A catcher’s mitt at Rumson Little League’s opening day. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Break-ins were the breaking news that dominated locally last week, topped by word of an arrest of an suspect in a string of high-end residential burglaries that included pop star Bon Jovi among the victims.
Kevin Settembrino, left, and Randall Gabrielan, far right, got into a tiff within the open minutes of Wednesday night’s library board meeting. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
The line of cars backing up in both directions on New Monmouth Road Wednesday night was the first sign that the Middletown library board meeting starting in a few minutes was going to be a departure from the humdrum of the trustees’ typical monthly session.
“Good evening, everybody, and welcome to the combat zone,” board president Randall Gabrielan quipped at the opening, and he wasn’t far off. Before it was over, one citizen had invoked invoked the name of the world’s foremost terrorist in challenging an elected official’s suitability to even sit on the board, and Garbrielan himself had been accused of lying.
But after more than three hours of heated debate, finger-pointing, name-calling and innuendo, the issue of whether the library board would grant a request by the township committee for $898,000 of the library’s $1.2 million surplus to help balance the town budget moved toward a possible resolution.
With a voter-rejected schools budget now landing in the lap of the Middletown Township Committee for recommended cuts, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger is calling for township teachers to accept a one-year pay freeze, a move he estimates will save the district $3 million.
“That’s pretty significant,” he said. “That would go a long way with saving jobs, with very little effort.”
Scharfenberger, echoing Governor Chris Christie, put out the request on Friday, just days after the school board’s $140.3 million budget was handily defeated and three board incumbents were voted out. Scharfenberger said that was the voters showing support for such action.