Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Holidays

Once again, everyone is asking “What is this world coming to?” We are all victims of Newtown. We didn’t lose as much as those who lost their lives or the victims’ family and friends. Nor did we suffer the trauma of the survivors or their family, friends, and neighbors. But we all felt the pain, imagined the horror, and wondered “Is there no end?”

Terrible news abounds. Politics. Economics. Violence. War. And yet, these are the best of times.

Thank God we are horrified by the thought of someone killing children. A friend of mine, an Aberdeen resident until his recent passing, was a Holocaust survivor. He once saw a mother trying to stop her baby’s crying. A Nazi officer ripped the baby from the mother’s arms, grabbed him by the feet, and smashed his skull against a wall. Just like that. Didn’t think twice. At the same time, America blocked Jewish refugees from entering this country. Nobody cared.  Today, we’re concerned about medical treatment for terrorists and prisoners on death row.

The country’s racing towards bankruptcy. Why? Because we’re more generous than we can afford to be. Same story for Europe. At what time in the history of mankind have governments been on the verge of collapse for being too generous?

We worry about our children’s future. Will they be better off than us? Heck, yeah. From Roman civilization to the 18th century, what were the greatest inventions? The printing press. That’s it. Today, even poor people have cell phones, televisions, air conditioning, etc. My son gets games on his iPod for a dollar. I worry he gets too much too easy.

As for Islamic terrorism, that’s not nearly as scary nuclear Armageddon with the Soviet Union. And look at the rise of democracy and human rights around the globe. This is a sharp departure from human history.

There’s a balance in the world. As the capacity for good grows, so does the capacity for evil. Yet, let’s not forget the riches we can bequeath to our children or the lessons learned.

Happy holidays and a blessed new year. 
>>> Read more!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Surviving the Storm

Here’s a couple of tips –

  • Gas up the car – it could be your only power supply
  • Fill the tubs with water so you can flush your toilets
  • If using candles, don’t burn down the house
  • No electricity, no water, keep lots of dry goods for eating and liquids for drinking
  • No credit cards, no ATM’s, cash is king
  • Grab everything from outdoors before it starts crashing through your windows
  • Now’s a good time to load your Kindle or borrow some books from the library.  It could be a while
  • A first aid kit is always handy, just in case
  • Flashlights need batteries. Best to get both
  • Charge your cell phones beforehand
  • If you’re in a flood zone, don’t bother waiting. Just go

Best of luck to everyone. May G-d protect you and your loved ones. 
>>> Read more!

Washington Gnomes Working the Math

So, the economy “surged” to 2% growth in the last quarter, due to a true surge in federal spending – 9.6%. Had the White House not opened the floodgates on spending, GDP growth would have been about the same as the prior quarter, just 1.3%.

The latest report piggybacks on the big drop in the Weekly Unemployment Claims due to California (oops) missing the reporting deadline. And that report followed the mystery 850,000 jobs (mostly part-time) that brought the unemployment rate to “just” 7.8%, the lowest rate of the Obama presidency. And that report was preceded by the “discovery” of 450,000 jobs that should have been added the previous year, thereby erasing the claim that we have fewer jobs at the end of Obama’s term than at the beginning.

Add this to the Libya scandal where we now know there was no demonstration, it was a seven-hour firefight just an hour away from a NATO airbase in Italy, and that CIA operators, a mile away, were ordered three times to stand down and not offer any assistance.

Then add the Fast and Furious program that walked 2,000 guns into Mexico. And you can keep adding and adding. At some point, it all adds up to we need a change. 

>>> Read more!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Romney Growth Agenda

Obama’s second term agenda will be a repeat of the first but on steroids since he won’t have to worry about reelection. In the second term, we’ll get tens of thousands of regulations for Obamacare, Frank-Dodd, and the EPA.

In contrast, here’s a snapshot of Romney’s growth agenda.

Tax Revenue –
The economy is only growing at a lackluster 1%. If we get that up to 3-4%, that will mean over $3 trillion in additional tax revenue over the next ten years. Add reductions in welfare, unemployment, and Medicaid (because people will have jobs) and you’re over $4 trillion.

Tax Policy –
Cut rates across the board for everyone. For the upper class and corporations, simplify the tax code and remove or cap tax deductions. A simpler and lower tax code will be revenue neutral but a nice incentive for investment and business growth.

Energy –
Balanced regulations that encourage the safe development of our natural resources. That means clean coal, natural gas, the Keystone Pipeline, the National Petroleum Reserve, and whatever other energy resources we can develop while protecting our environment. At the same time, all new major regulations, defined as costing the economy over $100 million, must be approved by Congress.
>>> Read more!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Hillary Kiss-Off

There’s no love between the Obama’s and the Clinton’s. The Clinton’s believe Obama was an undeserving, unqualified, newbie who unseated Hillary, in part, by using the race card. Obama believed Hillary was getting a free ride on her husband’s coattails.

Nor is it a secret that an Obama victory would spell the end of Hillary’s presidential aspirations. Nobody expects a roaring economy under another Obama term and the public would likely turn against any democratic nominee after eight years of a lackluster economy. (You can only blame Bush and Republicans for so long before the public holds you accountable.)

However, after the next election, Hillary will probably be too old to run. She’s already 64 and the non-stop global travel and stress has aged her terribly.

Yet, she and her husband have been loyal Obama supporters. Bill Clinton’s speech was the highlight of the Democratic National Convention and he’s been stumping for Obama throughout the campaign season. Hillary has done her duty concealing her many foreign policy differences with Obama.

Can anybody recall the last time a US Ambassador to the United Nations did the rounds on the Sunday talk shows to address the American people? That’s not her job. But everybody else in the state department knew the truth of the consulate attack in Benghazi so Susan Rice was given her talking points and sent on her way to lie to the American people about a demonstration that never happened over a YouTube video no one saw.
>>> Read more!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Stark Presidential Choice

Obama wants to raise the price of gas and electric to “save the environment” and make “green” energy sources more competitive. To that end, Obama closed half the Alaskan Petroleum Reserve and all of ANWR to any drilling. He blocked the Keystone Pipeline from Canada. He’s not issued any permits for any drilling on any federal land. He’s signaled, through the EPA, he will restrain hydraulic fracking. He’s issued new environmental regulations (blocked, for the moment, by the courts) that would shut down up to 12% of all coal-fired power plants and place our electric grid in jeopardy. And, despite a national drought that caused food prices to spike, Obama refused to issue a waiver that would have allowed us to use corn for food rather than fuel.

Romney wants to pursue “clean” energy. That includes developing fossil fuels in a way that doesn’t do major harm to the environment. It includes safe oil drilling in Alaska, the Keystone Pipeline, clean coal, and leasing federal lands for natural gas production.

Gas is at $4 a gallon. Would you like it higher or lower?

Obama needs more money and the only way to do that is through a growing economy and/or higher taxes. Since the economy is hardly growing and more people are becoming dependent upon government cash, that leaves just taxes.

There’s the Obamacare tax increases on investment income, payroll, individual and employer mandate, health insurers, health plans, medical device manufacturers, tanning salons, and early HSA withdrawals.  Obamacare also eliminates or limits tax breaks on health savings accounts and employer provided Rx drug coverage.
>>> Read more!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Great News If You Believe It

Cheers. After 43 straight months, the unemployment rate has finally dropped below 8%. It’s a truly extraordinary feat given how few jobs were actually created.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 114,000 jobs were created in September. That’s 90,000 fewer jobs than were created in September of last year. It’s 40,000 fewer jobs than the monthly average for 2011 and 40,000 fewer jobs than what’s needed to keep up with population growth. It’s 30,000 fewer jobs than last month and 70,000 fewer jobs than two months ago.

Wow. Fewer jobs and less unemployment. How is this possible, you ask? Well, there are two surveys, the Employment Survey and the Household Survey. And, here’s the great news, according to the Household Survey, 873,000 were added in just one month. Can you believe it? 873,000 jobs in just one month. At that rate, we’ll have added 10 million jobs in just one year.

But wait, there’s more. Last week, the government discovered another 453,000 the country created last year but got missed in the reporting.

This economy’s on fire.

And, for all you doubters out there, I got just one question for you.

Who you gonna believe, the government or your lying eyes? 
>>> Read more!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Where's Obama?

Have You Seen the President?

He wasn’t at the debate last night.
He wasn’t at the UN where he didn’t have time to meet with any world leaders.
He wasn’t on Capitol Hill where he hasn’t met with congressional leaders in over six months.
He wasn’t in the white house where he’s not been questioned by the White House Press Corps since May.
He wasn’t in the Oval Office trying to formulate a budget and avoid Taxmaggedon.

Where could he be?

Oh, I see the president.
He’s on the golf course.
He’s on The View.
He’s on the David Letterman Show.
He’s dining with celebrities.
He’s partying in Vegas.
He’s vacationing in Hawaii.

Maybe this can be the theme for his next book. >>> Read more!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Obama’s 4 Years

Do you remember Obama’s 4 years in office?

Do you remember that Obama had a supermajority in both houses of Congress for the first two years of his presidency?

Do you remember
  1. The 23 million Americans who can’t find fulltime work?
  2. When Obama said, “the private sector is doing fine”?
  3. When Obama said, “you didn’t build that”?
  4. When Obama promised again and again and again to focus upon jobs?
  5. When Obama promised that spending trillions of dollars would spur an economic recovery?
  6. When Obama’s financial regulations wiped out most of free checking and debit card rewards programs?
  7. When Obama’s financial regulations prevented people from refinancing their homes at lower rates despite promises to the contrary?
  8. When Obama failed to help the millions of households whose homes are underwater?
  9. When Obama refused to initiate a single free trade agreement with another trading partner?
  10. When Obama blocked the Keystone oil pipeline?
>>> Read more!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shame on You, Shame on Us

Every resident of Matawan-Aberdeen should be disgusted and disgraced by the below story.

What kind of staff does the district employ that nobody is willing to loan $2 to a five-year old boy in our schools so that he can eat lunch? Shame, Shame, Shame!

The following - as reported by ABC Eyewitness News

MATAWAN, N.J. (WABC) -- Parents in New Jersey are outraged after learning their autistic son was forced to go hungry all day at school.

That's because the school denied the boy his lunch over a billing issue.

So the 5-year-old just sat there at Cliffwood Elementary in Matawan and watched others eat.

It was John Robert Caravella's fourth day of kindergarten in a new school.

But no one, not the principal, not the teachers, and not the aides, helped this 5-year-old autistic child get his lunch Tuesday. So he sat in the cafeteria and ate nothing.

"Really, for $2, you couldn't feed the kid?" said Silvia Caravella, John Robert's mother.

John Robert left for school at 8:45 a.m. and didn't get home until 4 p.m. And all that time, all he ate was a bag of mini muffins his parents packed him for a snack.
John Robert is a non-verbal autistic child. I pray someone in the administration find someone for that school who cares enough to notice a 5-year old child doesn't have lunch and does something about it. >>> Read more!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Obama the Small

Ronald Reagan famously said, "Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong." The projection of power is critical to America’s national defense. People around the world knew there was no better friend and no worst enemy. How then do we explain the Obama Doctrine?

As America’s newly elected president, Obama launches his “World Apology Tour”. He apologizes to the French (the French!) for the times “where America's shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” Obama also promised to slash America’s nuclear arsenal so that we would have "the moral authority to say to Iran, don't develop a nuclear weapon, to say to North Korea, don't proliferate nuclear weapons."

Obama then stripped Poland of its promised missile shield, and remained silent as Russian invaded Georgia and Iran brutally suppressed the Green Movement. He later told then Russian President Medvedev to wait until after the U.S.  elections for more treaty negotiations when Obama will have more “flexibility”.

In Cairo, as part of Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world, he said the trauma from 9/11 sometimes “led us to act contrary to our ideals”.  

Obama’s justice department then investigated and threatened to prosecute the CIA interrogators who got the information that lead to SEAL operation that killed Bin Laden.
>>> Read more!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Debt is $16 Trillion and Rising Fast

Mr. President, what part of bankrupt don’t you understand?

You promise us more teachers, more cops, more road building, more Pell grants, more food stamps, more industry bailouts, more, more, more . . . How are we going to pay for all this? With more borrowing? Is $16,000,000,000,000 of debt not enough? Why does your budget propose spending over $10,000,000,000 a day with trillion dollar annual deficits as far as the eye can see?

You think taxing the rich will pay for everything? You could confiscate every penny of income from every person on the Forbes 400 and you still wouldn’t cover one day of expenses. You talk about cutting $4 trillion dollars over ten years but that would still leave us borrowing over a trillion dollars a year once Obamacare hits. Besides, nobody believes you’ll cut spending on anything but national defense because you haven’t.

We’re paying over $20 billion a month in interest on our existing debt and that assumes interest rates stay low because you’re unwilling to pay a bit more to lock in 30-year interest rates. What happens if interest rates creep up? Is the Federal Reserve going to keep printing money forever?

And please stop trying to sell us another stimulus plan. We’ve already had the Bush stimulus (remember those checks?), cash for clunkers, the Obama stimulus, and an explosion in federal spending. And each time we were promised it would stimulate the economy.

We blew $800 billion on the Obama stimulus. According to your projections, unemployment is higher today than it would have been without a stimulus.
>>> Read more!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Upcoming School Board Elections

I write this piece with some reluctance.  If Aberdeen residents won’t protect themselves from their elected leadership, why should I?

Last February, two-thirds of the Matawan-Aberdeen School Board voted to strip residents of their right to vote on the school budget and nobody showed up to protest.

Last July, the school board voted to approve a Memorandum of Agreement with the teacher's union regarding the terms of a new teachers contract and nobody asked to see the memorandum. No residents, no reporters, nobody. Nobody but me, that is, and I no longer live in Aberdeen. At first glance, it's a good deal for the district with 7.5% increases over a four-year period and the lion's share of increases going to new teachers. I'll comment further once I see the signed contract.

Nor did anyone complain when the school board voted to increase spending by $1.64 million during a sustained period of high unemployment. Or when the school business administrator comment he could have cut $200,000 from the budget but preferred to spend that money rather than allow the residents to keep it.

While on the school board, I worked hard to implement new goals, such as how to objectively measure progress. Now that I'm gone, so are those measurements. No longer do we report where our graduates go or how likely they are to complete any post-high school education. No longer do we compare ourselves to high-achieving districts.

Still, I have many dear friends in Aberdeen and I continue to hope someone will step forward to lead.

Regarding the upcoming school elections, it's sometimes hard to determine who will better serve the community but it's relatively easy to look at a candidate's experience and determine if he was part of the solution or part of the problem.

This year, Aberdeen is fortunate to have more candidates than available seats -
>>> Read more!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Patch Interview

My thanks and appreciation to Chelsea Naso of the Matawan-Aberdeen Patch for her yeoman’s work and, on this occasion, for interviewing Mayor Fred Tagliarini and Town Manager Holly Reycraft. I happen to like Mayor Tagliarini and Ms. Reycraft. They’re both good people trying to do right by their community. However, I’m also opposed to many of the town council’s actions and feel compelled to respond to some of their answers.

Below are parts of the interview with my comments:

Q: In January 2009, the town council introduced a Pay-to-Play ordinance. Then the council never discussed or approved it. What happened and why won't the town council end the practice of awarding contracts to their largest campaign contributors? The most egregious example is the township engineer, CME, who contributes tens of thousands of dollars to the political campaigns and receives over a million dollars a year from the township. When was the last time the township had competitive bidding for a professional services contract? 
Fred: To the best of my knowledge, all candidates of all parties follow the guidelines set forth. 
Holly: We have a pay to play ordinance that is the same as the state requires. They [CME] get appointed each year. I appoint the engineer, based on recommendations from the council. They [CME] are mostly paid through escrow funds. Everything goes out to bid as per law. We don’t pick them based on their contributions. If you keep changing firms, there’s no continuity. 
Fred: A lot of engineering firms will contribute to both campaigns. Engineering firms donate, businesses donate. I don’t know an engineering firm that doesn’t make donations. I know engineering firms that will contribute to both campaigns.
The township does not request nor receive competing bids for “professional services” such as engineering, town planning, legal, or accounting. Engineering alone (CME) receives over a million dollars a year from the township. 

Furthermore, these professional service providers donated tens of thousands of dollars to the democratic town council’s campaigns and it’s been well documented on this blog using public records.
>>> Read more!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Back-to-School Bashing

Here are some of the latest school factoids you may have missed while reading the local news. The school board has approved a $1.5 million budget increase for the upcoming year. Sadly, Superintendent Healy neglects to mention how even a dime of that extra money will be spent or why last year’s $61.8 million budget wasn’t enough.

 Normally, you’d be able to review the district’s “User Friendly” budget to view the line item increases but a funny thing happened along the way. According to last year’s budget (and the superintendent’s budget presentation), the 2011-12 budget was $61.8 million. However, according to the 2012-13 budget, last year’s $61.8 million ballooned into $64.1 million.
>>> Read more!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Now, What? began nearly 5 years ago in the fall of 2007. The site’s purpose was to raise awareness of local issues and present ideas for improving the community.

Shortly after the site’s launch, I became convinced the core problem was leadership and targeted all of Aberdeen’s elected leadership. 4 years later, every one of Aberdeen’s elected representatives on the school board and town council resigned their positions.

During my short stint on the school board, we cut the prior year’s budget by $2.3 million and introduced several educational initiatives, including a renewed emphasis on writing skills, a revised special education program, investments in technology, and a push to reduce grade inflation.

In the nearly two years I’ve been gone, school spending has increased 6.2% ($3.7 million) and education is once again adrift.

As for the township, we’ve been blessed with competent leadership in the new town manager, Holly Reycraft, but the council itself is still mired in pay-to-play. Anchor Glass, Aberdeen Forge, Train Station, Pool Club, Senior Housing have all been torpedoed by the council and its gang of experts who seek to extort every penny they can get from the developers.

Which brings us back to the blog.

Now, what? Nobody has stepped forward to assume the blogger role. Nor has anyone done the gritty investigative work of requesting documents from the municipal bodies.

Once again, we’re being asked to trust our government without any ability to verify.

What is the municipal budget? Why have more school employees not been outsourced, like transportation, secretarial, and child study teams? How much money is being paid to big political donors like CME? Where are our children going after they complete high school?

As a school board member, I continued to submit OPRA requests and never allowed the administration to be the sole arbiter of the school agenda. After high school, where do our graduates go? What’s the correlation between class grades and state exams? How are we progressing compared to other districts? Why are expenditures outpacing inflation and population growth? Has teacher training been cost effective? How are the academies raising student performance?

Getting the raw data is relatively easy. I’d be willing to submit the OPRA requests via email and pay for the documents but someone needs to retrieve and fax them to me. Until then, the blog will focus upon small initiatives and hopefully someone will take the initiative to lead.  
>>> Read more!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Aberdeen, the Township of Money Pit

Since the good people of Aberdeen have supported their monolithic democratic town council for over a decade, I have to assume to following will be welcome news.

Although the town budget hasn’t been posted yet, the township has announced good news; municipal property taxes will be going upabout 5% this year. That’s more than triple the rate increase from the school district. Once again, the township has successfully increased its share of the property tax pie.

More good news. The township continues to invest in senior housing with another $360,000 for CME to do more “environmental remediation” at the old South River Metals site. Don’t know if we’ll ever actually have senior housing but it won’t be for lack of spending money on CME. Perhaps it would be cheaper for the town to reincorporate as a wholly owned subsidiary of CME.

Too bad Aberdeen’s bond rating dropped. (Hat tip: AberdeenNJlife). Moody says the downgrade resulted from Aberdeen’s “weakened financial position following fund balance draws in each of the last seven years.” Makes you wonder if they’ve been reading the blog. Well, no problem. We can just raise more taxes.

On a final note, it’s nice to see the township recognize our old public defender, John Fiorino Jr; the council just voted to by his daddy’s property for $130,000.

Aberdeen. Such a nice town. If only it didn’t cost so darn much.
>>> Read more!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Madness Run Amok

I know, like, and respect many of the school board members but I will no longer try to understand them. A year ago, I wrote, “the scary thing is the school board will likely allow [Healy] to take the lead.” I was correct but I never imagined it would get this bad.

Recently, the school board voted to strip the citizens of their right to vote on the school budget. They claimed to do this because the citizens were too stupid, ignorant, or partisan to simply rubberstamp the school board’s rubberstamp of the administration’s proposed budgets.

What were those proposed budgets that they couldn’t risk putting before the good people of Matawan-Aberdeen? In two years, during a recession and housing crisis, they’ve raised spending by 6.4%. All that extra money coming from the state could’ve gone to tax relief but tax relief will never be on the agenda. Taxes will keep going up forever.
>>> Read more!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Vinnie’s World – A Proclamation

“I fart in your general direction” – John Cleese, Monty Python

As a monument to Aberdeen’s surrender of all rights to good government, the Town Council hereby bequeaths to the township, Vincent Vinci Park, in honor of that most scurrilous of councilmen, Councilman Vincent Vinci. (Hat tip:

Councilman Vinci’s contempt for the citizenry is unsurpassed in Aberdeen’s history and a shining example of our Town Council’s aspirations. 

Among Councilman Vinci’s abundant contemptible acts, we recognize the following:
  • Taking consulting fees to work on his magnificent reelection campaigns
  • Purchasing two large plots of unrestricted public land adjacent to his home for the grand total of $1 each
  • Convincing the county to purchase and demolish a perfectly good home and build a bypass road to alleviate automobile traffic on his dead end street
  • Repeatedly parking in the handicapped parking spot in front of Town Hall
  • Being one of only two council members to take a pay raise at the height of the Great Recession
  • Voting to increase his fire commissioner salary by 36.5% during the Great Recession
  • Installing by his residence the only street signs in the township to state, “Do Not Block the Intersection”
  • Owning a severely under-taxed home property
  • Facilitating Aberdeen’s unsurpassed record in Pay-to-Play
Councilman Vinci, we salute you.
>>> Read more!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shut Up and Pay

What do you do when the citizenry keeps voting down tax increases? Take away their right to vote.

That’s exactly what the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School Board did this month when it voted to move school elections to November.

From now on, so long as school tax increases are kept under 2%, residents will no longer have the right to vote on the budget. Doesn’t take a genius to guess how much the school administration plans to raise taxes each year. No doubt the teachers union will be licking their chops. The district bloat can rest easy as well since the Sword of Damocles is no longer hanging over their heads to cut the fat.

According to School Board President Kenny, “When a very, very fiscally responsible and conservative budget is not passed in an election by a small group of people who may be entrenched or have other interests, we may not be able to serve the very students we are charged to serve.” I guess he’s already forgotten the Barza years.

Or maybe the board thinks a 2% annual increase is reasonable. For the average homeowner, that’ll be about a hundred-dollar increase each year on top of municipal, county, state, federal, plus a host of increases from government fees and regulations.

Over a ten-year period, that’s a $5,500 take from the average homeowner.
>>> Read more!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Year Ahead

This year, the big news will be the upcoming presidential election. In local news, we’re not expecting much change and that would be sad because Aberdeen could be so much more. Here is a list of indicators to see if there will be any positive developments in town.

Town Budget
I have high expectations for Holly Reycraft. She has a well-deserved reputation for competence, integrity, and dedication. As interim town manager, she made improvements to the budget, implemented the new employee health plan, and brought order to the township operations. However, she’s still working for a town council that is deeply immersed in pay-to-play.

As soon as the new councilmembers were seated, their first order of business was the roads program, which is often code for CME, the pimps bankrolling the Aberdeen Democrats’ election campaigns. And then there was the gift to Coppola & Coppola, another reliable contributor, to do another study on the train station project that we’ve been hearing about for a decade.

So, look at spending and the tax levy. Taxes have a habit of jumping during the off-election years and we’ll see if that trend continues this year.
>>> Read more!