Part 2: The Asbury Park Press is Unfair and Biased, Dishonest and Incompetent

By Art Gallagher

On Wednesday I made the casethat the Neptune Nudniks are unfair, biased, dishonest and incompetent based upon the amount of ink that gave the news of Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger’s job as Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy and the fact that he did not want his job to be an issue in his reelection campaign, vis-à-vis other stories of more consequence that they chose to ignore or bury.

Today I make the case that the APP’s coverage of the Scharfenberger story itself is unfair, biased, dishonest and incompetent.

In Kevin Penton’s article, Planners question credentials of Middletown committeeman coordinating N.J. policy,
and in the editorial the same daythe nudniks question Scharfenberger’s qualifications for the Director of the Office of Planning Advocacy job because he is not a certified planner.  Had they done their homework, rather than go out and seek quotes from representatives of special interests, they would know that the job is an executive/administrative job, not a planning job.  ” Says who?,” you might ask.  Governor Jim Florio’s Attorney General’s Office. If I can find that information, why didn’t the Asbury Park Press, you should ask.

Not in the job three months yet, Scharfenberger has already saved the State $386,000, more that his annual salary X 4, according to the APP’s own account.  Why are they questioning Gerry’s qualifications?

In their editorial on the matter, the nudniks argue that Governor Christie is not serious about eliminate double dipping.  They use Scharfenberger’s appointment and Jackson Mayor Mike Reina’s appointment to a job at the Department of Transportation as examples.  To use the APP’s own words, they are being “disingenuous at best and downright dishonest at worst.”  It is also possible that they are just plain incompetent.  I don’t know which is worse, disingenuousness or incompetent…you decide.

Christie’s proposed reforms call for the end of dual office holding, i.e. the same person holding two elected offices AND prohibition of one person earning more than one government salary.  Christie was clear on the campaign trail last year and has been clear in town hall meetings this year that he has no problem with government employees serving their communities in elected office, so long as they do so as volunteers. Scharfenberger was a volunteer as a member of the Middletown Township Committee before he got his new appointment. Reina gave up his salary as Mayor of Jackson after he was appointed to his job at DOT. (Though, to the APP’s credit, Reina did not give up his Jackson salary until after the nudniks brought it up…more on that and the culture of trough swillers in a soon to follow post about “greed and arrogance”).

There is no question that Scharfenberger did not want his new job to be an issue in the Middletown campaign.  The APP say their reporter asked Gerry about his employer and he didn’t mention it.  Scharfenberger denies this and Penton, the APP reporter who wrote two articles about the job since the election has not responded to inquiries from MMM.  I believe Gerry because he was honest with me when I asked him specifically about the job over the summer.  Penton either asked the wrong question or is being disingenuous at best in his reporting.

The APP says Scharfenberger not announcing the job with great fanfare was mendacity.  I say it was clever and good politics. The APP’s coverage of the story and the Middletown Democrats reaction to it, since I broke it, demonstrates that Scharfenberger’s political instincts were spot on.  The Dems, and the APP at their behest, have distorted the issue and misreported the facts.  To his credit, Sean Byrnes, Scharfenberger’s opponent in the election told The Independent that the issue of Gerry’s job would not have changed the outcome of the election, “its not a 2000 vote issue,” Byrnes said. However, as we have seen since I broke the news of the job, the issue would have changed the tenor of the Middletown campaign.  The Dems and the APP would have very likely distorted the issue, like they have since, and made the campaign about Gerry’s job, rather than about the issues pertinent to Middletown.

The nudniks conclude their editorial with a call for Scharfenberger to resign one of his positions or for Christie to either insist upon a resignation or explain why he has changed his thinking on public servants holding more than one job.  That was never Christie’s thinking, and the nudniks call for Gerry’s resignation from one of the jobs is thoughtless and irresponsible given his record in Middletown and his performance in the new job so far.

Scharfenberger won re-election by a large plurality in a year with strong anti-incumbent sentiment and the local Democrats conducting a yearlong smear campaign that included stealing, smashing and defacing his campaign signs.  The reason he won so big?  He is clearly one of the best, most effective elected officials in the state.   The residents admire his down to earth, no nonsense style and his reputation for personally contacting people who call or write to his office.  Under his leadership, Middletown has one of the lowest municipal tax rates in the region, one of the smallest work forces per capita and most importantly, one of the lowest spending per capita in the state.  Middletown has also been named one of the top 100 places to live in the country by Money Magazine for three years in a row of eligibility.  His innovative ideas include devising one of the first municipal Green Initiatives in the state and the first municipal Veterans Affairs Committee in the state.  He was also the first mayor in the state to sign his town up for the Adopt-A-Unit program, which collected tons of supplies and well wishes to our troops overseas.   He has also been a tireless advocate on behalf of Middletown in fighting COAH, unfunded mandates, and excessive union contracts, among other harmful policies.


Scharfenberger is also a career volunteer who currently serves on the Middletown Landmarks Commission, the Open Space Committee, the Middletown Drug and Alcohol Alliance, and the Monmouth County Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee.  He even serves on the Township Committee as a volunteer, foregoing his salary out of respect for the taxpayers.  He was recognized for his service by the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce with the Public Servant of the Year award in 2009, an honor given to Governor Christie in 2008 and Lt. Governor Guadagno in 2010.


His appointment to the position of Director of the Office For Planning Advocacy (OPA) was a brilliant move on the part of the Christie Administration.  Scharfenberger brings a unique combination of municipal and professional experience to the position.  Prior to serving on the Township Committee, he served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment and has served as a Landmarks Commissioner for over 14 years.  As mayor, he has been involved in several major redevelopment, brownfields mitigation and development projects.  He was also integral in the aquaculture study to revitalize the Bayshore and the NPP grant to revitalize North Middletown.  Professionally, he is a Ph.D. with numerous professional publications who has worked on hundreds of land use projects in every county in the state for such diverse entities as the NJDOT, NPS, NJDEP, SCC, NJ Transit and dozens of private organizations.  Of the past 10 directors of the OPA, Scharfenberger’s overall credentials put him at or near the top.  Even with his state position, he has shown his consideration for the taxpayers of New Jersey by waiving taxpayer funded health benefits and retaining his own at a cost of $6,000 per year.  He has also enrolled in the deferred compensation program, the state’s 401K which he contributes to himself.


This is who the APP wants to drive out of public service.

Posted: November 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Gerry Scharfenberger, Neptune Nudniks | Tags: , | 17 Comments »

17 Comments on “Part 2: The Asbury Park Press is Unfair and Biased, Dishonest and Incompetent”

  1. TheDigger said at 11:14 am on November 12th, 2010:

    Perhaps, since the Neptune Nudniks are nattering nabobs of neo-narcissistic bent, we should just simply ignore them as the worthless wannabees they are.

    Don’t buy their alleged “newspaper” and let their advertisers know how you feel about them subsidizing that reckless rag.

    Any bets as to how long it will take for this rag to go under?

  2. Chris said at 1:38 pm on November 12th, 2010:

    The only thing that keeps the nudniks in business is the mandate for municipalities and counties to publish all their announcements in the paper (even though nobody reads those sections any more). Removing those mandates would save our towns a lot of money, and would end the APP

  3. Excellent said at 1:59 pm on November 12th, 2010:

    points, both comments prior, and their total irrational jealousy of ANYone with a public job is getting to sound like teenaged girls at a homecoming pageant, picking on each others’ party dresses!!.. maybe if we press the good ol’ legislators, who want our votes next year, to take the bold step and finally free the taxpayers from those mandatory public notices, they WILL finally go away!

  4. Proud Republican said at 7:25 pm on November 12th, 2010:

    When can we expect an apology from the Neptune Nudniks? Their sorry attempt at slandering Scharfenberger has backfired. Thanks to Art’s fine investigative work, we find a legal decision that clearly states this position does not require a licensed planner. Will they man up and admit they were wrong? Will they admit, based on Art’s comprehensive post, that he is eminently qualified to lead this office? Instead of going after real double dipping hacks like Steve Sweeney and Brian Stack, or a pay to play, seven dipper like John D’Amico, they go after a guy who on his first few months on the job, has saved almost 400 grand. But what do you expect from a fading rag that employs a hapless hack like Penton? Asbury Park Press – you are a disgrace!!!

  5. Silence is deafening said at 7:58 pm on November 12th, 2010:

    Where are all the sore loser Democrats now?

    This post blew them all out of the water.

    Funny how facts have a way of shutting even the most partisan dopes up.

  6. Rick Ambrosia said at 12:12 am on November 13th, 2010:

    Not really Silence is Deafening…its just that there’s no reason to keep beating a dead horse. Art will never see how wrong this is, so why keep trying?

  7. Dopey Republican said at 2:04 am on November 13th, 2010:


    It sounds like Gerry sent you a press release to regurgitate or one of his many letters that he writes that slaps himself on the back with.

    Since when does being elected to office equate to being a volunteer? It is a rather loose interpretation of the word just because he isn’t collecting his stipend.

    Can you tell us who his insurance carrier is, it seems like such a bargain to only be paying $6K for health benefits, who every he is providing his coverage should be providing it for the whole town. And it is very noble that he contributes to his own 401k plan, so do I.

    And that public Servant of the Year Award given to him by the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce, that is really something to be proud of especially since Christie and Guadagno also were given it , that is great company to be in. What you fail to mention is that , if memory serves me, you were acting president of the NMCC at the time the award was handed out.

    Your just as biased and dishonest as the APP.

    Wasn’t it you who called Gerry “stupid is as stupid does” a few years back for sell off those cell tower lease for ~$900K to plug a 1 year budget gap? Wasn’t it you who pointed out that in the process that by selling the lease he left over $400K on the table by doing so?

    That $4ooK has never been recouped and has lead to budget shortfalls every year since 2007/08 and which has contributed to the staggering increases to the municipal tax rate.

    You are just as much of a hapless hack as Penton or the APP are. Often your facts leave much to be desired as well.

    Answer me a question, in the Penton article and the Independent article it is stated that in his new position Gerry will need to follow a strict recluse policy and must refrain from issues dealing with land useage in Middletown if he were to continue as a Township Committee person, so if that is the case how can he be effective when he can not discuss issues like COAH or other zoning issues that affect Middletown? He can not discuss or vote on issues like whether or not a new businesses should be given a permit for operation in a certain location.

    He could no longer be involved in the several major redevelopment, brownfields mitigation and development projects as you state.

    In his new state job he could not be involved in the aquaculture study to revitalize the Bayshore or NPP grant to revitalize North Middletown, so how effect can he be as a member of the Township Committee?

    He should resign for the good of the town, he got the sweetheart deal he has been after, he needs to stuff the ego back pocket and step down from the committee just as the APP has requested of him.

  8. ArtGallagher said at 7:29 am on November 13th, 2010:

    @Rick….is changing my opinion your objective? Feel free to make your case

    @Dopey…no press release from Gerry. I announced that I’m biased right in the masthead. If I get facts wrong, please correct me. That’s the “fair” part of “fair and biased”….I endeavor to get my facts right, if I make a mistake I want to know about it. Thank you for acknowledging that the APP is biased.

    Yes, I was critical of the decision to sell the cell tower leases. I still think it was a bad decision. You still can’t name another municipality in NJ that is better managed than Middletown

    I’m sure you would love for Gerry to resign so that three seats would have to be defended next year. I doubt that will happen.

  9. Sometimes a dumb Democrat is just a dumb Democrat said at 9:16 am on November 13th, 2010:

    If I were Sigmund Freud I could have a field day doing a psychological analysis of the local Democrats. Ya , ya, here would be my conclusion:

    The local Democrats have a deep, and pathological hatred for Mayor Scharfenberger borne out of jealousy and frustration. They cannot beat him in elections. They cannot match him with their candidates. His credentials are impeccable, his performance, flawless. Therefore, they are relegated to standing on the sidelines only to watch his masterful leadership from afar. They know that he will bring the same wisdom and abilities to his position in Trenton and his star will increase even further. The Middletown Democrats, in the meantime, will continue to seethe with green-eyed envy, bemoaning his success and their lack of any viable candidates with a full set of teeth. As their party further descends into the abyss of weakness and ineptitude, thanks in part to a president who draws laughter right in his face from the normally stoic Koreans and Chinese, the Middletown Democrats will continue to argue with each other over which color spray paint to use when defacing Republican campaign signs.

    No charge for the analysis, Art.

  10. Dopey Republican said at 11:16 am on November 13th, 2010:


    For the record, if Gerry resigned he replacement would be appointed to serve out his full term in Middletown, there would be no special election.

    And if Middletown was so well run, why is it the only municipality along the bayshore or Monmouth County for that matter, that has to routinely pass emergency appropriations to continue to operate? Less than 3 months after adopting it’s municipal budget, Middletown has passed another emergency appropriation to cover healthcare costs. If the town was so well run, the people running it would have seen the need for this and budgeted appropriately for it. Now because they haven’t, this appropriation gets rolled into next years budget, which now starts off the 2011 budget some $800k in the hole.

    The problem with Middletown is that instead of facing reality, Gerry and his boys continue to keep rates low to artificially make it seem that everything is alright when they are not. There is not sufficient surpluses built into the budgets to accommodate for their ineptitude at budgeting.

    You also didn’t answer my questions about Gerry conflicts on land use and COAH. If he needs to recluse himself from all Township land use discussions no matter how large or small, he will be ineffective and a waste to residents.

  11. Dopey Democrat said at 12:58 pm on November 13th, 2010:

    Come on Dopey, you can’t possibly blame the Middletown Republicans (or any Republicans) for the new hikes in health care costs. ObamaCare caused premiums to skyrocket, and even if smarter people warned about this, the official line was that nothing was gonna change. Now everyone (including corporations and small businesses) have to deal with huge costs increases, which will just be getting worse as new mandates come into effect.

  12. Dopey Republican said at 12:43 am on November 14th, 2010:


    Come on now, are you serious, less than 2 months after finalizing the Township budget a $800K emergency budget appropriation is need for health care expenses?

    I find it very very very hard to believe that someone didn’t know about this in mid-September when the budget was passed.

    The appropriation was introduced at the Nov.1st workshop meeting for crying out loud! Someone had to have come up with the plan in Oct. for the appropriation, this has nothing to due with ObamaCare, it has everything to due with miss management of Township resources.

    Why wasn’t this included in the adopted budget? because it would have turned a 14% increase municipal tax increase into a 20% increase.

    Now with the 2% cap looming large over the township, Middletown will start the year off $800K in the hole….Wake up people!

  13. Silence is deafening said at 11:08 am on November 14th, 2010:

    So Rick, if Art is so wrong, point out the inaccuracies in this post. Explain how a person not three months on the job with such excellent results isn’t qualified. Finally, answer Art’s long asked question – where in New Jersey is a town more well run than Middletown?

  14. jokesonus said at 10:13 pm on November 16th, 2010:

    Now all you APP haters can start hating Red Bank Green. They did a beauty of a story on Scharfy. Caught in another lie about not taking a salary as Mayor. He was no volunteer for 8 months. He’s tangled in his own web of deceitfulness.

  15. Rick Ambrosia said at 3:44 pm on November 17th, 2010:

    “He even serves on the Township Committee as a volunteer, foregoing his salary out of respect for the taxpayers. ”

    Bullshit Art.

    “Scharfenberger said he was paid through the end of this July.”

    So, now it comes out that he lied about getting paid for his “volunteer” position on the committee, and he was getting paid all the way up until he had to give it up to get the $95K job.

    What an honorable man he is.

  16. Proud Republican said at 5:37 pm on November 17th, 2010:

    Art, do you have any idea how comical this looks? The local Democrats, who got slaughtered, are trying to look for something – anything for solace. This may be the funniest one yet. Nowhere in any paper did I read where Scharfenberger gave up his salary for the year. The times when he said he was a volunteer, or was not taking a salary was after he had given it up. I even read a quote where Sean Byrnes, talked about giving up his salary last year. Not the WHOLE year, but during last year is what I took that to mean. These losers are grasping at every straw they can get. Absolutely hilarious.

  17. Analysis: 90 private-sector workers support salary of 1 state worker | money making blog said at 10:33 pm on November 30th, 2010:

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