Green to represent Manalapan GOP for Twp. Committee

After a strong turnout by County Committee members, Butch Budai and Steve Johnson, who challenged and lost last years GOP Primary to Green and Garcia, realized that they wouldn’t gain nomination during Saturday’s Candidate selection and opted to drop out of the running, declaring full support for Ryan Green as the party’s nominee.

What appears to be, at least publicly, a unifying Manalapan Republican base (it remains to be seen if what is mentioned in public, is also what is mentioned in private), the GOP can and will, finally put all its focus and resources in the November election against incumbent Democrat and Mayor, Rich Klauber.

Though a fractured and mending party, there was  a unanimously high level of commitment to bring back Conservative, fiscal responsibility to the residents of Manalapan as a Green win will put the GOP back in charge of the governing body – something that Manalapan sorely needs.

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Schools chief’s diploma fair game at meeting

Questions to the school board, and to Wasser himself if he chooses to answer them, are fair game.

By ALAN GUENTHER • STAFF WRITER • APP . September 5, 2008

ENGLISHTOWN — Taxpayers will be free to ask questions Monday night about what the school board intends to do about thousands of tax dollars spent on school superintendent H. James Wasser’s discredited doctoral degree from a so-called diploma mill.

On Aug. 25, school board members were told they couldn’t publicly discuss Wasser’s degree because he had not formally been notified that the issue would arise at the meeting.

Now, Wasser has been legally notified, said school board attorney Lawrence Schwartz. Questions to the school board, and to Wasser himself if he chooses to answer them, are fair game during the public portion of Monday’s special meeting, Schwartz said.

On Thursday, the Asbury Park Press reported that the state Commission on Higher Education had ordered Wasser to stop using “Dr.” and “Ed.D.” with his name because his degree came from Breyer State University — an unaccredited school that has been kicked out of Alabama, Idaho and the African nation of Liberia.

Although the state commission ordered Wasser to stop using the advanced title by Sept. 21, the school’s official Web site still referred to him as “Dr. James Wasser” on Thursday evening.

Wasser and Board of Education President Patricia Horvath could not be reached for comment.

Wasser has the right to have the diploma-mill issue discussed in public, but he has chosen to meet privately with the school board two hours prior to the public meeting, in a closed executive session, Schwartz said.

After investigating the diploma matter, the state education department issued a report that suggested, but did not require, that high school administrators earn college degrees from reputable, accredited schools.

The education department investigated three Freehold Regional administrators — Wasser, Assistant Superintendent Donna Evangelista and recently retired Assistant Superintendent Frank Tanzini. The school district paid $10,750 in taxpayer money to Breyer State for the three discredited doctoral degrees.

The school board also gave raises — $2,500 each per year — to the administrators as rewards for their new degrees.

State Senate President Richard J. Codey has said the school board should ask for the money back.

Marlboro corruption suit tossed

Marlboro will not be compensated for damages it claimed it sustained because of corrupt developers and local public officials, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Joel Pisano dismissed a lawsuit in which township attorneys alleged Marlboro was hurt by bribery and other foul play between past officials and developers.

Pisano said the township’s complaint, filed in October, failed to name a specific “injury to its business or property” under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

“Marlboro has not pled any financial loss arising from defendants’ conduct,” Pisano ruled.

“Rather, Marlboro emphasizes that defendants’ conduct defrauded the township and its citizens, deprived it of its “intangible right to honest services’ of its employees, and caused a diminution of public confidence.

“These types of injuries do not affect any of Marl-boro’s financial interests in business or property,” Pisano said.

The defendants named in the lawsuit included former Mayor Matthew Scannapieco, Planning Board member Stanley Young, Municipal Utilities Chairman Richard Vuola and Western Monmouth Utilities Authority Executive Director Frank Abate.

Developers Anthony and Joseph Spalliero, who are father and son, Bernard and Steven Meiterman, who are brothers, and Edward Kay, a business partner, also were named.

“I think that it’s the right outcome,” said Vincent Manning, the attorney representing Kay, the Meitermans and several of their companies. “I don’t think that Marlboro Township’s attorney could have ever proven any damages or injury to Marlboro based on what they had alleged in the complaint.

“I think once they serve their time . . . they paid their debt, so to speak, and that should be the end of it,” Manning said of the Meitermans and Kay, adding that his clients are awaiting sentencing and are likely to serve jail time. “They look forward to having a peaceful relationship with Marlboro Township, especially the new mayor and the new administration.”

All of the public officials have either pleaded guilty or been convicted of accepting or passing bribes. All of the developers except Joseph Spalliero have pleaded guilty to bribing officials; he has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial.

The former officials allegedly accepted more than $300,000 in bribes from real estate developers between 1997 and 2004. The township asked to recoup at least the bribes, and also asked for the opportunity to recoup the officials’ salaries, according to court papers.

The impacts of the corruption included increased development, which, in turn, led to increased expenses for public services including roads, schools and police, argued former Mayor Robert Kleinberg, who led the charge to pursue the suit.

Scannapieco’s lawyer, Douglas J. Katich, who filed a motion to dismiss the case in February, said he was pleased with the decision. He added he hoped the ruling marked the end of litigation with the township.

“(The judgment) doesn’t prevent (Marlboro) from attempting to bring similar claims in state court to get a proverbial second bite at the apple,” Katich said. “I caution them to think hard about it because this time we will seek sanctions for prosecuting frivolous claims.”

Mayor Jonathan Hornik said he has been working with other litigants to dismiss lawsuits in the township as a cost-saving measure, but this was a case the township had been pursuing. He would not comment on his thoughts about the ruling or the merits of the complaint, which was filed before he took office in January.

The mayor also would not comment on whether the township will pursue the case further. He added the township’s counsel would only be paid if monies were awarded.

“I wasn’t looking to have (the lawsuit) dismissed,” Hornik said. “We’re going to take a careful look at the decision, and we will decide how to proceed accordingly.”

Monmouth County Freeholders – more luctrative consulting contracts, no trimming yet.

Monmouth County freeholders are on pace to equal or exceed last year’s spending on lucrative contracts given to consultants and other professionals.

READ THE POSTING HERE

Marlboro: Ex-mayor wants town to dismiss suit against him

Marlboro asserts damage done by bribed officials

A complaint filed by Marlboro Township in November asserts that the town was indeed damaged by the actions of four former public officials who accepted more than $300,000 in bribes from real estate developers between 1997 and 2004.

Marlboro claims that the corrupt activity by those officials resulted in increased development and a corresponding increase in the need for public services, such as roads and schools. As a result, the town would like to recoup damages of at least $300,000.

But one of those corrupt officials — former Mayor Matthew V. Scannapieco, who admitted accepting $245,000 in cash and awaits sentencing — contends that

ARTICLE MOVED TO HERE

Monmouth County: County to oust department head

Monmouth County government officials have decided to oust the head of the Shade Tree Department from the $78,000-per-year job when the position comes up for reappointment in two weeks — though Middletown resident Gary Lovallo said the department “made significant strides” in the two years he was superintendent.

READ THE REST HERE

To garner much needed Toll hike support from 2 Middlesex senators, Corzine switches route of MOM Rail Service. More politics at its best…

Ocean freeholders say Corzine did not play fair on MOM line

TOMS RIVER — Angry Ocean County freeholders said today Gov. Corzine put one over on them, appearing to promise $250 million in state aid to restore passenger rail service through Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties just days before he cut Middlesex out of the alignment.

“He wasn’t honest and I was not surprised. He was too careful with his words,” admitted Freeholder John P. Kelly, saying Corzine would not commit to spending the money on the MOM line when pressed at a meeting with county and local officials just prior to his Feb. 2 hearing on his plan to hike tolls 800 percent to end the state’s fiscal woes.

“It was hardball politics,” insisted Freeholder Gerry P. Little, explaining that any chance Corzine has of getting the Legislature to approve the increases on the state’s three toll roads depends on every Democratic vote.

Two state senators from Middlesex County are part of the shaky support for the toll package, Little said.

The passenger rail line is unpopular with officials in Middlesex, so Corzine switched to a route for the passenger service running to Red Bank, where commuters could connect with the North Jersey Coast Line to get to Newark and New York.

State officials said today that although what Corzine expressed was his personal preference Sunday, the Middlesex route will continue to be analyzed as one of the three in an environmental impact study because that’s required as part of the pro-cess to qualify for federal funding.

Ocean Freeholder James F. Lacey said it makes no sense to send travelers “north to go south” on passenger trains, insisting the MOM alignment connects with the main line running north and south.

“He’s in a terrible situation,” Lacey said, referring to Corzine, but added that all the studies done on the rail link’s three possible routes and a recent public opinion poll support the MOM alignment.

Kelly complained that the state will not invest in roads in the county, refusing to dualize Route 9, forcing people to use the Garden State Parkway, where tolls will soon soar.

“I don’t know what happened in a week,” said Lacey of the shift in Corzine’s perceived support for the MOM line.