Six state Senators representing Monmouth and Oceans Counties have written to New Jersey’s U.S. Senators and Members of Congress asking for help in correcting inequities and inefficiencies in the federal government’s response to Superstorm Sanday.
In a letter dated March 31, Senators Jennifer Beck and Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County, Robert Singer, Christopher Connors and James Holzapfel of Ocean County and Sam Thompson of Middlesex raised six issues concerning Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Small Business Administration (SBA), FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation(RREM) grant program.
With all those agencies and initials, how could anything be going wrong?
Governor Chris Christie will be reelected with 59.9875% of the vote. In Monmouth County, Christie-Guadagno will win 68% of the vote.
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden will be elected with 69% of the vote.
Freeholders Tom Arnone and Serena DiMaso will win by 68% and 68.4%, respectively. DiMaso’s extra votes will be attributable to the negative ads the Monmouth County Dems have run against her, and prove that the Asbury Park Press’s endorsement is meaningless.
Brian Froelich will get more votes for Freeholder than Larry Luttrell gets, proving that the Asbury Park Press’s endorsement is meaningless and that negative advertising doesn’t beat a quality incumbent.
New Jersey policymakers looking to address a looming shortage of doctors in the state need to act quickly, as the problem appears to be getting worse and more quickly than predicted. More of the state’s medical residents are planning to leave the…
American Conservative Union, the folks who put on the CPAC conventions and who have since 1971 been rating the conservatism of members of Congress have rated the conservatism of New Jersey’s state legislators.
ACU tracked the votes on 11 pieces of legislation for Assembly members and 9 votes in the Senate. Those who voted the way ACU favored 100% of the time were declared “Defenders of Liberty.” Those who voted with ACU on 80% or more of the bills earned the designation “ACU Conservative.”
Those legsilators who never voted the way ACU favored, most of the Democrats, earned the designation “True Liberals of the Garden State.”
Some of the results in the Monmouth County delegation, Districts 11, 12, 13 and 30, are surprising. At least they are to me.
If you asked me to predict who among the Monmouth County delegation would have earned a 100% conservative, “Defender of Liberty” designation I would have guessed only 11th District Assemblywoman Caroline Cassagrande. I would have guessed wrong. Cassagrande didn’t even make the 80% “ACU Conservative” cut. She voted the ACU way 8 of 11 times for a 73% rating. The 3 votes Cassagrande cast that did not meet ACU approval were for 1) for legislation that requires businesses to post notices that employees have the right to be free from gender inequality, 2) for legislation that would ban treating waste water from fracking and 3) a bill that provided tax credits for electric car charging stations.
Belmar: Today Belmar Mayor Matthew J. Doherty announced that the Borough of Belmar went out to bid for a new boardwalk to be built in time for summer 2013. This competitive bid includes a substantial bond, financial penalties for missing milestone dates, and financial incentives to complete the project ahead of schedule.
“Belmar has had a boardwalk every summer since 1875, and this summer will be no different. While we continue to help families and businesses in town clean up and recover, rebuilding the boardwalk in time for this summer is an important step towards bring our community back from the devastation Sandy caused.” Mayor Doherty stated.
Governor Chris Christie stated, “As much as any other town on the Jersey Shore, Belmar’s boardwalk is a huge part of its identity, it’s charm and its economic life. Most of us who’ve lived in New Jersey long enough have or will walk that boardwalk at one time or another. I am fully supportive and encouraging of Mayor Doherty’s efforts to rebuild, and we will continue to work with him and all affected municipalities to bring the proper aid to New Jersey.”
U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone expressed his support saying, “Sandy brought never before seen destruction to our homes, businesses, and natural treasures, but Sandy could not destroy our sense of community. Our Jersey Shore will be rebuilt – it is vital for our State’s economy, but more importantly the Jersey Shore is part of who we are as New Jerseyans. Mayor Doherty has been working tirelessly since before Sandy even made landfall, and the rebuilding of Belmar’s boardwalk is a tremendous step forward toward recovery. It will allow residents to walk the beautiful shoreline, for tourists to return to town, and for countless small businesses to reopen and contribute to our economy.”
New Jersey State Senator Robert Singer shared his support for the project stating,“I am very supportive of Belmar’s effort to rebuild their boardwalk in time for this summer. This is important for the town, the Jersey Shore, and our entire state. I will do whatever I can on a state level to help.”
Monmouth County Deputy Director, and Liaison for Tourism, Freeholder Thomas Arnone said,“Belmar’s boardwalk is not only important to their town, but all of Monmouth County. I will provide whatever assistance they need to be successful by this summer.”
The Belmar Council authorized the bid release at their November 21, 2012 council meeting. Bid documents can be downloaded at http://belmar.com/ or by contacting Colleen Connolly at (732)681-3700.
Senator Robert Singer, Assemblymen Sean Kean and Declan O’Scanlon as well as former Assembly members Clare Farragher, Michael Arnone, and Marie Muhler (also former Surrogate) have endorsed John Bennett for Monmouth GOP Chair in a letter to County Committee members that reads as follows:
We are writing to request your support for our friend, former colleague and State Committeeman Senator John Bennett as the next Chair of the Monmouth County Republican Party.
Senator Bennett, as a member of the Monmouth County legislative delegation for over twenty-four years, has always put the interests of the people of Monmouth County first. Whether it was improving the environment, cutting taxes, bringing home State dollars or fighting for our seniors, John was in the forefront and got the job done.
Besides his excellent legislative record, Senator Bennett has time and time again demonstrated his leadership ability. For years he served as Chairman of the Assembly Environmental Committee and championed some of the most effective environmental legislation in the history of our State.
Upon being elected to the New Jersey Senate, Senator Bennett was soon selected by his legislative colleagues to become he Deputy Majority Leader and thereafter the Senate Majority Leader. In January 2002, Senator Bennett became the Senate President and was sworn in on the same day as Acting Governor of New Jersey.
Senator Bennett has proposed a Ten-Point-Plan for this platform as our Chairman which includes: returning the County Convention System for candidate selection, developing and implementing a set of by-laws within sixty (60) days and establishing a Board of Directors with regional representatives. He has also pledged that his law firm will not accept any County work or any County job during his tenure as County Chair to avoid any perceived conflict of interest.
Senator Bennett is a proven leader who unites factions and can maitain our party as a strong and inclusive one, his experience and leadership will serve our Coutny origanization well and we urge you to supoort him at the convention on Tuesday June 12 at 7:00 P.M. at the Colts Neck High School for Monmouth Republican Chair.
Since he “retired” at age 48 nearly a decade ago, Madden has cashed $770,156 in New Jersey retirement checks. Among the 15 legislators who draw state pensions, no one pockets more than the senator from the state’s 4th Legislative District, which includes parts of Gloucester and Camden counties. (See chart below.)
It may madden taxpayers, but double-dipping practices by public officials generally are legal under state law.
“There are those who have an issue with people retiring from one organization and going to work someplace else,” Madden told New Jersey Watchdog. “Obviously I don’t have a problem with people doing it. I’ve accepted that in my own personal life. I don’t have a problem with it at all.”
How did Madden retire with a fat pension at 48? Other public employees in New Jersey typically must wait until 60 or older to retire with full benefits. Under federal Social Security, the full retirement age is 66.
The answer is simple: “Special Retirement.” It is a rule that only applies to law enforcement officials in the Police & Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) or State Police Retirement System (SPRS). The special retirement provision allows officers to retire at any age after 25 years of service, without reduced benefits.
“It’s basically a young person’s job,” said Madden. “The system is set up for them to retire early to keep the forces young. We have mandatory retirement at 55.”
Two months before he turned 21, Madden was hired as a $9,088-a-year state trooper who would climb up the organizational chart. He could have retired at 45 with full benefits, but Madden maximized his nest egg by staying for four more raises, three more birthdays and two big promotions to lieutenant colonel and deputy superintendent. Then he retired June 30, 2002.
“I had reached the top of my career in policing. It was in my best interest to move on, so I decided to retire,” Madden said.
Four months after his 48th birthday, Madden began receiving a SPRS pension for life. It will pay him more than $2.5 million, if he lives until age 80 — the average life expectancy for a 57-year-old white male in the United States, according to federal statistics.
“I’ve earned that,” said Madden. “I paid into that system like every other trooper. You can make it sound like I’m getting something I don’t deserve, and that’s wrong.”
Madden’s pension is based on 27 years of service and a final salary of $112,451 a year. Previous years of lower pay and smaller retirement fund contributions are not part of the calculation. Under the statutory formula, his pension pay is 67 percent of his final salary, plus cost-of-living increases.
The senator noted the State Police does not participate in Social Security. Employees do not contribute to the federal program and typically do not qualify for its retirement benefits.
The first thing Madden did after he retired was return to the government payroll in a law enforcement job.
“There are a lot of positives to taking retirees that have strong resumes and productive work experience and placing them in other public jobs,” said Madden.
One state rule is supposed to prevent workers from temporarily retiring from public employment to take advantage of pension funds. A retirement only is considered to be legitimate, or “bona fide,” if “there is a good faith action to retire” and “there has been a cessation of employment of at least 30 days,” according to SPRS and PFRS handbooks.
If a retirement is not “bona fide,” the state can force the employee to return any benefits paid.
“I was thinking, ‘If they can do this job…’” Madden chuckled. “I think I bring morals and ethics and truthfulness to the seat. I had been policing my entire life, and I wanted to try something different.”
In a close election decided by recount, Madden beat Republican incumbent George Geist by 63 votes. One of the victor’s spoils was the $49,000 annual pay received by legislators.
“I have no problem balancing them,” said Madden, referring to his two jobs. He said he has flexible hours at his 35-hour-week college position and takes vacation time to attend Senate sessions when necessary.
He contends that state taxpayers benefit because he can hold two public positions in New Jersey concurrently.
“If I go across the bridge to Temple University (to work in Pennsylvania), those people get the benefit of my training and the college degrees that the people of New Jersey have invested in,” he said.
Bottom line: Madden rakes in $241,255 a year from a state pension plus two public salaries. He said he is not earning additional pensions from the college or Legislature.
15 NJ Legislators Collect State Pensions
New Jersey Watchdog found 15 current legislators — six senators and nine Assembly members — who receive state retirement checks in addition to legislative salaries, according to public records. The nine Democrats and six Republicans receive an average of $43,000 in annual pension pay.
Not coincidentally, those who get the biggest checks are retirees of PFRS or SPRS. State pension formulas and regulations favor law enforcement officials over other public employees.
For example, if Madden had retired as a member of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) at the same age, salary history and years of service, his pension would have been cut in half.
Of the 15 lawmakers who receive state pensions plus legislative salaries, three are on the payrolls of other public agencies in New Jersey. In addition to Madden:
STATE LEGISLATORS WHO COLLECT NEW JERSEY PUBLIC PENSIONS
New Jersey Watchdog’s research focused on current state legislators who draw retirement pay from state pension funds. Data are from pension, payroll and personnel records obtained from the New Jersey Department of Treasury, Civil Service Commission and local governmental bodies through state’s Open Public Records Act requests. Pension amounts and employment status are current as of December 2011.
Key to abbreviations for state pension plans: PFRS – Police and Firemen’s Retirement System; SPRS – State Police Retirement System; TPAF – Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund; PERS – Public Employees’ Retirement System.
A tongue in cheek post about who the Democrats could get to challenge Senator Joe Kyrillos when their endorsed candidate failed to submit his nominating petitions, generated more calls from Trenton than any other post of the year.
The worst joke of the month has consequences that will last at least a decade. “Continuity of representation,” a political value in the mind of Rutgers professor Alan Rosenthal, trumped competitiveness and the state constitution in determining the lines of the new gerrymandered legislative map.
The stakes were so high that Governor Christie got personally involved in the negotiations regarding the map. But Rosenthal’s was the only vote that counted. The professor was not persuaded by the governor.
The map was so gerrymandered for the Democrats that Christie and the Republicans did not even try to win control of the legislature. The governor, who came into office vowing to “turn Trenton upside down” transformed into the “compromiser in chief” in order to salvage what he could of his reform agenda.
While Rosenthal preserved the status quo for the Trenton trough swilling class, he unwittingly contributed to the creatation of a national Republican rock star, as Christie, freed up from having to work to win control of the legislature transferred his political attentions to the national stage.
Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore told MMM that the Democrats put Singer and Kean in the same district in the hopes that the GOP would waste resources on a contentious primary in a safe district. The real reason was that the Democrats were horrified at the prospect of Dan Jacobson returning to the legislature in the upper house.
Jacobson was preparing a fanatasy Republican primary challenge to Kean for Senate should Wall and Asbury Park remain in the same district. The Democrats, who have never understood Monmouth County, didn’t realize the futility of such an endeavor. But they knew Jacobson and they weren’t taking any chances. So they put Senator Jennifer Beck in the same district as Jacobson, knowing that he would never challenge her in a primary. Jacobson, through his newspaper, created Jennifer Beck. Just ask him.
The new 11th district would be represented by Beck in the Senate and Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande in the Assembly. A district represented by three women. A historic first.
Assemblyman Dave Rible, formerly of the 11th, was now in the 30th with Singer and Kean.
The new 12th district provided brief drama due to the fact that the lines created a senate vacancy. Sam Thompson of Middlesex County and Ronald Dancer of Ocean County were the incumbent Assemblymen in the predominently Western Monmouth district. The Monmouth GOP wanted to keep three senators. Thompson wanted to move up. Freeholder Director Rob Clifton had long eyed Thompson’s seat in the assembly, but the senate vacancy presented an unexpected opportunity. Always level headed and not one to needlessly rock the boat, Clifton let the Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex and Burlington chairmen figure it out. Thompson got the senate nod and Clifton joined the ticket with Dancer running for assembly.
The 13th district became even safer for Senator Joe Kyrillos. Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon of Little Silver joined Kyrillos and Assemblywoman Amy Handlon in representing the district. Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornick, a Democrat, had his ambitions put on hold by the map makers who put Marlboro into the 13th.
The Democrats did the best they could, but only put up nominal opposition in the Monmouth legislative districts and on the county level.
Father Who Drowned 2Year Old Should Face the Ultimate Punishment
Senator Robert Singer issued the following statement regarding the tragic murder of 2 year old Tierra Morgan-Glover. The Senator has introduced legislation that would reinstate the death penalty in New Jersey for those who murder a child, kill a police officer in the line of duty or commit a terrorist attack that results in fatalities.
“I do not support the death penalty out of a need for revenge or due to malice in my heart. Neither do the many individuals I have met who have suffered from heinous crimes,” Singer stated. “I support the death penalty because sometimes it is the only way to achieve justice for the victims and families affected by horrible crimes.”
Singer noted that his legislation would apply to the man who drowned his 2 year old daughter, still strapped in her weighted down car seat, while conscious and alert.
“I am well aware that the death penalty will not bring back a murdered child, slain police officer or a victim of terrorism,” Singer continued. “For certain crimes, however, life in prison is just not punishment enough.”
Have you ever seen a news wave? It’s a real phenomenon in journalism. One outlet says something, then outlet after outlet says the same thing, never verifying if the first outlet was right. And you can’t stop a wave, even if it’s wrong.
As soon as the new 30th district was announced, immediately the word got out that Senator Singer would have the advantage over Senator Kean. I guess Senator Kean concurred, having agreed to move down to the Assembly.
I like Singer. But his comments in the Press yesterday that Sean Kean would be primaried even if Singer retired has me angry. It’s as if Bob is throwing down the gauntlet and declaring that the rest of us will be governed by Lakewood for the next 10 years.
Well, as a Howell boy, I’m pretty upset that I had to be governed by Lakewood the last 10 years. So I’m calling bullshit on Singer, which I can do even though we are friends, because I’m a journalist first.
Howell and Wall combined are larger than Lakewood, so if Howell and Wall got behind Kean, that could be a fair fight against Lakewood.
As for the rest of the district, those little Monmouth shore towns are larger than the 2 Pt. Pleasants, and Sean has name recognition there while Singer does not.
I know what the road block would have been – Howell Republicans. They rarely get along. But John Costigan is a strong Municipal Chair. He could have pulled the Howell Republicans together (which would be a nice thing all by itself) to back Kean. The rallying cry would have been provincial but effective – Monmouth needs to keep a Senator.
I really wish Sean decided to stay Senator. I’m not reading next week’s triCityNews, because I don’t want to know what Dan Jacobson will call Sean now.