Category Archives: Middletown

I like when the people speak

I‘m still receiving comments regarding a few of my posts on Middletown Township.

I really wanted to share them in light of recent events, especially because these posts are now hidden down the page.

The comments are comforting, as well as insightful. All of these happened to be posted anonymously. To the authors, thanks! To quell any immediate reactions, I do not know who posts when they do so anonymously.

I still welcome any and ALL comments, on any topic. Or e-mails.

Comment re: Midday dose of Scharfenberger

Anonymous said. . .
“Don’t you just see the strings attached to the Republican puppet now serving as Middletown’s mayor. Doesn’t he realize that he and his Republican cohorts are not the ONLY ONES elected to the Middletown Township Committee???? The two Democrats are DULY ELECTED representatives of the people. WE DID NOT WANT MORE Republicans because we are DISSATISFIED with the Republicans in this town!!!!!!”

Comments re: Middletown Matters? Then stop printing bull and learn how to budget properly

Anonymous said. . .
“Wow! The mayor can read minds. How else would he know weeks in advance about budget vote, clairvoyant even. Let’s not forget this is a budget that carries a 4.1% tax increase, the highest in many years. He conveniently forgets to tell Middletown residents what the tax increase is and that it is the highest tax increase in years. It is hard to believe how public officials can get away with using taxpayer resources as campaign material. But this is Middletown.”

Anonymous said. . .
“Just like the Democrats use The Courier & that Lincroft rag for their campaign material. When did newspaper reporters stop reporting the news all start writing editorials?”

Melissa L. Gaffney said. . .
“Free space, the beauty of the Internet — I can write whatever I want, just like you can. My blog isn’t a “Courier” Web site, nor is it “Courier” affiliated unless I reference an article in that newspaper. Anyway, I think the difference with the Middletown Matters newsletter is that taxpayers pay for that. I’m [sure] some taxpayers would not be happy knowing their dollars go toward the publication of a slanted newsletter. People buy newspapers because they want to. Don’t forget The Asbury Park Press, who tends to favor Republican doctrines and view points.”

Anonymous said. . .
“Melissa, you are correct. Middletown Matters is a “Republican administration rag.” It is not informative about the important things, e.g. It took four issues before any disclosure on the revaluation finally took place and that only after issue was taken with that neglect. Even then the administration spoke out of both sides of their mouths. Journalism should be honest and forthright with the news. The taxpayers should refuse to fund this newsletter. It is currently being used to SHOWCASE an incumbent running for re-election!!!”

*Please note, I did make grammatical corrections to the comments where necessary. Not one word has been changed or altered in any way, shape or form. You can check to the original posts to make sure.

PHOTOS: Taken at Grounds for Sculpture, Trenton, during March 2008. (Melissa L. Gaffney)


Filed under Democrats, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Politics, Republicans

M’town hosted COAH press conference: VIDEOS

Middletown Township hosted a press conference centering around the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and the implications of recent legislation eliminating Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs).

The following are videos taken during the press conference, which was attended by Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill and Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, as well as other elected officials from neighboring municipalities (Cliff Hoffman from Wall and Fred Rast from Atlantic Highlands).

Jeffrey R. Surenian also attended. Surenian is a lawyer who has dedicated his time to assisting several municipalities in the battle/complications regarding COAH.

Video One — “[Affordable housing now] built in the borders . . . There is a problem with that.”

Scharfenberger talks about the numbers and the impact of COAH.

Video Two — “Units”

“It would devastate us . . . change the quality of life forever,” Scharfenberger says of having to build more affordable housing in Middletown. The mayor also says once this happens, “you can’t go back.”

Video Three — “Cost of units = $18 billion dollars”

The mayor discusses how the taxpayers would wind up subsidizing the effects of the new legislation. Scharfenberger also talks about certain groups who are in favor of such legislation, namely the builders and the New Jersey Regional Coalition.

Video FourA continuation of the above video

Video Four will be up soon!

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Filed under Bill A500, COAH, Fred Rast, Jeffrey R. Surenian, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, Middletown, RCAs

A midday dose of Scharfenberger: VIDEO

Middletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger also made a few noteworthy comments during the Township Committee’s public session on Monday, June 30.

The mayor says he does not feel a public session is the place to campaign, as the committee (seemingly) conducts business in such an arena.

Scharfenberger also discusses Middletown Matters, the township’s newsletter. He points out what I guess he thinks are “good things” about the newsletter.

Notably, the mayor talks about a “newspaper owner who publicly blasted Middletown Matters,” and how — “not a month later” — committeemen Patrick Short and Sean Byrnes come out “wanting to get rid of it.” (Great clip, around 1:00 in.)

Actually, neither Short nor Byrnes said such a thing during the public session. I’m glad the mayor assumes, as he did with the 2008 municipal budget adoption, their intentions based on political parties.

Next, Gerry talks about raising taxes. He says it’s “all well and good” to say we don’t want to raise taxes. In fact, the mayor says he doesn’t want to raise taxes “ten times a day.”

He continues bashing the “infamous 39,” recommendations and observations from Short and Byrnes regarding the municipal budget.

Scharfenberger knocks his water bottle over around 3:50.

Some more Trenton bashing, blah blah blah. He says he thinks the public has a right to know what is going on at the state level and how it affects the local municipality.

When he mentions the “rudeness,” the mayor is referring to Short.

My favorite line: He talks about how the governing body was elected to do a job and be HONEST.

I would love to know where Scharfenberger got his definition of honesty.

Watch the video.

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Filed under Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Matters

Brightbill attacks Short and digs a hole, all in four minutes

I would suggest turning up the volume on this one.

The Middletown Township Committee’s Workshop Session was . . . well documented, to say the least.

Probably one of my favorite clips of any meeting comes to us tonight during the Township Committee’s comment session.

Rather than make an actual comment, Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill decided to interrogate Committeeman Patrick Short, who had excellent responses, in my opinion, to what Brightbill probably threw out there as a red herring – a tactic to distract from any actual issue she might meagerly attempt to address.

The deputy mayor did something “stupid,” in my opinion: She asked a question rather than make a comment. This entire discussion began by her questioning Short if he “discounted” any responses he had received regarding what Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger deemed the “Infamous 39,” some things Short and Committeeman Sean Byrnes addressed regarding the 2008 municipal budget.

The budget, by the way, was adopted by a vote of 3-2.

Although a bit lengthier than most of my videos, Brightbill says a few things I think any viewer should take note of:

1 – I’m still not quite sure what a “charge back” is (around 2:20). Whatever.

2 – Please note how the deputy mayor sometimes glances in this direction; also, how she can’t even defend her own point all that well. There is no rebuttal, only babble.

3 – Apparently, Brightbill “knows” how other committee members are going to vote in advance (3:03, a very notable portion of the video). She said she “knew” Short and Byrnes were going to vote “no” for the budget, and that he and Byrnes knew how she and Mayor were going to vote for the “other resolution.” I’m pretty sure Pam unknowingly admitted that the Township Committee – thus, the township – is governed by a political majority (GOP), not by what’s best for the people.

4 – Around 4 minutes in, Scharfenberger looks rather . . . impatient? Perhaps embarrassed? Maybe just upset. He certainly begins moving around a lot.

5 – My favorite part: Brightbill admits that Scharfenberger assuming the adoption of the 2008 budget in the latest issue of Middletown Matters was a “mistake” and should not have happened.

Enjoy, Middletown. Here’s one of your candidates for Township Committee at her finest.

The following video is “Part One: Brightbill digs a hole.”


Filed under Committeeman Patrick Short, Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee

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

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.


Filed under 2008 Municipal Budget, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, Middletown


Isn’t it interesting to see what your legislators do all day?

It’s funny, the whole “elected officals” thing.

They come to Trenton every so often, sit in a big room and claim to have the state’s best interests at heart.

Meanwhile, the people – also the reason officials are even elected in the first place – sit above in the public gallery, forcibly silent and desperately hopeful for change.

A huge change came today for the entire state of New Jersey. What some are calling the biggest grassroots movement in affordable housing, Bill A500, was passed in the Senate.

Today I watched as senators spoke during session in an effort to voice concerns over many things. Some legitimate. Others . . . I swear some people just speak to hear an echo somewhere in Jabib.

It reminded me of a Middletown Township meeting, actually. Bright lights, many distractions, smoke screens . . . What was on the agenda, again?

But, either way, something crazy happened today in the Garden State. Several crazy things, actually, but the abolishment of Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs) affects Middletown severely.

I spoke to Middletown’s own, Senator Joseph Kyrillos, prior to the session. He had many interesting things to say regarding the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and RCAs, particularly their use in Middletown.

Check out this week’s issue of The Courier for exclusive coverage of the senator, as well as the passage of Bill A500.

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Filed under COAH, Joseph Kyrillos, Middletown, RCAs

Big vote tomorrow in Trenton?

The New Jersey State Senate will discuss/vote on Bill A500 tomorrow during its session in Trenton.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, would ultimately abolish a town’s use of Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs), among other things.

RCAs, from what I’ve gathered, are often used by a town to “pass along” its obligation assigned by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).

Middletown is a major user of RCAs, even known as the state’s number-one “abuser” of the tool, according to several sources I’ve spoken to. (Visit The Courier online to read recent coverage regarding Bill A500 and Middletown’s use of RCAs.)

It’s a touchy subject in Monmouth County, especially when considering the situation that recently surfaced regarding a Builder’s Remedy lawsuit between Middletown and Lakewood.

I have been in touch with M’town Public Info Officer Cindy Herrschaft to make an appointment with Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, the township’s former COAH liaison.

There are several things I want to discuss with him. Hopefully I can report some solid numbers at a later date, given I’m granted time with the administrator.

For now, we wait to hear from Trenton. The situation could change drastically within the next 24 hours. Needless to say, the bill’s effects would be felt statewide.

Check back for possible live updates during tomorrow’s Senate session.

To view the Senate agenda for tomorrow, click the headline.

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Filed under Anthony Mercantante, Bill A500, Cindy Herrschaft, COAH, Joseph Roberts, Middletown, N.J. Senate, RCAs

Meaningful motorcycle run in M’town

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Filed under Middletown, Middletown Elks Lodge, Motorcycle Run

APP "edited" Grenafege letter?

Democratic candidate for Middletown Township Committee Jim Grenafege sent a letter to the Asbury Park Press regarding Anthony Fiore’s letter a few weeks ago.

(Fiore is a Republican candidate for that same committee, if you didn’t already know.)

I’m actually quite upset, as there is a blatant typo in the very first sentence: Grenafege refers to an “Alan” Fiore, which is an errant displacement when compared to his original letter. I’m looking at a copy of the original right now, and Jim Purcell published it on his blog yesterday.

Firstly, Grenafege titled his letter “Chumming for votes with red herring.”

The Press – arguably – titled it “Candidate rebuts view on police staff.”

Let me begin my criticism by saying I respect The Asbury Park Press and its reporters; there is a lot of thorough, hard work done in their offices. Although “young and dumb,” I somewhat understand that anything submitted to a newspaper must be edited for various reasons. That’s their job, and the Press does it well.

However, I did not think an opinionated letter would be edited for its content. The fine print at the bottom of the Opinion Page states that “all letters are subject to condensation and rejection.” Nowhere does it state a letter could or would be changed to reflect alternate meaning.

What happened to this letter is the perfect example of how any newspaper is able to tamper with words and massacre a person’s meaning. It truly shows the power of the press.

Grenafege knows exactly who ANTHONY Fiore is. The fact that his name was changed both in print and online (click on the headline to visit the APP) is, in my opinion, irresponsible and bleeds advocacy. I have always viewed the APP as favoring Republican points and politicians – and that’s FINE, it’s a fact of life and we all do it. But changing a personal letter submitted to the OPINION section? Eek.

Again, I respect the Press because they publish both Republican and Democratic letters. I don’t know the “ratio” or how “equal” it is, but I have typically seen ALL views expressed on the Opinion Page. But, please – and I would say this to any newspaper – when it comes to letters, why must we let politics guide basic career functions?

Grenafege said he was under the impression “editing,” in the journalistic sense, involved checking for grammatical errors and, at the same time, ensuring that any changes made don’t alter the intended meaning of the piece.

I spoke to Grenafege about several of the “misinterpretations.” I urge everyone to read his original letter posted on The Inside Clamdigger before they pass judgment. The letters could not be more different.

Grenafege also voiced valid concerns about this issue. “If this is how the editing changed my intended meaning, then what is happening with these other letters?” he asked.

Great question. I’d like to know the answer myself. I only hope that, at the very least, “Alan” was a legitimate typo. Gosh, am I crossing my fingers.

I guess I’m just naive to think, despite political parties and personal preferences, that everything is addressed fairly and equally.

If someone is legitimately incorrect, OK. I have no problem addressing human ignorance when it’s warranted. But Grenafege KNOWS, and it upsets me so much to see words tampered with.

I work in a profession where words are all we have. To take someone else’s and change them in what appears an effort to make a candidate look as if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about (my opinion), you might as well take away the option to have an opinion at all.

Politics is not “fair,” and I know I’m part of something that is not necessarily a proponent of giving 100-percent equal attention to both sides. But, damn it, fair is FAIR. There is right or wrong, no in between.

It’s either “Alan” or “Anthony,” and we know who we’re talking about.

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Filed under Anthony Fiore, Jim Grenafege, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee