About Dan Jacobson

http://asburyoverheard.com

Posts by Dan Jacobson:

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

TriCityNews

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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‘All avenues of due process should be exhausted’ — A-Team candidate responds to Jacobson column

‘All avenues of due process should be exhausted’ — A-Team candidate responds to Jacobson column

dan harris VERT CROPPEDOn this website last week, I published a triCityNews column I wrote about the procedural mistakes I claim were made by the A-Team candidates in the May Asbury Park city council election — specifically about the use of vote by mail ballots.

A-Team candidate Dan Harris [right] sent a response. Harris is the plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to open 327 disqualified ballots.

Here’s Dan’s response:

Your follow up on the election court challenge has been both in-depth and helpful.

You have managed to express how you felt about both sides of this controversy. You wrote about the judge’s decision and the A-Team’s approach to the election. Very seldom are both sides of the discussion expressed by one reporter. You are to be commended for showing responsible journalism.

But understand that all avenues of due process should be exhausted. This is not just for the candidates but for those voters whose votes were not counted. Somewhere in those ballots there are votes that should be counted. While this might not change the results of the election, it would give voters the chance to have their votes counted. Read More

Review of disputed Asbury ballot documents show A-Team violated rules

Review of disputed Asbury ballot documents show A-Team violated rules

[The following commentary appeared in the current issue of the triCityNews. We rarely put the content of the paper on-line, but in this case it's in the public interest to do so. Procedures were not followed with a large number of ballots in Asbury in the last council election — and that should never happen again.]

ASBURY PARK – Last week, I blasted the judge in the Asbury ballot case for simply throwing out the election challenge of the A-Team council candidates. That slate wants 327 disqualified ballots opened, which could change the results of the May 14 election with two, if not three, A-Team candidates winning.

So I did what the judge should do — and what an appeals court will tell him to do — I took a look at the ballots myself to determine what actually happened with them. [I filed an Open Public Records Act request to get access.]

Look, I’m vocally in favor of the A-Team having their day in court if they want it. But what I saw with my inspection of the ballot documents were substantial and unacceptable violations of procedure by the A-Team campaign. [The A-Team were candidates Jim Keady, Duanne Small, Daniel Harris III, Remond Palmer and Nora Hyland.]

Take your time and follow this story. It’s an important one. For the A-Team should back off their election challenge and appeal, and acknowledge they made substantive procedural errors. More importantly, this should never be repeated in future elections. Read More

This ain’t Berkeley: Republican praises Central Jersey marijuana facility

This ain’t Berkeley: Republican praises Central Jersey marijuana facility

It’s not every day that an elected official gets up and praises the opening of a medical marijuana facility around here.

And that certainly doesn’t happen every day from a Republican.

But a news release came across our desk today from state Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon — a Republican representing northern Monmouth County — that does just that.

O’Scanlon is an interesting cat.

He’s a fiscal conservative, and the ranking Republican on the Assembly budget committee. O’Scanlon [above with Monmouth GOP Senator Jennifer Beck] is also pro-life on abortion, yet he’s one of the few Republicans in Trenton who favor same-sex marriage.

Most interestingly, in the early days of the triCityNews newspaper — which publishes this site, along with the asburyparksun.com and asburyanchor.com — O’Scanlon was actually our food critic! It was fun stuff. O’Scanlon didn’t know enough to know what he was talking about, yet he knew just enough to be dangerous.

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Another Asbury summer with Kenny ‘Stringbean’ Sorensen

Another Asbury summer with Kenny ‘Stringbean’ Sorensen

It’s the fifth summer for the weekly Monday night boardwalk appearances of bluesman Kenny Sorensen and his Stringbean and the Stalkers.

From their perch outside of Marilyn Schlossbach’s Langosta Lounge and her new Libby’s Beach Shack, the band reels off the fast and the slow — all while looking out on the Atlantic Ocean. Read More

Rallo rides the media wave into NY Times

Rallo rides the media wave into NY Times

My law school classmate Victor Rallo is about to become famous. And not because he was just featured in last week’s Sunday New York Times.

Vic owns Basil T’s in Red Bank and co-owns Undici restaurant in Rumson. Over at the triCityNews, we’ve been chronicling his rise from shooting YouTube videos of himself talking about Italian food — to getting a television show that’s expected to go nationwide on public television after it debuts on July 6. Read More