New Hours for Red Bank Public Library in June

RED BANK, NJ – Library users will enjoy spending more time at the Red Bank Public Library beginning in June.  Additional hours Tuesday and Thursday afternoons will allow more public access to library materials, computers, Wi-Fi, and other services.  Weekly hours starting June 2, 2014, will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. This increase in hours is part of the Library’s Board of Trustees’ multi-phase plan to return library hours and services to previous levels provided to the community.

The first bonus to come with the new hours is an extra weekly children’s Storytime every Thursday at 1:30 p.m. The Avice Noblett Children’s Room will offer this free drop-in Storytime for young children with a caregiver in addition to the Storytime held at 10:30 a.m. every Tuesday.   Join Children’s Services Coordinator Sira Williams for some quick stories, musical activities, and a craft. 

Children are also invited to enjoy an array of summer activities based on the “Fizz, Boom, READ!” Summer Reading Program with a science theme.Every summer the American Library Association’s division of Library Service to Children sponsors a program of summer reading, learning, and fun with a special theme.  This year’s  “Fizz, Boom, READ!” program at the Red Bank Public Library begins on Monday, June 16, with registration starting Monday, June 9, for children ages 3 to 12.

Children ages 3 to 5 can take part in Pre-K Sci-Time featuring a science-themed short video, a snack, and related craft on Wednesdays, June 11, July 9, and August 13 at 1:30 p.m. This program is free and registration is required.

Children of all ages are invited to come to an Ice Cream Social to kick off the summer and celebrate the Summer Reading Program with a cool treat on Friday, June 27, at 3:00 p.m.  This program is free and no registration is required.    

Children 5 to 12 years old are invited to Movie Time! at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays June 26, July 24, and August 28.  Come settle down with a fun family movie with a touch of science and enjoy a snack. This program is free and registration is required.

The Summer Reading Program will run throughout the summer, with a grand Summer Reading Finale party on Friday, August 22, at 3:00 p.m.

For programs requiring registration, please visit or contact the Children’s Room at 732-842-0690 x115.

The Red Bank Public Library in partnership with Literacy Volunteers of Monmouth County will provide Conversational English classes for adults 18 and over from June 19 through August 21 on Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.   The classes are free and registration is not required. The classes, led by volunteers trained by Literacy Volunteers of Monmouth County, assist those whose native language is not English to learn the language in an informal, stress-free environment in which they can meet and practice speaking with others who are also learning English.  Free English as a Second Language classes for adults 18 and over are offered regularly at the Red Bank Public Library in partnership with the Literacy Volunteers of Monmouth County from September to June.  Please contact the Literacy Volunteers of Monmouth County at 732-571-0209 or visit their website at http://www.lvmonmouthnj.org for information on ESL classes, volunteer tutor training classes, and English conversation classes throughout Monmouth County.

Join the next meeting of the Artists’ Workshop for adults at the Red Bank Public Library on Thursday, June 5, 2014, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.  Artists seeking inspiration, motivation, and time to devote to their work are invited to attend the Artists’ Workshop for meetings on the first Thursday of each month.   Red Bank artist Joe Bergholm is our Artist-in-Residence and works with the artists as a group and individually, offering suggestions for subjects as well as guidance in principles of art such as color, composition, and the selection and use of materials.   The Artists’ Workshop is free and no registration is required.  Participants should bring their own drawing and painting materials, although oils are not permitted because of ventilation concerns. 

The Red Bank Public Library monthly adult book discussion group, Readin’ on the River, will meet on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Please contact the library for information on   the current off-site location.  Readin’ on the River will discuss Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro in June.

The Red Bank Public Library offers free weekly one-hour Yoga for Adults on Fridays from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.  Allison Sorokin teaches the class, which is appropriate to all levels of yoga experience.

Please bring your own yoga mat.  Registration is not required.  Participants attend on a first come, first served basis up to a total of twenty people.

The Board of Trustees of the Red Bank Public Library will meet on Thursday, June 19, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at the library.  These meetings are open to the public. 

The Red Bank Senior Center in cooperation with the Red Bank Public Library hosts a book discussion group on the last Monday of each month at the Senior Center at 1:00 p.m. except in December.  Red Bank Borough residents age 60 and over are welcome to join the Center and participate in this or any of its        

other great programs.

To find additional information on these and other free programs at the Red Bank Public

Library, visit us at the library and on the library’s website www.redbanklibrary.org, call the library at 732-842-0690, and check us out on Facebook.  You can also receive timely and helpful news, messages, and alerts

from the library and other Red Bank Borough departments by signing up at the Borough’s website www.redbanklibrary.org. The library is located at 84 West Front Street in Red Bank. 

New Hours for Red Bank Public Library in June

RED BANK, NJ – Library users will enjoy spending more time at the Red Bank Public Library beginning in June.  Additional hours Tuesday and Thursday afternoons will allow more public access to library materials, computers, Wi-Fi, and other services.  Weekly hours starting June 2, 2014, will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. This increase in hours is part of the Library’s Board of Trustees’ multi-phase plan to return library hours and services to previous levels provided to the community.

The first bonus to come with the new hours is an extra weekly children’s Storytime every Thursday at 1:30 p.m. The Avice Noblett Children’s Room will offer this free drop-in Storytime for young children with a caregiver in addition to the Storytime held at 10:30 a.m. every Tuesday.   Join Children’s Services Coordinator Sira Williams for some quick stories, musical activities, and a craft. 

Children are also invited to enjoy an array of summer activities based on the “Fizz, Boom, READ!” Summer Reading Program with a science theme.Every summer the American Library Association’s division of Library Service to Children sponsors a program of summer reading, learning, and fun with a special theme.  This year’s  “Fizz, Boom, READ!” program at the Red Bank Public Library begins on Monday, June 16, with registration starting Monday, June 9, for children ages 3 to 12.

Children ages 3 to 5 can take part in Pre-K Sci-Time featuring a science-themed short video, a snack, and related craft on Wednesdays, June 11, July 9, and August 13 at 1:30 p.m. This program is free and registration is required.

Children of all ages are invited to come to an Ice Cream Social to kick off the summer and celebrate the Summer Reading Program with a cool treat on Friday, June 27, at 3:00 p.m.  This program is free and no registration is required.    

Children 5 to 12 years old are invited to Movie Time! at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays June 26, July 24, and August 28.  Come settle down with a fun family movie with a touch of science and enjoy a snack. This program is free and registration is required.

The Summer Reading Program will run throughout the summer, with a grand Summer Reading Finale party on Friday, August 22, at 3:00 p.m.

For programs requiring registration, please visit or contact the Children’s Room at 732-842-0690 x115.

The Red Bank Public Library in partnership with Literacy Volunteers of Monmouth County will provide Conversational English classes for adults 18 and over from June 19 through August 21 on Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.   The classes are free and registration is not required. The classes, led by volunteers trained by Literacy Volunteers of Monmouth County, assist those whose native language is not English to learn the language in an informal, stress-free environment in which they can meet and practice speaking with others who are also learning English.  Free English as a Second Language classes for adults 18 and over are offered regularly at the Red Bank Public Library in partnership with the Literacy Volunteers of Monmouth County from September to June.  Please contact the Literacy Volunteers of Monmouth County at 732-571-0209 or visit their website at http://www.lvmonmouthnj.org for information on ESL classes, volunteer tutor training classes, and English conversation classes throughout Monmouth County.

Join the next meeting of the Artists’ Workshop for adults at the Red Bank Public Library on Thursday, June 5, 2014, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.  Artists seeking inspiration, motivation, and time to devote to their work are invited to attend the Artists’ Workshop for meetings on the first Thursday of each month.   Red Bank artist Joe Bergholm is our Artist-in-Residence and works with the artists as a group and individually, offering suggestions for subjects as well as guidance in principles of art such as color, composition, and the selection and use of materials.   The Artists’ Workshop is free and no registration is required.  Participants should bring their own drawing and painting materials, although oils are not permitted because of ventilation concerns. 

The Red Bank Public Library monthly adult book discussion group, Readin’ on the River, will meet on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Please contact the library for information on   the current off-site location.  Readin’ on the River will discuss Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro in June.

The Red Bank Public Library offers free weekly one-hour Yoga for Adults on Fridays from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.  Allison Sorokin teaches the class, which is appropriate to all levels of yoga experience.

Please bring your own yoga mat.  Registration is not required.  Participants attend on a first come, first served basis up to a total of twenty people.

The Board of Trustees of the Red Bank Public Library will meet on Thursday, June 19, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at the library.  These meetings are open to the public. 

The Red Bank Senior Center in cooperation with the Red Bank Public Library hosts a book discussion group on the last Monday of each month at the Senior Center at 1:00 p.m. except in December.  Red Bank Borough residents age 60 and over are welcome to join the Center and participate in this or any of its        

other great programs.

To find additional information on these and other free programs at the Red Bank Public

Library, visit us at the library and on the library’s website www.redbanklibrary.org, call the library at 732-842-0690, and check us out on Facebook.  You can also receive timely and helpful news, messages, and alerts

from the library and other Red Bank Borough departments by signing up at the Borough’s website www.redbanklibrary.org. The library is located at 84 West Front Street in Red Bank. 

Caregiver Grieves Mother Lost to MS

danvance 120The National Institutes of Health defines multiple sclerosis (MS) as “an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. It can range from relatively benign to somewhat disability to devastating, as communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted.” Most people with MS have muscle weakness in their extremities, and balance and coordination difficulties. Half of all people affected ultimately have cognitive impairments.

In 2011, Jeff Gallatin of North Olmsted, Ohio, began the process of grieving after the passing of his 72-year-old mother Carol, who had chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. Carol had been a choir director, a hospice “clown” for children, a storytelling guild president, a Northwestern University marketing graduate, and the community affairs director for a division of Rockwell International in Cleveland.

“It’s still an emotional subject for me,” said Gallatin, an Ohio newspaper associate editor, of discussing his mother’s death. “My mom had polio as a kid, but had always been able to overcome (her physical difficulties). In the mid- to late- ’90s, little physical challenges began cropping up with her. She went from using a cane to a walker to a manual wheelchair. In 2001, I moved in with her.”

Doctors apparently had trouble diagnosing her, maybe because MS usually first affects people between the ages of 20-40. One day about two months after Jeff moved in, Carol couldn’t get out of her rocking chair, which moved a friend to suggest more tests that finally yielded a diagnosis.

“Then they said my mother would never get out of the nursing home (because of MS),” said Gallatin. “But they didn’t know my mother.” After 18 months there, Carol moved back in with Jeff until her passing in 2011. At the end, she had paralyzed legs.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of being his mother’s caregiver ten years was in having to watch her use a wheelchair. She had been such a proud, professional woman, who had raised two children on her own as a divorcee.

As for advice to other caregivers of parents, he said, “Be sure to talk and communicate with (the parent). For example, our Saturday morning was sacred to us. We’d talk and catch up. She was a wonderful sounding board.”

Gallatin said he wasn’t a perfect caregiver. What helped him a lot was having good bosses, who allowed him to occasionally leave work to help out his mother.

Contact: danieljvance.com [Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod and Palmer Bus Service.]

Caregiver Grieves Mother Lost to MS

danvance 120The National Institutes of Health defines multiple sclerosis (MS) as “an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. It can range from relatively benign to somewhat disability to devastating, as communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted.” Most people with MS have muscle weakness in their extremities, and balance and coordination difficulties. Half of all people affected ultimately have cognitive impairments.

In 2011, Jeff Gallatin of North Olmsted, Ohio, began the process of grieving after the passing of his 72-year-old mother Carol, who had chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. Carol had been a choir director, a hospice “clown” for children, a storytelling guild president, a Northwestern University marketing graduate, and the community affairs director for a division of Rockwell International in Cleveland.

“It’s still an emotional subject for me,” said Gallatin, an Ohio newspaper associate editor, of discussing his mother’s death. “My mom had polio as a kid, but had always been able to overcome (her physical difficulties). In the mid- to late- ’90s, little physical challenges began cropping up with her. She went from using a cane to a walker to a manual wheelchair. In 2001, I moved in with her.”

Doctors apparently had trouble diagnosing her, maybe because MS usually first affects people between the ages of 20-40. One day about two months after Jeff moved in, Carol couldn’t get out of her rocking chair, which moved a friend to suggest more tests that finally yielded a diagnosis.

“Then they said my mother would never get out of the nursing home (because of MS),” said Gallatin. “But they didn’t know my mother.” After 18 months there, Carol moved back in with Jeff until her passing in 2011. At the end, she had paralyzed legs.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of being his mother’s caregiver ten years was in having to watch her use a wheelchair. She had been such a proud, professional woman, who had raised two children on her own as a divorcee.

As for advice to other caregivers of parents, he said, “Be sure to talk and communicate with (the parent). For example, our Saturday morning was sacred to us. We’d talk and catch up. She was a wonderful sounding board.”

Gallatin said he wasn’t a perfect caregiver. What helped him a lot was having good bosses, who allowed him to occasionally leave work to help out his mother.

Contact: danieljvance.com [Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod and Palmer Bus Service.]

AH Shade Tree Commission Honors MTRS Students

ah shade mtrs winners 2014Shade Tree Commission Chairman Louise I. Donoghue poses with Mother Teresa Regional School fifth-grade poster contest honorees (from left) Alicia Flanagan, Molly Connelly and Mark Marullo. Photo credit: Peter E. Donoghue

          ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS — Twelve Mother Teresa Regional School students have been honored by the borough Shade Tree Commission for their participation in the annual Arbor Day tree poster contest.
         Earlier, 18 Atlantic Highlands Elementary School students were cited by commission chairman Louise I. Donoghue during an awards assembly. The first-place winning posters, four from Mother Teresa and six from the public school, are on display in the windows of attorney Henry Wolff, 79 First Ave.
        Each of the 30 recognized pupils received gift certificates from Barnes & Noble and notice that a tree will be planted in their honor in a national forest. The theme of the poster contest was “Trees Are Our Friends.”
        At Mother Teresa, third graders honored were Angellina Koeniz, first place; Ellie Conover, seconf place, and Jeanna Hennessey, honorable mention.

        Mother Teresa fourth graders recognized were Grace McKinney, first; Paige Larson, second, and Orianna Nolan, honorable mention.

        Fifth graders at the parochial school honored were Molly Connelly, first place; Alicia Flanagan, second place, and Mark Marullo, honorable mention.

        Mother Teresa sixth graders recognized were Ava Iannaci, first; Robert O’Keefe, second, and Page Smith, honorable mention.

        At Atlantic Highlands Elementary School, first graders honored were Adrianna Laborante, first place; Siofra King, second place, and Shealyn Higgins, honorable mention. Second graders recognized were Charlotte Young, first; Grace Schutzenhofer, second, and Layla Wasserman, honorable mention.

        Prize-winning third graders were Emily Rogers, first; Eddie Payne, second, and Kalelle Marrucca, honorable mention. Fourth graders honored were Maeve Sherlock, first place; Bailey Tucker, second place, and Clay Kline, honorable mention.

        Prize-winning fifth graders were Shannon Forbes, first; Ricardo Santuiste, second, and Genevieve Keelen, honorable mention. Sixth grade honorees were Ralph D’Antonio, first; Corina Vidal, second, and Sean Haupt, honorable mention.

        The poster contests mark the finale of the borough’s Arbor Day observances and included the planting of two trees honoring the borough’s first responders at the municipal yacht harbor and a tree-related educational program for children at the public library.
        Also, the commission distributed 200 pine tree tublings to local youngsters.
        Mrs. Donoghue also has announced that the borough has been named a “Tree City USA” for the 33rd straight year in honor of its commitment to community forestry. The national recognition was accorded by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the U.S. Forest Service.

AH Shade Tree Commission Honors MTRS Students

ah shade mtrs winners 2014Shade Tree Commission Chairman Louise I. Donoghue poses with Mother Teresa Regional School fifth-grade poster contest honorees (from left) Alicia Flanagan, Molly Connelly and Mark Marullo. Photo credit: Peter E. Donoghue

          ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS — Twelve Mother Teresa Regional School students have been honored by the borough Shade Tree Commission for their participation in the annual Arbor Day tree poster contest.
         Earlier, 18 Atlantic Highlands Elementary School students were cited by commission chairman Louise I. Donoghue during an awards assembly. The first-place winning posters, four from Mother Teresa and six from the public school, are on display in the windows of attorney Henry Wolff, 79 First Ave.
        Each of the 30 recognized pupils received gift certificates from Barnes & Noble and notice that a tree will be planted in their honor in a national forest. The theme of the poster contest was “Trees Are Our Friends.”
        At Mother Teresa, third graders honored were Angellina Koeniz, first place; Ellie Conover, seconf place, and Jeanna Hennessey, honorable mention.

        Mother Teresa fourth graders recognized were Grace McKinney, first; Paige Larson, second, and Orianna Nolan, honorable mention.

        Fifth graders at the parochial school honored were Molly Connelly, first place; Alicia Flanagan, second place, and Mark Marullo, honorable mention.

        Mother Teresa sixth graders recognized were Ava Iannaci, first; Robert O’Keefe, second, and Page Smith, honorable mention.

        At Atlantic Highlands Elementary School, first graders honored were Adrianna Laborante, first place; Siofra King, second place, and Shealyn Higgins, honorable mention. Second graders recognized were Charlotte Young, first; Grace Schutzenhofer, second, and Layla Wasserman, honorable mention.

        Prize-winning third graders were Emily Rogers, first; Eddie Payne, second, and Kalelle Marrucca, honorable mention. Fourth graders honored were Maeve Sherlock, first place; Bailey Tucker, second place, and Clay Kline, honorable mention.

        Prize-winning fifth graders were Shannon Forbes, first; Ricardo Santuiste, second, and Genevieve Keelen, honorable mention. Sixth grade honorees were Ralph D’Antonio, first; Corina Vidal, second, and Sean Haupt, honorable mention.

        The poster contests mark the finale of the borough’s Arbor Day observances and included the planting of two trees honoring the borough’s first responders at the municipal yacht harbor and a tree-related educational program for children at the public library.
        Also, the commission distributed 200 pine tree tublings to local youngsters.
        Mrs. Donoghue also has announced that the borough has been named a “Tree City USA” for the 33rd straight year in honor of its commitment to community forestry. The national recognition was accorded by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the U.S. Forest Service.

Is This Serious Government?

woody zimmerman 118 2007During early days of the New York Mets, with incompetence reigning everywhere, Casey Stengel famously cried out in frustration, “Can’t anyone here play this game?” In 1962 – their first year in the National League – the Mets were the worst team in major league history, compiling a record of 42 wins and 120 losses. They were so bad that some of their players, like “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry, actually became beloved icons of ineptitude for their New York fans.

In one of the old M.A.S.H. TV episodes, Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce character delivered the famous line: “…no war is a movie.” Just so, no presidency is a baseball team. We could laugh at the ’62 Mets and their bumbling antics because nothing was riding on their play in the field – except possibly a little money. Despite various mishaps and catastrophes on the diamond, no one died. Each player went home, put his feet up, drank a cold beer, and dreamed of better days. (In the Mets’ case, those better days eventually came round when they won the 1969 and 1986 World Series.)

But none of this applies to presidencies. What goes on (or not) in a president’s administration can have considerable influence on millions of people across the country, as well as the wider world. Their livelihoods and health – indeed, their very lives – can be directly affected by policies, decisions and governance of a president and his executive branch employees. Unlike in baseball – where even the greatest hitters fail six out of every ten times at bat – there is no room for failure in the administration of government. Errors and malfeasance can be far-reaching and often uncorrectable.

In previous articles I have pointed out that President Barack Obama came seemingly out of nowhere to capture the imagination of the American people with his poise and his eloquence, as he swept triumphantly into office a mere four years after bursting onto the national scene. So bedazzled were the media by Mr. Obama’s persona and oratorical gifts that they omitted a serious look into his origins and experience. Concerns about his lack of executive and foreign-policy experience were brushed aside as media hounds, who should have been asking the tough questions and digging into the candidate’s past, dropped their notebooks and rushed after the One they thought was a new Messiah.

I am not the first to observe that talking about governing is a lot easier than actually governing. Mr. Obama was allowed to get away with that, and some reporters and journalists of long experience now seem surprised to find that this elementary truth has real meaning. Nearly six years into Mr. Obama’s tenure, it is finally starting to dawn on reporters, politicians (including some of his own party), and a majority of voters that the president and his administration are in far over their heads in most aspects of governance. (Where is Casey Stengel to yell his famous question when you really need him?) A summary of my view of the Obama presidency follows.

Administration. Since Mr. Obama took office, one scandal after another has been revealed in the running of existing departments and agencies. One of these was Fast and Furious, the gun-running fiasco where the FBI put weapons in the hands of drug cartels and then lost track of them. Some of those weapons later turned up in an ambush that killed a federal border agent. Attorney General Eric Holder claimed no knowledge of the bungled operation, but e-mails later belied that claim. The House of Representatives has cited him for Contempt for his failure to supply requested documents.

Major scandals have also engulfed the Internal Revenue Service, National Security Agency, and Veterans Administration. The IRS was found to be delaying and even denying applications for tax-exempt status from organizations with conservative/tea-party orientations. Many such organizations received extra scrutiny of donor lists and individual tax returns. A special House committee is now being formed to assign responsibility for this corrupt conduct. The NSA was found to be collecting telephone data on USA citizens – possibly in violation of federal laws. And in recent weeks witnesses have come forward to disclose that some veterans have been waiting as much as 115 days for medical treatment in VA hospitals, while employees have falsified records to conceal the lengthy waits. As many as 40 sick and injured veterans have died while waiting for treatment.

Although burdened by all this scandal and inefficiency, the Obama administration still lobbied for (and obtained) passage of the massive Affordable Health Care Act – a.k.a. Obamacare. Its rollout and implementation have been complete disasters. Moreover, just as media attention on the bungled AHCA opening was fading, the VA mess piled on to remind voters that the federal government’s  ineptitude at running the VA is likely to presage an evil future for Obamacare. Voters now know that the government cannot run health care systems efficiently.

Foreign Policy. Reversals in Syria, Egypt, Iran, Libya and Ukraine/Russia – fulsome details of which cannot be rehearsed in this limited space – represent a complete collapse of United States foreign policy. Upon taking office, Mr. Obama ran round the world assuring both friends and adversaries that he would “reset” our relationships to demonstrate a less aggressive (kinder and gentler) USA. He declared a willingness to talk with anyone, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize for doing no more than talking about talking. At the time, no one seemed to notice that diplomacy is not (as he insisted) a new idea that had not been tried, but an old (old!) idea that has been repeatedly tried and found wanting.

Far too late, reporters and voters are learning that Mr. Obama’s hesitancy and indecisiveness have exposed our weakness to the world. No longer a superpower whose word projects influence and strength, we are now pushed around by countries that once took the mere suggestions of our leaders as virtual commands. The signs are everywhere. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton made a great show of traveling to many countries, but she could not stop or even respond to an Al Qaeda attack that destroyed our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, killing our ambassador and three other embassy staff. She tried to obscure Al Qaeda’s involvement with a story about a crack-brained internet video causing a Benghazi “Street” riot that morphed into the embassy attack, but that tale was quickly debunked.

Mr. Obama could not stop the Syrian dictator, Assad, from using chemical weapons on his own people. Russian President Putin helped Mr. Obama save face on the issue by offering to broker removal of the weapons. Mr. Putin later annexed the Crimean section of Ukraine in the complete confidence that we would not stop him. (He was right!) In Nigeria, Islamic extremists have kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls, with the intention of sending them into sexual slavery. Mrs. Obama sends tweets, scolding the terrorists and telling them to behave. In Sudan, an American woman will be whipped and hanged for refusing to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam. Mr. Obama has not spoken out on her case, and we seem powerless to halt the imposition of this savage sentence. An American Marine sits in a Mexican prison because he made a wrong turn and drove into Mexico. He is charged with weapons violations because he had several (legal) firearms in his truck. Despite our ability to exert decisive pressure on Mexico, we have done nothing to obtain this man’s release. It is pathetic.

Domestic Policy and Economics. Mr. Obama’s domestic and economic policies are a disaster – even in the judgment of many of his political allies. He has shown a complete disinclination to compromise and work across the political aisle, even when it would help his administration’s success (and his approval ratings). Eschewing any political deals, except on his own terms, Mr. Obama has instead relied on executive orders and agency regulations to impose an unpopular agenda on the country. The EPA’s ruinous environmental regulations will destroy the coal industry and send electricity rates soaring – thus harming the ordinary people he often cites as his greatest concern. His stubborn refusal to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project has pleased his environmentalist supporters, but has put him at odds with labor unions whose members would realize thousands of good-paying jobs from the pipeline’s construction and the flow of the oil to US refineries and ports.

Mr. Obama has been doctrinaire and unmoving on tax rates – particularly business income tax rates, which rank are the world’s highest. As a result, the US economy has performed at an anemic pace – actually shrinking by 0.1% during the first quarter of 2014. Even the Red Chinese are growing faster than we are, having adopted tax rates more advantageous to business than ours.

Obamacare looms over the country like an ominous thundercloud. Its full effects – cleverly delayed until after the November elections by Mr. Obama, via questionable executive decrees – threaten to engulf the country in a torrent of financial and medical ruin. Democratic politicians running for election this year are fleeing from the program in terror, hoping voters won’t remember that they supported and/or voted for it. No one wants to be seen on the campaign trail with the president. Republicans can be counted on to remind voters that their local Motor Vehicle Bureau is government’s performance model for health care service.

The Trivia President. Devoid of achievement or competence in areas of real consequence, Mr. Obama has turned to highly publicized media events like the Concussion Summit of recent days – convened to address the incidence of concussions among players of amateur and professional sports. Mr. Obama made a big deal of identifying with young athletes by relating how he probably suffered concussions when he played football as a young lad. Once again, it was all about him – although even his media acolytes gave the horse-laugh to his claims of playing football and having a “ringing in my head…” (Some wondered if that ringing was still going on.)

Elsewhere across the fruited plain, Mr. Obama has dispatched his wife to drop the hammer on school lunches by banning the potato, sugared soft-drinks, sweets, and anything else that kids might actually want to eat. School administrators are complaining that the new “healthy” lunches are going into garbage cans instead of kids’ tummies. The resulting uproar is seen as a political success, however, as it has drowned out any media coverage of the numerous failures of the Obama administration. This week I heard a radio talk-host say, “This is not serious governing…” It’s hard to disagree.

As the November elections approach, look for renewed emphases from Mr. Obama on free contraceptives, income inequality, gay marriage, bullying in schools, and a blitzkrieg to force the Washington Redskins to abandon their “racist” nickname. (Local wags have suggested changing the team’s name to simply “The Redskins,” since many find the name Washington extremely offensive…)

To quote Yakob Smirnoff: “What a country!”

Is This Serious Government?

woody zimmerman 118 2007During early days of the New York Mets, with incompetence reigning everywhere, Casey Stengel famously cried out in frustration, “Can’t anyone here play this game?” In 1962 – their first year in the National League – the Mets were the worst team in major league history, compiling a record of 42 wins and 120 losses. They were so bad that some of their players, like “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry, actually became beloved icons of ineptitude for their New York fans.

In one of the old M.A.S.H. TV episodes, Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce character delivered the famous line: “…no war is a movie.” Just so, no presidency is a baseball team. We could laugh at the ’62 Mets and their bumbling antics because nothing was riding on their play in the field – except possibly a little money. Despite various mishaps and catastrophes on the diamond, no one died. Each player went home, put his feet up, drank a cold beer, and dreamed of better days. (In the Mets’ case, those better days eventually came round when they won the 1969 and 1986 World Series.)

But none of this applies to presidencies. What goes on (or not) in a president’s administration can have considerable influence on millions of people across the country, as well as the wider world. Their livelihoods and health – indeed, their very lives – can be directly affected by policies, decisions and governance of a president and his executive branch employees. Unlike in baseball – where even the greatest hitters fail six out of every ten times at bat – there is no room for failure in the administration of government. Errors and malfeasance can be far-reaching and often uncorrectable.

In previous articles I have pointed out that President Barack Obama came seemingly out of nowhere to capture the imagination of the American people with his poise and his eloquence, as he swept triumphantly into office a mere four years after bursting onto the national scene. So bedazzled were the media by Mr. Obama’s persona and oratorical gifts that they omitted a serious look into his origins and experience. Concerns about his lack of executive and foreign-policy experience were brushed aside as media hounds, who should have been asking the tough questions and digging into the candidate’s past, dropped their notebooks and rushed after the One they thought was a new Messiah.

I am not the first to observe that talking about governing is a lot easier than actually governing. Mr. Obama was allowed to get away with that, and some reporters and journalists of long experience now seem surprised to find that this elementary truth has real meaning. Nearly six years into Mr. Obama’s tenure, it is finally starting to dawn on reporters, politicians (including some of his own party), and a majority of voters that the president and his administration are in far over their heads in most aspects of governance. (Where is Casey Stengel to yell his famous question when you really need him?) A summary of my view of the Obama presidency follows.

Administration. Since Mr. Obama took office, one scandal after another has been revealed in the running of existing departments and agencies. One of these was Fast and Furious, the gun-running fiasco where the FBI put weapons in the hands of drug cartels and then lost track of them. Some of those weapons later turned up in an ambush that killed a federal border agent. Attorney General Eric Holder claimed no knowledge of the bungled operation, but e-mails later belied that claim. The House of Representatives has cited him for Contempt for his failure to supply requested documents.

Major scandals have also engulfed the Internal Revenue Service, National Security Agency, and Veterans Administration. The IRS was found to be delaying and even denying applications for tax-exempt status from organizations with conservative/tea-party orientations. Many such organizations received extra scrutiny of donor lists and individual tax returns. A special House committee is now being formed to assign responsibility for this corrupt conduct. The NSA was found to be collecting telephone data on USA citizens – possibly in violation of federal laws. And in recent weeks witnesses have come forward to disclose that some veterans have been waiting as much as 115 days for medical treatment in VA hospitals, while employees have falsified records to conceal the lengthy waits. As many as 40 sick and injured veterans have died while waiting for treatment.

Although burdened by all this scandal and inefficiency, the Obama administration still lobbied for (and obtained) passage of the massive Affordable Health Care Act – a.k.a. Obamacare. Its rollout and implementation have been complete disasters. Moreover, just as media attention on the bungled AHCA opening was fading, the VA mess piled on to remind voters that the federal government’s  ineptitude at running the VA is likely to presage an evil future for Obamacare. Voters now know that the government cannot run health care systems efficiently.

Foreign Policy. Reversals in Syria, Egypt, Iran, Libya and Ukraine/Russia – fulsome details of which cannot be rehearsed in this limited space – represent a complete collapse of United States foreign policy. Upon taking office, Mr. Obama ran round the world assuring both friends and adversaries that he would “reset” our relationships to demonstrate a less aggressive (kinder and gentler) USA. He declared a willingness to talk with anyone, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize for doing no more than talking about talking. At the time, no one seemed to notice that diplomacy is not (as he insisted) a new idea that had not been tried, but an old (old!) idea that has been repeatedly tried and found wanting.

Far too late, reporters and voters are learning that Mr. Obama’s hesitancy and indecisiveness have exposed our weakness to the world. No longer a superpower whose word projects influence and strength, we are now pushed around by countries that once took the mere suggestions of our leaders as virtual commands. The signs are everywhere. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton made a great show of traveling to many countries, but she could not stop or even respond to an Al Qaeda attack that destroyed our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, killing our ambassador and three other embassy staff. She tried to obscure Al Qaeda’s involvement with a story about a crack-brained internet video causing a Benghazi “Street” riot that morphed into the embassy attack, but that tale was quickly debunked.

Mr. Obama could not stop the Syrian dictator, Assad, from using chemical weapons on his own people. Russian President Putin helped Mr. Obama save face on the issue by offering to broker removal of the weapons. Mr. Putin later annexed the Crimean section of Ukraine in the complete confidence that we would not stop him. (He was right!) In Nigeria, Islamic extremists have kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls, with the intention of sending them into sexual slavery. Mrs. Obama sends tweets, scolding the terrorists and telling them to behave. In Sudan, an American woman will be whipped and hanged for refusing to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam. Mr. Obama has not spoken out on her case, and we seem powerless to halt the imposition of this savage sentence. An American Marine sits in a Mexican prison because he made a wrong turn and drove into Mexico. He is charged with weapons violations because he had several (legal) firearms in his truck. Despite our ability to exert decisive pressure on Mexico, we have done nothing to obtain this man’s release. It is pathetic.

Domestic Policy and Economics. Mr. Obama’s domestic and economic policies are a disaster – even in the judgment of many of his political allies. He has shown a complete disinclination to compromise and work across the political aisle, even when it would help his administration’s success (and his approval ratings). Eschewing any political deals, except on his own terms, Mr. Obama has instead relied on executive orders and agency regulations to impose an unpopular agenda on the country. The EPA’s ruinous environmental regulations will destroy the coal industry and send electricity rates soaring – thus harming the ordinary people he often cites as his greatest concern. His stubborn refusal to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project has pleased his environmentalist supporters, but has put him at odds with labor unions whose members would realize thousands of good-paying jobs from the pipeline’s construction and the flow of the oil to US refineries and ports.

Mr. Obama has been doctrinaire and unmoving on tax rates – particularly business income tax rates, which rank are the world’s highest. As a result, the US economy has performed at an anemic pace – actually shrinking by 0.1% during the first quarter of 2014. Even the Red Chinese are growing faster than we are, having adopted tax rates more advantageous to business than ours.

Obamacare looms over the country like an ominous thundercloud. Its full effects – cleverly delayed until after the November elections by Mr. Obama, via questionable executive decrees – threaten to engulf the country in a torrent of financial and medical ruin. Democratic politicians running for election this year are fleeing from the program in terror, hoping voters won’t remember that they supported and/or voted for it. No one wants to be seen on the campaign trail with the president. Republicans can be counted on to remind voters that their local Motor Vehicle Bureau is government’s performance model for health care service.

The Trivia President. Devoid of achievement or competence in areas of real consequence, Mr. Obama has turned to highly publicized media events like the Concussion Summit of recent days – convened to address the incidence of concussions among players of amateur and professional sports. Mr. Obama made a big deal of identifying with young athletes by relating how he probably suffered concussions when he played football as a young lad. Once again, it was all about him – although even his media acolytes gave the horse-laugh to his claims of playing football and having a “ringing in my head…” (Some wondered if that ringing was still going on.)

Elsewhere across the fruited plain, Mr. Obama has dispatched his wife to drop the hammer on school lunches by banning the potato, sugared soft-drinks, sweets, and anything else that kids might actually want to eat. School administrators are complaining that the new “healthy” lunches are going into garbage cans instead of kids’ tummies. The resulting uproar is seen as a political success, however, as it has drowned out any media coverage of the numerous failures of the Obama administration. This week I heard a radio talk-host say, “This is not serious governing…” It’s hard to disagree.

As the November elections approach, look for renewed emphases from Mr. Obama on free contraceptives, income inequality, gay marriage, bullying in schools, and a blitzkrieg to force the Washington Redskins to abandon their “racist” nickname. (Local wags have suggested changing the team’s name to simply “The Redskins,” since many find the name Washington extremely offensive…)

To quote Yakob Smirnoff: “What a country!”

Fish Kill is Wake Up Call on Health of Shark River

            On May 12, 2014, a massive fish kill began in the Shark River.  Over the next 10 days, 310 tons of fish would die and wash ashore.  According to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the cause of the fish kill was due to a large number of bait fish entering the river to seek refuge from bluefish and bass.  The concentration of fish, coupled with warm and shallow waters, depleted the dissolved oxygen levels, resulting in the die-off.  Despite that this event appeared to be a naturally occurring phenomenon, the die-off was a wake-up call that we should not take the health of the River for granted.  While a number of factors working together may have contributed to the event, there are some people that believe this devastating ecological event could have been avoided with preventative maintenance, or more specifically, the long-overdue dredging of the Shark River. 

            I have been an ardent champion of dredging the Shark River for many years.  It was during my 8-year tenure as Mayor of Neptune City that I became involved in the movement to remove the accumulated sediment from the River.  I found the need to open the navigable channels and relieve the waterways from years of sediment build-up to be exceedingly important, as the benefits would have profound impacts on the regional economy, Jersey Shore tourism, and, of course, to the overall health of this dynamic ecosystem. 

            Moreover, I have witnessed overwhelming support for this dredging project and have worked with numerous interested and invested parties.  Together, we have made considerable progress towards seeing this project through to fruition, unfortunately, finding a suitable dredge spoil site seems to be the current roadblock.  However, as a Monmouth County Freeholder, I pledge my unwavering support of this project and commitment to finding a suitable resolve to accommodate the dredge spoils.

            I would like to thank all those who assisted in the fish kill clean-up efforts.  Unofficial reports approximate 1,500 workers from 17 various agencies participated.  The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Office of Emergency Management, and Department of Public Works & Engineering worked in coordination with NJDEP and municipal officials from the six impacted municipalities of Avon-by-the-Sea, Belmar, Neptune Township, Neptune City, Spring Lake and Wall Township.  I would like to extend a personal thank you to Senator Jennifer Beck for her support and would also like to thank the NJ Department of Corrections for their participation and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission and Lake Hopatcong Commission for providing equipment that assisted in the clean-up.

            It is with great appreciation I commend all those who continuously volunteer or work towards protecting this valuable water resource.

  • Thomas A. Arnone, FreeholderMonmouthCounty Board of Chosen Freeholders

Fish Kill is Wake Up Call on Health of Shark River

            On May 12, 2014, a massive fish kill began in the Shark River.  Over the next 10 days, 310 tons of fish would die and wash ashore.  According to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the cause of the fish kill was due to a large number of bait fish entering the river to seek refuge from bluefish and bass.  The concentration of fish, coupled with warm and shallow waters, depleted the dissolved oxygen levels, resulting in the die-off.  Despite that this event appeared to be a naturally occurring phenomenon, the die-off was a wake-up call that we should not take the health of the River for granted.  While a number of factors working together may have contributed to the event, there are some people that believe this devastating ecological event could have been avoided with preventative maintenance, or more specifically, the long-overdue dredging of the Shark River. 

            I have been an ardent champion of dredging the Shark River for many years.  It was during my 8-year tenure as Mayor of Neptune City that I became involved in the movement to remove the accumulated sediment from the River.  I found the need to open the navigable channels and relieve the waterways from years of sediment build-up to be exceedingly important, as the benefits would have profound impacts on the regional economy, Jersey Shore tourism, and, of course, to the overall health of this dynamic ecosystem. 

            Moreover, I have witnessed overwhelming support for this dredging project and have worked with numerous interested and invested parties.  Together, we have made considerable progress towards seeing this project through to fruition, unfortunately, finding a suitable dredge spoil site seems to be the current roadblock.  However, as a Monmouth County Freeholder, I pledge my unwavering support of this project and commitment to finding a suitable resolve to accommodate the dredge spoils.

            I would like to thank all those who assisted in the fish kill clean-up efforts.  Unofficial reports approximate 1,500 workers from 17 various agencies participated.  The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Office of Emergency Management, and Department of Public Works & Engineering worked in coordination with NJDEP and municipal officials from the six impacted municipalities of Avon-by-the-Sea, Belmar, Neptune Township, Neptune City, Spring Lake and Wall Township.  I would like to extend a personal thank you to Senator Jennifer Beck for her support and would also like to thank the NJ Department of Corrections for their participation and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission and Lake Hopatcong Commission for providing equipment that assisted in the clean-up.

            It is with great appreciation I commend all those who continuously volunteer or work towards protecting this valuable water resource.

  • Thomas A. Arnone, FreeholderMonmouthCounty Board of Chosen Freeholders