SLEDGER: BECK NOW A GOP SHINING STAR

J_beck_on_tv_110607State Senator-elect Jennifer Beck is now in the spotlight statewide, pundits say.

‘Ridiculously outspent’ and yet victorious in Tuesday’s election, state Senator-elect Jennifer Beck of Red Bank is now — wait for it — a GOP pol to watch for higher office, today’s Star-Ledger reports.

One pundit is even forecasting two decades into the Beckian future.

“You’d have to say she’s one of the rising stars in the Republican Party, without a doubt,” said Joseph Marbach, chairman of the political science department at Seton Hall University.

“Jennifer Beck is going to be someone you’re going to hear a lot about in the next 20 years,” Republican State Chairman Tom Wilson said. “I don’t think you could rule out seeing her as a statewide candidate some day. I don’t think you could rule out seeing her as a congressional candidate some day.”

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ARREST IN GUNPOINT ASSAULT, ROBBERY

Red Bank Police are reporting today that a man was abducted at gunpoint, beaten and robbed at dusk Monday, and that a 21-year-old suspect is in custody.

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According to Capt. Steve McCarthy, two officers — Sgt. Eliot Ramos and Det. Joey Fields — were investigating another case near the intersection of Leighton and Locust avenues when they were approached by the 27-year-old victim, who said he had just been robbed at gunpoint.

The man, a Long Branch resident, said he’d been walking on Shrewsbury Avenue when a man he recognized pulled up alongside him in a vehicle and offered a ride.

From a press release issued by McCarthy:

The victim accepted the ride and upon entering the vehicle, the accused drew what appeared to be a handgun and pointed it at the victim.

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DOWN BY THE SEA, IT’S STILL UP IN THE AIR

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Sea Bright’s mayoral race remained too close to call early today, and officials don’t expect to know who won before Friday.

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The latest vote count has Democratic challenger Maria Fernandes up five votes on incumbent Republican Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, 272-267.

But nine provisional votes had yet to be certified as of late this morning, municipal clerk MaryAnn Smeltzer told redbankgreen this morning. A vote is labeled ‘provisional’ when a question or dispute exists over a voter’s registration, polling place or eligibility to cast a ballot.

Five Forty-one absentee ballots have already been counted.

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RED BANK DEMS: ‘COULDA LOST BUT DIDN’T’

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Red Bank Democrats appear to have held their 4-2 council majority with narrow wins Tuesday by Council President Sharon Lee, who bagged a second term, and Zoning Board member Kathleen Horgan.

But Democratic newcomer Ed Zipprich apparently didn’t have enough juice to nudge Grace Cangemi from the seat she’s held as an appointee since March. Uncertified figures have Cangemi beating Zipprich by 59 votes for the right to finish out the term begun by Kaye Ernst, who resigned and moved out of state in January.

The closeness of the race was reminiscent of last year’s finale for mayor and council, in which Cangemi was bested by Mike DuPont by absentee ballots. A recurrence of that seemed unlikely this morning.

“Last year, it swung by 20 votes,” Cangemi said as she awaited the arrival of Jennifer Beck, upset winner in the 12th district Senate race, at the Dublin House early today. “I can’t imagine it swinging by 60 votes this time. We just don’t cast that many absentee votes in Red Bank.”

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IN A STUNNER, BECK PLOWS KARCHER UNDER

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Red Bank Republican Jennifer Beck trounced incumbent state Senator Ellen Karcher at the polls yesterday, despite having been outspent more than fivefold in a campaign widely noted for its bitterness.

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In bootstrapping herself to the Senate, Beck helped secure Assembly wins for Little Silver Councilman Declan O’Scanlon and Caroline Casagrande of Marlboro. They ousted incumbent Mike Panter of Shrewsbury and denied Amy Panter of Fair Haven Beck’s seat in the lower chamber.

“I never thought we’d get a sweep,” Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl told redbankgreen early this morning at a GOP bash at the Dublin House. He said the win came about because “Karcher went negative too early and poured in a lot of money to stay negative at the end. Voters get turned off by that. She stayed negative too long.”

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SEA BRIGHT: FERNANDES BY JUST TWO

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Democrat Maria Fernandes appears to have bested incumbent Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams by just two votes, according to unofficial results.

The tally: 250 to 248.

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RED BANK: LEE, HORGAN & MAYBE CANGEMI

Unofficial tallies in the Red Bank Council race indicate that incumbent Sharon Lee and Democratic running mate Kathleen Horgan are winners.

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Grace Cangemi appears to have won the one-year spot over Ed Zipprich by 59 votes. But the borough Democrats were holding onto hope of a sweep when an unknown number of absentee and provisional ballots are counted, a process that will still underway as of 10p.

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HOV CONTRACTS FALL OFF ANOTHER CLIFF

Hov_hq_81206Hovnanian’s Red Bank HQ, as seen from the foot of Maple Avenue in sunnier days.

Red Bank-based Hovnanian Enterprises, one of America’s largest publicly traded homebuilders, got walloped again in its latest fiscal quarter.

Continuing a slide that company official haven’t been able to foresee the end of, Hovnanian reported that sales results “significantly deteriorated” in October from recent months, with new orders down and contract cancellations up steeply.

As reported by Reuters:

Hovnanian said preliminary results for the fiscal fourth-quarter ended October 31, showed that excluding unconsolidated joint ventures, net contracts fell 10 percent to 2,781 homes, while sales slid 19 percent to 3,969 homes.

Would-be buyers canceled contracts at a rate of 40 percent, as many found themselves unable to qualify for mortgages. The cancellation rate rose from 35 percent in the prior quarter as well as the year-earlier quarter.

In early September, the company reported stronger-than-expected sales activity as a result of steep markdowns and heavy promotions that in some cases cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from asking prices for new homes.

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MASONIC TEMPLE SOLD TO RUMSON MAN

Img_7468Sold, for $955,000, to the only bidder.

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

In a quick, uncontested auction last night, the Borough of Fair Haven sold the former Masonic Temple on River Road — but not to the local retailer who had previously been the only person to express an interest in buying it.

The sole bidder was Paul K. Abrahamsen of Rumson, whose $955,000 bid was accepted. Bike Haven owner Cliff Wittenberg, owner of the nearby Bike Haven store, stayed away, afterward telling redbankgreen that he was “not happy with the process.”

The borough acquired the two-story brick building in April 2006 for $1.2 million, mainly with an eye toward getting control of the temple’s prime-location parking lot.

Borough officials wanted to unload the temple because they had achieved their goal and had no further use for the building, according to Mary Howell, borough administrator.

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IT’S ALL OVER BUT THE VOTING & COUNTING

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Council candidate Grace Cangemi arrives at the 8th district polling station (the Senior Citizens’ Center, on Shrewsbury Avenue), presumably to “re-elect” herself. Joe Parrillo of Madison Avenue emerges from a voting booth at the district 4 station, at the United Methodist Church on Broad Street.

Voting was moderate-to-busy at two Red Bank polling stations visited by redbankgreen at midmorning today.

The 4th district had seen about 75 voters come in. Over at the 8th, about 40 citizens had pushed the buttons. Workers at both stations said those numbers were on par with activity seen in the last general election.

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FAIR HAVEN TO PAVER: DO IT OVER

Complaining that the new street paving through the historic business district resulted in unacceptably shallow gutters, Fair Haven officials last night said they would order the contractor to redo the job, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

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From the story:

The issue is that the pavement is too thick on the sides, making curbs almost disappear, [Mayor Mike] Halfacre said.

“It should have been done right on Wednesday night, when their dump trucks and steam rollers were out there,” Halfacre said. “The only option is to go out there tomorrow night (today) and rip up the fresh pavement and do it right.”

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AZZOLINA STOPS & SHOPS FOR A STORE

Stop_shopGetting here is less of a circus for many customers, says Joe Azzolina Sr.

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Local supermarket magnate Joe Azzolina Sr. has purchased the Stop & Shop on Newman Springs Road in Shrewsbury and is reconfiguring it into another Food Circus Super Foodtown, much like the one he owns about half a mile away in Red Bank.

“Trying to get into Red Bank from (Route) 520 is like driving into hell,” the former state Assemblyman tells redbankgreen. Residents of Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury and Lincroft — as well as from Holmdel and Colts Neck — had asked him to open a store more convenient to where they live, he said.

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DID CURLEY’S FLIER SLIME DUPONT’S WIFE?

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Councilman Michael DuPont contends that this flier, distributed by Republican Councilman John Curley to Red Bank residents last week, is a smear on his wife. [Click on flier to enlarge]

In a letter to the editor published in the current issue of the Two River Times (print version only), DuPont says the handout — printed on vivid green paper — defames his wife, Doreen, who gave birth to twins earlier this year.

As evidence, Dupont cites the flier’s claim that “Our new Mayor [Pasquale] Menna appointed DuPont and [former Mayor Ed] McKenna’s wife to the Planning Board. How cozy.”

On his first day as mayor in January, Menna nominated Christine McKenna to serve as an alternate member of the planning board for a term that ends Dec. 31. The nomination was part of an omnibus reorganization resolution that included several dozen appointments. Curley voted no on the measure, which was passed by the Democratic majority. Download rb_appointments_10107.pdf

DuPont, however, is not on the planning board and has never been, he says.

Here’s an excerpt from DuPont’s letter:

Councilman Curley, your lime-green letter endorsing your colleagues defames my wife with falsehoods and insinuations. You owe her an apology and the truth to the residents of Red Bank. Your lime-green letter is simply political slime.

But Curley’s handout does not make any mention of DuPont’s spouse, unless it is interpreted as meaning DuPont and McKenna are maried to the same woman.

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DECADENT ‘BERLIN’ TO CLOSE FILMFEST HERE

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In 1973, punk rock progenitor Lou Reed made an album called ‘Berlin.’ Arranged as a narrative suite of songs, it was dark and decadent, mixing imagery of drug and spousal abuse against a sonic background that ranged from Teutonic bombast to lilting lullabies.

It was a colossal commercial failure. Go figure. Naturally, it won a cult following.

Reed never performed the album. Never, that is, until last December, when he put on a series of ‘Berlin’ shows in Brooklyn. The creators of redbankgreen, having been among the album’s admirers from the start, were there for the final show, and can attest that it was one gorgeous dollop of sound.

Visual artist Julian Schnabel was part of the production, and filmed the concerts. Schnabel has now made an 85-minute feature from the footage. Also titled ‘Berlin,’ it will be the closing feature at the Two River Film Festival on Sunday night at 9:30, at Red Bank’s Clearview Cinemas.

Other selections from the festival, which runs through Sunday at Monmouth University’s Pollack Theatre, will also be shown on the Clearview’s screens for event’s final night.

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ON A BUSY DAY FOR COPS, SUSPECT ESCAPES

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A Long Branch man was in the Monmouth County jail on $101,000 bail following his capture, escape and re-arrest by Red Bank police on burglary and other charges yesterday.

The incident began when the occupant of a Shrewsbury Avenue apartment returned home shortly before 11:30a to find the place had been burglarized, and ran after a man who had just hurried past him.

While chasing the suspect, the victim flagged down Lt. Darren McConnell, who was on patrol. After taking a description of the suspect, McConnell drove the victim around the area. A short time later, the victim spotted a man later identified as Jason Czeslaw, 33, near the intersection of Oakland Street and Maple Avenue, and ID’d him as the alleged burglar.

According to a press release from Capt. Steve McCarthy, when McConnell attempted to take Czeslaw into custody, the suspect resisted and discarded a sum of money under the police car. Czeslaw was arrested and taken to the Red Bank Police headquarters, where he asked to be taken to Riverview Medical Center for injuries that he said he received during his arrest.

While at Riverview, Czeslaw escaped from police custody. The subsequent search for Czeslaw involved the use of Tinton Falls police dogs in the downtown district, McCarthy said redbankgreen.

“Everybody who was working was involved in the search,” McCarthy said of the department.

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HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?

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He’s wanted in connection with last weekend’s attempted robbery, kidnapping and assault of a Red Bank man.

The suspect is one of three men sought by police, says Capt. Steve McCarthy, who heads the detective division.

The assailants are alleged to have assaulted the victim as he walked along Shrewsbury Avenue at about 1:30 Saturday morning. One punched him in the face and demanded money. When the victim told the robbers he had only a credit care, they forced him into a nearby SUV and drove him first to a gas station and then, after realizing they couldn’t get cash from the card account, slashed him in the face with a knife and dumped him in Shrewsbury, according to police.

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IN TOWN | IN NOVEMBER: WEEK ONE

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Meryl Blinder, a painter from Brookline, Massachussetts, brings a collection of her works to Church Street Garden & Home in Little Silver in a show that opens tonight with a reception from 5 to 8p.

An open house is scheduled for tomorrow, 12 to 5p.

An artist who worked in the past as a courtroom sketch artist and a colorist and designer for the architect Michael Graves, Blinder says her work is “influenced by newspaper images of current events, which are combined with imagined landscapes.”

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ONCE AGAIN, RUMSON DEMS HAVE NO SHOT

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Along Rumson Road in the borough of Rumson, at least five campaign signs for Democratic hopefuls for state office can be seen.

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And the county Democratic Party is gearing up to run two candidates for Rumson council — in the 2008 elections.

But thus far in the history of this upper-crust borough, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, no Democrat has ever been elected mayor. And if any have made it to the council, historian George Moss is unaware of them.

“I don’t think there were any,” says Moss, who served on the governing body from 1944 to 1984.

No history will be made in that regard this year. Even with President Bush’s approval levels approaching that of linoleum, a GOP sweep, as usual, looks like a pretty sure thing in Rumson. Mayor John Ekdahl and his two running mates for the council, Joan DeVoe and Joseph Hemphill, are unopposed.

Ekdahl became mayor in 2003; he was unopposed then, too. His campaign budget this time around? “I’m not spending any money this year,” he says.

So, with apologies to Maureen Dowd, are Democrats necessary in Rumson?

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FAIR HAVEN: ICE CREAM, YES, TOURISTS, NO

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Yes, there’s a mention of a bar in the concept plan for what a made-over Fair Haven business district might look like.

But that’s as racy as it gets. Borough residents are emphatic that they’re “very wary of attracting non-residents to Fair Haven through any tourist-oriented events,” according to a newly released Project for Public Spaces report, available on he borough website.

The 39-page report, paid for with $40,000 in grant money, summarizes PPS’s research into what the town wants to be, and make recommendations for getting there. It has ideas from both planners and townspeople who attended several “visioning” meetings this year to discuss the borough’s future.

“It’s pretty ambitious,” admits Mayor Mike Halfacre, “but there are a lot of good ideas in it.”

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Last week’s image: a brick-and-terracotta-tile wall.

Joanne Soper knew it right away. We also heard from Charles Hellings, who understandably recognized it because it , well, as he writes:

That’s my wall! Unless someone else has an identical one that is, the terracotta top is a dead give away. It runs along Third Street north of West River Road in Rumson…used to be the old Borden Estate. I have no idea how old that wall is, it was certainly here long before we moved in.

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