Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Awarding Contracts to the Highest Bidder

We’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends. All of the professional service contracts have been awarded to the big dogs within the local or county Democratic Party. The appointments were awarded through a “fair and open” process as defined by New Jersey Statute. The “fair and open” process allows our elected representatives to take the legal limit in contributions from all their vendors. The “Non-Fair and Open” process restricts contributions from vendors to just $300. Hence the terms. It’s “non-fair” to only be able to take $300 from vendors getting government contracts potentially worth millions.

For background on the vendors, you can read the article from 18 months ago. However, we do have one new body on the team. To us, Eric Bernstein is a simple labor attorney. But, to the rest of the world, he’s known as one of the premiere porn lawyers and is a regular in the porn speaking circuit.

Another interesting point is Aberdeen Township’s planning board, the breeding ground for our future leaders. Bill Shenton is chairman of the Aberdeen Democratic Executive Committee and chairman of the planning board. Robert Brady succeeds Jimmy Lauro as the next township employee with extensive "CME" experience. Pedro Mirabal has the experience of sitting on both sides of the table at the same time although I’m guessing he had the good sense to abstain from voting on his own application. Concetta Kelley is a local math teacher who endorses more calculator usage in the elementary grade levels.

Our august councilman, Vincent Vinci, was elected Deputy Mayor as a going away present for his last years on the council. This is in addition to the appreciation award he received for his 12 years of service on the town planning board.

Other alumni of the planning board include Mayor Tagliarini, Councilwoman Gumbs, Councilwoman Montone, Councilman Cannon, and Councilman Lauro.

Welcome to the future. It bears a strong resemblance to our past.
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Will Barza Strike Back

The term “Barza” has come to describe any school board members who seek to benefit themselves and their friends through abuse of power and political machinations on the school board. This past year, we rid ourselves of their influence and the school district has made great strides. Our focus is, once again, the education and development of our students. We are holding the line against tax increases. We are holding our staff accountable for results. This April’s election will be a referendum on all the changes we’ve made because Barza is back.

Two people have announced their intentions to run for the seats occupied by Dr. Gambino and Dr. Delaney. One is a disgruntled former employee who was dismissed by Dr. O’Malley. The other is a former school board member who voted against Dr. O’Malley’s appointment. Their agenda is obvious – payback and a return to the old days.

So far, there’s no word of a Matawan candidate and I strongly doubt they could garner Mr. Ruprecht’s support to oust Dr. O’Malley. However, Dr. O’Malley’s contract expires next year. A community vote to return Barza to power, plus the difficulties of working with a divisive and combative board, would be a powerful incentive for Dr. O’Malley to consider a higher paying position in another district.

As a courtesy, I won’t expose their names until they file their candidate petitions but I will expose their histories. How the former board member tried to install Mr. Glastein as the district superintendent and how the former employee achieved nothing in the school district. Everything in the public record is on the table, from their payment histories to their voting records. I intend to show they have no platform, no ideas, nothing to offer but revenge.

The former employee has tight connections to the local democratic leadership. The former school board member has the teachers union’s support.

In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve. It’s time to show we deserve better than these two.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010


This post is for all the fabricators, connivers, fools, ignoramuses, and all their ostrich friends who prefer to stick their heads in the sand and live in the world of See-No-Evil.

Each of the articles below includes documentary proof so let's not hear anymore of those sham protests "Where's the evidence?"

I never claimed proof of criminal conduct. Rather, I have argued our elected representatives have violated their oaths of office, have stolen from our community, and have breached the basest standards of professional ethics.

For those wondering about the dearth of articles in 2009, my apologies but I've been busy on the school board.

Allow the evidence to speak for itself.

March 8, 2008 - Aberdeen Pays Hush Money to Ex-Town Manager - After working 25 months for the township, former town manager Stuart Brown is given about $75,000 and one year of health insurance. The severance contract bars Brown from making any "disparaging remarks" and from ever working again for the township. He's also barred from discussing any terms of the agreement despite the fact it's a public document.

March 24, 2008 - Aberdeen's Budget Turns a Loophole into a Noose - After running a campaign of no tax increases the prior year, the all-democratic town council launches the largest tax increase in the township's history.

March 28, 2008 - Campaign Finance Fraud in Aberdeen - The 2005 and 2007 local democratic campaigns fail to account for thousands of dollars in contributions and disbursements. Councilman Vinci is paid consulting fees by his own reelection committee.

April 4, 2008 - Aberdeen's Inflated Pensions - Aberdeen's former chief of police, former town manager, and former township attorney receive the largest pensions in Monmouth County for their respective titles.

April 17, 2008 - Councilman Vinci's Compulsion - The township sells 2538 square feet of land to Councilman Vinci for $1. This is in addition to the thousands of square feet he "bought" from the county, also for $1. The land purchased from the county was never added to the tax rolls making them tax-free.

April 29, 2008
- Of Mice and Men (and Women) - The township retains a developer, Silver Oaks, for the transit village redevelopment project. Silver Oaks' owner, William Bocra, was previously convicted of bribing an IRS auditor.

May 6, 2008 - Lucky Ciaglia's Luck Runs Out - The Ciaglia family, a prominent local developer, is allowed to overbuild on certain parcels and is saved from property tax adjustments until after the properties are sold. In 2006, Ciaglia paid $440.95 in property taxes for five homes worth a combined $3,000,000.

May 16, 2008 - All Roads Lead to Norm - Most of our professional vendors have a direct connection to Norman Kauff, the former township attorney and then head of the Aberdeen Democratic Executive Committee.

May 29, 2008 - Councilman Vinci at the Trough - Monmouth County spends nearly half a million dollars to purchase a private home, demolish it, and install a private driveway so that highway workers would no longer drive on the dead end street where Councilman Vinci resides. The councilman's intersection is also blessed with the only two "Do not Block Intersection" signs in Aberdeen.

June 12, 2008 - Councilwoman Gumbs' Special Land Deal - Councilwoman Gumbs, her family, and neighbors, are generously compensated for land dedicated to the township's vaunted road development program. The councilwoman receives the highest dollar amount and her relative gets the highest square footage rate. Also, the land survey conducted for Councilwoman Gumbs lists her property as wider than recorded on the tax records.

August 4, 2008 - Budgeting CME Associates Style - CME, the township's engineer and the largest contributor to Aberdeen's democrats, receives over $1,000,000 a year from Aberdeen Township. In two sample cases, CME raises their costs beyond what appears reasonable. In a third instance, they prepared a grant for outdoor lighting that was nearly double the actual cost and included nearly $80,000 in "administrative fees" when no such fees were needed or expended.

August 19, 2008 - Republicans Not Welcome - The prior year, Aberdeen enacted a pay-to-play ordinance that excluded all vendors providing professional services, i.e. the very people funding the local campaigns. At the time of its enactment, the ordinance was only pertinent to one developer, Jack Morris, whom Matawan had selected for the transit village. Coincidentally, the ordinance was passed while Aberdeen's developer, Silver Oaks, was suing Matawan for selecting a different developer.

November 16, 2008 - Another One Bites the Dust - Two months earlier, Councilwoman Gallo strenuously objected to some of the no-bid contracts being awarded to the party's political benefactors. It was the last council meeting she ever attended. Councilwoman Gallo resigned her seat, which was then assumed by now-Mayor Tagliarini.

December 22, 2008 - Affordable Housing for the Rich - The town planner does an about-face regarding proposals for new property developments after the Ciffeli family, a prominent local developer, takes the lead role.

January 29, 2009 - Will Aberdeen End Pay-to-Play? - After several complaints of pay-to-play, the town council considers a draft pay-to-play ordinance. The draft is never revisited, never adopted.

October 16, 2009 - More Politics as Usual - Recently posted town council minutes show the auditor criticizing the town for spending "money you haven't raised." Other goodies included CME requesting to increase a project's costs by $382,125.50 and the council reappointing convicted felon Bocra to be lead developer in the transit village.

November 1, 2009 - New Faces, Same Democrats - During the election season, the Democrats promote the pension deferral as a "spending cut" and run individual campaigns to circumvent campaign finance disclosure laws.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Letter from Councilman Cannon

Below is a letter from Councilman Cannon. It is the first time any councilman has submitted a letter for publication on this blog and I hope my readership will demonstrate appropriate decorum.

Dear Mr. Warren,

As you know, I officially took the oath of office and began my term as a member of the Aberdeen Township Council on January 1, 2010. I now find myself in the honored position of serving the residents of Aberdeen and helping shape the future of our community. During my campaign last year, I visited every neighborhood in Aberdeen and promised to enhance the openness, efficiency and responsiveness of our local government if I was elected. Now, as a Councilman, the first step in achieving these goals is to make myself both available and accessible to my fellow residents. In that vein, I am aware of your blog, The Aberdeener, which appears to be read by a significant number of Aberdeen residents. Accordingly, I write to provide you with my contact information and request that you post this e-mail to The Aberdeener, so that your readers may be provided with the ability to contact me directly. My e-mail address is and my phone number is (732) 696-2623.

I recognize that it is possible for me to post this information to The Aberdeener on my own. However, while I periodically read your blog, I cannot post in comment-thread discussions because anonymous, unproductive and sometimes outrageous comments are allowed. That being said, I would never begrudge the ability of individuals to exercise their right to free (and anonymous) speech, nor do I object to comments that concern me personally, as I have chosen to make myself a public figure. However, it is a hallmark of our democratic process that those who wish to air their grievances must identify themselves to provide: 1) context to the deliberation and debate of issues; and 2) the ability to redress same. That is why all governmental bodies require residents to state their name and address prior to participating in the public comment portion of their meetings. Simply, my posting to the comment-thread discussions on your blog would not be fruitful, but I seek to fulfill my campaign promises by making myself available to every Aberdeen resident in every available forum, including The Aberdeener.

Further, I also write to address your recent post, "Aberdeen's September." Therein, you stated: "Another interesting real estate purchase in September was from Matawan Borough Councilman Cannon. Looks like he’s moving back to Aberdeen, again, which would explain his decision to not seek re-election. The interesting part, though, is that he was able to purchase the property with only a $5,000 down payment. He probably used the same mortgage broker as his son, Gregory Cannon, democratic candidate for township council, who only made a $4,000 deposit on his property. It’s good to know such loan conditions are still available." It appears that your implication is that either myself or my family received some sort of favorable treatment from mortgage lenders as a result of our participation in local politics and service to the community. I can assure you that such an implication could not be farther from the truth.

First, your calculation of a $4,000 deposit on my condominium by subtracting the purchase price from the amount of my mortgage is incorrect. My purchase was financed through an FHA loan, which is available from any lender to any applicant that meets selective credit standards and which correspondingly requires a 3.5% down payment, instead of the typical 5+%. Further, I capitalized certain fees and mortgage insurance that increased the amount of my mortgage relative to the purchase price of my home. Attached please find a copy of my HUD-1 Uniform Settlement Statement confirming the foregoing.

Second, as to my family, the mortgage and deed you posted to The Aberdeener clearly indicate that "Derek Cannon," my brother, is the primary borrower and owner of 41 Bechstein Drive. My father, Michael Cannon, and my mother merely co-signed to assist their son in the purchase of his first home. As cooperation has always been the spirit of our family, my parents will also live with my brother for a short time at that address until my other brother, Brett, graduates from Purdue University this year and my parents are able to retire and move to the home they are preparing in Florida. While my brother, Derek, did not use the same mortgage lender that I did (contrary to your assertion and evident from the documents you posted), he did finance the purchase of his home much in the same way I did. Thus, the increased amount of his mortgage relative to the purchase price of his home. Notably, we were both represented by the same attorney for obvious reasons, i.e. the real estate department of my law firm.

Finally, I previously stated that I would never begrudge the ability of individuals to exercise their right to free speech, which obviously includes you, as the host of The Aberdeener. However, as the host and essentially an investigative reporter, I believe that you have a heightened responsibility to check facts before implying malfeasance or wrongdoing. In the aforementioned instance, I realize that this may not have been possible, but going forward please contact me to verify information before posting about me or my family.

Thank you in advance and I am honored to be your elected representative on the Aberdeen Township Council.


Greg Cannon
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More School Budget Woes

Last September, the school district discovered that $1.7 million of the state funding was derived from federal stimulus money and would likely be non-recurring. That created the first big whole in the budget. Last week, the district learned the state would probably cut our funding some more. Every year, after setting aside a 2% surplus to maintain as a rainy day fund, the leftover monies would go into the Budgeted Fund Balance and used for taxpayer relief the following year. To cut the state deficit, Gov. Corzine has proposed cutting state funding by half the Budgeted Fund Balance. For Matawan-Aberdeen, that means another $280,000 cut on top of the $1.7 million cut.

Meanwhile, our operating costs continue to rise. New Jersey is raising the premiums on our health benefits plan by 25% and every staff member is expecting a salary increase. (Last year, salaries were projected to grow $1.4 million before cuts and total health benefits to cost $6.7 million.) Toss in pension, utilities, and everything else with cost increases and you’re playing in a $5 million ballpark.

Yet, we cannot afford to raise taxes.

At last night’s meeting, I presented three lists I downloaded from the Monmouth County website. In the past 90 days, Aberdeen Township sold tax certificates against 41 properties. During that same time period, foreclosure actions were initiated against 39 properties in Aberdeen. And the Sheriff’s list of sales includes 39 Aberdeen properties. For a small community during a short time period, this is huge.

Additionally, the jobs market continues to shrink and inflation fears are rising as the dollar falls.

We cannot afford tax increases.

Though I’m only one of nine board members, I believe several others share my position. We must cut everywhere we can cut without jeopardizing our mission or seriously detracting from our quality of life. We need to be creative. And we, as a community, must be willing to recognize that these cuts will be painful, far more for some than others, but our only alternative is to raise taxes and I do not believe that is an option.

For those wondering, I remain committed to supporting another hefty salary increase for Dr. O’Malley and Ms. Irons if they can deliver another 0% tax levy increase without any major cuts to critical services. Even in bad times, we must always reward performance.

Unlike prior boards or the town council, we must lead, we must set the targets, and we must hold our administration accountable. I oppose any tax increase this year.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Marlboro Contract Negotiations – A Case Study

Although the details are under wraps until the contract is ratified, the Marlboro teachers union is celebrating big time. According to their website, they got big raises for the single concession of moving to the state health insurance plan. Their path to victory is quite illuminating.

As often happens, negotiations reached an impasse and the parties turned to the state for mediation. The state mediator is called a “fact-finder” to disguise his role as a state flunky who’s received the teachers union’s seal of approval. His findings of fact were so uproariously ludicrous that the Marlboro school board promptly posted his report.

According to the report, the final offers still in dispute prior to his arrival were as follows:

Marlboro School Board:

  • Employees working 20 hours a week must now earn 30 hours a week to receive health benefits (current employees get grandfathered)
  • Healthcare – Employees must contribute $494 per year for single plans and $1048 for family plans
  • Increase co-pay from $15 to $30
  • Increase prescription brand co-pay from $20 to $30
  • Increase teacher salaries by 13.57% over the next three years
Teachers Union:
  • No to all the above
  • Increase salaries by 21.55% over the next four years
  • Eliminate dental cap payment of $785.16
So, in addition to the raises teachers receive for progressing along the salary guide, the Marlboro teachers union wanted another 21.55% raise over four years, and they were demanding this during the worst recession in thirty years.

How does the “fact-finder” characterize their demand? “The Association argues that its proposals best serve the interest and welfare of the public.”

Let’s look at that line again. The teachers union is demanding annual raises of 5% during a recession and housing crisis in “the interest and welfare of the public.” By a show of hands, how many people think the union is demanding big raises because they want more money, period? Now, how many believe the teachers union is demanding more money to benefit the community? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Well, this may shock you but the state flunky, I mean “fact finder”, agreed with the teachers union. “While the public welfare is a broad measure, it requires consideration of fiscal responsibility as well as the compensation package needed to attract and retain a highly productive teaching staff with high morale and dedication to their important tasks.”

Let’s talk about fiscal responsibility. How is the school district going to pay for these salary raises? “The District’s financial situation has been reviewed and shown capable to support the [fact finder] recommendations made.”

You hear that? The district has the money. They can just take it from the taxpayers. Recession? What recession? Pay up.

The “fact finder’s” recommendations? No change to benefits, no employee contributions to health benefits, and salary increases of 13.14% over three years.

Why are half-time employees entitled to full-time benefits? “The board’s proposal to increase the number of hours of eligibility from 20 to 30 would immediately add a large number of bus personnel, instructional and library assistants to the ranks of the uninsured. Employees who currently work six hours per day could readily find themselves working five and one-half hours and thereby not qualifying for health coverage. While the board would achieve its goal of reducing insurance cost, the community would suffer more from the loss of these talented and dedicated employees.”

That’s a remarkable finding considering the board recommended all current employees “who work twenty (20) hours or more shall retain health benefits” but I guess the “fact finder” had to find some reason to justify full-time benefits for half-time employees, even if it meant lying.

As for the rising costs of health care, they are “far from the crushing increases the board likes to portray.”

True, six school districts in Monmouth County require employee contributions to health benefits but they’re a minority. “The district may point to the private sector where contributions may be more common, but it is not in the private sector.”

There you have it. A state employee demanding that all public employees be immune from the economic pressures confronting us serfs, the lowly taxpayers.

Well, the boldest and bravest among the Marlboro school board said no before they said yes. As reported by the teachers union
At the Nov. 17 board meeting, MTEA President Diane Saks made it clear that the MTEA was not going to back down from a fight. In a packed auditorium filled with MTEA members and scores of supportive parents, Saks told Board President Cynthia Green that “you treat the collective bargaining process like some sort of obstacle standing in the way of your goals . . . We are educators and we are not afraid!”
The teachers union also organized hundreds of parents including one hack who wrote a letter to the editor demanding higher salaries and no employee contribution to benefits no matter how high her taxes rise.

The following week, the Marlboro school board caved.

Here’s what we need to remember going into contract negotiations. Nobody, absolutely nobody, can compel the school board to ratify a contract. Nor can anybody compel the teachers union. As far as I’m concerned, our district will continue operating under the current contract until we agree to a new contract that’s better for our community and better for our teachers. Anything less would be lunacy.
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