Wake up Asbury Park! A-Team candidates on Board of Education ballot this year

Last year, Asbury voters decisively rejected the A-Team slate for Mayor and Council by a landslide 2-1 margin. The repudiation was throughout the city. And it was well deserved. That crew is completely out of control.

Yet on the same ballot, two out of three A-Team candidates for the Board of Education won, giving the A-Team majority control of that board. No wonder it’s completely dysfunctional.

How could they win? It’s simple.

Board of Education candidates don’t have slate designations next to their names. So unlike the mayor and council race, voters didn’t know who was from the A-Team and who wasn’t. If they had, the A-Team board of ed candidates would have been trounced last year by margins as large as their running mates for mayor and council. Instead, they won a majority that now controls the Board of Education.

So don’t be asleep on Tuesday, November 3. There are three A-Team candidates running for Board of Education. Write down their names, and vote against them: Christian Hall, Kenneth Saunders, Jr. and Sheila Etienne.

Their victory — and continued control of the Board of Education — depends on voters not knowing their affiliations and not knowing they’re running. That’s how they won last year. The electorate obviously doesn’t want this group in office, as evidenced by the A-Team’s landslide defeat in the race for mayor and council. [And their defeat in the council race the year before that, for that matter.]

Board of Education candidate Saunders was one of the A-Team council candidates who was defeated last year. That should automatically disqualify him from holding office. Hall is one of their leaders on the Board of Education. I’m not familiar with Etienne, but I’m not impressed with the political company she keeps.

There are only three candidates running against the A-Team seeking the three Board of Education seats. I’m not going to even confuse you with their names. But they seem normal. Well, at least normal as far as Asbury Park standards. I’ll leave it at that. Vote for them.

My problem with the A-Team? Where should I start?

Their campaign violated election law in 2013 and 2014 in how they took custody and control of hundreds of vote by mail ballots through the use of so-called messengers who were A-Team supporters and operatives. A Monmouth County Superior Court Judge agreed with me in each of those two elections, and he refused to open about 300 ballots controlled by their campaign in those years.

It gets even worse. I went out to Freehold and looked at rejected unopened vote by mail ballots controlled by the A-Team from last year’s election and about 70 of them were clearly fraudulent. The signatures of the person completing the ballot and claiming to be the voter clearly did not match the real voter’s signature in the voter registration records. It was absurd. Actually, it was an outrage. What is this? Jersey City in 1933?

Who committed that crime? I don’t know. But I know that someone did it in the name of the A-Team — such as for Saunders last year who now seeks reelection to the Board of Education. Saying you didn’t know about it isn’t good enough. All A-Team candidates should be held responsible for these excesses.

The conduct of the A-Team campaign with these messenger ballots was one reason the state Senate and Assembly voted unanimously [meaning all Demcrats and Republicans from all corners of the state] to change the law to stop campaigns from taking custody and control of large numbers of ballots like the A-Team would do it. As a result, they won’t have that advantage this year. Thank God.

I could go on about the A-Team. Like their completely falsified endorsement by Senator Cory Booker of their mayoral candidate just before last year’s election. Fortunately, this blog was here to blow the whistle on that.

Yeah, I can hear it now. I’m a racist because I oppose the A-Team. That’s all they can say when people criticize them. And I guess so are all the Asbury Park voters — from all over the city — who decisively rejected the A-Team last year in the mayor and council race. They must all be racists too. What else could they be?

Those reading this post should go do their civic duty and defeat the A-Team candidates for Board of Education — Christian Hall, Kenneth Saunders and Sheila Etienne.

Mary Pat Angelini is a hypocrite. Dump her on Election Day, Nov. 3

Mary Pat Angelini is a hypocrite. Dump her on Election Day, Nov. 3

It’s our rule not to publish content from the triCityNews on-line. It’s what every other newspaper did in destroying themselves. We’re not idiots. But sometimes, when the public interest demands it, we’ll break that rule. That’s the case with my Publisher’s Message scheduled to appear on Thursday — two days after the election. But I can’t stand the idea of voters not seeing it before they vote on Tuesday. So I publish a version below. Here’s your advance reading of my commentary: 

This story is about one of the biggest hypocrites in Monmouth County — long-time Republican Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini. The woman is completely full of shit. It’s unbelievable.

Yes, of course, she’s so nice in person. Hell, she even wrote me a lovely note when my dog died. That’s not what this is about. It’s about her actions as a politician. In that regard, she’s a disgrace.

Angelini and her 11th District GOP running-mate Asssemblywoman Caroline Casagrande [shown above center and right] found themselves this year in a competitive race — a rarity for Republicans in Monmouth County. This column’s deadline is just before the election on Tuesday, November 3rd.

As an Independent and economic libertarian, I’d normally vote for Angelini and Casagrande. Not this year. I want them cleared out and replaced by Republican candidates in two years who will conduct themselves like serious adults in office.

Here’s the story of Angelini’s obnoxious hypocrisy:

An independent Super PAC organized by South Jersey Democrats has thrown a political lightning strike into her race — completely out of the blue and unexpected — by launching attacks on radio and cable television against Angelini, questioning her ethics in connection with Prevention First, the non-profit she runs that combats substance abuse. They were nasty attack ads. Oh well. What goes around comes around, as you’ll read below.

The ads questioned Prevention First getting state grants while Angelini’s a state Assemblywoman. That’s quite fair, actually. I’ve wondered about that myself. The ads also inferred that too much of the funds for Prevention First go into staff salaries and her salary. That’s not so fair, given that substance abuse counseling services are labor intensive. Hey, Karma’s a bitch.

Angelini, of course, was indignant about the ads. How dare anyone question such a fine organization and its work, she thundered!

Prevention First will be unaffected by all this, which will be forgotten after the election. What scared Angelini and her running mate Casagrande are that those ads threatened their political careers.

Boo hoo.

Four years ago, Angelini and Casagrande approved an even more vicious attack by the state Republican Party smearing their opponent, then twenty six year old Vin Gopal, whose strong campaign looked like a threat. [He's now the Chairman of the Monmouth County Democratic Party.]

The attack against Gopal was probably the most outrageous one I’ve seen in my over 30 years of involvement in politics. The mailers said that campaign funds corruptly obtained by a crook who was Mayor of Perth Amboy went into Gopal’s pocket, inferring Gopal’s complicity — but at the time, Gopal was only a twenty year old college intern on the guy’s campaign! The vicious attack trying to destroy young Gopal was condemned by prominent conservative columnist Bob Ingle and the Asbury Park Press editorial board.

I hammered Angelini back then too. She was expected to be the adult in the room. Instead, she betrayed her own addiction — no pun intended, for it is an addiction — to being in power, no matter what it takes.

With the Gopal smear, a real adult would have told the Republican Party that if they sent those mailers out she’d publicly condemn them — just as she wants the Democrats to condemn the attack ads against her now. And if the Republicans sent them anyway, a real adult would have make good on that threat and gone public, attacking her own party and apologizing to Gopal. Assemblywoman Casagrande also never said a peep, although I never expected better from her. Angelini I did.

So now enjoy the show as Angelini demands her Democratic opponents Eric Houghtaling and Joanne Downey do what she and Casagrande failed to do four years ago:

“If Houghtaling and Downey had an ounce of character they would denounce these untruthful attacks immediately,” Angelini said, in a report on politickernj.com. “Sadly, based on how they have ran this campaign into the gutter, my opponents will do and say anything to get elected, including lying about a non-profit dedicated to providing mental health, substance abuse and anti-bullying programs.”

How sweet it is. Here’s more from Angelini:

“My opponents and their special interest allies have hit a new low,” said Angelini, who, the website reported, fired off a letter to the station manager of 94.3 The Point about the ads. “Their disgusting lies about a charity that provides mental health, substance abuse and anti-bullying programs to more than 10,000 children and families a year shows how heartless and sinister my opponents truly are.”

Although Angelini threatened legal action to get the ads off the air, the Super PAC paying for them, which is completely independent of the local Democrats, wasn’t budging.

“The Angelini campaign does nothing to dispute the facts,” a spokesperson for the PAC told politickernj.com. “Specifically, that the funds raised by Angelini went to her staff salaries, or how much of that went into her pocket. And then finally, the almost $400,000 of taxpayer dollars she’s received as a member of the Assembly. She’s been in Trenton so long, she might not like it, but the facts and manner in which she runs a charity are an important consideration for New Jerseyans to make on Tuesday.”

Even better, let’s replay the condemnation of Angelini and Casagrande four years ago for their own smear and destroy tactics. The best was from veteran conservative columnist Bob Ingle, who writes for Gannett newspapers and published a book on New Jersey corruption called “The Soprano State.”

Ingle said the attacks on Gopal went “beyond acceptable ethical standards, even for The Soprano State.” He cited the mailing against Gopal featuring “a $100 bill and a newspaper report with only the headline readable ‘Aide to former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas pleads guilty to money laundering.’ The text says some of that laundered money ended up ‘in an account that was used to pay Gopal’s salary.’”

But that aide who pleaded guilty to money laundering wasn’t Gopal. Yet the Republicans dragged Gopal’s name into it, and a confused voter would think it was him

Here’s Ingle:

“The real story is Gopal was 20 and majoring in political science at Penn State when he worked on maybe 10 campaigns in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for class credit, including the one for Vas. He had nothing to do with any crime.”

“But, readers could be misled to believe Gopal did something wrong. Horse feathers. Gopal is being dragged into the gutter by Republicans. They should be ashamed of themselves for being a part of this smear tactic.”

“It is a 100 per cent bald-faced lie.”

And the Asbury Park Press editorial board condemned the Republicans for trying to destroy Gopal: “The mailer lacked a complete sense of decency and fair play, further contributing to voters’ cynicism and disgust with politicians who will do anything to win election.”

Oh well. Voters don’t care. They’re asleep. They’ll get bamboozled by Angelini’s always friendly and pleasant manner

But this is why nothing changes. While I’d hope to report that Angelini and Casagrande will go down on Election Day, defeating an incumbent legislator in New Jersey, or in Congress for that matter, is almost as hard as defeating a member of the Politiburo in an election in the old Soviet Union.

Whatever. At least I get my frustrations out about the hypocrisy of politicians like Mary Pat Angelini. Thank God I have a column like this to vent.

Yes, I feel much better now. Thank you.


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Booker condemns A-Team in Asbury Park; slams campaign tactics as “unfortunate”

Booker condemns A-Team in Asbury Park; slams campaign tactics as “unfortunate”

booker endorsement cleaner screen shotDemocratic U.S. Senator Cory Booker condemned the A-Team slate on his Twitter feed on Friday, slamming their campaign tactics as “unfortunate.”

Booker was responding to a mailer [right] falsely stating that he endorsed A-Team mayoral candidate Remond Palmer. No such endorsement has been issued.

When Booker was questioned about the mailer on Twitter, he replied: “That is unfortunate. I did not endorse anyone in this race.” [Booker's Twitter responses are below.]

The disputed mailer says it’s paid for by “Asbury Park Democrats, LLC” with an address at 1104 Asbury Avenue, Asbury Park.

The address for Asbury Park Democrats, LLC. at 1104 Asbury Avenue is the same address listed for Darryl Hammary and Diteko Hammary on filings with the Election Law Enforcement Commission. They are listed as treasurer and chairperson respectively for an independent PAC called “Asbury Now” that supported A-Team candidates in the 2013 city council election.

Joe Grillo, Chairman of the Asbury Park Democratic Executive Committee, said the local party organization has no connection to “Asbury Park Democrats, LLC.” The local party is not endorsing any candidates in the Asbury Park municipal or board of education elections, Grillo said.

The Monmouth County Democratic Organization posted on its Facebook page on Saturday that neither Booker or the county Democrats are making endorsements in the Asbury Park elections:

Please note that Senator Cory Booker nor the Monmouth County Democrats have made an endorsement in the race for Mayor or City Council in Asbury Park. Asbury Park is a nonpartisan race and both the Monmouth County Democratic Organization and Senator Cory Booker are NOT involved in this race in anyway and on behalf of any candidate. We encourage all voters to vote this Tuesday for the candidate he or she prefers. There are several outstanding candidates running, several of them are Registered Democrats and Democratic County Committee members.

The mailer includes a photo of Booker with Palmer and a statement that reads as follows:

Dear Neighbor,

As your United States Senator, I’m working everyday to help our President give the people of Asbury Park the help they need — whether it’s affordable healthcare, or federal funds to give police and firefighters the resources they need to keep us safe. That is why I’m proud to support Remond Palmer for Mayor of Asbury Park. Remond is an Independent Democrat who stands up for what he believes in.

Yours in Service,

United States Senator Cory A. Booker

Click below for Booker’s responses to two inquiries about the disputed mailer.booker sun response

booker response—————————————————————————-

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Social media smear of Toast’s Amy Russo of Asbury Park

Social media smear of Toast’s Amy Russo of Asbury Park

The following is my post on the Red Bank Green website in regard to the social media smear of Amy Russo, who owns Toast in Asbury Park. Amy is getting unfairly tagged with the abrupt dismissal of the workers at the Broadway Diner in Red Bank without notice, a decision that was not hers. Even worse, she can’t even speak up to defend herself, as I explain below. She is set to buy the diner, and open Toast Red Bank there. That transaction takes place July 31. Amy has no idea I’m posting this, and would probably tell me not to do so. Too bad. I say whatever the hell I think, and call it like I see it. I can’t help it. Here’s my comment on Redbankgreen.com’s facebook page:

I can’t resist commenting.

Unfortunately, Amy Russo just got screwed by a bad situation she didn’t create. Nice of everyone to jump to the conclusion that a successful businesswoman — who has loyal and happy employees in two other successful establishments — is dumb enough to walk into town and fire 40 long-time employees without notice.

That fact is that she doesn’t fully own the place yet, nor does she have managerial control. She did not make that decision. It was up to the existing management to decide how to treat their long-time employees and customers before the place closed. That closure has to be done before full ownership can be transferred to Amy, who wants to open a different business there after closing for two months to do interior renovations.

My friend John Ward used our story on Asburyparksun.com for his Red Bank Green report. Go back and read the Sun story. John provided the link. Amy is buying out her late father’s partner who’s run the Broadway Diner for years, as her Dad passed away a few months ago. She will obtain ownership and full control on July 31, if all goes according to plan. Everyone around — particularly the hard-working small business owners and their employees on Monmouth Street — should pray it does. Toast has been fantastic for downtown Asbury Park. A failed business at that location is not something you want on Monmouth Street.

So what is Amy Russo supposed to do now? The deal is not yet done for her to take over. Is she supposed to publicly condemn her late father’s partner before she buys him out on July 31? Throw him under the bus publicly, even if he deserves it, by stating it was his decision to dismiss the employees without notice? That would be stupid. It’s more important that she gain control of the location to open something with a great chance of success, which benefits everyone around there — including those who will work there, some of whom may be former Broadway Diner employees. She’s right to keep her mouth shut until this transaction is complete.

My guess is that the long-time partner of her late father isn’t selling because he’s making a killing and cashing out. Whether you like it or not, the 24 hour diner model in Red Bank sure doesn’t seem viable to me. And if you don’t agree, go open one yourself and see how easy it is. Have a ball. I’ll be happy to come and try it once to give it a shot. There’s a reason you don’t see them around anymore.

Personally, I think the Broadway Diner sucked. It was dirty and the food mediocre. Hey, that’s my opinion. And I think it was eventually going down. It was not like it used to be years ago. No way was that place lasting, and that was a management failure. The only thing good about the Broadway Diner was the employees, very down to earth and regular people. Doing their best to make a living and working very hard. Obviously, they’re upset. Of course, everyone feels for them. It’s horrible. But shouldn’t they contact Amy and ask if they can work at the new place? She didn’t let them go without notice.

Oh well. I’m writing about Toast coming to Red Bank in the triCityNews on Thursday and ignoring this smear of Amy because I don’t want to repeat it and give it more legs. What I’m writing about is how great she was for downtown Asbury, and that she will be the same for Monmouth Street. We’ve all seen it first hand in Asbury Park. She runs the equivalent of the local luncheonette that all towns used to have, and a wide cross section of all types of people go to her place in Asbury. It is not an elitist place in the least.

Of course, if you want the full traditional diner experience now that the Broadway Diner is closed, by all means go to the Americana in Shrewsbury, as some commentators have stated. It’s excellent. Great food. Great place.

But Amy Russo knows how to run Toast. That’s what she does well, and that’s what’s been of tremendous benefit to downtown Asbury and Montclair, as it will be for Monmouth Street. There’s a reason her businesses are so popular.

Dan Jacobson


Asbury Council: Demand renegotiation of iStar infrastructure giveaway

Asbury Council: Demand renegotiation of iStar infrastructure giveaway

The following column by triCityNews Publisher Dan Jacobson appeared in the Feb. 6 issue of the paper. We rarely publish the paper’s content on line. We’re not fools. That’s how a newspaper destroys itself. But we will make an occasional exception here on our Asbury Overheard blog when an important public interest is at stake . [Our asburyparksun.com site remains committed to objective, unbiased journalism.] Here’s Jacobson’s triCity column on what he calls the “infrastructure giveaway” to waterfront redeveloper iStar Financial: 

This is why we started the triCity-affilliated asburyparksun.com website almost two years ago.

It’s to objectively and fairly report the news of Asbury and surrounding areas so all of us — this publisher included — can know what the hell is going on. And make our own decisions about it.

After all, no one else is going to do that. Certainly not the Asbury Park Press.

And last week the Sun’s Jill Bartlett reported a doozy — downtown developer Carter Sackman was never billed for his in-lieu tax payments for the past five years on either his Steinbachs building or his newer 550 Building across the street.

That’s an estimated $700,000 that was never collected for the city. Doesn’t sound like Sackman’s fault either. He deposited the monies into an escrow account with a bank. All the city had to do was send the bills as the payments came due, and the money would be withdrawn. Sackman said he was unaware of any of this until new Councilman John Moor started asking questions about it. Sackman says he wants the payments made. Obviously, he needs a bill!

What an embarrassment. Yet another reason to have a complete lack of confidence in what went on under the last city council, which left office last year.

Which brings us to the big enchilada that now must be questioned — the rushed agreement that pays for the infrastructure for waterfront redeveloper iStar to build more condos on the waterfront. Since that agreement was inked last year, iStar now wants to bring in national homebuilder K. Hovnanian to build “luxury townhouses” on a relatively small lot for that company in the waterfront zone.

It’s time for Councilman Moor and the other two new council members — Amy Quinn and Myra Campbell — to demand that this infrastructure agreement be renegotiated. For it literally cuts the city schools out of new tax revenues from iStar’s future development on the waterfront…for 30 years! That’s what’s being used to pay for the infrastructure that they need for their condos. [I'm not even going to get into how the city's taxpayers were shortchanged in the deal.]

Yup, the last city council screwed our city’s schools and kids, so iStar can now move forward to bring in the Hovnanians of the world — a completely inappropriate fit for Asbury Park.

This is where I puke.

This Publisher and a ton of other people in the city — most likely a majority as shown by the last election results — question the competency of the last council. And with good reason. The failure to bill the largest downtown developer $700,000 for his in-lieu tax payments for five years only reinforces that conviction.

There’s a simple reason that you can’t trust that waterfront infrastructure agreement — it was rushed through before a new council took office. And anytime something is rushed like that, it can’t be trusted.

In fact, the last city council put on hold a massive project to update the whole waterfront redevelopment plan to conform with present-day realities — all so this infrastructure agreement could be pushed through. Shouldn’t the waterfront plan have been updated first? Of course not. Then iStar would have to face a Council that wasn’t comprised of dumb sheep, and they likely wouldn’t have gotten this infrastructure deal. The waterfront plan has still not been updated.

I’m not saying that last council were stupid people outside of their work as elected official. But in their elected capacity they were dumb as stones — and, even worse, they did not know how to look to anyone else to get advice or information. It was absurd.

And they bound the city for 30 years to a massive agreement to pay for iStar’s infrastructure — all on the backs of our city’s kids. In addition, the city’s taxpayers themselves should have gotten much more than was negotiated. I don’t see where iStar had to pay a penny for this.

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Former Jersey City adminstrator expected to be named Asbury Park City Manager

Former Jersey City adminstrator expected to be named Asbury Park City Manager

Word on the  street is that the next Asbury Park City Manager will be Jack Kelly, who held the Business Adminstrator’s post in Jersey City from 2010 to July of last year.

Asbury Overheard is overhearing it all over the place.

The City Council [above] is scheduled to meet Wednesday night. A discussion of hiring a new city manager is on both the open and closed session agendas. Good chance Kelly could be hired during that meeting.

Kelly lost his gig in Jersey City when a new Mayor was elected in the city’s May non-partisan election. That led to his resignation this past summer, as new Mayor Steve Fulop had his own ideas for the post. Kelly had been appointed by outgoing Mayor Jeremiah Healy.

Asbury also had a May election which resulted in a majority of new council members. That new majority chose not to reappoint Terry Reidy, who had served as city manager for a decade.

According to an article on nj.com, Kelly is a 33 year public employee who will be due a pension of about $94,000. He also worked as a part-time tax assessor for Caldwell and finance director for the City of Orange, while serving as Jersey City administrator, according to nj.com.


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Take three: ‘Bank on Mattison’ bar and restaurant to take Trinity and the Pope space

Take three: ‘Bank on Mattison’ bar and restaurant to take Trinity and the Pope space

Ok, it’s time for the third try at a restaurant and bar at the landmark building on Mattison Avenue that last housed Trinity and the Pope — and was once home to a daily newspaper in the late 1940s known as the Asbury Park Sun.

The brown paper is up over the windows. A “coming soon” sign advises the new place will be called “Bank on Mattison” bar and restaurant.

Before Trinity and the Pope, the building housed a bar called Mattison Park. In prior decades, the space was originally a bank, as well as a law office. It had been vacant for years before its rehabilitation, which included the installation of a kitchen and bar, when Mattison Park took its shot about seven years ago.

Asbury Overheard has seen lots of activity for several weeks in the building, with people working inside getting the place ready. No one there is commenting on the record, however.

bank on mattison SIGN resized for oveheardOh well. We’ll just go by what we’ve overheard.

Based on sources outside those involved in the building — like everyone in downtown Asbury who knows anything — the new  group renting the space include managers and staff who once worked at Old Man Rafferty’s in the old Steinbachs building.

Also overheard is that this group left on very good terms with Old Man Rafferty’s owner Mark Jakuboski. So no problems there.

We wish them luck. The original Asbury Park Sun lasted only about two years in that building. It was founded by theater mogul Walter Reade to compete with the Asbury Park Press, then located on the same block.

Our sister site, Asburyparksun.com — named after Walter Reade’s Sun newspaper that took its shot at the Press — seems to be doing a lot better than Reade’s media outlet. The Sun is kicking the Press’s ass, regularly beating it to stories and giving more in-depth coverage to the greater Asbury Park  area than its owners the Gannett Corporation would ever think of giving.

But we digress. No doubt Asburyparksun.com will have the full story when the new owners of “Bank on Mattison” decide to open their mouths and talk about their plans. Like when will they open exactly? What will they serve? What’s the theme? What’s their favorite color, etc.?

Our advice?

Don’t be so coy with the media. Your sign is up. Everyone knows you’re coming. So tell us what’s up.

Or the story will be told elsewhere for you by others — as lots can be overheard in Asbury Park, as we like to say.


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