I’ve ever heard talk about their political affiliation as basis for a religious sanctity.

I would also like to point out that I sought comments from any and all political parties. I see Republicans are quick to defend themselves, which is good. Pretty much expected, too.

I think my ultimate point was this, and perhaps I shouldn’t have beaten around the bush: Everyone, no matter what their religious or political belief, is individually accountable for their actions.

Don’t blame others. Pardon my phrase, but that’s so lame.

A few other points –

Perhaps “corrupt” was a strong word to describe “all” politicians. In some cases, I think it’s mild. But, as many have pointed out, there are actually some people who want to do good things when serving the public, and who want to be honest about them.

It is often those elected officials who don’t necessarily worry about “who gets the credit” or “whose idea it was,” just that people come together, united around one common goal – and accomplish it.

If it doesn’t work out, that’s OK: OWN UP TO IT. I don’t recall any official being chastised for being honest, even if something they did was wrong. Case in point: former President Bill Clinton. (I liked Mr. Clinton a lot; I like both the Clintons. Just because he “had sexual relations” with some chick he wasn’t married to does not, in my eyes, take away the good things he did for both our country and the economy during his time in office.)

I just can never see the sense in trying to blame someone else – whether it be God, a god, another political party, another elected official or perhaps Satan – when the action was yours, and yours alone. Or a group’s. Or a party’s.

If you do it, own it. Actions both speak and lie louder than words. In a society ridden with many people trying to pull one over and advance themselves, it’s very difficult to trust anyone. Maybe that’s where my jump to the word “corrupt” came in. Aren’t we all just a tiny bit selfish, inside? I think so, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s when we let others guide us to a decision that might not have been ours to make, or in our minds to make.

It’s tough to trust anyone, let alone people making big decisions for the majority. I think a healthy dose of accountability would go far in today’s politics, no matter what party.

Thank you to those who have e-mailed and commented. Keep ’em coming. While I might not be able to moderate your comment the second you post it, rest assured I will certainly pay it attention as soon as the laptop glued to my waist reminds me I have un-moderated comments.

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Filed under Democrats, religion, Republicans

My weekend of babies and boardwalks

I spent my Saturday in Monmouth County doing what I refer to as “relaxing.” This is rare in my case, so I enjoy this time as much as possible when it comes along.

I attended a baby shower. I know, baby shower = relaxation? Not really, but something caught my attention: the cake.

I wasn’t able to get the exact bakery, but I heard it was from a shop in Scotch Plains, N.J. This cake was seriously gorgeous, something off the Food Network. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to taste it either :-( But if looks were an indicator, I’m sure it tasted amazing. I will work on pinpointing the cake’s origin and perhaps give this bakery a visit.

The rest of my Saturday was spent doing things I truly enjoy: Eating, drinking and good conversation. I met some friends for dinner at Charlie’s Ocean Grill, in Long Branch.

I haven’t spent a lot of time in that area except for a few business errands, but I have to admit: I would love to start.

The food at Charlie’s was excellent, probably top 15 or 10 on my list. (I’m awfully picky.) I had the sesame seed salmon seared with pineapple teriyaki sauce, which was the best piece of fish I’ve had in a long time. The Appletini – I’m still not quite sure exactly what was in it – was fantastic. One thing I liked about the drink was that it was self-serve style, with a martini glass and a regular glass to pour from. This made for a larger portion and much more fun.

I was also given a tour of Pier Village. I suggest checking out the Web site, as it can show you the area much better than I can (I left my camera in the car!). But I can tell you the ice cream at Carmella’s Cafe was divine. A little soft, but I think that was from the humidity.

The area was recently rebuilt and is still in the process of being completed. There are apartments, restaurants, shops and – of course – the boardwalk.

Long Branch is certainly not what it used to be. It’s become a Shore hub, probably one of the better-kept secrets. Now that I know it exists, I’m sure I will be stopping by more often. It’s a shame some places, including Asbury Park, still have a tainted image/association because of what’s happened in years past, perhaps what some would call past social and economic trends.

I’ve always been one to see things for myself.

The present holds pleasant surprises for those who haven’t visited these Shore towns in a while, including Asbury Park. I drove through Asbury about a week ago and was happy to see some of the shops and restaurants full of people.

There are many nooks and crannies of the Jersey Shore I have yet to explore. Ah, but I only get so many hours in one day ;-)

A thank you to my hosts for the evening. I had a blast!

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Filed under Baby Shower, Cake, Carmella's Cafe, Charlie's Ocean Grill, Long Branch