Ocean Grove Opens Its New Boardwalk

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

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.”

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Posted: July 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Chris Smith, FEMA, Hurricane Sandy, Jennifer Beck, Neptune, Neptune Township, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Sweeney in Sea Bright: “Republicans Shaming Themselves” Over Sandy Bill of Rights

Beck: “Hubris and Ego have no place in this recovery process. We have all made some mistakes. Now we need to fix them.”

Thomas P. Largey, 82, and Senate President Steve Sweeney talk in Largey's gutted living room prior to Sweeney's press conference. May 30, 2014. Photo by Art Gallagher

Thomas P. Largey, 82, and Senate President Steve Sweeney talk in Largey’s gutted Sea Bright home prior to Sweeney’s press conference. May 30, 2014. Photo by Art Gallagher

Senate President Steve Sweeney held a politically charged press conference in a partially gutted Sea Bright home this morning, ostensibly to create political pressure on Republicans in the State Legislature to join Democrats in overriding Governor Chris Christie’s conditional veto of the Sandy Bill of Rights.

Sweeney’s comments sounded like a campaign rally against Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, Senator Jennifer Beck and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, JR.

The “Sandy Bill of Rights” passed both houses of the State Legislature unanimously in March.  Christie conditionally vetoed the bill earlier this month, making over 150 changes to it.  Some of the changes were to bring the law into compliance with federal Housing and Urban Development regulations, others removed what Christie called “partisan language.”  One of Christie changes removed the requirement on the State that applicants for RREM grants be able to access the status of their applications online.

Sweeney penned an OpEd published in The Asbury Park Press last week wherein he appealed to Republican legislators who had unanimously voted for his bill “to do something they have yet to do under this (Christie) administration, and that’s to put aside their partisanship and override the governor’s veto.”

O’Scanlon responded with an OpEd of his own, wherein he said, “after further analysis we found a number of critical flaws that the Governor wisely and reasonably addresses in his conditional veto.”

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Posted: May 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 13th Legislative District, 2017 NJ Gubernatorial Politics, Chris Christie, Christie Administration, Declan O'Scanlon, Dina Long, Hurricane Sandy, LD 13, Legislature, NJ Senate Republicans, NJ State Legislature, Stephen Sweeney, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

The Politics Of Disaster Relief

By Art Gallagher, artvg@aol.com

When disaster hits, natural or man made, Americans put aside their differences and come together to handle the emergency.

We saw it with 9-11. Most recently in New Jersey we saw it with Superstorm Sandy.

Once the emergency is over and the federal money is flowing, the politics…partisanship and patronage starts.  We saw it with 9-11. We’re living it with Sandy.

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Posted: April 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 2014 Congressional Races, 2014 Elections, 2014 U.S. Senate race, 2016 Presidential Politics, 2017 NJ Gubernatorial Politics, Bob Menendez, Chris Christie, Chris Smith, Christie Administration, Congress, Cory Booker, Democrats, Department of Community Affairs, Department of Homland Security, Frank Pallone, George W Bush, Housing, Hurricane Sandy, Jennifer Beck, Jersey Shore, NJ Democrats, NJ State Legislature, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Beck and Casagrande will sleep on the street in Trenton tonight

Monmouth County Legislators Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande will be sleeping under the stars on the grounds of the Statehouse in Trenton tonight, April 11, along with 8 other members of the legislature, from both parties, to raise awareness and funds in support of New Jersey’s homeless runaway and trafficked youth who are served by Covenant House.

Click on photo to support a legislator's fund raising efforts for Covenant House

Click on photo to support a legislator’s fund raising efforts for Covenant House

“Covenant House is always there, when no one else is, to help homeless, at risk adolescents,” says Casagrande.  “I was moved to get involved by the stories of those whose lives have been changed by this remarkable organization.  It is my hope that my participation in this ‘Legislative Sleep Out’ will bring attention to the work of Covenant House and encourage others to get involved.”

“Those of us sleeping outside tonight will be lucky. We only have to do it for one night and it will be during the spring,” Beck said. “Hundreds of youths sleep outside every night through the most brutal of seasons and during the harshest of weather.”

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Posted: April 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Caroline Casagrande, Covenant House, Jennifer Beck | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

More Hypocrisy, Ignorance and Incompetence from Peters, Bayshore Tea Party Backed Primary Slate

'Queen' Barbara Gonzalez of The Bayshore Tea Party Group via facebook. Click for larger view

‘Queen’ Barbara Gonzalez of The Bayshore Tea Party Group via facebook. Click for larger view

“There will be no double dipping when I am Sheriff,” Dan Peters, the Bayshore Tea Party backed candidate for sheriff said when he introduced himself to the group back in early April, and the last time he talked to MMM in person or on the phone.  Peters was referring to retired police officers working for the Sheriff’s Office, while also collecting a pension.

After repeated attempts to question Peters, MMM was finally successful in engaging the candidate on facebook a couple of weeks ago.  We asked him, given that he is collecting a disability police pension himself, if he would be working for free if elected Sheriff or if he would be giving up his pension.

Peters responded that he would implement a system whereby retired officers salaries are reduced by the amount of their pensions.  This would be a significant savings for the taxpayers, he said.

Not a bad idea, if he could pull it off.  But how could he?   He couldn’t.  Why would a retired police officer take a job with a $90,000 salary, for example, but only get paid $8000 if his/her $82,000 pension off set his salary?  He/she wouldn’t, especially if a similar job where both a pension and salary could be collected was available in another county.  Peters proposal would only result in Monmouth County losing out on the best talent.

For Peters idea (if it is indeed his idea) to work, would require statewide pension reform.  It would require legislation to be passed in both house of the legislature and to be signed into law by the governor.

Well, it turns out there is legislation pending in both the Assembly and Senate now that would accomplish the goal.   Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, who is also being challenged by the Bayshore Tea Party Group backed slate of candidates, is one of the primary sponsors of the bill.

Other Monmouth County legislators sponsoring the bill are Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande as primary sponsor and Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini as cosponsor.  Senator Jennifer Beck is a primary sponsor in the Senate.

Posted: May 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 13th Legislative District, 2013 Election, Bayshore Tea Party Group, Pensions | Tags: , , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

BECK EXPRESSES DISAPPOINTMENT OVER FEMA’S REJECTION OF OCEAN GROVE AID REQUEST TO REBUILD BOARDWALK

Agency’s ruling will leave gap in Jersey Shore and hinder  rebuilding

Senator Jennifer Beck today  expressed outrage over FEMA’s rejection of Ocean Grove’s request for aid in the  wake of Sandy.  FEMA determined that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association is a private  non-profit organization and not eligible for public assistance dollars. In a  letter sent to FEMA earlier in January from Beck and other legislators, the  lawmakers made it clear that the boardwalk in Ocean Grove has received funding  from FEMA and the Army Corp. of Engineers in the past.

 

“FEMA’s Decision today is  not only disappointing, but it is unacceptable,” Beck said. “The Ocean Grove  Boardwalk serves as an essential public thoroughfare and connects Bradley Beach  to Asbury Park. It provides access to emergency  services and augments flood protection measures. We will be appealing this  ruling immediately.”

 

In the letter sent to  FEMA officials on January 30th states that the Ocean Grove boardwalk  has been recognized as public property and dedicated as a public roadway since  at least 1908 when a Monmouth County court ruling exempted it from  taxation because of the boardwalk’s previous designation as a “public  highway.”  The boardwalk, which  provides access to communities both north and south of Ocean Grove, has also  been clearly recognized in court rulings as a public facility.  

 

            “Today’s decision is destructive to the economy of Ocean Grove and will  have long lasting negative impacts on the community,” Beck explained. “To reject  Ocean Grove’s request for assistance will leave them unable to rebuild this  historic boardwalk and create a gap on New Jersey’s shoreline. I am hopeful that in  our appeal those making these decisions will see the long term implications of  this decision and realize that not only is the Ocean Grove Boardwalk a public  property but it is essential to both the safety and commerce of Ocean Grove and  surrounding towns.”

 

Posted: February 7th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: FEMA, Hurricane Sandy, Jennifer Beck, Press Release | Tags: , , , | 31 Comments »

BECK SEEKS TO GIVE DEPARTMENT OF BANKING AND INSURANCE OVERSIGHT ROLE IN FLOOD INSURANCE CLAIMS

NEW BILL WOULD HOLD INSURERS ACCOUNTABLE TO NJ STANDARDS

Senator Jennifer Beck has introduced legislation that clarifies the Department of Banking Insurance’s jurisdiction over the processing of certain flood insurance claims. The bill specifies that though flood insurance is administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) the actual claims process must adhere to New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) laws and regulations.  In most cases in New Jersey, the NFIP flood insurance itself is purchased from New Jersey-based private insurance companies who participate in FEMA’s “Write Your Own” program.  Additionally, those same New Jersey-based insurers are often administering the claims.

 

 “In the wake of Sandy, we have been deluged with complaints about unresponsive and misleading flood insurance representatives” Beck explained. “While the NFIP is a federal program, I want to clarify that licensed New Jersey flood insurance companies must still comply with our consumer protection laws when processing our residents’ flood claims.  This is the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance jurisdiction and they must be able to protect our residents from bad actors.”

 

Senate Bill 2505 extends DOBI’s current authority to investigate and punish insurers who engage in unfair methods of competition or unfair and deceptive acts. The bill applies to specifically to New Jersey licensed insurers that process flood insurance claims under FEMA’s “Write Your Own” flood insurance program.

 

“Thousands of NJ residents have lost their homes and belongings and rebuilding cannot be stalled by flood insurers dragging their feet on legitimate claims.  Our residents are desperate to move forward with recovery efforts and time after time I am hearing that flood insurers are the obstacle,” said Beck.  “This legislation gives New Jersey’s DOBI enforcement power over the flood claims process in this State.  Once passed, DOBI’s Division of Insurance will enforce all New Jersey law, regulations and policies and have the legal authority to protect our residents from insurers that are non-complaint.”

Posted: January 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: FEMA, Hurricane Sandy, Jennifer Beck, NJ State Legislature, Press Release | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Beck & Sweeney Bill to Crack Down on “Fake Farmers” Cleared for Full Senate Consideration

Trenton— Legislation long-championed by Senator Jennifer Beck (R- Monmouth) and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D- Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem) to prevent abuse of the state’s farmland assessment law has cleared the final hurdle to passage by the full Senate. The Legislation, S-589, was approved the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

“The current threshold of $500 in agricultural sales set forth in New Jersey’s farmland assessment law has not been increased since its inception and is easily abused,” said Beck. “This bill modernizes the law to better ensure that only those who actively work the land receive the 98% property tax break on their property.”

“Clearly this program is being taken advantage of and it’s the taxpayers who ultimately lose the most. It’s long past time we update the farmland assessment law. This protects both real farmers and the taxpayers of New Jersey, ” said Sweeney.

The bill would boost the threshold of sales derived from farming activity to $1000 per year from the current $500, and provide for a review of the sales threshold every three years. This number was selected based on a 2007 study by Rutgers which calculated how many farms would be disqualified at minimum revenue qualifications of $1000, $2500 and $10, 000. A $10, 000 was estimated to take 398, 093 of New Jersey`s approximately 982, 000 acres of farmland off the preservation rolls.

The legislation also would require program applicants to submit evidence of agricultural sales and/or income to the Department of Agriculture, and require tax assessors to undergo training in farmland assessment as a condition of licensure. Most importantly, the State Division of Taxation and State Board of Agriculture would issue guidelines to tax assessors to aid them in defining legitimate farming activity.

Abusers of the program would face a $5000 fine, in addition to restitution of all taxes inappropriately avoided on property fraudulently claimed under the assessment exemption and other penalties.

“There is something wrong when an individual can sell three cords of firewood to himself and claim the same tax break as farmers producing legitimate agricultural output,” Beck continued. “The abuse of this program is well documented in the press and by the State Auditor and needs to end.”

Press Release

Posted: June 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Jennifer Beck, NJ State Legislature, Press Release, Stephen Sweeney | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments »

Senator Beck, Mayor Menna, RiverCenter’s Adams Call on NJNG to Cooperate with Local Officials on Red Bank Regulator Replacement

menna-beck-red-bankRed Bank— Saying that New Jersey Natural Gas officials are being uncooperative with local officials, Senator Jennifer Beck (R- Monmouth) held a press conference with Mayor Pasquale Menna and Rivercenter Executive Director Nancy Adams to demand NJNG work cooperatively with local officials toward a solution in vetting alternatives to the utility’s planned regulator replacement program.

NJNG plans on replacing 88 natural gas pressure regulators currently located below highly trafficked sidewalks on Front, Broad, and Monmouth Streets, bringing the devices above ground. The company has refused to release details of its decision making process and any alternative locations for the regulators that were considered, despite requests from the Senator and Red Bank officials.

“NJNG is being unresponsive and heavy handed with the Borough of Red Bank,” Beck said. “They have admitted that there are alternatives to the current plan, but will not discuss what those options are or why they were not chosen. You don’t see these devices placed as prominently, or in as great a number, very often in the downtown district of a busy municipality. Why is this solution the only one that works for Red Bank?”

“Let me be clear, safety should be our first priority,” Beck continued. “However, that does not excuse NJNG’s refusal to explain their decision making process.”

Beck and Mayor Menna have written to state Board of Public Utilities Officials asking for their support in delaying the project until an acceptable remedy can be agreed to by all parties and NJNG releases their internal study on alternatives.

“If it is really necessary to disrupt our downtown business district like this, then we need to understand why,” said Mayor Menna. “And if there were alternatives that could have been pursued but were not, we need to understand the reasoning. We should not have to beg to get NJNG officials to be forthcoming with us.”

Red Bank RiverCenter’s Executive Director, Nancy Adams, also expressed concern over the lack of cooperation by company officials. RiverCenter is a non-profit partnership dedicated to promoting revitalization of Red Bank’s downtown business district.

“We have been successful in promoting Red Bank as a destination for businesses, merchants, restaurants, and night life because elected officials, volunteers, and the business community worked together,” Adams stated. “We need NJNG to work with us too.”

Senator Beck said that she will submit legislation at the Senate’s March 15, 2012 voting session that would direct the BPU to require gas utilities planning regulator replacement projects to study less disruptive locations for the devices. The bill also requires the gas utility make public the findings of the study, and to return any disrupted property and infrastructure to its original condition.

“If NJNG refuses to be a good corporate citizen and come to the table, then we must act through the legislative process to force them to consider the needs of this community and others that may find themselves in similar situations,” Beck said. “If there is a more palatable alternative that will provide the same public safety protections, it ought to be presented as an option to local officials.”

Posted: March 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Jennifer Beck, Press Release, Red Bank | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »