CITATIONS FLOW AFTER THE SNOW

monmouth-st-snowA stretch along Monmouth Street is one of many culprits in violation of Red Bank’s snow removal ordinance requiring property owners to clear the snow and ice from their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Although most of the downtown and residential properties’ sidewalks are clear from the recent blasts of snow, there are still some out there that haven’t seen a good shoveling in a while. Aside from causing a pedestrian hazard, it’s against borough ordinance.

The borough has, in turn, slapped lots of people with fines for not keeping the sidewalks clear of ice and snow.

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STAVOLA GETS GREEN LIGHT ON PARKING LOT

stavola-p-lotThe paved patch of land at the corner of Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street will get a fringe of greenery. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank’s Planning Board gave formal approval Wednesday night to the owners of property on the corner of Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street to do what they’re already doing: use the site as a parking lot.

After a tiff last month, when the president of site owner Stavola Leasing balked at the board’s requests to spruce up the property, the owners yielded to the board’s wishes in order to get the approval.

That means in exchange for the company must put up a sign and line the perimeter of the property with bushes, of which there are already 68 of on order, said lawyer Marty McGann, representing Stavola. Clothing donation bins, a major eyesore to the board, have already been removed from the site.

“He gave it some thought and decided to do it,” McGann said.

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IN oRBit: BACHELORETTES AND EVERYMAN

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You’ve seen his somber, silent, life-size figures in places like the Port Authority and the National Mall — and now George Segal is coming to the outskirts of town. Not the veteran comic actor (although that would be cool too) but the famed artist who became the most noted American sculptor of his time by championing the “everyman” over the “great man.” Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit has the details on a major installation of those distinctive sculptures, paintings and drawings by the Jersey-based Segal (who passed away in 2000) — joined with a retrospective of images by his friend, assistant and photographic chronicler Donald Lokuta (pictured at right with Segal on the Asbury boardwalk).

It’s all going on at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, with a menu of extras including catered receptions, special guest speakers, and an unprecedented field trip to the artist’s (heretofore off-limits) home studio.

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BOROUGH HAS NO METER-REVENUE FORECASTS

white-st-lotMeter rates in the White Street and other municipal lots won’t be affected by the doubling of fees for curbside parking, but lot-permit fees are scheduled to soar by 33 percent. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In the absence of projections, forecasts or even conservative estimates, Red Bank officials appear to be going on hope when it comes to a plan to compensate for a shortfall in parking revenue.

Contrary to a claim by Mayor Pasquale Menna that borough Chief Financial Officer Frank Mason had worked up projected revenue gains from a proposed doubling of fees for street meters downtown, Mason says he has not yet made such forecasts.

As the Borough Council moves forward with a plan to boost non-lot parking to $1 an hour, and jack up yearly parking permit fees to $800, from $600, the only figure that’s clear is how much money has been lost since lifting Saturday parking fees a year ago. Mayor Pasquale Menna says it’s about $10,000 a month, or $120,000 a year.

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SO LONG, LONGEVITY PAY

taxesBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank employees won’t be getting any more financial pats on the back for staying on the job under a law change now pending before the borough council.

The governing body last week introduced an ordinance that would freeze a $500 bonus for every five years longevity that non-vested and non-union employees rack up. Future hires and current staffers who haven’t yet hit the five-year vesting mark won’t get the longevity bonuses at all, Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

Employees already receiving the pay will still get it, but it will be capped at its current amount, Menna says. For example, a 10-year employee would receive $1,000, but at their 15-year mark, will not get $1,500. Withholding the longevity pay already promised to those employees would be a violation of federal law, Menna added.

“It has been something which has been part of local government since anyone can remember,” Menna said. “Obviously those who are affected are not happy, but residents feel it’s time to look at everything, and we are.”

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IN oRBit: WRITERS AND OTHER HOOKERS

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It’s never been an uncommon thing for writers to prostitute themselves. It’s just that, in the strange case of David Henry Sterry, the latter activity served as springboard to the former.

Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit has an exclusive interview with Sterry (right) — an actor, professor, children’s book collaborator, HuffPost blogger and sports authority who made his first big splash with Chicken, his memoir of a year spent putting himself through college as a 17 year old LA male hooker. The author and editor has also garnered acclaim for the anthology Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys and the how-to guide Putting Your Passion into Print, both of which will be the focus as Sterry visits Asbury Park’s Showroom this Sunday.

For this entry in the BookFLX series, Sterry and a guest panel of “sexperts” will discuss Hos and screen a collection of clips on Hollywood and the Sexworker — after which the publishing-biz specialist will hear book-pitch ideas from the audience in a feature that could only be called Pitchapalooza. We’ve got what you need, right here and all week along, in Red Bank oRBit!

FAIR HAVEN BROKER COPS TO $700K SCAM

authorities2aA stockbroker from Fair Haven is looking at seven years in prison under the terms of a plea deal he accepted yesterday for pocketing nearly $700,000 he swindled from 31 clients, the Monmouth County Prosecutor announced yesterday.

Here’s the text of a press release from the office of Prosecutor Luis Valentin:

On February 16, 2010, Stephen Severio, 40, of Fair Haven, N.J., appeared in Monmouth County Superior Court and pled guilty to criminal charges contained in two indictments and one accusation. The charges relate to thefts Severio committed against his clients while he was employed as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch.

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A BIT MORE SNOW EXPECTED TODAY

oceanic-bridge-snow1The Oceanic Bridge, as seen from the Locust side during Tuesday’s snowfall. Flurries are in today’s forecast. (Click to enlarge)

It’s getting to be like the houseguest who won’t leave. Then again, you might simply call it ‘winter.’

Here’s the weatherforecast from the National Weather Service:

Today: Scattered flurries after noon. Partly cloudy, with a high near 35. West wind between 10 and 13 mph.

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LOCAL MEN FACE PRISON FOR PRISON SCAM

call-in-the-authoritiesA Red Bank man appears headed into the state prison system he admitted scamming out of $153,000, the New Jersey Attorney General‘s office announced yesterday.

Mark Stermer, 43, pleaded guilty Tuesday before state Superior Court Judge Ira E. Kreizman in Freehold to making false representations in connection with state contracts awarded by another man identified as a Red Banker, former state Department of Corrections administrator Gerald T. Kennedy.

Kennedy, also of Red Bank,  pleaded guilty last month to orchestrating a wide-ranging bid rigging and kickback scheme that steered some $630,000 in state business to friends.

Stermer, 43, and his company, SteelGrey  LLC, each pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge of making false representations for government contracts.

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FRESH FACE AT LIBRARY: CHILDREN’S AUTHOR

john-grandits1Children’s author and poet John Grandits, shown here with a couple of his books, is the newest member on the Red Bank Library Board. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Not long ago, John Grandits was talking to a friend about serving on one of Red Bank’s many boards or commissions. One of the possibilities was the planning board, though Grandits doesn’t have your typical background for the job.

Nor does he have the energy, he realized.

“It would bore me to death,” he told redbankgreen.

Then an opportunity that fit his skill set presented itself at the end of the year when the library board announced an opening. Grandits, a cheery author with a strong resemblance to Santa Claus, minus the paunch, grabbed at the chance to fulfill a longtime goal of his.

“I always thought for years and years and years if I had the time I’d like to be on the library board,” said Grandits, who is 60 years old. “Now I have the time.”

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SEAL OF APPROVAL FOR SEA BRIGHT BEACH

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A seal lazes on the beach in Sea Bright Saturday morning. (Photos courtesy of Paul Kinsella; click to enlarge)

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To a seal, apparently, a New Jersey beach in February is equivalent to one in the Caribbean for humans.

An evidently healthy seal decided to take a lie-down Saturday on the beach adjoining the main municipal lot in Sea Bright.

“It was miserable down there, so there weren’t a lot of people, which was probably good for the seal,” said Paul Kinsella of Red Bank, who sent redbankgreen these pix.

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IN oRBit: PRINE RIB FOR MUSICAL GOURMETS

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He claims to have sworn off doing interviews forever and a day; he’s never had a hit record, and the guys from TMZ likely ignore him when he goes traipsing through airport terminals. But when John Prine takes the stage of the Count Basie Theatre this Saturday, he’ll be squinting down a full house of fanatical followers for whom the 63 year old Grammy winner (left) is a writer and performer of rare and sublime talent.

In today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit, we call upon Tim Cronin — the man at the front of the Ribeye Brothers and the back of Jack’s Music — for an appreciation of the singer-songwriter who’s proven his bonafides among discerning music fans coast to coast. All this plus the latest mystical gleanings from The Orb listings database, ONLY from the paperless offices of that office-less paper, Red Bank oRBit!

SENKELESKI STILL HOUNDING ON TAXES

kim-taxKim Senkeleski at her home with a familiar if loathed visitor: her annual tax bill. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank’s borough council may have shot down former candidate Kim Senkeleski’s idea of a taxpayer summit. But if she has her druthers, the governing body’s going to get the fixings of one anyway.

Senkeleski, still going at the council with the same head of steam she had before she lost her election bid in November, has been doing some legwork, gathering ideas from residents on how to reduce taxes. She’s posted flyers, knocked on doors and otherwise spread the word to garner input. She said she’s gotten about 30 responses so far, but she hopes to hear from many more taxpayers before she’s done.

Tomorrow night, she’s planning to hold a meeting at her house with the people who’ve submitted input to arrange ideas and get started on a document she will take to the council for consideration.

She says that’ll likely happen by the end of the month, “so they’ll have ample time to review it and address it at their budget meetings.”

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AIRLINE BOUNCES SMITH AS TOO FAT TO FLY

ksmith8Filmmaker and Red Bank toy retailer Kevin Smith was asked to get off a Southwest Airlines plane scheduled to fly from Oakland to Burbank, California Saturday because he was “too fat,” according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Mashable reports on Smith’s posts about the incident on his Twitter account, and the corresponding pledges by a Southwest Air rep to make the situation right on the airline’s Twitter feed.

From the Times:

“I’m way fat, but I’m not there just yet,” Smith wrote on his Twitter.com account after the incident, adding that he was able to lower both arm rests at his seat. “I broke no regulation.”

Southwest Airlines measures whether a customers too large to fly based on the passenger’s ability to lower both armrests while sitting on the plane. If the passenger cannot lower one or both armrests, the carrier typically requires the passenger to purchase an additional seat or make arrangements on other flights that may accommodate for extra space.

“Wanna tell me I’m too wide for the sky?” Smith inquired on his Twitter account. “Totally cool, but fair warning folks: If you look like me, you may be ejected from Southwest Air.”

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OPENING NIGHT: A REALLY BIG SHOE


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Well-shod theatergoers enjoyed a reception following the opening -night performance of ‘Barefoot in the Park’ at Red Bank’s Two River Theater on Saturday.

The Neil Simon classic comedy stars Meg Chambers Steedle and John Wernke and runs through February 28.

IN oRBit: COUNT, BARRON, THE WHOLE DECK

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You find the most interesting people passing through town — and over in the pixelated pages of Red Bank oRBit, we try to flag them down and introduce them to you.

Today’s edition of our satellite site for culture vultures offers up a special treat — a conversation with Kenny Barron (left), the 2010 NEA Jazz Masters award winning pianist who’s coming to the Count’s Crib this Thursday as a headline attraction in the touring Monterey Jazz Festival Allstars. We asked Red Bank’s own globe-trotting maestro and jazz expert Joe Muccioli to sit down with for a chat with this most formidable cat (we’re not worthy; we’re not worthy).

wiliamdcohansmallBefore all that, we’ve got a reminder that this Wednesday evening brings a rare opportunity to meet investigative journalist and bestselling business writer William D. Cohan (right), the author of the all-too-real life thriller House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street. He’ll be bringing his tense account of the collapse of  Bear Stearns to Kim Widener‘s NovelTeas Authors Aromas & Gifts on the Left Bank of Red Bank for an event that’s catered by Monmouth County’s own international celebri-chef David Burke.

Beautiful music, symphonic aromas, ominous notes of ruin — it’s all in the air, today and all week long in Red Bank oRBit!

LET’S GO TO THE BOOKMARK

rbpl-book-saleBook shoppers who attended last week’s pre-sale reception at the Red Bank Public Library got an early jump on a sale that was later postponed by weather.

OK, lovers of canonical lit, airport thrillers, self-help and cat photo books: it’s re-do time at the Red Bank Public Library.

The book sale planned for last weekend but postponed by the first of two blizzards in a week is on for Saturday.

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SNOW DAY: CAN YOU DIG IT?

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By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Following the utter pounding the area  took on Wednesday, schools on Thursday were closed and some municipal offices had delayed openings. But the brave were out bright and early — like cops, garbage trucks and, of course, dedicated journalists — making sure the day’s work was tended to.

redbankgreen trudged through the slippery, sometimes slushy, streets to capture all the action from the hangover of Snowpacalypse, Snowmageddon or whatever cutesy sobriquet this wintry madness has been dubbed.

We found kids on snow tubes, adults on bikes, enough snowmen to form a football team and mountains of snow piled high by your friendly, undoubtedly exhausted, public works department. So as you dig out, dig in.

BLIZZARD REDUX

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Scenes from Red Bank late Wednesday afternoon, during the second blizzard to hit the region in four days.

It’ll be partly sunny with temperatures well above freezing today to start turning all that purty white stuff into an ugly grey porridge.

Here’s the forecast from the National Weather Service:
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BASIE THROWS A BONE TO SNOWED-OUT FANS

Count Basie Theatre CEO Numa Saisselin.

Hoping to appease Steve Winwood fans who couldn’t make the musician’s concert because of  Wednesday’s blizzard, officials at the  Count Basie Theatre are offering them free seats to one of four upcoming performances by other artists.

They’re also attempting to clarify the position the theater found itself in as weather forecasts grew ominous in the days leading up to the show. Canceling the concert would have meant a “crippling financial loss” approaching $100,000, Basie CEO Numa Saisselin says in a letter to ticketholders posted overnight on the theater’s website.

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IN oRBit: A FLYING V-DAY AT BCC

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With the entire area one big shovel-ready project this morning, today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit takes one look out the door, crawls back beneath the covers and begins dreaming of what promises to be a big three-day V-Day weekend blizzard of sweetheart deals (with plenty of diversion for the detached).

On Thursday, we report on the 13th annual edition of the Brookdale Guitar Show, hosted by Brookdale Public Radio and happening at the Warner Student Life Center on BCC’s Lincroft campus. Dustin Racioppi has the details on this ever-popular event, with guest stars this year including acoustic songstress Allie Moss (above), electric jazzguy B.D. Lenz and alt-Americana specialist Joe Whyte.

Then tune in Friday as we line up a slew of St. Valentine’s weekend wonderments against the wall, picking them off one by one — everything from lingerie shows and theatrical loveletters to big-name concerts and bowling with burlesque. It’s a non-meterorological blizzard of multimedia merriment, ad it’s ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!