Trenton, NJ – With 25 years coaching experience, Alex DePalma was searching to make a difference in a new arena. So in 2009, he began the Brick Stars Challenger Program to bring together children and adults with developmental disabilities for an hour each Sunday to teach them to play and enjoy the game of ice hockey. To honor the commitment, success and remarkable growth of the Brick Stars Challenger Program, First Lady Mary Pat Christie today joined Alex DePalma on center ice at the Ocean Ice Palace in Brick to name him the fourth New Jersey Hero of 2012.
“Through the game of hockey, Alex has found a creative opportunity to encourage children and adults with Autism and other developmental disabilities to learn valuable life skills that will help these players overcome challenges in becoming more confident and independent individuals,” said Mrs. Christie. “Seeing the joy each skater is experiencing as well as the pride expressed by their parents makes this an incredibly inspiring program. I am proud to name Alex DePalma our New Jersey Hero for the month of April.”
The Brick Stars Challenger Program is for participants between the ages of 5 and 21 who have a developmental disability, such as Autism. The program, which helps players learn fundamental skills, began with just 8 players in 2009. By the end of the first season, it had a total of 25 players, making it the fastest growing special needs program in New Jersey.
“When I received a call that I had been selected as the New Jersey Hero for the month of April by First Lady Mary Pat Christie, I was extremely honored and very proud to represent our Stars Challenger Hockey program,” said Brick Hockey Club ACE & Stars Director Alex DePalma. “The players and parents involved in the Stars program show amazing courage and determination every week, inspiring and enriching the lives of all who volunteer their time to teach these amazing kids how to play hockey. They are truly our heroes.”
The Brick Stars Challenger Program is part of the Brick Hockey Club Organization and is a 501c (3) organization. Coaches are USA Hockey certified and the program is operated by volunteers consisting of local coaches, current and past Hockey Club members as well as local high school players.
New Jersey Heroes is an initiative of First Lady Mary Pat Christie that showcases the positive and unique ways people and organizations are impacting New Jersey and their communities. To nominate a hero, go to http://newjerseyheroes.org and follow the application instructions to submit the person you believe is a true New Jersey Hero.
In addition, Autism Awareness is an advocacy area embraced by Mrs. Christie to bring greater understanding of the developmental disability. Throughout the year, she highlights the innovative work being done by organizations throughout the state to serve people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
For more information about Brick Stars Challenger Program, visit www.brickhockeyclub.org.
Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: New Jersey | Tags: Alex DePalma, Autism, Brick, Brick Stars Challenger Program, First Lady Mary Pat Christie, Hockey, NJ Heroes | 2 Comments »
Middletown— State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R- Monmouth), prime sponsor of the “School Children First Act” which reforms New Jersey’s tenure system for educators, issued the following statement regarding reports that several Cherry Hill elementary school teachers and aides were recorded bullying a student with autism:
While at least one teacher’s aide was dismissed by school officials, the father of this student alleges, and news accounts confirm, that other teachers and aides involved were simply reassigned.
If true, the incident is an indictment of our current system of tenure protections in public education.
There is no instance in which it is acceptable for a teacher to bully or abuse a student in that manner, nor when a witness to such behavior should not report their colleagues’ misconduct to school administrators.
Nobody directly involved with the abuse of Akian Chaifetz, or who witnessed the abuse without reporting it, should be employed in a classroom. We need to reform protections to ensure that these individuals can be swiftly terminated, rather than just shuffled around.
Posted: April 26th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Education, Joe Kyrillos, Press Release, Tenure Reform | Tags: Akian Chaifetz, Cherry Hill, Joe Kyrillos, Press Release, School Chrildren First Act, Tenure Reform | 21 Comments »
By Jim Morford, cross posted at InTheLobby
When I was a youngster and things weren’t going well in the economy, the Democrats would always claim, “It’s Hoover’s fault.” Republicans, on the other hand, blamed Democrats for “getting us into war” citing Wilson, Roosevelt (FDR) and Truman.
Today, things have changed. Democrats blame Bush for both the economy and for getting us into war.
But who really should bear the responsibility, if not the blame, for the problems facing our country today? To be sure, there is enough blame to be shared by both political parties for landing us in the deeply troubled economy that haunts us today. Politicians of all stripes and at all levels of government have, through fiscal irresponsibility, over taxed and over spent the public’s money. Truly, the blame can reach beyond politicians to include skillful labor unions who have negotiated benefits beyond the ability of governments and private sector employers to pay for them. Additionally, an apathetic public – perhaps the greatest cause of all our woes – has allowed corrupt politicians, avaricious businesses and organized labor to loot the public coffers.
Since the days of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, our country has been on a Fabian path to statisim. Some are surprised that the Obama Administration has accelerated the pace.
In his most recent book, The Next Decade, geopolitical analyst and founder of Stratfor George Friedman presents a provocative and insightful look into the next decade. It’s a book well worth reading, as he sees a time of massive change and what the US will need to do to survive.
Before we jump headlong into speculation about the next decade, let’s take a look at the recent past to get some idea of whose policies and actions have put us where we find ourselves today.
From 1949 until 1995, the Democratic Party held majority control of the House of Representatives, thereby acting as a restraint on one-party dominance when Republicans sometimes had majorities in the US Senate and/or the White House. The philosophy of bigger and bigger government, embraced to greater and lesser degrees by both political parties, has dominated the country since the 1930s.
It was the relatively short period from 2003 to 2007 that the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Even during the “conservative” presidency of Ronald Reagan, at least one house of Congress remained in the control of the Democratic Party and government continued to grow.
The current and dramatic shift in political dominance in Washington did not just take place on January 20, 2009 when President Obama was sworn into office. The shift actually began on January 3, 2007 when the Democrats recaptured control of the US Senate. At that time, the Dow closed at over 12,600; unemployment stood at 4.6% and the economy under George W. Bush set a record of 52 consecutive months of job growth.
It was on January 3, 2007 that Barney Frank (D) became Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd (D) took over the Senate Banking Committee. 15 months later a meltdown occurred in the banking and financial services sector of our economy, notwithstanding President Bush’s urging repeatedly that serious reform was needed.
One of the most important responsibilities that a member of Congress has is to enact an annual budget for the federal government. However, the US Senate under the leadership of Harry Reid (D) has failed to pass a budget since 2009. The House, under Republican control since 2011, has twice passed budgets and sent them to the Senate, which for purely partisan reasons has failed to enact a budget bill. Unfortunately, Majority Leader Reid and his Democratic colleagues believe that partisanship is their primary responsibility, rather than fiscal stewardship and sound public policy.
The Federal budget cycle is governed mainly by six laws. Probably the most important of them is The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 that governs the basic practices of federal budgeting and spending. Because of partisan irresponsibility in refusing to enact a budget and to avoid government shutdowns, Congress gets along by enacting continuing resolutions. Doing so fails the test of fiscal responsibility. However, public apathy (cited above) allows negligent politicians to get away with it.
President George W. Bush was no fiscal conservative or effective small government advocate. During his eight years in office, he increased the federal budget by 104% and the national debt grew by $3.3 trillion.
The Obama Administration has accelerated the pace of spending and debt to unsustainable levels. Today, the national debt stands at over $15 trillion. The debt is dismissed by some as just money we owe ourselves, but the interest on that debt has to be paid out of tax revenues, or borrowed and added to the debt. That interest so far in 2012 is nearly $4 trillion. There are those politicians who see increasing taxes as the only answer to any problem. Others contend that the problem is not that government has too little in revenue, but that it is spending far too much.
Whether it is the fault of Republicans, Democrats or both, it is a useless exercise to simply blame. Rather, we must reverse course and get our fiscal house in order if we are to survive as a nation that resembles anything we have known up until now.
There are solutions, but no easy solutions. Our apathetic and dependant population “served” by corrupt and power-grasping politicians may result in our becoming more like Greece than the affluent land of opportunity we once were.
In a 2011 interview conducted by economist Donald Luskin, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan observed that he sees the United States as having crossed the threshold, a point of no return, at which we’ve taken on too great a government debt, and at the same time made too great a commitment to government control of the economy. Luskin wrote, “He told us that we won’t recognize America 20 years from now, and that we won’t like what we see.”
Jim Morford is former Associate Director of Government Relations for the NJ Education Association, former VP and chief lobbyist for the NJ Chamber of Commerce, former President of the NJ Food Council and is Executive Director Emeritus of the NJ Society for Environmental, Economic Development (NJ SEED). He is a partner in the Trenton-based consulting firm of Morford-Drulis Associates, LLC. The opinions expressed in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any clients or associates.
Posted: April 26th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Economy, Statism | Tags: "Ronald Reagan", "Teddy Roosevelt", Alan Greenspan, Barney Frank, Bush, Chris Dodd, Democrats, Donald Luskin, Economy, FDR, Federal Reserve, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Friedman, George W Bush, Harry Reid, Hoover, InTheLobby, Jim Morford, Obama Administration, President Barack Obama, republicans, Stratfor, The Next Decade, Truman, war, Wilson, Woodrow Wilson | 4 Comments »
In response to customer and government complaints about communications during power outages resulting from last year’s storms, JCP& L has created an interactive website that lets customers report outages. The site provides real time data including the number of people affected, estimated restoration times, photos and videos of damage and restoration efforts, according to a report on NJBIZ.
The site is hosted by Amazon.com’s servers so that it can be accessed in the event that power outages disable JCP&L’s primary site. It can be accessed by desktops, smartphones and mobile devices.
The FirstEnergy Storm Center can be viewed here. Bookmark it.
Posted: April 26th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: JCP&L | Tags: FirstEnergy Storm Center, Hurricane Irene, JCP&L | 2 Comments »
Eatontown and Tinton Falls approve the move
CommVault,the Oceanport based Lucent spinoff that is growing at a pace of about 24% per year, has proposed moving it headquarters to the Tinton Falls portion of Fort Monmouth where the company will build a 650,000 square foot facility. CommVault has revenues of about $400 million per year and employs over 1200 people.
The Asbury Park Press reportsthat Oceanport did not support the revisions to the Fort Monmouth Redevelopment Authority’s development plan to accommodate CommVault. Eatontown and Tinton Falls, the other municipalities that host Fort Monmouth, did approve the proposed revisions.
While Oceanport’s disappointment over losing such a fine company is understandable, CommVault has outgrown its current homeand will move out of its Oceanport facility anyway. The company was eyeing the Avaya site in Middletown prior to choosing Fort Monmouth. Monmouth County is fortunate that the company has chosen has chosen to stay here.
Posted: April 24th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Economy, Fort Monmouth | Tags: CommVault, Eatontown, Fort Monmouth Redevelopment Authority, Oceanport, Tinton Falls | 20 Comments »