Highlands rountable Nov 1 BTYB: Councilman Card


bayavebakeryAs an effort to communicate. councilman  Doug Card will be hosting bi-weekly round table conversation open to all. his first round table discussion will be Saturday, November 1 at Bay Avenue Bakery, 9 AM. He hopes to see you there. The goal of the roundtable is so that there is greater communication without boundaries to discuss all the issues confronting Highlands post Sandy. For the first round table there will be no set topic or agenda. There may be one other council there to answer questions.

Election Time in Highlands 2014 – what you are voting on


election ballot 1

There are a few components to this year elections on Nov 4th.  The first is US Senate, House of Representatives (Think how much Pallone has helped Highlands since Sandy) & Monmouth County Freeholder.

The second piece voters choose members on the  Highlands School boards.

You have two seats available at the Henry Hudson District and the Highlands Board of Education, (Basically the elementary school district.

The last are public questions. One of which is at the local Highlands level.
election ballot 3

The first public question asks if voters approve amending the Constitution to allow a court to order pretrial detention of a person in a criminal case, changing the current constitutional right to bail.

The second public question asks if voters approve amending the Constitution to dedicate certain State revenues each year for environmental programs.

The third public questions asks Highlands voters if the local non-partisan elections (council and mayor positions) should be in May 2015 or November 2015.

Normally, non-partisan elections are held in May instead of November.  There is an opportunity to move it back to November and have it aligned with the normal election date. The down side to that would be the current incumbents would keep their seats for the extra time without being challenged.

Where are we in Highlands 2 years after Sandy


October 2013 we went to Henry Hudson and listened to the Highlands Prioritization Report at the FEMA recovery meeting.  I wanted to give an update of where we are.

Highlands Project Prioritization Oct 2013 V I D Final Priority Ranking Completed by Oct 2014
STORM WATER DRAINAGE & FLOOD MITIGATION 58 5 0 Vital N
DIRECT PIPING OF STORM WATER FROM RT 36 TO RIVER 55 7 1 Vital N
ASSESS, REPAIR, & UPGRADE SANITARY SYSTEM TO REDUCE I &I, LOWER RATES TO CUSTOMERS 49 9 2 Vital N
US ARM CORP OF ENGINEERS IDEAS 41 3 1 Vital N
BAY AVE RENAISSANCE 34 13 8 Vital N
HOUSING ADVOCATE 24 12 7 Vital N
CAPITALIZING ON SANDY HOOK & HIGHLANDS WATERFRONT 24 16 10 Important N
ENHANCE STEEP SLOPE STABILITY TOWN WIDE 21 22 4 Important N
CODE COMPLIANCE & ENFORCEMENT 21 18 13 Important N*
COMMUNITY CENTER REDEVELOPMENT 16 20 15 Important N
WATERFRONT PROMOTION MARITIME HISTORY & THE ARTS 11 18 20 Important N
BIKE PATH 5 19 30 Desirable N

* October 22, 2014 an ordinance was passed to give the town more leverage to go after abandoned/foreclosed homes.

 

Who is Carolyn Broullon and how do you pronounce that last name?


carolynCarolyn Broullon has thrown her hat in the local Highlands political ring. The timing of when she gets in, next May or the following November, is up to you and how you vote in this November’s election of when the next Non-Partisan Election should be.

Here is her statement on who she is and what she stands for:

I discovered Highlands in 2002 while looking for a vacation home. After a few months, I realized what an amazing town this is and got rid of my NYC apartment to live here full time. It took a while to learn all my neighbor’s names and stories since I worked in Manhattan and wasn’t around from 7:30 am – 7:30 pm on workdays. Now, I’m proud to say we’re not just neighbors but good friends.

After Sandy, so many of us were either living out of town or simply couldn’t make it up the hill to go to the council meetings, so my wife and I signed up for a free uStream.tv account, bought a USB microphone and started streaming the meetings from our Mac laptop. We felt it was important for those displaced to have a way to see the council meetings, to participate in our future.

At the end of last summer, a group of residents came together to try to help the town move forward by re-introducing non-partisan elections to Highlands. We met as strangers with different ideas and party affiliations, but banded together to make our town more than just Democrats and Republicans. After knocking on doors and educating residents on how non-partisan election work, we successfully changed how we elect our council people in Highlands. This is now a direct process in which political party leaders do not choose who is on the ballot, Highlanders do.

My professional background has prepared me well for serving Highlands. I’ve been working in market research since 1992, coordinating international fieldwork, conducting focus groups and managing staff. My start in research was at Data Development, now known as Radius Global Market Research [one of the largest independent market research firm in the US], then on to Research International, now a part of TNS in the WPP Group [one of the top 5 market research firms in the world].  From 1999-2006, I had my own research business then I went on to my current position Vice President of Gazelle Global.

Skills I’ve honed along the way include budgeting, staff management, contract negotiations and conflict resolution.  Most of all, my training has given me the tools to listen to people and transform those thoughts and ideas into action.  I believe I can use my business experience to help our town. Now that I’m working from home, I have the time to do just that. We need so many things, but we must also prioritize.

Here’s a short list of actions I believe will make a difference in everyday Highlander’s lives:

1. Negotiate a resolution to Borough Hall and the Community Center empty buildings

2. Aggressive code enforcement to bring in much needed revenue

3. Review current operational cost and make cuts where appropriate

4. Remove ordinances that hinder new business development

We need to embrace the use of volunteers to contribute to a town-wide recovery including: light construction, painting, weed-whacking and street sweeping. There are many things we can do locally, without state or Federal funding. We have many tradespeople in town that can guide volunteers to complete much needed projects.

Those of you that know me have seen this example, but for those of you who do not:

In December of 2008, a serve flood wiped out a road to a state park in Hawaii. After being told by the state that repairs would take $4 million dollars and up to 2 years to fix, the residents and business owners came together, rented heavy equipment, got some volunteers, and in April of 2009, they did it themselves, in 8 days.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/09/hawaii.volunteers.repair/

What’s on your short list? What are your ideas? Don’t be shy. Tell me. I’m listening.

Yours for Highlands,

Carolyn
cbroullon@comcast.net

P.S. Broullon is pronounced brew-yawn. Just think: You brew coffee so you don’t yawn.

5 Things You Need to Know About 10/22 Council Meeting


5  1. R-14-220  In case you haven’t seen the app.com from last night, the council by a vote of 3-2, (Becky, Nolan, Redmond Y, Card/Ryan N)  approved a proposal at Wednesday night’s meeting to require everyone from employees to volunteers to include a disclaimer when they comment on an unofficial Highlands Facebook group page or any other social media outlet. What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. It was a futile attempt at intimidation. There is no recourse outlined.  So they passed a resolution to make certain council members feel better with the intent of intimidating residents and is not worth the paper its typed out on. (Shows were the council focus is though)

2. Fees for Peddler licenses were increased from $25 to $50 for vendors with a vehicle.

3. They increased the number of peddlers/vendors from 6 – 10.

4. O-14-24 The Council passed an Ordinance to adopt a State ordinance that allows the town to go after residential and commercial properties vacant and in foreclosure. It was noted that having the power to something and actually doing something are two separate things.

5. A portion of Valley Street up by Rt 36 is now one way from Highlands Blvd to Rt 36.

New Disclaimer Proposed for Highlands Residents on Facebook


my opinion What you need to know about R- 14- 220:

FB URL

Highlands New Jersey Facebook “Group”

The Borough of Highlands wants to mandate that any elected official, official, employee, agent, representative, and volunteer must include a disclosure on any post to the Highlands, New Jersey Facebook page (which there actually isn’t one, there is a Highlands, New Jersey Facebook Group – you can tell by the word groups in the url) OR any other social media site (pretty loose scope).

The proposed disclosure shall read “the following is a statement, comment or posting of [your name here] only and does not represent an official statement, comment or posting on behalf of the Borough of Highlands.”

A few things here:

a) All of the things that need to be accomplished in Highlands: Flood mitigation, Town Hall & PD station repaired, Tax stabilization, Attracting businesses to Bay Ave, and they chose this as a priority??  Really?

b) The proposed resolution is so broadly written it opens the door to selective enforcement, which in I’m guessing was purposefully done.

c) It appears to be another way to gag residents. First they limited the amount of time you have to ask questions in a council meeting. Now they are trying to legislate how you communicate on social media.

HB fb page

Highlands Blog Facebook “Page”

d) If their assertion that people are getting “confused” because Highlands is in the title of the social media site, then ask the social media site owner to disclose its not an Official Highlands Borough Social Media site.  I know this should be obvious already to anybody going to the said page/groups etc. But some people apparently get easily confused.  This Blog has a facebook page. (You can tell because it has the word “page” in the url) and its always had in the header “Personal Blog”)

e) A better way to handle it would be to have an official Highlands Borough Facebook Page & Twitter Account. (Like other towns, i.e. Middletown, or Hazlet) for “Official communication”.

f) Another potential way to handle it would be to have “officials” put a disclaimer up when they are posting “official” business. This way its a much narrower scope, easier to enforce and doesn’t force 1/2 the town to write a disclosure when they post anything anywhere.  Have you ever volunteered for anything in town, ever? Well then my fellow resident, you would be considered a volunteer under this proposed resolution.

g) The disclaimer doesn’t fit in a Tweet – (which is only 140 characters), what happens there?

h) Its on the Highlands Agenda for Wednesday Night’s Council Meeting at 8pm HES. If you feel like this is a joke and want our elected officials to spend more time fixing our town, getting grants and stabilizing taxes, you might want to come and speak out. (But do it in 3 minutes or less.)

i) This resolution seems to be counter productive.  If you volunteer you’re not allowed to post on social media with out disclosure, and if you post on certain outlets, you can’t volunteer. Here are some of the social media outlets that could be considered if you ever volunteered and post on:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram (You want to post a pic of Twin Lights, make sure you disclose that’s your pic and has nothing to do with the Town.)
Picasa
Google +
Pintrest
Linkedin
Youtube
Blogger
Wordpress
Any Comments section of any web site
Vimeo
Vine
Digg
Google Talk
Skype
Reddit
StumbleUpon
Yahoo Buzz
Delicious

Halloween for kids & seniors in Highlands


sandy jackolanternsSeniors:

The Highlands Senior Citizen Group will be having a Halloween Luncheon on Thursday, October 23rd at 12:00 noon at the VFW Hall on 331 Bay Ave. The cost is $5.00 per person which includes pizza, soda, donuts, apple cider, and coffee. Come join us for a Spooktacular Day of fun, games, and spooky music. Enter our Costume Contest for Scariest, Most Original, and Funniest costume. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Rose at 732-291-7512 or Judith at 732-291-9249 by October 20th.

 

Kids:

Halloween Costume Contest & Magic Show
The Borough of Highlands Recreation Dept. will be having its Halloween Costume Contest and a Magic Show on Sunday, October 26th at the Henry Hudson Regional School Cafeteria. The Costume Contest will begin promptly at 1:00 pm and the Magic Show will begin at 1:30 pm. Categories for participation in the contest are as follows: Ages 3 and under; Ages 4, 5, & 6; Ages 7, 8, & 9; Ages 10 and up; and Themed Group (3 or more people). Prizes, refreshments, and candy will be available. Please call 732-872-1224 ext. 232 if you have any questions.

Union Beach Puts Law on Books to Tackle Abandoned Home Problem


Bay Ave 2According today’s App.com Union Beach Borough Council recently put a law on the books that requires owners of vacant homes (mostly bank owned and negligent landlords) to register those properties by escalating annual fees that begin at $500 and top out, after three consecutive years, at $5,000.

The new ordinance puts strict requirements on owners to maintain the appearance of the property — mowing lawns and picking up trash — and also perform repair or remediation on the interior of the home as well.

Violators are subject to fines up to $1,000 per instance and those penalties can be assessed as liens on the property.

Jennifer Wenson Maier (UB Borough Administrator ) is well aware that many Union Beach families were forced out of their homes after Superstorm Sandy and still are trying to figure out the finances to return. Even though it doesn’t specify what kind of owner these rules can be enforced upon, the borough will not apply it to those people, she said.

Union Beach is not looking to go after homeowners who are looking to go back into their homes, they are specifically targeting bank-owned properties and to negligent landlords.

Some of the dangers reported are: raccoons, skunks, rodents, rats, kids going into them, lower property values for neighboring homes, and because of the high grass, people using them as a dumping ground, and mold in the homes in many cases.

Quick Chek Highlands to get Grant


Quick_ChekAccording to APP.com,  State of NJ announced this week that 33 gas stations (one of which is Quick Chek on Route 36 on the western edge of Highlands)— using $1.8 million in government grants — have been approved to move forward with plans to retrofit their operations for a backup power supply, so they can continue to sell gas during a crisis with widespread power outages.

The approved stations, which were eligible for the grant because of their strategic location along shore evacuation routes, will be either installing connection points for mobile generators or buying and fitting permanent backup generators.

During Sandy I think most of us remember having to either drive down 36 to either Sunaco or Wawa and waiting on-line.

How to Not to be An Internet Asshole


Anyone who has spent any amount of time on the Highlands NJ Facebook Group,  the Atlantic Highlands Herald chatrooms, or even here on this Blog’s comment section has, at some point interacted with an “Internet Asshole”.  You know you have if you have ever had any of the following happen:

  1. Had your political views compared to that of Hitler’s
  2. Have been told to GFY
  3. Have been told you must eat your own if you disagree with them
  4. Been threatened legally or otherwise
  5. Had sarcastic pictures posted to make fun of you
  6. Had your name misspelled or changed in a thread for no other reason than to irritate

The Internet does have a way of bringing out the worst in people. You may think that the Internet simply allows people to say what they were already thinking anyway.  That’s not necessarily true. It’s not that people were not already thinking these things, it’s just they never had the courage to say them in person.

I wanted to outline some helpful hints on “how to avoid being an Internet Asshole:”

  1. Know what Internet Assholes are, and what their activities are. After all, without knowing what an Internet Asshole’s behavior is, you may be confused with Internet Asshole just because you are engaging in conversations with them. Be informed.internet asshole 1
  2. Rationally consider the other person’s feelings. Remember, people on the people on the other side of the computer screen have feelings too. (Even the Internet Assholes.)
  3. Step Away From The Temptations. (No I don’t mean from listening to My girl, Ain’t too proud to beg or other songs) I mean, Internet Trolls and Assholes are there to pick a fight.  As tempting as it may be to engage and invoke some type of logic, it’s not going to work.  (See my older post (How to win an Internet Argument). It cartoondoesn’t matter that “they started it”, it just matters that you behaved badly too by responding to their bad behavior.
  4. Be civil. This is fairly simple; it is just common etiquette. If you kill them with kindness and logic, that drives Internet Assholes Crazy. It’s really the best revenge.
  5. Take a break from the site if arguments start to escalate.  Go eat a ham sandwich. Doing this will help stop the argument, and in many cases, the conflict will just fade away as the Internet Asshole has nobody to argue with.

With that I just want to remind everyone, we’re coming up on the 2nd anniversary of Sandy. Anniversaries are Trigger Events.  There is much Sandy-itis going on. It’s going on year 3 and our PD & Borough Hall are still in trailers, we’ve not started flood mitigation yet, some people are still not in their care continuumhouses and some people’s RREM grants are being taken back. To feel on edge, angry, anxious, depressed is normal.

Look at the FEMA care continuum from 2013 ——>

It will get better.

One last reminder to those going through this… Alcohol will not make things better…

But then again, neither will milk..

It’s Lighthouse Challenge Time Again


twin lightsThe Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey is happening the weekend on October 18th & 19th, 2014. Visitors may enjoy the opportunity to tour the state and visit each lighthouse over the weekend, and help raise needed funds for the continued preservation of our treasured landmarks.

Twin Lights & Sandy Hook Lighthouse are just two of the 11 participating lighthouses.

Children aged 11 and under climb free with an adult. More information and hours of operation for each lighthouse are found at participating lighthouse and museum websites and at www.lighthousechallengenj.org, www.njlhs.orgwww.visitnj.org and NJ Lighthouse Challenge Facebook

Volunteers Can Give Sandy-Stricken Towns, Taxpayers a Break Main Content


Release date: OCTOBER 3, 2014 Release Number: SRFO NJ NR 37

EATONTOWN, N.J. — After Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey in October 2012, thousands of volunteers from across the nation came to the state to help affected shore towns.

That help was sorely needed and greatly appreciated by residents of these stricken communities. But the volunteers’ work had an additional benefit – these municipalities can receive credit for the hours put in by volunteers that translates into dollars saved on the costs of recovery – and that credit can be substantial.

FEMA reimburses municipalities as much as 90 percent of the cost associated with disaster recovery projects including debris removal, repair, and reconstruction of public facilities. The communities are responsible for the remainder. However, they can apply the volunteer hours/cost of labor to their share of the overall project cost, which can lead to substantial savings for taxpayers.

Enacted in 2007 and revised in February 2014, FEMA Disaster Assistance Policy 9525.2 allows towns to offset their share of eligible costs with volunteered and donated resources, provided that they keep records of volunteers’ hours worked and duties performed and equivalent information for equipment and materials.

Eighty-seven percent of New Jersey’s non-police public safety workers (firefighters, EMTs, paramedics) are volunteers, the highest rate in the United States.

More than 250,000 volunteers came to the Jersey Shore to help towns and residents clean up, saving the state over 64 million dollars through their volunteer labor.

They fought fires, distributed meals to displaced survivors, set up and staffed emergency shelters, removed debris, prepared and dropped sand bags, and performed search-and-rescue operations and safety inspections, among other duties. They have contributed more than 2.5 million man-hours statewide.

To calculate what the volunteered labor and equipment would have cost, FEMA consulted with the New Jersey Department of Labor to determine the market value for jobs performed on site, including volunteer equipment operators. Donated equipment was valued according to FEMA’s “Schedule of Equipment Rates” unless it is included in a reimbursed equipment rate, in which case it does not count toward the credit. The cost of materials such as sand, dirt, rocks and other materials used to fight floods was set at the commercial rate at the time the work was done. The total amount of expenses for the project is multiplied by .111, which is the percentage of the non-Federal cost share (10 percent) divided by the Federal cost share percentage (90 percent), to get the maximum credit allowed for donated resources.

The credit is deducted from each town’s out-of-pocket obligation after its bills have been paid off and/or mitigated. At present, Union Beach is expecting a credit of approximately $700,000 for volunteer work and donated supplies, a number that will increase if more records are turned in. It is anticipated that Union Beach’s final credit amount will completely cover its 10 percent share of storm-related costs, which could total approximately $9 million. Sea Bright is currently eligible for a credit of more than $450,000. Lakewood Township has been approved for $31,000 of a potential $165,000, while Keyport is eligible for up to $158,000 and has been obligated for more than $21,000 in credits for volunteer efforts.

The policy puts the responsibility on the municipalities to keep track of the volunteer resources used, and those volunteer contributions must be carefully documented. FEMA has its own tracking forms and instructions, and the Volunteer and Donations Management Support Annex provides federal support and recommendations to state, tribal and local governments for managing donated resources.

There are restrictions on what work qualifies for the credit. All work eligible for credit must be done on public property or must benefit the public in some tangible manner, such as distributing food and supplies. Work done for private homeowners is not eligible. For emergency services, only response time is eligible for reimbursement. Donations from other federal agencies cannot be applied.

Also, the amount credited cannot exceed the 10 percent of the incident’s cost that the applicant is responsible for. Any excess credit can only be applied to other emergency projects being handled by that applicant.

Volunteers are still coming to the Jersey Shore to help with relief efforts. The work and time they put in helps restore those communities in more ways than one.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

To help Highlands, if you volunteered CLICK HERE and add your information on the list. If you would rather email your information, please copy the information from the form and email it to either  thill@highlandsborough.org   OR highlandsblogged@gmail.com  Please use HIGHLANDS VOLUNTEER HOURS in the subject line.

5 Things from 10/1’s Council Meeting


5  I.  American Legion – They had a 2nd violation of serving non-members while members were not present. Their lawyer worked out a deal with the town attorney, that if it happens a 3rd time (It happened in 2012) a 40 day suspension of their liquor license will be imposed.

II. Attorney-Client Communications: Noise Ordinance Amendments (In Private Session) – Nothing Discussed in Public Session EXCEPT for dissatisfaction that this is still NOT addressed.

III.  Town Flooding – We keep going round and round and hearing  ‘ we’re “4 th ,5th ,3rd ” in line for funding’ and in the mean time nothing, and we’re looking into other funding.  You maybe remember this shovel ready project in 2010. We were in line for funding then too. What happened, nothing except Irene and Sandy.

IV.  Web Survey was announced for town website. What it encompasses: a) what residents are looking for in a municipal site, b)how to better give it (the web site a useful purpose) c)take response from survey and compile with info from other municipal sites and put it into a  RFP for a new website  The Survey:  http://tinyurl.com/highlandswebsurvey

The survey will be open for 3 weeks and reported back to Council at the Nov 5th Meeting with results of the RFP.

V. O-14-27 Ordinance Prohibiting Parking on Portland Road – Tim Hill requests more time to discuss with Chief Blewett.  Today there are signs no parking on portlandon the right side of the road that say no parking. Some how “No one claims knowledge on how they got there”, no clear ordinances on file for the signs to exist. But they do.  So there needs to be more information to decide if parking *should* exist on Portland on one side

Maybe it was aliens? Drunken DPW in the middle of the night? Ghosts? Mischieviants?  How do you think the “No Parking” signs exist on Portland road?