The Asbury Park Press editorial board is doing such a good job covering Monmouth and Ocean Counties that they’ve decided to expand their coverage north to Essex County.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker had a sit down with the APP editorial board yesterday. It was a nice interview judging from the write-up; Booker agrees with Governor Christie’s proposed public education reforms. He disagrees with Christie’s restructuring of higher education. He differs with Christie on gay marriage and diet. He thinks the Governor is a good guy. As is usually the case, no news was broken by The Asbury Park Press.
Gannett’s Middlesex/Somerset publication ran the same article and included a video on MyCentralJersey.com
This from Central Jersey’s supposed major news source that didn’t know that a new Monmouth County freeholder was elected in January until they read about it here and on Patch.com.
Monmouth County had 53 mayors. Ocean County has 33. Has the editorial board ever sat down with one of them?
Gannett is apparently surrendering the local news market to the Patches. Maybe as they change their business model they plan to merge all of the New Jersey publications and and put out a statewide edition of USA Today. To bad for them that NJTV already took the name NJ Today.
Ferraina: “I got $600,000? That’s not much,” he said. “There, you want a headline? ‘That’s not much.’
Casagrande: “Those are dollars that would be better served in the classroom”
Retired Long Branch School Superintendent Joseph Ferraina collected $616,123 in unused sick and vacation pay, not all at once in a lump sum at retirement, but over the course of course of his last ten years on the job, according to a report published at LongBranchPatch.
Go read the article. It is an outstanding piece of journalism by reporter Joe Malinconico who discovered the payments via an Open Public Records Act request and conducted a 57 minute phone interview with Ferraina.
According to LongBranchPatch, the records and Ferraina indicate that the educator only took off time from work if a close family member died; a half day for his father in 2004, a four hours when his brother died in 2005 and a partial day when his son died in 2008. On the day of his son’s funeral he went to work first thing in the mornin, left at 8:45 am, fifteen minutes before the services started, and was back at his desk by 2 pm.
Ferriana’s salary was $244,999 when he retired in June. His annual pension is $154,710.
Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said Ferraina’s $600K was essentially taken from school children by legislative leaders who have refused to outlaw the practice of paying public employees for unused sick and vacation time.
“This is another example of a system that allows dollars to come out of the classroom and into the pockets of administrators,” Casagrande said. “We had a bipartisan compromise bill that addressed part of the problem and Governor Christie recommended a way to fix the problem, which I support.
“Legislators who agreed this practice is wrong should work with me to enact Governor Christie’s changes so we can end the payout of unused time before there is another example of wasted tax dollars,” Casagrande added.
Casagrande, R-Monmouth, sponsors a bill, A-4193, that incorporates the Governor’s recommendations to ban public employees from cashing in unused sick and vacation days. It incorporates recommendations made by Governor Christie to strengthen a legislative proposal that was approved by the Legislature last year. But Trenton Democratic legislative leaders have refused to advance an outright ban, just a cap on the amount public employees can cash in.
“Those are dollars that would be better served in the classroom,” Casagrande said. “As long as this practice is legal, public employees will continue to use it and every day legislative leaders delay, is another day accrued for public employees, which adds up to many dollars taken from taxpayers and school children.
“These golden parachutes are especially egregious in these trying economic times,” Casagrande added.
Prolific Reporter Is Joining The Asbury Park Press
Dustin Racioppi is taking his considerable talent to The Asbury Park Press. Hopefully the creative and entrepreneurial scribe will not be stifled by the suits at Gannett.
“Hopefully I won’t become a “Nudnik'”, said Dustin when confirming his move.
In his two years at RedBankGreen Dustin demonstrated an enviable ability to report local events from car accidents to council meetings with a compelling flair that kept readers coming back for more. He contributed mightly to the impressive growth of RBG and to the emergence of the “hyber-local” news business that the corporate media giants are now unwittingly attempting to homogenize.
Focus is a key to Dustin’s success. He lived and breathed his beat of Red Bank, Fair Haven, Rumson and Middletown. Last year while preparing to cover Congressman Frank Pallone’s office hours in Long Branch, I reached out to Dustin to see if he was going to cover it. “Long Branch is Jupiter to us,” was his response.
I was surprised when I first heard that Dustin was leaving RBG. While preparing to move MMM to this domain from the old blogspot site I sent a feeler out to Dustin about joining me. “I love working for John Ward,” was his immediate response. That was obvious from the quality of his work.
And Ward, owner/publisher of RBG, obviously loved having Dustin work for him. In an “Help Wanted” ad for reporters on RBG, Ward says:
We’re interested in teaming up with people who can quickly gather information and shape it into brief stories that are factually solid and fair, yet more than mere stenography. A distinctive and confident writer’s voice, or a desire to develop one, is a must. So is a broad range of interests, from the arts to public policy to business. The ability to take a decent photograph is a big plus. Wannabes, whiners and prima donnas: please don’t waste our time. We’re interested in working only with those who demonstrate entrepreneurial energy and focus on what needs to be done. Yeah, they sound boring, but they’re the most fun to be around. And we do have fun here.
In other words, John is looking to clone Dustin. Not an easy person to find, as I have learned over the last year. If you’re out there and love politics more than sprinkling fire hydrants or fireworks shows, call me first, or last.
Dustin’s move comes at a difficult time for RBG as it faces competition for advertising dollars from the patch.com sites and perhaps The Two River Times. Two weeks ago, Dan Jacobson reported in the triCityNews that TRT’s new publisher Ellen McCarthy was planning to convert the weekly paper’s website to an active news site with daily updates. If McCarthy has started doing so, I haven’t noticed. It’s probably still in the planning stages. Diane Gooch is still listed as publisher on the TRT site, an indication that they haven’t gotten to working on the website yet.
MMM wishes the best for Dustin at APP, and for Ward and RBG. While we’re at it, we wish the best for McCarthy and TRT and we pray the Neptune Nudniks learn from Dustin rather than trying to train him into a dead tree scribe. The more quality sources of local information available the better for all of us in this Internet age. I’m pretty sure Ward knows that. Maybe the Nudni’s are beginning to figure that out, but probably not. Jacobson doesn’t care. Only Dan knows how to make dead trees sing.
We don’t wish Patch well so much. We’d love them if they put out a consistently quality product, but that’s difficult if not impossible to do with part-time writers working for an extra $50-$100 per week. In the mean time they’re only mucking up the revenue side of the business. Patch’s only hope long term is for AOL/Ariann Huffington to pay Ward, Jacobson or me hundreds of millions of dollars and then leave us alone to do what we want to do.