STATEHOUSE: GOPAL, O’SCANLON SCORE WINS


 Vin Gopal and his 11th-district running mates staked out an island of Democratic blue in a sea of GOP red. (Map by NJSpotlight.com.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Middletown resident Phil Murphy was the clear winner in the 2017 New Jersey gubernatorial race Tuesday, in spite of a chilly reception from his home county.

Meanwhile, Republican state Senator Jen Beck of Red Bank lost her 11th-district statehouse seat to Democrat Vin Gopal, and first-term Red Bank Councilman Mike Whelan came up short in his bid for an Assembly seat on Beck’s ticket.

Former Little Silver Councilman Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican, held off a challenge to his 13th-district state Senate seat by Middletown Democrat Sean Byrnes, according to results posted by the Monmouth County Clerk.

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RED BANK: INKY PROBES SEGREGATION CLAIMS

The Red Bank Charter School on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Is the Red bank school district segregated? And if so, is the Red Bank Charter School at fault?

An article published Thursday on philly.com, the online version of the Philadelphia Inquirer, probes that question, and whether others among New Jersey’s 88 charter schools are also segregated.

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RED BANK: BECK BLASTS TRUMP

“There are no ‘very fine’ Nazis or members of the KKK,” said state Senator Jen Beck, seen here at the Mayor’s Ball in 2015. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Republican State Senator Jen Beck on Wednesday joined a chorus of lawmakers condemning President Trump for blaming “both sides” in violent clashes between white-supremacist marchers and their opponents in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

Beck blasted Trump’s comments as “outrageous,” and called on him to retract and apologize for them.

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LITTLE SILVER: RBR NAMES 6 TO HALL OF FAME

Pictured left to right are the 2017 inductees for the RBR Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame: RBR teacher Cassandra Dorn; Red Bank Middle School Vice Principal James T. Pierson; Dr. Erin Curtis, Optometrist; Sergeant Joey Fields, Red Bank Police Department; Dr. Carol A. Penn, physician family medicine, and Ramona Johnson, special education teacher, Newark NJ public schools.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

On the morning of April 28, an annual highlight of spring took place once again at Red Bank Regional High School,when the BUC Backer Foundation inducted six RBR graduates into its Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.

State Senator Jennifer Beck, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna, Red Bank Councilman Michael Whelan, Shrewsbury Mayor Donald Burden, and Little Silver Councilman Daniel O’Hern were among the friends, family members and community neighbors who gathered in the school’s theatre to celebrate the contributions of this year’s honorees. The inductees were introduced by the RBR Buccaneer Newspaper students, who wrote bios on the alumni for a commemorative journal, and musical accompaniment was provided by the piano majors of RBR’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy. The festivities continued with a celebratory luncheon catered by the RBR culinary students.

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ON THE GREEN: BECK, KYRILLOS OPPOSE LINE

rb njt 041014A view north along the North Jersey Coast Line from the Red Bank train station. The proposed JCP&L power line would be strong alongside the railroad right-of-way on poles as tall as 140 feet. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A controversial 10-mile long, high-voltage electricity transmission line that would end in Red Bank is no more welcome today than it was when it was shelved more than two decades ago, two local legislators said Thursday.

State Senators Jen Beck, of Red Bank, and Joe Kyrillos, of Middletown, jointly introduced a trio of resolutions in Trenton aimed at blocking electricity provider JCP&L from building the line.

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RED BANK: BECK SITS OUT TRUMPFEST

jen beck 052715State Senator Jen Beck, seen here with local Republicans in 2015, passed on this week’s Republican National Convention. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_PlainFour months after saying Governor Chris Christie should choose between Donald Trump and New Jersey, Republican State Senator Jen Beck of Red Bank is sitting out her party’s national convention this week.

While Christie is in Cleveland carrying water for the prospective GOP nominee, Beck was back home, telling Paul Brubaker of the Backgrounder podcast that she feels “conflicted” about Trump’s ascendance.

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RED BANK: MAYOR’S BALL II DRAWS A CROWD

philipson menna 050616rb mayors ball 050616 12Mayor Pasquale Menna, above right, welcomed Count Basie Theatre CEO Adam Philipson, left, and more than 200 other guests to the second annual Red Bank Mayor’s Charity Ball at the Oyster Point Hotel Friday night. Proceeds from the $125-per-head event were earmarked for the borough-based nonprofits Lunch Break and HABcore

Check out the photos from redbankgreen’s drive-thru of the cocktail hour, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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RED BANK: A WEIGHTED LOTTERY, AND A WAIT

rbcs lottery 042816 2CPA Scott Landau holds a ball he drew from a rotating drum as charter school business administrator Theresa Shirley records its number Thursday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03For the first time in its 17-year history, the Red Bank Charter School conducted a lottery engineered to give socioeconomically disadvantaged children a better shot at winning seats Thursday night.

But for parents hoping to enroll their children, the so-called weighted lottery, meant to address a lack of diversity that critics contend make Red Bank the “most segregated school district in the state of New Jersey,” now gives way to another kind of wait.

That’s because, in effect, there are no openings.

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RED BANK: WEIGHTED CHARTER LOTTERY OK’D

rbcs 032216 1The lottery drawing is scheduled for April 28 at the charter school, on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Though its highly controversial proposal to double enrollment was rejected, the Red Bank Charter School has won state approval to conduct a weighted entrance lottery.

Charter school Superintendent and Principal Meredith Pennotti confirmed Tuesday that New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe had reversed course on one aspect of his February 29 decision and approved the use of a lottery structured to give socio-economically disadvantaged kids better odds of joining the 200-student school.

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RED BANK: BECK TO CHRISTIE: NJ OR TRUMP

jen beck 012216 3State Senator Jen Beck says the governorship “is more than a full-time job.” Below, Christie in Sea Bright in 2013. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

SB christie 6 082813State Senator Jen Beck of Red Bank says it’s time for Governor Chris Christie to choose between Donald Trump and New Jersey.

Adding to the chorus of criticism over Christie’s recent endorsement of Trump, Beck said Christie “cannot continue serving as our governor” if he’s going to be on the campaign trail with him, according to a report by app.com Wednesday afternoon.

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RED BANK: PLAN TESTED DISTRICT’S METTLE

rbms 121715 3Red Bank Superintendent Jared Rumage addressing a packed middle school rally opposing the charter school plan on December 17. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02In nearly every public utterance throughout the three-month battle over a proposed Red Bank Charter School expansion, borough schools Superintendent Jared Rumage said he welcomed the chance to talk about the district as it exists today, not as it was a generation ago.

His goal wasn’t simply to rebut what he called “fiction” in the charter school’s projections about the financial impact on the host district. Just as much, Rumage said, was the need to answer what he consider a baseless slap at the district. Read More »

RED BANK: STATE DENIES CHARTER EXPANSION

rbcs 020416 1A proposal to double the size of the charter school called for using the building on Monmouth Street for new classroom space. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
just_in

The Red Bank Charter School expansion will have to wait.

New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe has rejected the charter school’s request to double its enrollment, according to a letter sent to the school Monday.

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RED BANK: RUMAGE REFUTES CHARTER DATA

rbcs rumage slides 012216 1Superintendent Jared Rumage speaking at the middle school in January. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Red Bank borough schools Superintendent Jared Rumage calls data in a recent mailing to borough residents by the Red Bank Charter School “fiction.”

The flyer, which purports to show that the charter school’s impact on local taxes is light and getting lighter, also includes figures that “are different from those previously shared by the Charter School when making the same argument,” Rumage wrote in a letter posted on the borough schools website Monday.

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RED BANK: O’SCANLON OPPOSES CHARTER PLAN

rbcs 021016O’Scanlon says underfunding of the local school district should be “preemptively disqualifying” of the proposed charter school expansion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02New Jersey Assemblyman and self-described school-choice supporter Declan O’Scanlon calls the proposed expansion of the Red Bank Charter School “ill-informed” and says it should be rejected.

In what he calls a “data-driven” analysis of the plan, O’Scanlon calls on state Education Commissioner David Hespe to deny the request, and adds that he would “question” the merits of the proposal even if, as other critics have demanded, the state fully funds the local school district from which the charter school sprang 17 years ago.

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RED BANK: BECK WEIGHS IN ON CHARTER PLAN

rbcs 121515 2The charter school campus on Oakland Street, above, abuts a commercial building on Oakland Street in which the school recently leased space for current and possible future use. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03State Senator Jennifer Beck has asked the New Jersey education department to either fully fund Red Bank’s public schools or reject a proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School.

In a letter sent to Commissioner David Hespe Governor Chris Christie on Friday, Beck says that allowing the charter school expansion to go ahead without a commensurate increase in funding for the district would “require Red Bank taxpayers to absorb an enormous tax increase and potentially leave public school students with less educational opportunities.”

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RUMSON: CLOSING OUT A HISTORIC CAREER

IMG_1497Monmouth County Historical Association president Linda Bricker greets C. Glenn May, during a recent ceremony honoring his 30 years of service with the MCHA.

Press release from Monmouth County Historical Association

Close to 100 employees, board members, volunteers and friends were in attendance on May 12, during a ceremony honoring C. Glenn May upon his retirement after 30 years with The Monmouth County Historical Association, most recently as Senior Education Coordinator.

The event was held at the Rumson home of trustee Mark and Andrea Aikens. The couple welcomed everyone to their home; introducing MCHA president Linda Bricker (who served as mistress of ceremonies), Association director Dr. Evelyn C. Murphy, Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian Burry, as well as many other representatives of the board, staff and volunteers.

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RED BANK: FOUR MAYORS… AND SOME FRIENDS

lee kuo 050115lock menna 050115The first-ever Red Bank Mayor’s Charity Ball brought together three ex-mayors, the current one and some 250 of their friends at the Oyster Point Hotel Friday night. Among those in attendance: former Councilwoman Sharon Lee and restaurateur Victor Kuo, above, and Pastor John Lock, with Mayor Pasquale Menna, at right.

Proceeds from the $125-per-head event were earmarked for the Red Bank Public Library and the Parker Family Health Center.

redbankgreen grabbed dozens of photos during the cocktail hour overlooking our beautiful Navesink River. Click the “read more” to see who else was there. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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RED BANK: GAS VALVE BATTLE EXPANDS

A gas regulator valve outside the Ebner’s rug store on East Front Street that borough officials said was the subject of a summons. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A legal and PR battle pitting Red Bank government and business interests against the region’s dominant natural gas distributor is about to move into a new arena.

Borough officials, having lost round one in court, voted Monday night to file an appeal that they hope will stop New Jersey Natural Gas from relocating gas regulator valves from sub-sidewalk boxes to storefronts downtown.

Meantime, the town has begun issuing summonses charging the utility with doing construction work without obtaining necessary permits.

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RED BANK GOP CANDIDATE NOW RUNS SOLO

Council candidate Suzanne Viscomi, left, joined by state Senator Jen Beck, center, and Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, answers questions during a presser in her driveway Monday. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Already a little-known, thinly financed newcomer taking on established incumbents, Red Bank council candidate Suzanne Viscomi will go the rest of the campaign without a running mate.

Viscomi announced Monday that ticket mate and fellow borough board of ed member Allen Palma has had to withdraw from the race for personal reasons.

At an open-air press conference outside her home Monday, Viscomi said the vacancy on the ballot was unlikely to be filled, and that she would run solo. But she didn’t see that as a hinderance in her effort to unseat either Art Murphy or Mike DuPont.

“We only need one voice” to counter that of the all-Democratic mayor and council, she said.

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TOWN FIRES BACK IN GAS EQUIPMENT SPAT

Gas utility crews have been working downtown this week to replace gas regulators in pits beneath sidewalks without moving them. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Escalating a dispute over who gets to determine where utility equipment can be installed, Red Bank officials threw another obstacle in the way of a New Jersey Natural Gas plan to relocate unsightly gas regulators from beneath downtown sidewalks to above-ground sites.

A pair of ordinance amendments adopted by the borough council Wednesday night would require the utility, and any other developer, to obtain planning or zoning board approval for any installation that “may impact” a sidewalk.

The changes, officials insisted, were aimed at squaring the language of existing ordinances, and do not create any new hurdles. But the move comes amid a pending lawsuit and other actions in a back-and-forth that pits the borough government and business interests against the gas company.

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RED BANK SCORES FIRST IN GAS METER SUIT

New Jersey Natural Gas says it needs to install 88 pressure-relief regulators above ground, and has filed suit to force the borough to issue permits. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank won the first round in a legal battle with a natural gas provider over unsightly valves the utility insists must be installed along storefronts downtown for safety reasons.

In a decision issued in Freehold Monday, state Superior Court Judge Lawrence Lawson rejected New Jersey Natural Gas Company’s request for an order requiring the borough to immediately issue permits for the replacement work.

The ruling comes despite written testimony by NJNG employees that two underground regulators were found to have been leaking beneath sidewalks on Broad Street just last week.

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RED BANK GAS SPAT MOVES TO STATEHOUSE

Red Bank wants the regulators, below, enclosed beneath sidewalks, like one outside 26 Monmouth Street, above.  (Click to enlarge)

Three months after Red Bank borough and New Jersey Natural Gas publicly clashed over the gas company’s plan to install pressure-regulating valves in front of more than 80 borough businesses, the fight has moved to Trenton.

After a hearing over proposed legislation that would limit the utility’s ability to unilaterally locate emergency venting equipment was postponed Monday, representatives of the two sides aired their cases on the Statehouse steps, the Asbury Park Press reports.

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OFFICIALS BLAST NJNG OVER GAS VALVES

State Senator Jennifer Beck with the offending gas pressure valve on Broad Street Wednesday. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

[SEE UPDATE TO THIS STORY AT THE BOTTOM]

Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna and 11th-District state Senator Jennifer Beck teed up New Jersey Natural Gas Wednesday for a plan to install emergency venting devices in front of downtown storefronts.

Labeling them “Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Vandals,” the historically inclined mayor blasted unnamed NJNG officials for a “tyrannical decision to put in these horse hitches,” he said at a midday press conference outside Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash on Broad Street, where one of the offending valves was installed a year ago.

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A COMEDY SPECIAL (HOLD THE CHEESE)

covertCovert operations: Elsie’s Subs co-proprietor Chris Covert (pictured in his night job as stand-up comic) brings the latest in his ongoing Comedy Night Live series to the Dublin House on Friday, August 26.

By TOM CHESEK

Maybe you like your humor DRY, and your subs WET — maybe vice versa. Either way, he’s got you covered.

Most days of the week, Chris Covert presides over one of the most beloved institutions within the Red Bank state of mind — Elsie’s Subs, the 52-year-old Monmouth Street landmark that’s been owned by his wife Tish for over 20 years.

As the steward of a brand about which native Red Bankers tend to get territorial (it’s not uncommon for in-the-know visitors to grab an Elsie’s special immediately after coming in from the airport — and to order a no oil/vinegar “dry” sub for the flight back home), Covert loves nothing more than to keep serving a loyal clientele that consists of “99 percent repeat customers – the best kind there is.”

That said, the honorable earl of sandwich has been known to have his other pursuits and fancies — not the least of which is an artistic bent that’s manifested itself in a series of quirky mosaic portraits, as well as a cutting-edge flair for custom-carved Halloween pumpkins.

As if he weren’t in danger of slicing himself too thin already, this Caravaggio of the capicola has an altogether separate, nocturnal calling — as a practitioner of the art of stand-up comedy, and ringmaster of a regular series of Comedy Open Mic events at the equally iconic Dublin House. It’s to the second floor of The Dub that Covert returns this Friday, August 26, for the fourth and latest in a monthly menu of Comedy Night Live events.

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