CONTRACT UPS WAGES, IMPOSES FURLOUGHS

council-sessionCouncil members Michael DuPont, Ed Zipprich and Juanita Lewis heard details of the contract in a closed-door session Monday night before approving it in open session.

Red Bank officials last night approved a collective bargaining agreement that will boost the hourly pay of blue-collar and clerical workers  by three percent.

Because the raises will be paid only for the second half of this year, Mayor Pasquale Menna said the bump was effectively 1.5 percent for the 70 or so affected workers.

Read More »

BOROUGH WINS PERMIT-PARKING LAWSUIT

Hudson_parking_red_bankThe ordinance upheld in the case was largely aimed at addressing concerns raised by Hudson Avenue residents about postal workers.

Red Bank has defeated a legal challenge to its authority to create residential permit-parking zones.

Superior Court Judge Lawrence Lawson last week issued a decision that rejected the arguments by a lawyer for Tai Truong, a mail carrier who contended that such a zone on Hudson Avenue was unconstitutional.

The 20-page decision, which follows a one-day trial in Freehold in March, also found that the borough had not improperly conferred special rights on Hudson Avenue residents.

“The courts give a huge amount of deference to everything that municipalities do,” attorney Bill McCarter tells redbankgreen.

Read More »

FURLOUGHS UP FOR APPROVAL

menna-052609-2Mayor Pasquale Menna at a council meeting in May.

Red Bank borough employees would be forced to take three unpaid days off by the end of the year under a proposal that’s expected to be discussed at next Monday night’s bimonthly council meeting.

It’s just one in a series of austerity measures being reviewed by officials, says Mayor Pasquale Menna. And it comes just two weeks into a summer program under which most borough employees are being required to work their 40-hour shifts in four days, with Fridays off, in order to save on the costs of cooling borough hall.

“They’re steps that are going to have to be taken,” Menna tells redbankgreen. “Things are not easy.”

Read More »

BOROUGH PUSHING UNPAID DAYS OFF

hot-topicRed Bank officials are mulling the possibility of making government employees take three unpaid days off by the end of the year, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

The furloughs are on the table because various revenues and fee collections have fallen, borough Administrator Stanley Sickels tells the paper.

Only the police department would be exempt from the impact, he says. Read More »

STEW MEAT: ‘IT’S NOT GOING TO BITE YOU’

Goldstein, StewLenny, er, Stew Goldstein of Monmouth Meats.

There are only so many old-style, independent butchers left in Red Bank.

Humanbitesrbg There’s Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz‘ Gatta on Shrewsbury Avenue, of course, working the chopping block for some 60 years. The guys at Citarella’s Meats & Deli on Prospect Avenue. And smack in between them, Stew Goldstein of Monmouth Meats, on Monmouth Street opposite the Count Basie Theatre.

A Brooklyn native who now lives in East Brunswick, Goldstein, 53, has been in the trade since he was a teenager. And to revive its long-dormant Human Bites feature, redbankgreen took a few minutes recently to ask Goldstein about a lifetime of swing a meat cleaver.

Did you always know this is what you wanted to do for a living?

Yes. I never had any other jobs. This is what I enjoy. My father had a small family-style neighborhood store in downtown Brooklyn. He was in business for about 45 years.


Do you remember your first interaction with a side of beef?

My first interaction was when I was maybe eight, nine years old. I went to the wholesale market with my father.


What was that experience like for a kid?
You walk into a huge, refrigerated warehouse. The floor was wet and dirty — things weren’t as clean as they are now. You had the carcasses, you got the smells. It was something I said I would never do. But I did. I knew nothing else.


Read More »

GALLERIA PARK OFFICE & DECK GETS OK

GalleriapkelevationsThe developer agreed to redesign the upper floors to incorporate more brickwork than shown in these earlier elevations of the west and east sides of the proposed structure. (Click to englarge)

By LAURA KOSS

The Red Bank planning board last night approved plans for the Galleria Park office building and parking deck after setback and aesthetic concerns were mulled over.

Construction of the addition would nearly double the size of the existing mix of stores, restaurants and offices known as Galleria Red Bank at West Front Street and Bridge Avenue.

Mayor Pasquale Menna saw the multilevel parking deck topped by two floors of office space as appealing.

“A private property owner is willing to take a gamble with no taxpayer money” to fund a parking garage, he said. Members of the Sourlis family own and operate the Galleria and would develop the proposed addition through a company called ET Galleria LLC.

Board vice chairman Dan Mancuso, who continued to raise questions about the nearness of the proposed structure to the property lines, and member Lou DiMento voted against the plan.

Read More »

BOROUGH BUDGET ENACTED

Taxes
Red Bank’s municipal budget for the coming fiscal year sailed to approval Monday night despite the misgivings of several residents.

Kim Senkeleski of John Street questioned increases in salary and health insurance costs. Harrison Avenue’s Jim Willis bemoaned the “increasing cynicism” he said
he detects among his East Side neighbors about local government. And Stephen Hecht of Branch Avenue took aim at tax-appeal settlements, which he suggested were eroding collections.

Read More »

BOROUGH HALL GOING TO FOUR-DAY WEEK

Hot TopicRed Bank employees who work in borough hall at 90 Monmouth Street will have to start packing their workweeks into four days starting in June as part of an effort to cut utility costs.

The move, approved by the borough council on Monday, is expected to save up to $3,000 a month in air conditioning and heating-related expenses, says borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

The effort is envisioned as a trial for the summer but may be continued if the savings materialize as expected without adversely affecting the delivery of services, Sickels says.

“If it works out, we’ll keep doing it,” he says.

Read More »

RAINY DAY FORECAST

TowerclimberIt was all blue skies Monday for technician working on a tower 160 Newman Springs Road in Red Bank, home to Colorest Art Supplies and Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Not today, though.

Expect a day of rain Tuesday and possibly Wednesday, says the National Weather Service.

Today: Rain, mainly after 8am. High near 48. East wind between 7
and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts
between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Read More »

RED BANK: POLICE SALARIES BOOST BUDGET

Taxes
The 2009-2010 budget that Red Bank officials unwrapped last week calls for possible four-day, 40-hour workweeks at borough hall and staffing reductions in construction-related inspections, according to a report in today’s Asbury Park Press.

It also reflects a previously-negotiated increase in police salaries, officials said at a department-by-department presentation on the spending plan, the Press reports.

From the article:

Five percent cuts were made in 14 department and budget areas, six were
uncut and the police salary budget increased 2.8 percent to $4.2
million to cover contractual agreements. Police operating expenses
stayed the same at $222,700. Police might reduce two special officers
hired for the summer, said Police Chief Mark Fitzgerald.

Read More »

BOROUGH TAX UP AVERAGE $134 FOR YEAR

DuPontCouncilman Mike DuPont says the finance committee that he heads is still looking for places to cut.

Higher pension costs and an expected increase in tax delinquencies are the main drivers behind a potential increase in Red Bank's local tax rate, borough officials said last night.

They unveiled a 2009-2010 spending plan that would boost the bill on a home assessed at the average $407,000 by $134 for the year, or three-quarters of one percent.

At the same time, they said they're considering steps that could soften the impact on taxpayers, including a one-day-a-week summer furlough for borough employees.

The $19.4 million budget, does not reflect the savings — estimated at $35,000 to $40,000 annually — from layoffs of six part-time employees who will be let go this week, said Councilman Mike DuPont, chairman of the borough's finance committee.

"This is not the final document," said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

Read More »

SPA WORKERS GIVE FRIEND THE TREATMENT

Done1

By JUDY DeHAVEN

Specials are common at the Milagro Spa, but most feature an exotic indulgence: ‘aromatic sugar scrubs,’  ‘stonecrop body wraps’ and ‘facial tea tree oil waxings,’ to name a few.

An event scheduled for Monday, March 2, is special for an entirely different reason: workers at Milagro will be donating everything they earn from 4p to 9p – tips included – to a co-worker in need.

The proceeds will go to Tracy Loessel, a Milagro nail technician and single mother of two who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 blood and bone cancer.

“Every single penny is going to her,” says Danielle DeFalco, a Milagro customer service representative who is helping to organize the event. “Five hours of time is the least we can do.”

The special event, called “Triumph for Tracy,” will also include auctions of a variety of prizes, from singing and art lessons to a bicycle and tickets to a Broadway play.

Read More »

MENNA: ‘DARN CLOSE’ TO GARAGE FIX

MennaMayor Pasquale Menna speaks as RiverCenter executive director Nancy Adams looks on.

Through all the reports that things are worse elsewhere and exhortations that merchants find “opportunity” in the current recession, the topic that the 300 or so people who attended Tuesday night’s ‘economic summit‘ on Red Bank’s commercial woes most wanted addressed, apparently, was parking.

Mayor Pasquale Menna came through, first with an announcement that parking at metered spaces would be free on Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of 2009, and then with hints that the parking garage many merchants have clamored for may move back onto the town’s agenda after several years’ absence.

His past opposition to a parking deck at the site of the White Street municipal lot, he says, has always been based on this insistence that it not be paid for by taxpayers, and that it be “self sustaining.”

Now, he says, “I believe we’re pretty darn close to a number of different scenarios which will alleviate those concerns,” he said to applause near the end of the two-hour event at the Count Basie Theatre.

Menna’s comments followed an emphatic “yes” from Jerry Zaro, chief of the state Office of Economic Growth,  when asked if such a garage might qualify for federal or state stimulus funds.

Read More »

WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

Where_010109_ir2

Where Have I Seen This?’ returns this week after taking a Christmas holiday — it’s first break since we launched redbankgreen on June 1, 2006.

So where does ‘Where’ go on vacation? We’ll never tell. It’s a secret. Let’s just say noWhere and everyWhere…

Read More »

FAIR HAVEN’S TIN CUP RATTLES BIZ OWNERS

Letterbusiness_assn_clarification_3

Concerns about an effort to drum up funds for a Fair Haven government employees’ holiday party prompted Borough Administrator Mary Howell to issue a letter telling business owners there are no repercussions for declining to contribute.

Because of “miscommunicated” information, “some business owners are under the impression that there would be negative consequences if donations were not provided,” Howell wrote to the Fair Haven Business Association last Friday. “That is simply not the case.” (Click letter above to enlarge.)

Howell writes that for the past two holiday seasons, the borough has solicited contributions for staffers …

to express appreciation for their work and dedication throughout the year. In light of the fact that the Borough cannot finance such an endeavor, we reached out to local businesses to ask for possible donations of their services as gift certificates and the like if they were so inclined.

Unfortunately this request has been miscommunicated.

Read More »

GANNETT GOUGES PRESS STAFF AGAIN

Appcupsmall

The axe has fallen in an expected third round of job cuts this year at the Asbury Park Press, with unconfirmed reports that the entire Trenton bureau was fired and the department that produces art & graphics for the news pages was “decimated.”

Those reports come from other media. Press parent Gannett Co. is reporting only a statewide job reduction for its New Jersey holdings.

Here’s what’s in today’s Press:

Gannett Co. Inc. has eliminated 206 positions at its six newspapers in New Jersey due to declining advertising revenues and the severe economic downturn afflicting the state and the nation.

The company began notifying the affected employees Tuesday at the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick, the Courier News in Bridgewater, the Daily Record in Parsippany and the Daily Journal in Vineland.

“The economic downturn we are facing is severe and is expected to last throughout next year,” said Thomas M. Donovan, president and publisher of the Asbury Park Press and vice president of Gannett’s East Newspaper Group. “We have reduced expenses significantly throughout this year. But, unfortunately, as we looked ahead to economic forecasts for 2009, it became clear that we needed to make further reductions.”

Read More »

MALLET TOPS CURLEY, SAYS PRESS

Amy Mallet beat former Red Bank Councilman John Curley by 328 votes to give Democrats their first Monmouth County Freeholder majority since 1985, the Asbury Park Press reports today.

Politics2

The results won’t be official until Thursday, when the county Board of Canvassers memorializes the tallies and certifies other statistics from the Nov. 4 election, according to the newspaper.

From the Press:

County Democratic organization spokesman Mike Mangan said, “Voters have spoken and want Democrats in control,” and he cautioned the lame-duck Republican majority in the final six weeks of its control against enabling their administration appointees to “burrow in,” the term for moving into permanent government jobs.

Most of the county government’s approximately 3,500 jobs have civil service protections, but the controlling party has direct hiring authority over department heads, positions that typically carry annual salaries in the $100,000 range.

“It’s important that the Republicans don’t try to extend professional contracts, institute tenure for some employees or hand out salary increases in the coming weeks before the transition is complete,” Mangan said. “I think all of those things would undermine what voters want.”

Read More »

RBPD PROMOTES EIGHT OFFICERS

RbpdofficersFrom left, with their new ranks: Lt. Daniel Bannon; Sgt. Robert Gannon; Capt. Thomas McDonough; Lt. Eliot Ramos; Capt. Darren McConnell; Sgt. Robert Kennedy; Lt. Richard Mangold and Sgt. Errico Vescio. (Click to enlarge)

Following through on a recent department restructuring that Red Bank officials say will save $10,000 this year, the borough council last night promoted eight officers, including two to captain.

Lieutenants Darren McConnell and Tom McDonough were elevated to captains. With the recent elimination of the vacant deputy chief slot, the department now has four officers at the captain’s level just below that of the chief.

Sergeants Daniel Bannon, Richard Mangold and Eliot Ramos were boosted to lieutenants.

Robert Gannon, Robert Kennedy and Errico Vescio rose from patrolmen to sergeants.

Read More »

OUTLOOK: SUNNY WEEKEND

NavarroJesus Navarro of Cali Painting, Long Branch, adds some white shine to a picket fence along Fair Haven Road in Fair Haven this morning.

Sun, sun, sun: that’s what the weatherlady is saying the weekend holds in store.

We’ve gotten a jump on it with today’s spectacular conditions, if sunshine and moderate temperatures are your preferences.

From the National Weather Service:

Today: Sunny, with a high near 75. North wind around 8 mph.

Tonight: Clear, with a low around 51. South wind around 5 mph becoming north.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 70. Northeast wind between 6 and 9 mph.

Read More »

CLAMMERS BLAME RED BANK FOR WOES

ClamsBushels of clams await transport from a dock in Sea Bright earlier this summer.

A lawsuit filed in federal court last month by local clammers names Red Bank as one of several “culprits” responsible for pollution that has cut their earning power in half, the baymen claim.

Today’s Asbury Park Press has a story about the lawsuit.

As Dennis Kavanaugh sees it, pollution in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers is the reason Monmouth County clammers only make half the pay they should, and is a cause of decline in the region’s other fisheries, too.

Now, a lawsuit filed by Kavanaugh and other fishermen in U.S. District Court has invoked the federal Clean Water Act, alleging that the towns of Red Bank and Colts Neck and the Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport should pay for the effects of bacterial pollution in the rivers.

Read More »

NO COUNCIL RAISES; EVALS FOR ALL OTHERS

Newmenna2

A slate of 3.5-percent pay raises for non-unionized borough employees approved last night will be the last across-the-board increase, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna pledged last night.

He said he had instructed Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels to implement and complete performance evaluations for every borough employee by the end of this year. The goal, he says, is to identify those employees most deserving of raises starting next year.

“We have never had that, but we will,” Menna said at last night’s bimonthly council session. “Equity and fairness dictate that employees who are doing a good job deserve a decent raise. This is the last year that there are going to be blanket, uniform raises.”

Read More »

RED BANK TO BOOST SALARIES 3.5 PERCENT

Money_full_column

On tonight’s Red Bank borough council agenda are measures to eliminate at least two salaried positions and boost the pay of all non-unionized employees by 3.5 percent.

One job, the now-vacant position of deputy chief, would be eliminated as part of a police department restructuring. The position carries a base salary of $111,335 before longevity enhancements.

At the same time, the number of captains would be doubled from the present two, and the number of sergeants would drop by one, to seven. The ordinance calls for the number of lieutenants —the rank above sergeant and below captain — to remain at five. Salaries for those ranks were not disclosed.

Also up for 3.5-percent raises: the mayor and council. Mayor Pasquale Menna’s salary would rise to $7,301, and pay for each of the six council members would increase to $3,650.

Missing from the salary ordinance up for approval is the job of assistant director in Parks & Rec, a position most recently held by Tomora Young. Last year, the job carried a base salary of $37,435.

Read More »

PRESS SHRINKS AGAIN

Citing “deteriorating business conditions,” Gannett Co, the owner of the Asbury Park Press, eliminated 120 positions at six New Jersey newspapers yesterday.

Appcupsmall

Among the affected publications are the Press, the Home News-Tribune in East Brunswick and the Daily Record in Parsippany.

No breakdown of the impact on each newspaper was provided in the five-sentence report of the layoffs posted in the online version of the Press. Reporters employed there told redbankgreen prior to the announcement that 50 jobs were on the line there.

Read More »

FAIR HAVEN SAVES BIG IN-HOUSE

Img_5649Hatless at the moment, Rich Gardella wears several at his Allen Street office.

By SUE MORGAN

He’s been on the job little more than seven months, but Rich Gardella, 35-year-old, spike-haired Fair Haven employee, is saving the modest-sized bedroom community big bucks and giving the town tighter control over construction than its had in years, officials say.

He’s doing it the old way: by wearing multiple hats. As the Borough Engineer, Public Works Supervisor and planning board engineer, Gardella draws up schematics for sewer basins, reviews plans for every home and business addition, and makes sure the leaves get picked up on time and ballfields get mowed. He also pulls duty inspecting construction sites.

In fact, he’s saving the town so much money that it just gave him a raise.

Read More »

CROWD EXPECTED FOR CONSULATE VISITORS

Large numbers of undocumented Mexican immigrants are expected to begin lining up outside the Red Bank Charter School as early as this evening for a five-day visit by employees of the Mexican Consulate in New York beginning tomorrow.

Hot_topic

Thirteen consulate employees will be on hand from Wednesday through Sunday to process requests for Mexican passports and consular ID cards, says Diana Litwin, a volunteer who’s helping organize what’s billed as ‘the Mexican Consulate on Wheels.’

The documents, says Litwin, in no way change the holder’s citizenship status. Rather, they provide Mexican nationals with basic identification for use in everything from banking to healthcare, and enable holders to obtain federal taxpayer ID numbers from the IRS so they can pay taxes.

“They’re already here, so tax them,” says Litwin. “When they work in restaurants and they have tax ID numbers, their bosses can put them on the payroll and hey can begin paying taxes.”

Read More »