THE WEEK IN REARVIEW

mittA 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.

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BRIGHTBILL TAKES PASS ON RE-ELECTION BID

pam-brightbillDeputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill won’t seek re-election this year. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

After six years on the township committee, including a stint as mayor, Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill is “passing the baton” and will not run for re-election this year, she says.

Taking her place on the ballot, alongside Mayor Tony Fiore, is zoning board member Stephanie Murray.

Murray and Fiore will run on the Republican ticket against two Democrats who’ve each made unsuccessful runs for the committee.

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MYSTERY ROBOCALLS SLAM M’TOWN SPENDING

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Just a few days before Middletown is set to introduce its budget, the phone lines are buzzing.

Who’s calling? That’s the mystery.

The callers identify themselves members of the Concerned Citizens of Middletown and slam the township committee for “excessive spending” and “engaging in an elaborate shell game” with tax dollars.

The robocalls have residents and township officials questioning the source — and legitimacy — of the messages. At least two rounds of calls have been reported.

“It appears to be just another desperate attempt by the Middletown Democrats to spread misinformation to the taxpayers,” Mayor Tony Fiore said.

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M’TOWN LIBRARY DEBATE GETS PERSONAL

gabrielan-settembrinoKevin 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.

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MIDDLETOWN DAY BOUNCES BACK

mtown-dayMoonbounces and other rubbery, bouncy things were heavily used by children for Saturday’s Middletown Day. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

To the casual observer, Middletown Day was another Middletown Day — music, firetrucks on display, bouncy houses that echo the joyous shrieks of children.

But for a while there, a tough budget season dictated there wasn’t going to be a Middletown Day this year.

A little rallying, though, resurrected the annual tradition before it had a chance to be completely scratched from the calendar.

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M’TOWN MAYOR WANTS TEACHER PAY FREEZE

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

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.

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