Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal just can’t help himself from practicing the “politics of yesterday,” as Governor Chris Christie said of him last year.
Friday evening on the Political Roundtable segment of the NJTV News with Mike Schneider, Gopal reacted to the news that the federal government had cleared Christie Administration of any errors or wrong doing with the AshBrit contract for cleaning up much of New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy by sticking to the Democratic/Star Ledger talking points. “The bigger issue is,” Gopal said, “why was so much money wasted in the process?” “Costs were higher,” he said, without saying higher than what. Certainly they were not higher than what the Army Corp of Engineers charged New York for their clean up.
What Gopal didn’t say is that he was busy helping AshBrit get business in the aftermath of Superstrom Sandy.
Click here to read an email Gopal sent me three weeks after Sandy hit asking for my help in introducing AshBrit’s agent, Laura Matos of M Public Affairs, a veteran of the Corzine administration, to Highlands Mayor Frank Nolan.
GOP political consultant Chris Russell joked on the segment that he was waiting for apologies from all the Democrats who criticized Christie over the AshBrit contract. Gopal should have apologized on the spot, especially since he was an active participant in recruiting municipalities to sign with the clean up company.
I don’t know if Gopal got paid for helping AshBrit get business but it is a safe bet that Matos and her fellow Corzine administration veterans at M Public Affairs did. Vin should ask Matos why the AshBrit contract cost so much.
I didn’t get paid. Nolan had Highlands almost entirely cleaned up without AshBrit before Vin reached out to me.
Posted: March 7th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, Christie Administration, Frank Nolan, Superstorm Sandy, Vin Gopal | Tags: AshBrit, Chris Christie, Chris Russell, Christie Administration, Frank Nolan, Highlands, Laura Matos, M Public Affairs, Mike Schneider, NJTV, Superstorm Sandy, Vin Gopal | 3 Comments »
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer on MSNBC’s Up with Steve Kornacki, January 18, 2014
Monmouth County mayors and other municipal officials are reacting to Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s allegations that her city is not receiving Sandy Relief funds because she hasn’t pushed through a redevelopment approval coveted by Governor Chris Christie with a high degree of skepticism, because their storm ravaged communities have yet to see significant money yet either.
One elected official who asked not to be quoted said, “If Hoboken had approved that Rockefeller project, Zimmer would still be standing on her head at a Hoboken street corner looking for her Sandy money. The money hasn’t started to flow yet.”
“Is it believable that Guadagno (Lt. Governor Kim Guadango) or Constable (DCA Commissioner Richard Constable) encouraged Zimmer to expedite an project? Yes. As a quid pro quo for Sandy dollars? No way,” another official said.
Zimmer alleged on MSNBC’s Up with Steve Kornacki this morning that Guadagno pulled her aside at a Hoboken ribbon cutting and warned that Sandy Relief money to Hoboken was contingent on a development application by the Rockefeller Group being approved by the city. Zimmer said that Constable told her at a Monmouth University symposium on Sandy recovery that relief dollars would flow if the Rockefeller application was approved.
After talking to local and state officials today, MMM understands that the federal money for Sandy Relief is
flowing dripping through four sources; FEMA, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) which administers relief for homeowners, the New Jersey Economic Development Agency(EDA) and County Governments which are administering Hazard Mitigation Grants. The Hazard Mitigation Grants are funded by FEMA and distributed to the counties by the State Office of Emergency Management.
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Posted: January 18th, 2014 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, Dawn Zimmer, EDA, FEMA, Hoboken | Tags: Belmar, Bridgegate, Chris Christie, Dawn Zimmer, Frank Nolan, Highlands, Matt Doherty, Middletown, MSNBC, Steve Kornacki, Tony Fiore, Up with Steve Kornacki | 19 Comments »
The Highlands Borough Council passed a resolution last night, in a 3-2 vote, to appoint Patrick DeBlasio to be the borough’s Chief Financial Officer effective May 1, 2014. DeBlasio is the CFO of Carteret, North Plainfield, and Keansburg. He is the treasurer of the Carteret Board of Education and the tax collector in Highlands.
In Carteret, DeBlasio also serves as a member of the Parking Commission.
The 40,000 salary that comes with the appointment will bring his total compensation from his six jobs to $284,606. All of DeBlasio’s jobs provide a pension. The borough plans to hire him an assistant for an undetermined salary.
Governor Chris Christie earns $175,000, as do U.S. Senators and Members of Congress. State Cabinet Officers earn $141,000. Superior Court Judges earn $165,000
The borough did not advertise the position or explore a shared services agreement with another town, as Mayor Frank Nolan and Councilman Chris Francy advocated. Rather, they voted to hire DeBlasio on the recommendation of retiring CFO Stephen Pfeffer, according to Council President Rebecca Kane and Councilwoman Tara Ryan’s remarks explaining the hire when they moved and seconded the resolution. Pfeffer earns $69,580 as CFO in Highlands and $157,738 as the CFO of Tinton Falls.
During the public portion of the council meeting, Kane said she would reevaluate the decision after one year. However Borough Attorney Bruce Padula said that the appointment is for a four year term. DeBlasio would be tenured after the initial four years. Kane’s term on the council expires in June, due to a referendum passed by Highlands voters in November making the borough’s election non-partisan. She is expected to run for another term.
In his remarks opposing DeBlasio’s appointment, Nolan said, “We are often the laughing stock of Monmouth County. This is one of the reasons why.”
Posted: December 19th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Francy, Frank Nolan, Highlands | Tags: Bruce Padula, CFO, Chris Francy, Frank Nolan, Highlands, Patrick Deblasio, Rebecca Kane, Tara Ryan | 10 Comments »
If one person can do six government jobs for $300,000, why can’t those governmental entities get together and hire one person to do that work for half the amount or less?
Highlands Mayor Frank Nolan, photo by Tim Larsen, Governor’s Office
In his column on facebook and Atlantic Highlands Herald, Highlands Mayor Frank Nolan said there is currently a contract being negotiated for a new Chief Financial Officer in the borough. The candidate, who Nolan did not name, currently has five government jobs, including another job in Highlands, and earns $244,606. If hired as Highlands’ new CFO, the candidate would have to work 160 hours per week, theoretically, to justify the combined full time and part time salaries which would exceed $300,000.
As of this writing, there is a contract being written for someone to fill that position that already has 5 municipal jobs across the state. If this individual was to be given this 6th municipal job at our council meeting on December 18th they would be one of the top paid public employees in the state and would hold 2 jobs in the Borough of Highlands. His current salary listed on the state website is $244,606 for his 5 current positions. If we add another $65,000 to the total and highlands would be putting him over the $300,000 per year mark.
By definition most part time jobs are about 20 hours per week. The average fulltime job is 40 hours. If you have 4 part time jobs, that means you are working, in theory, 80 hours per week on those jobs. Plus you have 2 full time jobs. That’s another 80 hours. The person who is potentially being given a 6th municipal job at the Wed, December 18th council meeting that will be held at Highlands Elementary School at 8:00pm for the public. This person will be working 160 hours per week. There are 168 total hours in a 7 day week. How can someone work 6 jobs and be effective? The answer is: they can’t.
MMM believes the accountant is Highlands Tax Collector Patrick DeBlasio, who, according to APP’s Data Universe, has two jobs in Carteret, and one job each in Keansburg, North Plainfield, in addition to his tenured position in Highlands, all of which will pay a pension.
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Posted: December 12th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Government Waste, Highlands | Tags: Chris Francy, Frank Nolan, Highlands, Kevin Redmond, Patrick Deblasio, Rebecca Kane, Tara Ryan | No Comments »
The reaction to Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal’s declaration of victory has been hilarious…and has overloaded MMM stat counter!
Two Tinton Falls officials called first thing this morning unable to contain their laughter at Gopal’s delusional claim of credit for Jerry Turning’s election as mayor.
Tinton Falls Mayor-elect Jerry Turning
“I’m the most conservative Democrat you’ll ever meet,” Mayor-elect Turning said when we got him on the phone. “I registered as a Democrat over 40 years ago when I was 18 and Jerry Brown was running for President. I don’t consider myself a partisan. I vote for the best candidates.” Turning said he voted for Mitt Romney for President last year, Chris Christie for Governor on Tuesday and Steve Lonegan for U.S. Senate last month.
“Neither the Democrats or Republicans in Tinton Falls were involved in my campaign. We spent no money. I’m proud of that. I’ve never run for office before and don’t consider myself a politician,” said Turning, “I have good relationships with John Bennett (the Monmouth GOP Chairman) and Gopal and I want to keep it that way. But I am not a partisan person and Tinton Falls is not a partisan town. The residents like it that way,”
A Manalapan resident said via facebook, ”Gopal’s letter is actually very funny. He states, ‘In MANALAPAN, Ryan Urgo, Dr. Ayesha Chaudhary and David Goldstein ran a strong campaign for township committee but lost due to an onslaught of negative attacks from the Republicans.’ Manalapan Democrats: In fact, the Republicans never mentioned the Democrats, not wanting to give them publicity since they were all unknowns. The Democrats, on the other hand, spent their entire campaign attacking Andrew Lucas and the farmland preservation, rather than running against the Republican candidates.”
Asbury Park Councilman John Moor said, “Funny that he claims the Asbury Park referendum a victory, I thought it was going to be non partisan.”
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Posted: November 8th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2013 Election, Monmouth County, Monmouth Democrats, Vin Gopal | Tags: Andrew Lucas, Asbury Park, Doug Card, Frank Nolan, Highlands, Jerry Turning, John Moor, Manalapan, Monmouth Democrats, Rebecca Kane, Tinton Falls, Vin Gopal | 1 Comment »
In an email sent to his party faithful this evening, Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal spun the Republican Romp in Monmouth County on Tuesday as a victorious holding of ground and claimed a net pick up of 1 municipal seat.
While we haven’t carefully fact checked Gopal’s claims, some of them appear to be laughable. He’s counting a Board of Education seat in Wall Township as a pick up and Mayor-elect Jerry Turning’s uncontested election in Tinton Falls, a non-partisan municipality, as pick up. The Tinton Falls GOP support Turning taking over as mayor of the borough where he has been administrator, after retiring as Police Chief.
Gopal is also not counting Highlands Council President Rebecca Kane’s loss to Republican Mayor Frank Nolan as a defeat, because there are 120 uncounted provisional ballots, even though Kane conceded the race on Tuesday night. Kane would have to get 77% of the provisional votes, assuming they are all ruled valid, in order to gain the 92 votes needed to over take Nolan’s lead.
The text of Gopal’s email is below the fold, for entertainment purposes. Feel free to check his facts and comment accordingly.
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Posted: November 7th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2013 Predictions, Monmouth Democrats, Vin Gopal | Tags: Fact Check, Frank Nolan, Highlands, Jerry Turning, Monmouth Democrats, Rebecca Kane, Tinton Falls, Vin Gopal, Wall Township Board of Education | 14 Comments »
Mayor Frank L. Nolan was elected to a second term leading the Borough of Highlands today.
Nolan, a Republican earned 46% % of the vote in the Superstorm Sandy ravaged community over his Democratic opponent, Council President Rebecca Kane who earned 39%. 15% of Highlands voters wrote in their chose. Douglas Card waged a write-in campaign. There were 1290 votes cast in the borough today. These results to not include mail-in ballots.
Posted: November 5th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2013 Election, Highlands | Tags: Douglas Card, Frank Nolan, Highlands, Rebecca Kane | 3 Comments »
The Battle of Monmouth is in the municipalities today.
Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal is hoping to be the Gene Michael of politics. Michael, the New York Yankees General Manger in the early 1990′s, rebuilt the mediocre team back to dominant glory by focusing on new talent in the farm system. As a player, Michael was a master of the hidden ball trick. In baseball the hidden ball trick is when a position player fakes throwing the ball back to the pitcher after a play, only to tag out the base runner when he take a lead off the base.
Like Michael, Gopal is trying to build his farm team in Monmouth County municipal races, knowing he can’t win the big show in the short term, with an eye on future dominance of Monmouth County government and the State of New Jersey. Also like Michael, Gopal always has a trick up his sleeve behind his youthful smile and pleasant demeanor.
Gopal hasn’t even fielded a team in 23 races in 16 Monmouth County towns. Yet he has the press and New Jersey’s Democratic leadership convinced he’s building a future empire from the bottom up.
But if he doesn’t deliver the goods tonight, Gopal could end up as a Hardy Peterson, the Yankees General Manager who only lasted in the job for one year, 1990, instead of Michael, and find himself challenged for the county chairmanship when his first term ends in June.
The towns to watch tonight are Red Bank, Aberdeen, Eatontown, Highlands, Hazlet and Marlboro.
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Posted: November 5th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2013 Election, Monmouth County, Monmouth Democrats, Monmouth GOP | Tags: "LaHornicca", Aberdeen, Cliff Moore, Cory Booker, Declan O'Scanlon, Eatontown, Frank LaRocca, Frank Nolan, Hazlet, Highlands, Jennifer Beck, Marlboro, Mary Tyler Moore, Monmouth County Dems, Rebecca Kane, Red Bank, Vin Gopal | 3 Comments »
The State Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee toured the damaged areas of Union Beach and Highlands today before convening their scheduled hearing at the Henry Hudson Regional High School in Highlands.
State Senator Joe Kyrillos, who represents the Bayshore in Trenton, issued the following statement following the hearing:
Touring the damage today in Union Beach and Highlands gave my colleagues in the Senate a good visual of the destruction this storm wrought on our district and Monmouth County as a whole. However, the testimony from members of the community who are putting their lives back together best illustrated the anguish and exhaustion our friends and neighbors are going through. I thank members of the Committee for coming out to the Bayshore today.
They also got to see the best New Jerseyans have to offer: neighbors helping neighbors, residents rebuilding with dedication and courage, and the generosity of charities such as the Robin Hood Foundation that announced today their contribution of hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief efforts in Sea Bright, Highlands, Keansburg, and Union Beach.
As FEMA continues to assess the damage and make plans to compensate victims and help them rebuild, I encourage them to remember words of the residents who came to Highlands to testify. The perception that the New Jersey shoreline is only for wealthy vacationers who live elsewhere is a false one. This area is full of hard-working, middle class families whose homes have been in their families for generations and will have a difficult time rebuilding what they’ve lost even with flood insurance. It is incumbent upon us to work together and ensure they are able to rebuild their homes to the condition in which they existed prior to the storm, or help them find a new home elsewhere if rebuilding in certain areas is too dangerous. Only then will their lives truly be made whole after this unique event.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon said that the tour and the hearing dispelled any notion that some legislators have heard from their consitituients that FEMA and the State are bailing out exclusively well to do and second home owners on the shore who should have known better than the build near the water.
“This one was different,” said O’Scanlon, “properties were never touched by previous major storms and hurricanes were destroyed this time. Hard working familes whose homes have been passed down four generations lost everything. Every town is different and it is appropriate that the Committee came and meet the people of the Bayshore.”
Highlands Mayor Frank L. Nolan gave FEMA a “D” when asked to grade the federal agency by Senator Jeff Van Drew. “Do you say B?” ask Van Drew. “D, as in not good,” responded Nolan.
Nolan gave the FEMA personnel on the ground an A+, saying his issues are with the agency’s bueracracy and red tape.
Nolan also announced that the Rainbow Foundation has pledged $200,ooo for Highlands recovery.
Councilwoman-elect Tara Ryan asked the committee to keep up the pressure on the National Park Service to open Sandy Hook by this summer, citing the park’s importance to the Northern Monmouth economy.
Posted: December 11th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Highlands, Hurricane Sandy, NJ State Legislature | Tags: Declan O'Scanlon, Frank Nolan, Highlands, Jeff Van Drew, Joe Kyrillos, NJ Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Tara Ryan | No Comments »
A growing group of Jersey Shore musicians lead by producer Rick Korn and musical director Michael Mancini are raising money and the spirits of Jersey Shore residents with a concert to support the Rebuild The Jersey Shore efforts on Sunday November 25 in Highlands at the Seastreak Ferry terminal, 325 Shore Drive, at 2 p.m.
The Rebuild The Jersey Shore Band And Friends includes members of the Asbury Jukes, Glenn Alexander, Tony Seguso and bass player Tony Tino. The expanding list of artists scheduled to perform in the Hope for Highlands Concert includes Bob Bandiera, Bob Burger, Lisa Bouchelle, Lisa Lowell, Layonne Holmes, and saxophone legend Tommy LaBella.
Admission to the concert is free. Food and beer will be sold by local restaurants and merchants at the “Taste of Highlands” food court, with profits going to Highlands survivors. There is a $10 parking fee at the Seastreak parking lots in Highlands and Atlantic Highlands, which will also go to those impacted by Sandy. Seastreak will provide free ferry service to the concert from Atantic Highlands. There will also be ferry service from New York leaving from E 34th and Pier 11. A $65 fee will include the round trip boat ride, food and the concert. Excess proceeds will go to support Highlands’ Sandy survivors.
The money raised through the concert will be administered by “Hope for Highlands”, a fund set up through the non-profit Highlands Business Partnership under the direction of Mayor Frank Nolan and Councilwoman Rebecca Kane. The Hope for Highlands Fund is designed to go directly to the people and businesses in Highlands that need it most.
“Highlands, like so many devastated small towns up and down the Jersey Shore, was hit extremely hard by Hurricane Sandy”, said Nolan,” This half square mile middle class fishing village, has been devastated with severe damage to over 1200 of its 1500 downtown homes and almost all of its businesses.”
Highlands, the first stop on the Jersey Shore, is known for its spectacular restaurants, Sandy Hook, Historic Twin Lights and its fishing and clamming industry.
“The loss of these homes and businesses has had a ripple effect on the community beyond the norm because many of the residents worked and lived in the town”, said Borough Administrator Tim Hill, ”An economically challenged town before the storm, this community is now faced with not only the loss of their homes but many have also lost their jobs.”
Sponsors include Seastreak, Shore Point Distributing, Boulevard Pro, Big Top Tents of Long Branch, Streit Purveyors, Boardwalk Sausage, This Is It! Stageworks and Tri-State LaCrosse.
For more information or to donate to Hope For Highlands visit www.highlandsnj.com .
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Posted: November 20th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Highlands, Hurricane Sandy | Tags: Asbury Jukes, Big Top Tents of Long Branch, Boardwald Sausage, Bob Bandiera, Bob Buger, Boulevard Pro, Frank Nolan, Glenn Alexander, Hope for Highlands, Hope for Highlands Concert, Layonne Holmes, Lisa Bouchelle, Lisa Lowell, Mayor Frank Nolan, Michael Mancini, Rebecca Kane, Rebuild The Jersey Shore, Rebulid The Jersey Shore Band, Rick Korn, Seastreak Ferry, Shore Point Distributors, Streit Purveyors, This Is It! Stageworks, Tim Hill, Tommy LaBella, Tony Seguso, Tony Tino, Tri-State LaCrosse | 1 Comment »