Dr. Dale Whilden, President of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Assoc, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, Sen Jennifer Beck, Gov Chris Christie, Congressman Chris Smith and Neptune Mayor Dr. Michael Brantley cut the ribbon of Ocean Grove’s rebuilt boardwalk
After being twice denied funding from FEMA before finally getting $2.4 million on their second appeal, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association re-opened their boardwalk to the public today with a ceremonial ribbon cutting lead by Governor Chris Christie, Congressman Chris Smith, Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, Neptune Township Mayor Dr. Michael Brantley and Dr. Dale C. Whilden, President of the OGCMA.
“Today is truly a great day for Ocean Grove, Neptune Township, Monmouth County, and the Jersey Shore, and a critical step forward in our recovery from Sandy,” said Smith.”This boardwalk is an integral part of Ocean Grove the neighboring Jersey Shore community, a fact we reinforced during our efforts to reverse FEMA’s original decision at the local level—and yet another at the regional level—to deny critical funding.”
NEPTUNE — A driver was arrested after speeding around a Neptune Township neighborhood for more than an hour on Sunday. As he circled the street, he made obscene hand gestures at startled witnesses, played abrasive music and operated his late model…
Photo credit: Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association
Neptune Township’s beachfront and boardwalk in the Ocean Grove section of the Township might not get the estimated $3 million in FEMA funding needed to rebuild because the property is owned by the private non-profit and religious Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA), according to an article by freelance journalist Caren Chesler published at NJSpotLight.
Neptune Township Committee Member and Ocean Grove business owner Randy Bishop, as well as Michael Bascom, the Township’s CFO are working with OGCMA to pursuade FEMA to pay for the repairs on the stretch of beach that connects the regional shoreline from Asbury Park south to Spring Lake.
In a press release posted on OGCMA’s website, President Dr. Dale C. Whilden said, “The Camp Meeting is fully committed to restoring Ocean Grove’s beautiful beachfront, a keystone of our community as well as a protection from ocean storms, and we’re on track to implement a comprehensive beach and boardwalk restoration plan. With God’s blessing and the assistance of our local, state and federal officials, as well as support from individuals and organizations, our beach will open on Memorial Day weekend.”
Neptune Government For All (NG4A) is a newly formed, non-partisan group of Neptune citizens interested in changing the Township’s current system of government. They have started a petition drive to place a referendum on this November’s ballot which would allow the voters of Neptune to directly elect their Mayor for a four year term. This format would also create a ward system of representation.
“It’s unfortunate that in a town the size of Neptune, voters do not have the right to directly vote on who the Mayor should be,” saidDru Reynolds, of Ocean Grove, one of the organizers of the group. “Quite frankly, it’s un-democratic that only a few people end up picking the Mayor, which is what happens now. It’s even worse that our Mayor serves for only one year when we have so many problems like taxes and crime to deal with in town.”
NG4A has been meeting over the last year, researching the idea of changing the Township Charter, with the assistance of New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center. The group decided that a Mayor – Council form of government would best serve Neptune.
That format allows the voters to elect the Mayor, who would serve for four years, and develop a continuity of programs and initiatives which is not possible under the current system. A mayor in this style of government would become more accountable to the voters and have a greater impact on providing a more stable economic base for the Township while being able to address such issues as crime and spending.
According to Charlie DeMaria of the Villas section of Neptune, “the idea of changing the style of Neptune’s government has actually been discussed by several small groups over the last 10 years or so, without any action being taken. Now is the time because of the need for bold, long-term visions & leadership for the township.”
Mr. Demaria continued, “Besides the fact that right now the voters don’t actually elect the mayor, halfway through the Mayor’s one-year term the honeymoon is over and the Mayor becomes a lame duck. We believe that a 4-year term provides more productivity and the opportunity for the voters to have more of a say in the direction the Township is heading.”
West Neptune resident Jennifer Eldridge brought up another issue. “In the last four years, we have not been able to get a definitive response from any of our elected officials about preserving – or even recognizing – the historic elements that are located in the western most sections of Neptune Township.” “Maybe,” Eldridge continued, “if voters have the power to elect a Mayor directly, as opposed to the position being filled by political strategy, the residents will finally see an end to this deliberate grid-lock and obstructionism.”
In addition to changing the Township’s charter in order to provide for a directly elected Mayor, this change of government style would provide for more direct representation of the various neighborhoods across the township. Six council members would be directly elected by the voters of six newly created wards representing various neighborhoods in town. Three other council members would be elected at large by all of the voters in Neptune. This type of representation exemplifies democracy. Each local ward would have a member sitting on the council who would be able to focus on their neighborhood’s issues, instead of citizens only getting 5 minutes at the microphone to address any particular issue.
In order to get this referendum on the ballot this November, volunteers will be fanning out across Neptune over the next few weeks in order to gather the required signatures. Once on the ballot, the NG4A will continue publicizing the benefits of this change of government via the media, direct mail and local educational forums in order to fully inform the residents of Neptune.
“Right now, we are working on getting the question on this November’s ballot,” Reynolds said, “and we need your help to get the job done. This effort represents a great opportunity to move Neptune forward and provide better representation for all of our residents. Your help will make this happen.”
For further information, to sign the petition or to volunteer to help this important effort, please visit www.ng4a.net or call 732-456-2199. You may also send an email to the group via firstname.lastname@example.org
We have been hard on the Neptune Board of Education over their choice to negotiate with the ACLU over the use of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association’s Great Auditorium as the venue for their high school graduation. We would have preferred that Neptune, or anybody, stand up to the over reaching ACLU and their cowardly client. We continue to believe that there are winnable legal arguments, right arguments, that the use of the Great Auditorium is not a violation of the first amendment required separation of church and state.
We don’t agree that covering the religious signs and symbols at the venue protects the rights of someone who does not agree with the message. We don’t believe that if someone feels like an outsider that their rights have been violated. We don’t believe that an ecumenical prayer to begin or end a ceremony or the singing of a hymn makes a civic ceremony a religious service.
We would love to see the ACLU crushed in court or to scamper away at the sight of a leader who would stand up to their bullying tactics.
However, in this case we believe the Neptune Board of Education and Superintendent David Mooij performed admirably for their community. As we were reminded this week with the Abbott Ruling, we have an arrogant, activist and dysfunctional judiciary in this state and country. As strong as their arguments would have been, there is a good chance that the Neptune board could have lost in court and the 70 year tradition of holding their graduation in the Great Auditorium could have been over. Such a result would have been most unfortunate for the community of Neptune. It appears that the Neptune board and Mooij were able to avoid that result. For avoiding that result and preserving the tradition they are to be commended.
We continue to have one major issue with the conduct of the board and administration in Neptune; their policy of protecting the identity of the ACLU’s client. The grumpy granny’s identity should be an easily searchable matter of public record. Her name should have appeared in the minutes of the Neptune Board of Education meeting last July when she first publically raised the issue. Instead, she was identified as “a member of the public.”
The woman who felt like an outsider at her grandchild’s graduation last year and concluded that her rights were violated should have gone to therapy rather than threaten to go to court. She knows she’s an outsider. By hiding her identity with the cooperation of the Neptune board and the ACLU she confirmed that she’s a sneaky outsider without the courage of her convictions to withstand public scorn and scrutiny.
By protecting the woman’s identity the board and administration put their 70 year tradition that means a great deal to the community at risk. Fortunately things worked out for the present and future Neptune graduates. Unfortunately those students also learned a lesson in the power of cowardice and complicity.
The Neptune Board of Education has agreed to cover religious signs and symbols in and outside of the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium, with the exception of the prominent cross on the building, and the ACLU has agreed not to take legal action to prevent the Neptune High School Class of 2011 graduation to take place at the auditorium, according to reports at Neptune Matters and Blog Finger.
The board agreed that this graduation and future ceremonies would be free of religious content, i.e., prayers and hymns.
The agreement clears the way for the 70 year Neptune tradition to continue.
The identity of the ACLU’s client has not been revealed. The complainant has been identified only as the grandmother of a student who graduated last year. MMM has narrowed the identity down to one of two women with the same last name, initial “B.” One an Eatontown resident, the other an Ocean Township resident. So long as this agreement sticks, MMM will cease efforts to confirm the identity of the complainant.
The controversy over the venue for the Neptune High School graduation started last July when “a member of the public” objected to the venue on religious reasons at a workshop meeting of the board. Minutes of the school board meeting do not say who the person is.
A member of the Neptune Board of Education refused to reveal the name of the person, siting board policy.
Media reports in the APP and on News Channel 4 have said that the complainant is a “non-district woman,” and the grandmother of a student who graduated last year.
Blogfinger, who otherwise has done a very good job covering the story, including publishing a timeline of the district’s communication with the ACLU, is also protecting the ornery granny’s identity.
Even members of the facebook group that is rallying public support to keep they traditional graduation at the Great Auditorium are withholding the name of the grandmother.
I don’t get it. Commenting anonymously on a blog is one thing. Threatening legal action anonymously, and having that threat taken seriously is another.
MMM is going to find the identity of the ACLU’s client in this case. We will publish it when we do. If you know who it is, please post as much information as you have it in the comments.
Blogfinger is reporting that the Neptune Board of Education met with approximately 200 students, parents and residents last night to discuss the ACLU’s threat to file suit over use of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association’s Great Auditorium for the high school’s graduation.
Board President John Daniels said that the board “is one hundred percent behind the cause of this event….to continue at the Great Auditorium.”
Superintendent David Mooij said that no lawsuit has been filed, that the negotiations continue with the ACLU and that other venues for the graduation, including the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, will be considered if the ACLU gets an injunction against holding the graduation at the same venue where it has been held for six decades or more.
Mooij encouraged those at the meeting to rally public support for the traditional graduation by writing letters to the editor and speaking out at other forums, yet said that “the legal arguments will determine the outcome” rather than public sentiment.
The ACLU hasn’t filed suit. The are jawboning the kittens into compliance with the threat of a suit.
The ACLU is arguing that the graduation being held at a religious venue with crosses is a violation of the first amendment separation of church and state.
If the sight of a cross at a secular event violates the separation of church and state, then school buses should be prohibited from driving past churches, synagogues or mosques for fear that a student will see a religious symbol while being transported at government expense.
The ACLU’s chief bully, state legal director Ed Barocas told the APP, “They are making it uncomfortable for non-Christians to appreciate their child’s graduation. It gives the impression that there are certain people that are insiders and others who are outsiders.”
Well, there are certain people who are insiders and others who are outsiders. That has nothing to do with religion. Anyone who has a problem with that, like Barocas, is an outsider and a loser. Next he’ll be wanting to do away with football and cheerleading.
The head pantywaist, Superintendent David “Kitten” Mooij, has already caved to certain of bully Barocas’ demands. He has removed the convocation and the singing of “Onward Christian Soldiers” from the program. Bully Barocas is not satsified, he wants the graduation held somewhere other than the 3000 seat auditorium.
Bully Barocas is all wet and Kitten Mooij should stand up to him. Let the bully sue. Kitten Mooij is probably worried about the legal fees. He should ask the NJEA for help, they burnt $6 million on political ads last year that made absolutely no difference. The NJEA would get more good will from defending the kittens of Neptune than they will from their silly TV and newspaper ads bashing Governor Christie.
The Great Auditorium is building, an auditorium. It holds both religious and secular events. Tim Conway, Tony Bennet, Paul Anka and Frank Sinatra, JR are performing their in August. There is a Doo Wop Extravaganza scheduled for Labor Day weekend.
There has to be an attorney somewhere who can win this case, if there is a case.
If kittens like Mooij keep caving every time the ACLU calls, just because they call and the kittens don’t think they can pay for a fight, then the ACLU will always win and keep being a bully.