Friday, August 26, 2011

Here Comes Hurricane Irene

Just wanted to wish everyone best wishes in riding out the storm.

Don't forget to clear the yard. If possible, gas your car and bring it into the garage. (It's a radio and electric charger. I always kept a car charger that converts ac/dc to power all my devices.)

There's a good chance you can lose electricity and maybe even water, so prepare. Storms hitting Saturday night and continuing through Sunday night. Roads and electric could be havoc for the next day or two. If you're on medication, make sure you have enough.

Library books, Kindles, romantic candles, and classic tunes on the radio are a lovely way to pass the time. Just be careful you don't burn the house down.

For updates, you can register online with the township's Code Red alert system at

Please, only call police for actual emergencies. They'll be having their hands full.

Thanks in advance to the Police, our volunteer firefighters and EMT's, shelters, and all emergency responders. It's times like these that remind us we're surrounded by good friends and neighbors.

Below are some additional tips for emergency preparedness.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Classic Case of Pay-To-Play

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into Town Hall, the council has launched a classic case of pay-to-play just in time for election season.


To capture the full breadth of outrageousness, let’s walk through all the steps.

First, a town council with a well-deserved reputation for pay-to-play designates a felon, who spent prison-time for flagrantly attempting to bribe an IRS auditor, as the lead developer for the town’s most prominent project, the proposed transit village.

Next, the town council gives a brief history and seeks to justify the shameful appointment.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

And Then There Were None

Pat Demarest’s resignation from the Matawan Aberdeen School Board marks the end of an era. On the school board, it’s the end of Barza, a political machine that corrupted the school district. Come January, the entire town council will be a group of rookies.

Will the new era mark an improvement? I believe we’re already seeing the changes taking effect despite their glacial pace. From improved budgets to greater transparency to more responsive service, the town is slowly getting better. In the school district, we’ve seen smaller tax increases and improved programs. I just hope they quicken the pace.

Whatever reasons Demarest had for returning to the board, things plainly didn’t pan out as she had planned.

In January of last year, during her run for the school board, she submitted an affidavit on Wayne Spell’s behalf, stating “I believe it is reasonable to interpret Board Policy 4117.51 as being applicable to . . . increment withholdings related to school administrators.”

(Mr. Spell’s salary increment withholding resulted from his failure to properly administer the TERRA NOVA exams, which resulted in the entire district failing the exam.)

Her stand against the school district was so egregious, she wasn’t allowed to participate in or be privy to any board deliberations regarding the matter.

On April 21, 2011, the Commissioner of Education rejected Demarest’s position and stated, “the Commissioner found that several due process safeguards articulated in Policy 4117.51 were provided to petitioner, notwithstanding that they appeared on their face to be intended for the protection of teachers.”

(The sad thing is that the board was prepared to settle with Mr. Spells and reinstate his increment. However, Mr. Spells never offered an apology to the board and we had a slam dunk case to prove we were taking a hard line with the unions.)

Ms. Demarest also lost her two allies on the board, Rubino and Ruprecht, when they both chose to not seek reelection.

To add insult to injury, Ms. Demarest was seated directly across from Ken Aitken, one of her least favorite people. (That’s an old trick. Majority, in coordination with the administration, determines the initial seating order. All board members are free to move their seats but nobody ever does.)

Following Aitken’s election, Demarest stopped attending most of the board meetings. She held on for the opportunity to present her son a diploma at graduation.

Finally, it’s become easy, even vogue, to resign from the school board in recent years; so many of us have done it.

As for the challenges that lie ahead, it’s nice to know that, despite their differences, everybody on the school board is fighting, first and foremost, for the children and the community.
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