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MENNA GIVES HOV EXEC ‘KABOOM’ HOTSEAT

Mayor Pasquale Menna has picked an executive at Red Bank-based Hovnanian Enterprises to chair the annual KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink committee.

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His pick: Peter Reinhart, a borough resident who’s senior vice president and general counsel at the publicly traded homebuilding company.

The company’s year-old headquarters is located at the river end of Maple Avenue, a primo fireworks-watching location. The grass amphitheater next to the building is the site of a big-ticket “Light Up the Night” catered party.

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FAIR HAVEN RETAILER INDICTED

William Neumann, the Fair Haven wicker-furniture dealer who was arrested in March for defrauding 83 customers out of $290,000, has been indicted, the Asbury Park Press reports.

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The indictment, handed up by a Monmouth County grand jury on Monday, reduced the number of alleged victims to 81.

Neumann, 61, who lives in the Leonardo section of Middletown, owns Cabbage Rose LLC, a furniture store in Fair Haven, and Chelsea Manor Unlimited, a company that sells furniture over the Internet, according to a news release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

From the story:

After authorities received numerous complaints, they launched an investigation and determined Neumann received more than $350,000 in payments from customers between January 2004 and January 2007, but failed to deliver merchandise or issue refunds to them, according to the news release.

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DEMS: BECK’S DRIVING RECORD ‘CRIMINAL’

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Another day, another mailboxful of slime.

Today’s delivery includes the same attack-and-counterattack voters (and, presumably, ex-voters) have gotten accustomed to in recent weeks. But one item in particular stands out not only from today’s load, but from much of what’s preceded it.

It’s a flier from the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. On the cover is what appears to be a mugshot of substance-abusing starlet Lindsay Lohan, looking as though she just went bobbing for apples in a piranha tank while stoned, and a headshot of Paris Hilton looking, well, not as bad.

The text: “GUESS WHO HAS THEM BOTH BEAT?”

Answer: Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck.

“Jennifer Beck: Her driving record is criminal,” it reads, just like that, with the word ‘criminal’ in bold.

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SEA BRIGHT RACE: CANDIDATES & ISSUES

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

At the top of the fight card in Sea Bright this year, Republican Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams faces a challenge from Democratic Councilwoman Maria Fernandes, a member of the governing body since 1997.

Kalaka-Adams was a political neophyte when she won election to her four-year term in 2003. Among the issues that she and Fernandes have disagreed upon recently were whether to purchase the oceanfront Donovan’s Reef property for the town and bulkhead regulation.

Republicans Brian Kelly and Peggy Bills are trying to keep their council seats against a challenge by Democrat Susana Markson, Fernandes’ only running mate and a member of the Recreation Committee. Markson won nearly a fourth of the vote in the 2004 election, when Bills also ran unsuccessfully (she was appointed to her three-year term in December, 2004, after Clark Craig resigned).

Here’s the candidate 411:

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SLEDGER: ‘GO WITH BECK’

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Though vastly outspent in her race with incumbent Ellen Karcher for the 12th-district state Senate seat, Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck today landed a major plum: the endorsement of the state’s largest newspaper.

The Star-Ledger, while noting that the race race “has deteriorated into an exchange of distorted facts used for personal attacks” by both candidates, says the Red Bank Republican is “passionate” while Karcher is has been a sponsor of “halfway” reform measures in her first term.

From the editorial:

On Tuesday, voters in the 12th District will confront a difficult choice. Our advice is to go with Beck.

In her time in the Legislature, Beck has shown herself to be a bright, articulate legislator who is passionate about representing the interests of her constituents. With the state about to devise a new school aid formula, Beck has thrown herself into the issue, absorbing information and demonstrating a determination that needy students in her district will not be shortchanged.

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MAN KIDNAPPED, SLASHED BY ROBBERS

A Red Bank man was briefly kidnapped, slashed in the face and dumped in Shrewsbury by three unknown assailants who tried to rob him early Saturday morning, borough police are reporting.

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The 18-year-old victim, a Locust Avenue resident, was treated and released from Riverview Medical Center.

He told police that the incident began at about 1:30a as he was walking home along Shrewsbury Avenue near West Westside Avenue when he was approached by two African-American men. One of them punched him in the face and demanded money.

Told that he had only a credit card, the assailants forced the victim into a medium-sized, dark-colored SUV parked on West Westside near Shrewsbury Ave. A third accomplice was waiting nearby and drove the vehicle, according to police Capt. Steve McCarthy

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HOMELESS TEEN CHARGED IN BURGLARIES

A 16-year-old homeless male has been charged in connection with burglaries at an East Bergen Place business and an adjacent house, Red Bank Police say.

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The suspect, whose identity was not disclosed, was arrested yesterday after a short chase.

The case began earlier in the day with the report of a break-in through a basement window of the business, according to Capt. Steve McCarthy.

During the investigation, police noticed that a basement window of the house next door was also broken. The house had been the scene of an Oct. 22 arrest of a 16-year-old male, who was charged with criminal trespass.

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BECK ADDRESSES LICENSE SUSPENSIONS

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Today’s Asbury Park Press has a story on Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck’s three license suspensions, which have been publicized by her opponent for the 12th-district state Senate seat, incumbent Ellen Karcher.

The most recent suspension was in 1995, and Beck hasn’t had a moving violation ticket issued to her since 1996, a state DMV spokesman told the Press.

The Press’ Larry Higgs reports that Beck “had her driver’s license suspended three times for failure to appear in court to answer three traffic tickets, twice for a parking ticket and for failure to pay a surcharge, in the mid-1990s.”

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Beck’s license was suspended by the courts twice in 1994 and once in 1995 for failure to appear, said Michael Horan, an MVC spokesman.

Beck said that at the time she had just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and moved to New Jersey. In the course of several moves, Beck said she lost track of the summonses and it took time for court notices to reach her, resulting in the license suspensions.

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TINTON FALLS: CHECK OUT THOSE PIXELS!

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Tinton Falls is holding an online beauty contest, and the contestants are two new websites.

Or more accurately, they’re two versions of the the same site. The more popular of the two will become the new municipal site, replacing the unwieldy one the borough has used for several years.

For the past few days and continuing through October 31, borough residents have been invited to check the designs out, weigh in on what they’d like to see included on them, and vote for their favorite.

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POLICE SEEK INPUT ON SUMMER SHOOTINGS

Police investigators looking into the four shootings that occurred in July and August are appealing to witnesses to call and tell them what they know, even anonymously.

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“I truly and strongly believe that there are people in the community who have information” about the shootings, Capt. Steve McCarthy tells redbankgreen.

No injuries resulted from any of the four incidents between July 31 and August 22, though a bullet entered the bathroom of a house near Drs. Parker Boulevard and South Pearl Street and another was lodged in the siding of a Clinton Place residence. All the shootings occurred west of Maple Avenue and no arrests have been made.

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BECK’S FARM TAX STANCE IRKS GOP MATRON

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It appears that Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck of Red Bank, in attacking 12th-district Senate opponent Ellen Karcher over Karcher’s use of a state farmland assessment program, has put herself at odds with one of her own backers: Judith Stanley Coleman.

Today’s Asbury Park Press has that story, along with another that says the Beck v. Karcher mudfest is on track to become the costliest legislative race in New Jersey history.

As part of a package of stories on the farmland assessment, Press reporter James W. Prado Roberts says that Beck’s attack on Karcher for taking a farmland deduction on her Marlboro property “broadsided a long-time supporter.”

Monmouth County Republican Party matriarch Judith H. Stanley Coleman has a similar tax break on the scenic tract surrounding her home on the Navesink River in Middletown.

For at least 10 years, Stanley Coleman has raised bees on 5.4 acres surrounding her house. This year she sold 540 pounds of honey and wax at $1 per pound. In return, she pays $125 a year in taxes on that parcel. (She did pay $47,820 in taxes last year on her house and an acre surrounding it.)

The Press reports that Stanley Coleman has held fundraisers for Beck on the estate. In fact, one was scheduled last Thursday, but Beck canceled it because of her position on the bee farm tax assessment, Stanley Coleman told the newspaper.

Beck denied that was the reason, saying she recently held three fundraisers, and her campaign couldn’t arrange the logistics.

“I just made a judgment call,” Beck said. “It didn’t have anything to do with that.”

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GUIDING IMMIGRANTS TO HEALTHY CHOICES

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Volunteers do what they can at St. Anthony of Padua to help keep the needy from going hungry. Twice a week, a food pantry at the church gives out bagfuls of food to dozens of families, many of them Hispanic immigrants.

But because the church isn’t equipped to handle and store much in the way of fresh food, much of what’s distributed is processed and in cans. Not the worst, but not the best, either.

“We give out a lot of food, but a lot of it is carbohydrates,” says volunteer Sandy Markiewicz. And in recent years, the church crew has noticed that “a lot of the people who come to us have a weight problem. And they’re kids are getting heavy, too,” she says.

There have been a couple of cases of clients developing Type-2 diabetes, a complication of obesity that can cause all sorts of ills in itself, from kidney disease to blindness.

Enter MariaJose Lodeiro.

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BECK v. KARCHER MUDFEST GETS MORE INK

The race for 12th-district Senate seat continues to get more attention for the accusations flung back and forth between incumbent Ellen Karcher of Marlboro and Red Bank Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck than for any other aspect.

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In today’s Star-Ledger, political columnist Tom Moran ponders the “irony” of two women he says are widely respected in and around the statehouse trading constant, personal fire in the race.

From the column:

Both these women are known in Trenton as decent people. Spend time with either of them, and you come away confident that they have the public interest at heart.

And that brings us to the big irony in this race — each woman is accusing the other of being the perfect sleazeball.

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MENNA PLANS RIVERFRONT COMMITTEE

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Property near Chapin Avenue is among several segments of the waterfront that could have trails, according to the Waterfront Plan.

Putting the recently released Waterfront Plan into effect won’t happen without the state ponying up some big open-space bucks, says Mayor Pasquale Menna.

But he’s moving ahead and putting together a citizen’s committee to “undertake the public hearing process” that would lead to necessary changes in the borough’s master plan, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

“We’ll probably announce, in the next three weeks or less, a citizens committee to undertake the public hearing process,” Menna’s quoted as saying.

As redbankgreen reported in July, when iit was issued, the plan is a series of blue-sky concepts to improve public access and use of the Navesink an Swimming river banks.

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OLD GREEN EYES IS BACK, BABY

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Or maybe they’re brown. Let’s just say the headshot at the left is not exactly the most trustworthy.

But never mind that. Joe Piscopo, faux lounge lizard turned actual jazz singer, is returning to Red Bank, following a pair of sold-out shows this summer at a downtown restaurant.

The Count Basie Theatre will be the venue for Piscopo’s encore performance next month, when he takes the stage with the 17-piece Red Bank Jazz Orchestra, led by our very own conductor-slash-impressario, Joe Muccioli.

The occasion? A birthday tribute to Old Blue Eyes, the late Frank Sinatra, whom Piscopo used to parody with great skill back when he was a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s.

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IN TOWN | IN OCTOBER: WEEK FOUR

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Mark Kseniak of Atlantic Highlands is no purist when it comes to photography. An illustrator by trade, he has no compunction about altering images for effect.

“I capture images, and with those images, I create my vision of how I want them to be perceived,” he writes, in a statement that accompanies his latest body of work.

“Truth be told, I’m a manipulator, either with the camera or through photoshop.”

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NO, THAT WAS FOR THE BRIDLE SUITES

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The Breeders’ Cup organization and the owner of the Molly Pitcher Inn and Oyster Point hotels reached a courthouse deal yesterday on hotel rates during this weekend’s races at Monmouth Park, the Asbury Park Press reports.

A dispute had arisen over 95 rooms reserved by the organization two years ago at the Red Bank hotels, which are jointly owned. According to the Press, the hotels had originally agreed to charge $165 per night. But when the horsemen started arriving this week for the big event, the hotels claimed the rate was now $499.

From the article:

When Breeders’ Cup officials contacted George Decker, the comptroller for the hotels, he told them the hotels could not guarantee the rate of $165 because the Breeders’ Cup had not specified the names of the guests.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Wow, talk about influence.

In late August, we featured a damaged signpost here in ‘Where.’ That’s now been fixed.

Last week, we showed a stop sign defaced with graffiti that read “Don’t Stop Loving.” Well, somebody didn’t love it. Within hours of our posting, the sign had been replaced.

Peter DeFazio was the first reader to identify the location, at the corner of Madison Avenue and South Street. The fact that he’s a captain in the police department — think that had anything to do with the swift replacement?

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ZIPPRICH BUCKSHOTS CANGEMI SIGNS

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Democratic council contender Ed Zipprich has filed complaints with state and the county election-monitoring agencies, asking them to investigate the propriety of campaign signs that encourage voters to “re-elect” incumbent Republican Grace Cangemi.

Cangemi, who narrowly lost a general election last November, was chosen by a vote of the council on March 15 to replace Kaye Ernst, who resigned in January. She’s seeking the one-year balance of Ernst’s term, and faces Zipprich on the ballot.

Zipprich told redbankgreen this morning that he has filed complaints with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission and the Monmouth County Board of Elections, “asking them to investigate why she felt she could print ‘re-elect’ on her campaign signs.

“I think that she’s completely inappropriate and off-base on this,” he said. “I think she is stretching the truth. And if she does that with something as simple as a lawn sign, what else is she going to try to tell the public?”

Cangemi told us she hadn’t been aware of the complaints, which she disparaged.

“I think it’s more than a little ridiculous, and I think it’s a campaign ploy,” she said. “If that is Ed Zipprich’s biggest issue, then he has once again missed the point.

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HORSE JAM: EXPECT LOTS OF TRACK TRAFFIC

Local authorities are expecting heavy traffic with this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup events at Monmouth Park, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

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From the article:

On Friday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and on Saturday between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Route 36 eastbound, Oceanport and Port-au-Peck avenues and other nearby roadways are expected to be congested. Oceanport Avenue between the Main Gate and Port-au-Peck Avenue will be closed.

On Saturday, an estimated 45,000 race fans also are expected to crowd these three routes: Garden State Parkway Exit 109, to Newman Springs Road and Route 35 in Red Bank; Hance Avenue to Sycamore Avenue in Shrewsbury into Little Silver; and Oceanport Avenue into Oceanport.

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COPS SEEK 3 IN CATHERINE ST. ASSAULT

Red Bank Police are seeking three men for questioning in connection with an argument that resulted in a Catherine Street resident getting punched in the face Monday night, the Asbury Park Press is reporting.

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No gun was involved, police said, contrary to reports on the scene.

From the Press, which attributed the report to police Capt. Steve McCarthy:

The incident started when the resident asked a man in the rear yard with other tenants to leave because of prior complaints from neighbors about drinking and other behavior, McCarthy said. That man left and returned 90 minutes later [around 7:50p] with two men.

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FOUL HUMORS DOMINATE COUNCIL: I

Councilman Michael DuPont subjected the head of Parks & Rec to a cringe-inducing dressing down.

Mayor Pasquale Menna pre-emptively lambasted a resident for a letter not yet published by a weekly newspaper.

Art Murphy wigged out on fellow councilmember Grace Cangemi for something she said at the West Side Community Group’s Candidate’s Night earlier this month.

Coming off a couple of bad weeks of crime reports, campaign rhetoric and skirmishes over unanticipated library costs, Red Bank’s governing body was in a colicky mood last night at its final session prior to next month’s election.

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FOUL HUMORS II: A TRIP TO THE WOODSHED

Img_7454The somewhat-shuttered playground at Marine Park, as seen last week.

Parks & Rec Director Bob Evans showed up at last night’s borough council session prepared to talk about swing sets, slides and triple-shredded, debarked-woodchip play areas.

Instead, he found himself taken to the woodshed over the closing of the Marine Park playground because of safety concerns three weeks ago.

In particular, Councilman Michael DuPont criticized Evans for failing to notify the governing body that equipment at Count Basie and Marine parks had deteriorated to the point that the equipment has to be replaced.

“I’m a little perturbed that you knew about this back in January,” DuPont said, sounding more than a little perturbed, as Evans stood at a microphone in front of a large audience, apparently caught off guard.

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FOUL HUMORS III: LIBRARY LETTER

Mayor Pasquale Menna last night lit into what he termed a “poison pen” letter to the editor of the Hub by Gene Goellner of Linden Place.

The letter hasn’t yet been published — Goellner tells us it’s slated for to appear this week — but Goellner says he sent Menna a copy as a courtesy.

In it, Goellner criticizes the council for its handling of change orders and unexpected costs arising from the ongoing renovation of the public library, a project that’s been underway for about a year.

In particular, he calls out a comment made by Councilman Art Murphy at a meeting earlier this month.

From the letter, in which Goellner quotes from an article in the Hub.:

Councilman Murphy then adds, “‘I think we need some kind of direction when we do a project like this . . . [t]here’s really nobody over there leading up the project and checking on it.'” Are you people making a new Beavis and Butthead movie with comments like that?

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