Middletown- In response to an apparent ‘sick-out’ staged by Monmouth County SCAT bus drivers, Senator Joe Kyrillos (R- Monmouth/Middlesex) called for the immediate firing of the 17 CWA workers involved:
“It is outrageous that 174 disabled and elderly clients who depend on SCAT were stranded by what appears to be a coordinated effort by employees to disrupt service without notice,” said Kyrillos. “The actions of these workers is completely unbecoming of any public servant, and should make every taxpayer in Monmouth County furious. CWA, the union representing these employees, needs to denounce their members for putting the well-being of these vulnerable individuals at risk, and the employees in question should be fired.”
Seventeen SCAT workers, including fourteen bus drivers for the developmentally disabled and senior citizens, took sick leave with no notice on Friday, February 25th- the same day as a coordinated demonstration organized by labor leaders at the State Capitol. Service was disrupted for 174 clients who take SCAT buses to medical appointments or work.
“The rights of workers to demonstrate, protest, and take appropriate leave from work for personal purposes are not disputed,” Kyrillos stated. “However, it is not their right to abuse sick leave and disrupt a system many people have come to rely on. In fact, it is a breach of contract and should be punished to the fullest extent possible. This type of behavior not only hurts the people SCAT serves, it harms the reputation of all public workers.”
If politics were a schoolyard fight, the most notorious bullies would be the leaders of the influential public sector unions. Their weapon of choice: the power to collectively bargain on behalf of their members, with absolutely no consideration for the taxpayers who actually pay the bills. The expedient alliance between the union leadership and politicians of both parties has built and enabled a system that has always been unfair, but today is unsustainable. Taxpayers have been beaten up for too long, with little to no help from the elected leaders whose job it is to protect the money used to finance government functions and services.
At the end of President Obama’s first year in office, the White House released a visitor’s log that identified a prominent union leader as its most frequent visitor. Andrew Stern, the president of the Services Employee Union International (SEIU) represented one of the country’s largest public employee unions. After his organization spent nearly $28 million to elect Barack Obama president in 2008, it was clear he would have a prominent voice inside the White House at a critical time.
Stern’s 22 listed visits came as the President was considering an auto bail-out that paid for the bad deals car companies made with the unions, the stimulus package that included payments to states to fulfill their obligations to public employees and a health care overhaul that ultimately exempted the unions’ “Cadillac health insurance plans” from the same mandates and scrutiny that every other American was subjected to.
In fact, of the over 200 entities that received temporary waivers from provisions in the new healthcare law, 45 were granted to union organizations. It is no wonder that the SEIU spent $44 million in the midterm elections in 2010, exclusively on behalf of congressional Democrats. Including spending by two other labor behemoths, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State Counties and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), big labor spent nearly $150 million dollars to preserve the Democrats majority in Congress. The taxpayers and an overwhelming majority of the American people had a different idea. With the results of the 2010 elections came a realization that the American people understood the challenges facing our states and nation better than most of the politicians and special interests that have dominated the political discourse for far too long. Newly elected reform minded governors, such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio, also benefited from the example of a fellow reformer elected a full year ahead of them, and who had made a decade’s worth of progress in addressing his own state’s challenges; Chris Christie.
These leaders are doing their part to change the way their states do business and are making the tough choices that can come with a significant political risk. The unions are doing their job fighting them every step of the way, attempting to use the bullying tactics and threats that have worked for them for so many decades. For example, the New Jersey Education Association collected roughly $100 million of dues from about 200,000 members last year. How are they spending this money? In a $300,000 per week radio campaign encouraging higher taxes instead of budget cuts. Luckily, the old rhetoric of unions is lost amid the greater noise coming from the taxpayer revolt. It’s that noise that has to continue and convert into a sustained campaign among the taxpayers to counter the voices of a very vocal, and frankly better organized, minority of union interests who have never been faced with the sort of political opposition we are seeing today. When we find political leaders with the courage to do what is right, we have an obligation to back them up, not just stand on the sideline watching them fight the fight for us. We all learn in school that the only way to discourage a bully is to stand up to him. We’ve all seen that Chris Christie has the will and the backbone to endure $300,000 a week of name-calling and taunts from the teachers unions. If we see the same from like-minded reformers in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere, and “we the people” stand with them, we will see the fundamental change we voted for in November, become a reality. If we stand by and allow these leaders to get overwhelmed by an opposition who believes that union workers should remain a privileged class, exempt from sharing the pain of a nation suffering a genuine crisis, than we would have no one to blame for our high taxes and dysfunctional government that ourselves.
The Governor’s announcement today that the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority would issue, in the near future, a Request for Proposals for the lease of Monmouth Park, including assignment of additional off-track wagering operations, comes as no surprise to the Oceanport Task Force. Any operating lease must protect the Borough’s tax payment as this small community of 6,000 works diligently to overcome the approaching closure of Fort Monmouth (September 2011); reinvents local government in response to the Governor’s 2% cap law; and works cooperatively with its largest taxpayer, Monmouth Park.
We believe the Borough and the Thoroughbred Horsemen have similar goals for Monmouth Park and that both have much at risk as the transition takes shape for horse racing. Horse racing is an important and vital cog not only Oceanport’s economy and the economy of Monmouth County, but for the entire State of New Jersey. Horse racing contributes 7,000 jobs, $110 million in federal, state and local taxes, and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape and open space to our “Garden State”.
Equally important for Oceanport is the repayment of a $23 million dollar loan made to the NJSEA that brought NJ Environmental Infrastructure Trust funds to protect Branchport Creek from further contamination, which is essential for the continued operation of the racetrack. Oceanport considers the financing an investment in our quality of life through the protection of the Shrewsbury River system that surrounds our borough.A-2926 authorizing “exchange wagering” and S-2229 to permit pooled wagers; we applaud the Governor’s signing of S-11 and await positive action to include the $15 million purse supplement in the live racing schedule with a suitable length of season. As of Feb. 25 no action had been taken on the status of Monmouth Park’s 2011 racing schedule. By law, the New Jersey Racing Commission must award 141 Thoroughbred dates. Last year Monmouth Park’s “Elite Summer Meet” raced 71 days. Purses almost tripled—about $20 million came from a now expired casino purse supplement—and total pari-mutuel handle increased $123 million for the year. This was a significant return on the investment made toward the purses.
Our own Oceanport Task Force on Monmouth Park has continued to maintain the position that VLT’s, slot machines, or an all-out gaming casino in the Meadowlands is the only way to protect horse racing in New Jersey. The surrounding states of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland now all have some form of gaming at their race tracks. This uneven playing field enables our competitors to lure New Jersey horseman out of State with larger purses and better quality horse racing.
In addition to the enactment of
Oceanport Task Force representatives have maintained an open dialogue with the Hanson Commission, the NJSEA, the Thoroughbred Horsemen and others that will likely play a key role in preserving horseracing at Monmouth Park.Several interested operators have made introductions to the borough and will likely compete to operate the racetrack.
The Oceanport Task Force on Monmouth Park
ChairMichael J. Mahon, MayorCo.-Chair Gerald Briscione, Former Council Member
Requests for Proposals To Be Issued Next Week for Monmouth Park
Trenton, NJ – Governor Chris Christie today moved forward with his commitment to making horse racing in New Jersey a self-sustaining industry by signing legislation to expedite the establishment of off-track wagering facilities in New Jersey. Another step forward comes early next week, when the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority will issue a request for proposals to bring a long-term solution to Monmouth Park through private operation.
On December 17, 2010, Governor Christie announced a break-through agreement to end public subsidies of operations and purses for Standardbred racing at the Meadowlands Racetrack through the lease of that facility to the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (SBOA). Governor Christie is looking forward to similar progress with Monmouth Park and Thoroughbred racing there with the RFP for a private operator.
“We were successful in the Meadowlands, and we can do the same for Monmouth Park to the benefit of New Jersey taxpayers,” Governor Christie said. “I want to see a vibrant but self-sustaining horse racing industry in New Jersey, but that can be accomplished without tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies every year.”
Assembly Bill 1705, which Governor Christie conditionally vetoed on January 31 and the Legislature subsequently amended to include the Governor’s recommended changes, removes barriers to the establishment of OTWs by permitting persons other than racetrack operators to run OTW facilities, making OTWs a permitted use in all municipal land use zones, and increasing the accessibility to liquor licenses for OTW operators.
Despite enactment of an original OTW law nearly a decade ago, only three of the 15 facilities allowed by law were established. Governor Christie’s conditional veto was necessary to preserve the NJSEA’s ability to transfer licenses in connection with the sale or lease of the state’s racetracks. It also eliminated a 1 percent fee on OTW operators, but expressly noted that the Administration will work with the Legislature to find an alternative source of revenue for OTW host municipalities
The municipal chairs of western Monmouth County are hosting a candidates forum for those seeking the GOP nomination for Monmouth County Freeholder tomorrow at 9:30am at the county library on Symmes Road in Manalapan. The chairs from the region are scheduled to meet following the forum to discuss endorsing a candidate.
Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas will have the home field advantage. Wall Committeeman George Newberry and Spring Lake Councilman Gary Rich are rallying their supporters to attend the event.
With the screening committee meeting to choose a candidate for the party line a month away, it might be early for a block on chairmen to announce an endorsement. The field currently consists of Lucas, Newberry and Rich. None of the three are considered a lock for the nomination in what is shaping up to be a very competitive race.
Rich, who is making his third bid for a Freeholder nomination, now has the backing of former Red Bank Chairman Jim Giannell. Giannell’s relationships with chairs in the Two Rivers region and the Bayshore are a significant boost to Rich this time around.
In the fight for the 2006 nomination, Giannell threw his support to Lucas during a wild and contentious nominating convention. Lucas won the nomination but he and Giannell later had a failing out when Lucas did not support Giannell against Adam Puharic in the race for county chairman.
To a certain extent, Rich vs Lucas is a battle for influence between Giannell and Manalapan Chairman Steve McEnry and his loosely aligned western Monmouth chairman’s group.
Newberry has the strong support of the Wall Township Republicans. County Clerk Claire French’s support of Newberry is significant. The Rich camp and the Lucas camp both consider Newberry to be County Chairman Joe Oxley’s choice, despite Oxley’s efforts to remain neutral through the process. Oxley is the Wall Township Borough Attorney.
All three candidates are counting votes and think they have enough support to win a race that like last year’s contest is looking to be closely divided. Last year Tom Arnone beat Tom Wilkens of Middletown by 4 votes. Rich came in third, but only 12 votes separated him and Arnone.
However, the field of three candidates may expand or change.
Lucas has been telling people, including MoreMonmouthMusings, that he will not ask the screening committee for the nomination unless he is confident that he has the votes to win. He told MMM that at this point he thinks he has the votes and has no intention of dropping out.
But some have heard Lucas’s words to mean that he might drop out. This has led others to consider entering the race. Howell Mayor Bob Walsh is the most notable potential candidate.
Walsh, a Republican who was elected as an Independent in Howell, declined to enter the Freeholder nominating race earlier due to an family matter concerning his son’s health. That situation is now managable and Walsh has his family’s support to run if he so chooses. Walsh told MMM that he won’t run against Lucas with whom he is very friendly, but that he will run should Lucas drop out.
Forces Rescission of Pre-Qualification Previously Granted By Authority In
Relation To Extra Heavy Duty Towing and Recovery Services Contract
On February 23, 2011, Menna Supko & Nelson LLC attorneys Brian M. Nelson and Michael P. Supko, Jr. won a bid protest before the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (“the Authority”) on behalf of our client, B&L Towing & Recovery of Carteret, which had bid on a highly valuable contract to provide extra heavy duty towing and recovery services on one of the busiest sections of the New Jersey Turnpike.
There is a very difficult burden to overcome in such proceedings. Not only must the Authority essentially admit error in accepting unqualified contractors or bids, but the law provides the Authority extraordinary discretion in making determinations interpreting its own bid specifications and needs. Nevertheless, through a hearing conducted by the Authority in which its own witnesses testified against our client’s position, we were able to demonstrate that the Authority overlooked important written interpretations of its own specifications resulting in a determination that our client’s primary competitor was not qualified to bid.
The New Jersey Turnpike is one of the most heavily travelled roadways in the nation upon which millions of dollars in interstate commerce takes place every day. To keep things moving when accidents occur, the Authority privately contracts for extra heavy duty towing and recovery services that must be provided on a 24/7/365 basis by only the most experienced contractors with millions of dollars of specialized equipment that can quickly and safely remove large tractor-trailers and their loads from the roadway. Accordingly, the Authority drafts highly detailed pre-qualification and bid specifications to ensure that only the most highly qualified contractors with the proper equipment are pre-qualified to bid on such contracts.
Like many pre-qualification or bidding proceedings, there is a period for written questions to be submitted with written answers being provided by the contracting entity that become part of its specifications. Frequently this valuable process is overlooked by both bidders and contracting entities, which can use it to their competitive advantage to clarify vague or ambiguous specifications. While contracting entities have significant discretion, they must still play by the rules they are subject to and the specifications they establish. Further, all too often government entities and private bidders fail to conduct adequate due diligence regarding the growing body of laws and regulations governing public bidding processes. Specifications are also frequently overlooked and merely copied from other entities without a complete understanding of the terms and conditions contained therein that reduce competitiveness or cause other problems, outdated or inapplicable forms are used, and most State and local pay-to-play regulations continue to be misunderstood.
New Jersey has hundreds of public entities, authorities and commissions that have been subjected to increased scrutiny recently by the State Comptroller, which has through numerous reports now, highlighted poor or improper bidding practices by many governmental entities.
Newly Constituted Political Club Plans Greater Engagement and Relevance
Princeton, NJ – Feb. 23 – The annual re-organization meeting of the Republican Association of Princeton was no ordinary affair on Wednesday night. Many new members in a crowd of 100 assembled at the Nassau Club in Princeton to elect Scott Sipprelle as the club’s new President and to approve an amendment to the organization’s by-laws that broadens the reach of the organization beyond the Princetons while ushering in a new name, “The Lincoln Club of New Jersey.”
In a room filled with many supporters of Sipprelle’s 2010 Congressional campaign for the NJ-12 seat in the US Congress, the incoming President described his vision. “Good government is about our values and it requires good, and sometimes difficult, choices about the way we live. It is not just about doing what is most expedient to win one election.” Sipprelle vowed to expand the efforts of the Lincoln Club in the area of issues education and community engagement, while also working to support the strongest Republican candidates for local, state, and federal office in New Jersey.
Along with Sipprelle, a new slate of officers and directors was elected for one year terms. The new governing body hails from five different towns in Mercer, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties.
The Lincoln Club of New Jersey is an independent political club that educates the public on critical issues, promotes initiatives to build healthier communities, and advocates for good government by supporting the most qualified Republican candidates for local, state, and federal office in New Jersey.
Guess who showed up uninvited to an intimate gathering of Monmouth County Republican leaders at the home of Diane and Mickey Gooch on Tuesday evening.
The invitation only event was first intended to introduce those invited to Sam Raia, the new NJ GOP chairman. Raia cancelled on Monday, but the Gooches went ahead with the event in order for their friends to get to meet Monmouth County Freeholder contenders Andrew Lucas, George Newberry and Gary Rich.
Someone showed up uninvited. I bet you guess who it was on the first try.