Rita Dentino, Executive Director of Casa Freehold said her comments reported in the Sentinel and other Greater Media newspapers regarding a steady stream of unaccompanied Central American Youth arriving in Freehold Borough were not reported accurately. MMM relied on those reports earlier this week when reporting on the situation and State Senator Jennifer Beck’s response.
During an interview in her Freehold office, Dentino said that to her knowledge there has been only one refugee child, a 16 year old boy, that has arrived in Freehold from Central America since the first of the year and that there is no parade of children arriving at a rate of one per day. The Sentinel reported that Dentino said there were 5-10 young refugees in the Borough and that more were arriving daily. Denton told MMM that the 5-10 figure represents all young Central American youth that have come to Freehold over the last 11 years that she has worked at Casa Freehold, not a recent influx due to the situation on the United States’ southern border.
Senator Jennifer Beck working with federal officials and Governor to handle the crisis
Between 5 and 10 Central American children, ages 11-16, who have crossed our borders without adults have found their way to Freehold Borough, according to a statement by Rita Dentino, Director of Casa Freehold, an immigrants rights organization that helps newly arrived immigrants integrate into the community.
Dentino said that more children are arriving everyday, according to a report in the Sentinal.
State Senator Jennifer Beck issued a statement today saying she is working with federal and state officials to secure funding to deal with the situation and to evaluate New Jersey’s legal options and obligations.
“This is an issue with far ranging implications that is being experienced all across the country. I am working closely with federal representatives and the Governor’s Office to fully understand our legal options and obligations. I am hopeful that money will come from the federal government as part of an overall response to this issue. There are real humanitarian, fiscal and capacity concerns so all decisions must be fully vetted. I will continue to communicate openly with local officials to keep all appraised of our progress.”
Published reports indicate that over 1,500 Central American children have arrived in New Jersey. The federal government operates only one 10 bed facility in the State, and none of the children are housed there.
Dentino told the Sentinal that she would be contacting DYFS (Division of Youth and Family Services) to begin the process of finding the children guardians.
Beck: Federal and State Agencies Haven’t Approved Drying Sites
Governor Chris Christie told his Town Hall gathering in Belmar yesterday afternoon that the dredging of Shark River is being held up because the municipalities along the river and Monmouth County can not agree on a destination for the dredge spoils to be dumped.
The issue has gathered increased public attention in recent months due to a massive fish kill in the river last May. 310 tons of dead fish were removed from the shoreline of the estuary that feeds into the Atlantic through the inlet between Belmar and Avon-by-the-Sea and extents 11 miles through Neptune and Wall Townships.
In answering a question from a man who identified himself as Bob from Wall, Christie said that he supports the dredging, fought for money from FEMA to pay for the dredging and would impose a solution on the county and municipalities if he had the authority to do so. He said he had been briefed on the issue three weeks ago.
Maybe the Governor remembered a briefing from a different dredging project when answering Bob’s question.
Both the Monmouth County and Neptune landfills are willing to take the dredge spoils, according to Senator Jennifer Beck. The river hasn’t been dredged, Beck said in a phone interview last night, because over the last two decades various federal and state agencies have rejected every proposed location for the dredged materials to dry before being moved to their final disposal site.
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.”
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 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 Presslast 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.”
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
“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.”
‘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.
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.”
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.”