Recently the Asbury Park Press published a story based on a widely criticized and discredited State Comptroller’s 2012 report examining the state of health benefits for public workers of municipalities, county governments and school districts. The report, which was panned by most benefit and insurance professional at the time as being actuarially and statistically invalid, also failed to accurately reflect the process local governments must use when selecting benefits for its employees. The report made for good headlines, but it didn’t make for good policy.
The takeaway of the report was that local entities in New Jersey — counties, townships, boroughs, school districts — could simply join the state health benefit plan and save the state $100 million dollars. But that wasn’t correct then and it isn’t correct now. The report overlooked the fact that benefits are collectively bargained for and can’t simply be changed on whim or all at once. It also made the false assumption that just by merging all the groups across the state, their claims history, which is how insurance policies are priced, would miraculously get better and generate savings. Finally, the report largely blamed local benefit brokers and consultants for the high cost of health care for public plans even though the cost of brokerage services is about 2% to 3% of the total cost of healthcare. The state plan is a solution for many public employers as are other private plan options. The key is to examine all of the options and align the entity with the best solution for their circumstances.
The report was largely discredited and dismissed at the time of its issuance by industry experts for being naïve and non-factual. But because it includes an eye-popping alleged savings number, the nearly 4 years old report is regularly dusted off and re-circulated by political operatives and media types looking to re-create a controversy that never existed.
Asbury Park — An overflow crowd of Asbury Park residents attended the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting in the city last evening to rally the county’s governing body to save the north end beachfront property known as Bradley Cove.
iStar Financial, the city’s master developer, owns the development rights to the site and has a proposal to build 15 town homes on the property. The Asbury Park Council passed a resolution earlier this month to apply for Green Acres funding to preserve the property.
The freeholders were sympathetic to the public outcry to prevent the development, but made it clear that the ball is in Asbury Park’s court. Prior Asbury Park administrations sold the development rights to the property and approved a tax abatement to support the development. Community members are now trying to undue that deal, and seem be hoping that Freeholder Board has the power to make that happen.
Citing his personal experience on how difficult the job of Party Chairman is, former Monmouth Republican Chairman Fred Niemann issued an endorsement letter for John Bennett today.
Niemann served one term as Monmouth GOP Chair from 2004 -2006, a tumultuous time in the Party’s history that included the Operation Bid Rig arrests, raucous nominating conventions and the emergence of blogs and other new media.
While praising both Bennett and his opponent for Chairman, Sheriff Shaun Golden, Niemann argued that an elected official can not manage the conflicts or make the tough decisions a Chairman must make.
Former Howell Mayor Joe DiBella issued the following statement this morning:
Over the past week I have received numerous calls and inquires related to my challenging Frank Pallone for the 6th Congressional District seat. I’d like to first thank the many people who called and encouraged me to challenge Congressman Pallone. The outpouring of support and encouragement was sincerely appreciated and I put considerable time into evaluating a run for Congress.
As I have said repeatedly, Sheriff Shawn Golden would have be an exceptional candidate to challenge Frank Pallone. Sheriff Golden is an accomplished public servant with a proven capacity to lead and a common-sense approach to government that is desperately needed in Washington, DC. I was disappointed to learn Sherri Golden opted not to run but respect and understand his decision. I would only have sought the Republican nomination in the event Sherriff Golden declined to run.
Having thought about my own potential candidacy and having discussed the issue with my wife and children, I have notified Chairman Bennett that I have decided against running for Congress and seeking the nomination at this time. While intrigued with the possibility of running for Congress and especially against the tax-and-spend liberal Frank Pallone, the timing is simply not right for my family and I at this time.
I do believe that the Republican party in Monmouth and Middlesex will come together and that the organizations will have a strong candidate to challenge and ultimately unseat Frank Pallone. Simply put, Pallone is out of touch and out of step with the people of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties. His tax-and-spend approach has contributed to a weakened economy and a growing national unemployment rate. Plus, as one of the main architects of the patient protection and affordable care act he has participated in a historic assault on the American heath care system that 4 years after its passage has left patients less protected and health insurance more unaffordable than ever.
I stand ready to work with our party in helping to defeat Frank Pallone and return responsible Republican representation to the 6th district. I hope to have an opportunity to serve in the future.
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden told MMM that he will not be a candidate for Congress this year.
Monmouth County Republican Chairman John Bennett has been urging Golden to take on Congressman Frank Pallone due to the sheriff’s strong record of accomplishment and his popularity at the polls.
“I would love to see Shaun Golden run for Congress, ” Bennett said earlier this month, ‘Not only is he popular and a demonstrated vote getter, he has an outstanding record with a documented ability to get things done.”
Golden said that it is just not the right time for him to take on a congressional campaign.
Former Howell Mayor Joe DiBella said last week that he “would love to run against Pallone” if Golden doesn’t. Bennett told MMM that he received a message from DiBella expressing his interest. DiBella has not returned several phone calls inquiring about his candidacy from MMM this week.
Former Howell Mayor Joe DiBella said he “would love to” run against Congressman Frank Pallone if Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden decides against running.
Golden has been considering a run, at the behest of party leaders, for several weeks, but has yet to make a decision. Sources close to the sheriff say he is leaning against running due to his agenda in the Sheriff’s Department and the impact a candidacy would have on his family. Golden was reelected as Monmouth County’s Sheriff last November by a 64%-36% margin.
A 23 year veteran of the health insurance industry, the charismatic and articulate DiBella would offer a sharp contrast to Pallone, the self-professed author of ObamaCare, in matters of both style and substance during a federal election when once again ObamaCare is expected to be the predominant issue nationally. DiBella is an Executive Vice President of Connor Strong & Buckelew, the prominent insurance broker run by South Jersey’s Democratic power broker George Norcross and Joseph Buckelew, the former Republican Mayor of Lakewood.
Unverified rumors fresh off the grapevine point to previously unthinkable alliances forming in the Monmouth GOP chair’s race.
The Howell GOP appears to be united behind John Bennett for Chairman. John Costigan, Bob Walsh, Joe DiBella and Sue Veitengruber are all lining up behind the former Acting Governor, according to a Bennett supporter who added that Western Monmouth is “locked up” for Bennett.
Former Howell Township Mayors Harvey Morrell, JR and Joseph DiBella have sent a joint letter to members of the Howel municipal Republican committee urging them to vote for current Mayor Bob Walsh in Saturday’s Freeholder election.
In there letter address to “Fellow Howell Republicans” Morrell and DiBella emphasis the “historic opportunity” of Howell having its first ever freeholder.
The mayors emphasise the demands of Howell Township and how that prepares one to be a freeholder on “day one.” They praise Walsh’s conservative Republican credentials, his high moral character and ethical fabric.
A strong argument could be made that the path to becoming a Monmouth County Freeholder goes through Red Bank realtor Jim Giannell’s office.
Since 2005 when he backed Colts Neck Mayor Lillian Burry, Giannell has picked every non-incumbent Freeholder nominee except two. One exception was Marlboro Councilman Jeff Cantor who replaced Freeholder Anna Little, a Giannell pick, on the ticket in 2007. Cantor lost a close election to Democrat John D’Amico and then left the Republican party for Jon Hornick’s Democratic organization in Marlboro. The other exception is John Curley. Curley was Giannell’s pick over Serena DiMaso in 2008. Curley narrowly lost to Amy Mallet in the Obama landslide. In 2009 Giannell backed Kim Spatola, a former Atlantic Highlands councilwoman over Curley. Curley prevailed at Joe Oxley’s first candidate selection screening and went on to defeat Sean Byrnes of Middletown in the 2009 Christie landslide in Monmouth.
With the election of Gary Rich earlier this month, 3.5, counting Curley, of five Freeholders owe their offices to Jim Giannell. If the former Red Bank municipal chairman’s pick in the current race to replace Assemblyman-elect Rob Clifton, Howell Mayor Bob Walsh, is elected on January 14, Giannell will have picked all five members of the board.
While the Freeholders may owe their careers to Giannell, there is little, if any, evidence that he is a boss, in the classic New Jersey sense of the word. Once they take office, the Freeholders go their own way. Burry is supporting Anne Marie Conte over Walsh in the current race. Curley and Tom Arnone are staying out of the race for now.
Here is a list of Giannell’s picks for non-incumbent Freeholders since 2005:
2005: Lillian Burry. Burry ran with incumbent Bill Barham. Barham was elected at a Republican convention earlier in 2005 to replace long time Freeholder Director Harry Larrison. Even in the wake of the Operation Bid Rig scandal which tarnished the Republican brand, Barham and Burry defeated Democrats Barbara McMorrow and Rebecca Aaronson and Independent Brian Unger. The Republican victory was in large measure do to the Asbury Park Press’s call for voters to bullet vote for Unger. Back then the APP’s endorsement still had influence. Unger garnered over 18,000 votes. Burry’s margin of victory over McMorrow was only 1,792 votes.
2006: Anna Little and Andrew Lucas. Little was elected, by one vote, over Howell Mayor Joe DiBella at a convention to replace Amy Handlin who had been elected to the Assembly. Giannell managed Little’s campaign and her floor fight at the convention. A month later at a contentious multiple ballot nominating convention, Giannell and candidate Terrence Wall threw their support to Lucas in an anti-establishment move against DiBella and then Chairman Fred Neimann. Little went on to win the rest of Handlin’s unexpired term in the general election. Lucas lost to Barbara McMorrow.
2007: Giannell did not have a candidate. Little, his successful pick in 2006, spent a contentious year battling with Chairman Puharic and Freeholder Director Barham. Little declined to seek the nomination rather than submit to Puharic’s rules for screening and the convention. Cantor was selected to join incumbent Rob Clifton on the ticket. Clifton won. Cantor lost to Democrat John D’Amico.
2008: John Curley was Giannell’s pick over Serena DiMaso who had the backing of Chairman Adam Puharic. Burry was Curley’s running mate. In a photo finish election dominated by Obamamania, Burry prevailed and Curley lost to Amy Mallet on the count of provisional ballots. Democrats took control of the Freeholder Board for the first time in 20 years.
2009: Giannell backed Chairman Joe Oxley in supporting Atlantic Highlands former Councilwoman Kim Spatola over Curley. McMorrow was up for reelection and was considered a lock to be reelected. Nominating a woman, given the pro woman gender gap demonstrated by Burry and Mallet’s 2008 victories was considered the only hope of defeating McMorrow. Just before the nominating meetings for both parties, McMorrow announced she would not seek another term. Curley won a roll call vote at Oxley’s first screening selection. The Democrats scrambled to find a candidate to replace McMorrow, settling on Byrnes from Middletown over Mike Beson of Neptune Township. Curley defeated Byrnes and Republicans won back control of the Board.
2010: Giannell’s pick, Tom Arnone, narrowly defeated former Middltown Committeeman Tom Wilkens and Spring Lake Councilman Gary Rich. Arnone and incumbent Rob Clifton went on to defeat D’Amico and Spring Lake Councilwoman Janice Venables.
2011: Giannell backed Rich over Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas, who had Burry’s support, Walsh, and Wall Township Committeeman George Newberry. Rich won the nomination with 25 votes in the screening committee. Lucas has 23 votes and Newberry 22. Walsh withdrew before the polling. Rich and incumbent Burry went on the defeat Mallet and newcomer William Shea earlier this month.
2012? Monmouth County Republicans have not had a nominating convention of all county committee members since 2008. It remains to be seen if Giannell can pull off another close race. Don’t bet the house against Bob Walsh.
Former Howell Mayor Joe DiBella said that he will not be a candidate for Freeholder and that he strongly supports current Howell Mayor Bob Walsh for the post. DiBella said that he and Walsh, formerly political adversaries, have become close friends.
Walsh and Holmdel Deputy Mayor Serena DiMaso are the currently declared candidates to fill the vacancy caused by Freeholder Director Rob Clifton’s election to the State Assembly. A new Freeholder will be elected at a Republican County Committee convention on January 14, 2012. The winner will take office immediately and will have to defend the seat in the 2012 and 2013 general elections.
Other candidates mentioned by party leaders or said to be considering a bid include Atlantic Highlands Councilman Peter Doyle, Affiliated Republican Club Vice President Bob Burlew of Keyport, former Middletown Committeeman Tom Wilkens, Manalapan Deputy Mayor Ryan Green, Freehold Township Deputy Mayor Anthony Ammiano and Wall Committeeman George Newberry.