The Daily Journal is reporting that a deal has been reached between NJMP and the Millville City Commission. It appears that NJMP will be able to build a noisy ATV track on land closer to my home. The city will get nothing. What kind of deal is that?
Oh, NJMP will change the direction of its loud speakers and turn them off during the club races. That is not the noise I hear at my house. NJMP will change the start times for some races. Again, that does not affect the noise I hear at my house.
also agreed to make a “good faith effort” with clubs to reduce noise emissions.
What? This means nothing.
NJMP co-owner Joe Savaro stated:
We do have noise that disturbs some folks, but it’s minor compared to the benefit we’ve brought in.
Translation: We don’t care about you.
Commissioner Finch and the rest of the “Noise Committee” were out-negotiated. This is what happens when amateurs run things. The city conceded to what NJMP wanted. The city got nothing in return. Nothing!
My solution? Right now each and every City Commissioner is a “Hell No” for re-election. Each one. They are unfit to represent the residents of Millville.
I can’t wait to see these politicians explain once again how they will monitor the noise and look after us. It is clear that Finch, Quinn, Derella, Vanaman, and Shannon are incompetent.
Quid pro quo is an exchange that is supposed to be even. “I’ll do this for you if you do that for me.” In the political world that has taken on pejorative connotations. Politicians are not supposed to work in that fashion, although I certainly see a place for it at times.
There’s a case of it happening right here in Millville. Protecting their investment, the Millville City Commission is negotiating with the New Jersey Motorsports Park. That’s probably backwards; NJMP wants something and is leading the city politicians around by the nose.
An agreement that was going to revolutionize the ratable base in town, put people to work, and generally lift Millville up to heaven brought a racing track to town. That agreement had the owners of the track being able to option a piece of land from the city to build an ATV track.
NJMP has not been successful thus far. It is hemorrhaging money. It is so bad that it needed the taxpayers to float $400,000 for operating expenses this year. Never heard about that? Yeah, the local papers aren’t much on reporting bad news about NJMP since it advertises so heavily.
In an effort to bolster its revenue sources, NJMP has decided that if it could build the ATV track on land it already has, it can save the million dollars or so it would need to spend to buy the land in the agreement. So it decided to go back to the lap dog City Commission to get permission.
While bringing no tax benefits to the city, it has brought plenty of noise. What was hailed as a low din that wouldn’t be noticed, has been an in-your-face noise generator. It culminated a few weeks ago with its racing to midnight. That even got some of the fence sitters ticked to the point of complaining. Ticked off taxpayers complain to the City Commission.
Politicians know they sometimes actually have to do something. It can’t all be about themselves as they can’t be re-elected if they don’t occasionally do something. The noise issue has been enough of an issue that commissioning a couple reports and stonewalling hasn’t been enough to appease those whom they need votes from. They actually formed a committee!
Unfortunately, that committee is more of pushing things around on the table kind than anything with teeth. The local paper reported on the quid pro quo that the committee has put forth.
Finch [Millville City Commissioner Dale Finch] stated the committee would ask how NJMP officials would be willing to address resident complaints if the commission decides to reopen the development agreement to allow the ATV track.
There you go. Do something about the noise to get the
taxpayers voters off our backs and we’ll grant you the right to build the ATV track on the land you already own.
Of course, Millville loses in this deal. We won’t get the money from the sale of land that was already agreed to. That land was further away from the town’s residences.
And what faith can taxpayers/voters have that this committee will negotiate anything good? The first round got us a track that has negatively affected our homes. Local politicians are no match for the corporate track owners and their lawyers.
The committee formed is filled with many of the same folks who were on board when NJMP first came. The rest are politicians. Only Commissioner Vanaman lives in an area affected by the track. No one from the public was part of negotiating team.
When Commissioner Quinn and Mayor Shannon have to abstain from votes regarding NJMP because they are so entrenched with them, that leaves but 60% of the City Commission to do the people’s business. Dale Finch, career politician with huge Democratic ties to others who are on the Green Flag Committee at NJMP, may not have our interests front and center. Commissioner Vanaman has a horse in this race, but I am not convinced he has the clout to steer the committee. He didn’t get the general public involved, did he?
Consider me skeptical with the prospects that a good deal was negotiated on behalf of those affected.
Last evening there was a program to address some of the issues Millville is facing. Hosted at In His Presence Worship Center, a panel that included Millville Commissioner Finch, Pastor Ennis, Pastor Wilkins, Prosecutor Webb-McCrae, Bridgeton Councilman Surrency, Freeholder Thompson, and Millville Housing Authority Executive Director Dice. The panel was moderated by Jill Lombardo-Melchiore of Cumberland County College.
Mayor Shannon and Commissioner Vanaman also addressed the audience. Commissioner Derella was in attendance.
The symposium was billed as addressing the quality of life in the city. It remained positive, but nothing was resolved. Nothing was planned.
Mr. Dice spoke well about Section 8 housing. There are but 16 Section 8 housing vouchers in the Third Ward and about 45 in Center City. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Those are only Millville’s vouchers. Vouchers from other communities or states could populate the rest of the residences and Mr. Dice would have absolutely no idea. He said 20-some of Millville’s vouchers are in Laurel Lake. He can only track Millville’s vouchers. It seems to me that some agency/system should be able to spit out a list of how vouchers in all reside in Center Center. Shouldn’t HUD be able to produce that list?
Melissa spoke intelligently about being a recipient of a Section 8 voucher. A former drug addict and mother of nine recently wrote a letter to ask to be removed from the program. She is now self-sufficient.
Millville’s problems are multi-faceted. Many of those issues were discussed last evening. It was interesting to see where each member of the panel stood. I did not agree with all that was spoken, but I do believe each is sincere in his point of view.
The following is the entire evening’s discussion. Discussion isn’t the right word as there was little discussion. Bloviating is too loaded of a word. How about: the following is what happened. You decide the merits.
While researching something for a different piece altogether, I ran across an article by Jason Laday. It was written the day Millville Commissioner Dale Finch was sworn into office in May. Finch is quoted as saying:
“Instead of reappointing them [city prosecutor and defender] for a year beginning today, why not make the appointments follow the calendar year,” he said in the midst of a lengthy list of resolutions to fill various city positions. “This way, you can evaluate their performance more easily because you can have time to observe them while in office.”
Given that Commissioner Finch voted to replace the prosecutor and the defender, would it not be fair for the public to learn of the evaluation process Commissioner Finch applied to the decision he made?
All the public learned is that Finch thinks the new prosecutor is “smart and intelligent”.
Obviously, a public evaluation of an employee is problematic given Rice. Yet, one should learn that the “evaluation” that was promised was conducted and that the “evaluation” was such that a new prosecutor would improve Millville. We didn’t get that. What we got was a partisan vote for a political ally. That is hardly endearing.
Did Commissioner Finch live up to his word to evaluate the positions? Or did he merely buy time to play politics?
I finally made it to a Dottie’s Walk this evening. Dottie Wilkerson is a woman (forgive me, in her 80s, I believe) who lives in Center City Millville. Each Monday she walks the area beginning at the Culver Center. All are welcomed to join her on the walks.
There was a wonderful article that The Press of Atlantic City wrote a few months about these walks. Unfortunately, archived articles are not available. Another reason newspapers are failing is that they make it impossible to use them as a reference online as their links go bad.
Instead, we’ll use citizen journalism to tell the story. The following are videos Mark Krull has posted on YouTube of past Dottie’s Walks.
I met up with Dottie and Carl Johnson. Within a few minutes several others came as well. The aforementioned Mark Krull and Mrs. and Commssioner Finch, Lauren Van Embden, and Officer Gandy. I felt a bit weird having a police officer escorting me through the city. I walk these streets frequently without a gun in tow.
The topic of discussion seemed to have been the irony of having wooden fire escapes. For the record, www.woodfireescape.com and all derivations thereof are available. 🙂 While we believe they meet code, it is not the material of choice any of us would employ should we need a fire escape.
Yes, we saw plenty of homes in need of repair. Nothing new there. The system has got to change for this neighborhood to change. Most of the homes are rentals. We spoke with one homeowner who was out tending to her property. That’s the difference between home owners and renters. Her neighbor had tied a dog to a tree. The leash was barely long enough to allow the dog not to be hanged. The food and water dish was empty. Officer Gandy called Animal Control who showed up within minutes.
We also saw the consequence of condemning homes. One house we saw was all boarded up. Its lawn was used as a trash can. How pathetic! Fines to the property owner should be assessed (and progressively if it continues) to curtail this. Holy smokes!
Folks commented on vehicles that have not moved in weeks. I shared that I know of three vehicles on a public street that have not moved since March.
All in all it was an enjoyable time.
Hey, come out and take a walk next Monday at 6:00. If nothing else, you’ll get a little exercise.
Government gets its money from people and businesses. No one that I know of decides what to send to government. Rather, government dictates what each person will pay.
Taxes are the clear example. When the new year rolls around, I don’t ponder, “Well, I’ve had a good year, allow me to share a third of what I brought in during the year with the government.” No, the government sends me a booklet and mandates that I send a certain number of dollars.
Government takes my money in other ways too. We decided to sell a few of our baby toys. I could have easily opened an ebay store and sold them. I would be required to pay taxes on the sales, but it would have saved me the money I was mandated to pay the City of Millville for having a yard sale. What service was provided for that money? The best I can tell, there were two governmental services I received: 1. a huffy reception because I walked in at 4:28 and the office closed at 4:30, 2. the lack of fining me for breaking a law. These are what are called fees.
Fees are not taxes because they have a different name. If they were taxes, they would be called so. But that’s about the only difference between the two.
A few years ago Governor Corzine suggested the tolls on the state highways be increased to cover budget issues. Citizens were outraged; the plan died. I rarely drive on the roads that would have been affected. It was still a bad plan because it did not address the issue; namely, increasing taxes/fees/tolls to offset a government that is too large grows government. Government needs to decrease, not increase.
New Jersey began bumping up its taxes on cigarettes several years ago. I don’t smoke. It shouldn’t affect me if the taxes are increased. But it did. The state pumped up the taxes so much that “revenue” dropped. And it has continued to drop.
Not learning the lesson, Corzine and his filibuster-proof Legislature passed a budget for next year that will increase another sin tax on alcohol. I suspect we will see “revenue” drop again, thus causing more taxes, fees, and tolls to be increased to cover not only the “lost revenue” but the increases of doing government’s business.
Locally, Millville has recently upped the fees it mandates for inspections of rental properties. I own no rental properties. It shouldn’t affect me.
Rental properties that are not up to code do not automatically get up to code, most of the time. Rather, government needs to mandate that the property owner fix the issue. To do that, government needs to inspect the residence to issue the mandate, and then re-visit to ensure the improvement has been made. Government charges for this service. That is understandable.
Millville used to charge $75. It just increased it to $100, and it will raise to $125 after 1 September. I believe also, the fee was increased to $75 just last year, but I may be mistaken about that. This is not a modest increase but ultimately I do not care much about the increase. No one has stated the increase is to stick it to the property owner. That’s probably not a good thing to do, but if it were desired, just make the fee $10,000 and be done with it.
City Commissioner Finch stated he increase was to enhance services. That is nonsensical. No personnel will be hired. The extra money does not enhance anything to do with inspections.
An interesting thing happened the other day. I read my feeds in Google Reader. I noticed the following in GR.
That is an image of incoming city Commissioner Dale Finch. That photograph accompanied an article below the one that it was placed next to. It is not a browser sizing thing, but the way GR built the page. Given Finch’s reported DUI, I found this humorous.
Last evening I attended the Candidates Forum hosted by the Millville Chamber of Commerce. There are 15 candidates vying for the five Commission seats.
The current commissioners are Mayor Quinn, Tim Shannon, Joe Derella, Dave Vanaman, and Jim Parent. Parent is not seeking re-election. Quinn, Derella, and Shannon have been staples on the commission for the last 12 years (Has Shannon been on that long? He may have a term less.). They take great pride in the rejuvenation of High Street, the motorsports park, and Union Lake Crossing. Vanaman is a more recent addition. He is not as part of the team as the others. He has jostled with them over abatements and the noise at the park.
Challenging the incumbents are Ian Roberts, Emil Van Hook, Jim Hertig, Charles Flickinger, Joseph Sooy, Dale Finch, Robert Tesoroni, Mike Wydra, Rev. Ennis, Robert McQuade, and Dick Marshall.
Roberts sounds like a politician . . . in the bad way. He has that comforting voice that sounds good until you listen to what he has to say. He stated he loved the question How will you work with your rivals and others outside your assigned department? Only a politician would love that question.
Van Hook has raised the ire of some locals partly because of his involvement with Millville First. He has been part of the Commission in the past, as well as a school board member. The current knock against him is that he is against what the current commissioners are doing, but he has offered nothing that he would do other than roll back abatements. Van Hook pitched a nine-member, walking police group armed with K-9s to patrol the Third Ward. He also discussed how his Commission was responsible for bringing Durand Glass to Millville, without abatements. That is a strong point, although I suspect folks will contend the business climate has changed since then.
Jim Hertig is pretty much a non-candidate for me. His platform is speaking of how senior housing projects are a godsend that should be pursued. I wholeheartedly disagree with that position. Seniors, while being easy on the school system, often are living on fixed incomes. Coming from Cape May, the model Glasstown is using, I can equivocally state that Victorian Towers did not end up as a boon to the local economy. We have the Four Seasons
trailer park senior housing development plopped down at Buckshutem and Hogbin. There’s the eyesore on Wheaton Avenue. And the city sold the waterfront property that housed two of my shutterspots to a group that will build senior condos on prime real estate. Recruiting more senior housing isn’t the windfall Millville needs. Hertig also spoke about educating the youth with respect lessons. Feelgood legislation isn’t going to win me over. Finally, when it came time to discuss how he would deal with a $5 million cut, Hertig did not explain what he would do. He just said cuts would need to be made.
Charles Flickinger served Millville eight years as a school board member. He is the former owner of Flick’s Cafe on 2nd Street. I liked that joint. Anyhow, Flickinger seems more into wanting to be involved than having any specific goal to work towards or skill he can offer. He did mention looking at energy savings as a way to deal with a cut in funds, but he did not elaborate and there is no reason to believe he has any unique ability than anyone else to bring about those savings.
Sooy sounds like a Millville First candidate. He spoke against RAD, crime, the noise at the racetrack, and the Levoy Theatre. I did not hear anything horrible from him, but I did not get overwhelming inspiration from him either. He did speak forcibly against eminent domain, noting seizing property for private business is a cardinal no-no. I agree.
Finch has a lot of signs about the city. He appears to be well-organized. He stated he has experience in reorganizing taxes at the municipal level. That is good. He spoke about fighting crime in a manner no one prior to him had; namely, code enforcement goes a long way to cleaning up neighborhoods. I agree. Aggressive enforcement should be at the top of the list of any commissioner.
Tesoroni impressed me at the Millville First forum a couple weeks ago. He was less effective in this venue. He champions the escalating debt using a figure of $60 million. That number was disputed by Derella and Quinn, who put the debt at $47 million, which is about $3 million more than when they came into office a dozen years ago. That does not make the candidate look good. Covering a $5 million cut in funds with looking at consultant fees displays an amateur’s view of the problem. While I am appalled with some of the consultants that have been hired (like the one we did for Wawa), there is not $5 million of consultant fees. Frankly, those fees should be cut regardless of cuts. He did correctly point out that those of us who are complaining about noise at the racetrack are not against the track; we are against the noise. There is a difference.
Wydra is frustrating. He means well, and for that, I respect his candidacy. Unfortunately, “Millville Mike”, who has lived here for 53 years and loves to fish, just doesn’t have the skills for City Commission. Dismiss him.
Rev. Ennis is an interesting candidate. He has the respect of most of the candidates with whom he is running. It sounds as though he has done good things for Millville through his ministry. He is a doer. Unfortunately, politically, he doesn’t seem to have the goods. He spoke of teaching the dysfunctional. I suspect a minister would. That, however, is not the role of the municipal government. He provided no answer to what he would do to a cut in municipal aid. A windfall, however, would find Ennis sending checks to the senior citizens of the town. Grrr . . . There is no political reason to vote for Ennis.
McQuade made it clear that he wants Parent’s empty seat. He praised the current commissioners over and over. He spoke about living downtown and not liking the crime. No one likes the crime in town. Other than that, he seemed not to have a handle on things. He said, “I understand we have a noise problem, but it is an asset.” I understand he didn’t mean the problem was an asset, but that is what he said. He seemed not to take the issue seriously.
Marshall was involved in getting UEZ designation for Millville. He has a business background. He joined the rest of the candidates in most issues, including money for the Levoy Theatre and debt reduction, should there be a windfall given to Millville. He gave a nondescript cuts response to a funding cut.
Vanaman left me disappointed this evening. I have generally liked his positions since he joined the Commission. I really like that there is a counter to the “team”. He spoke of a respect program for the city’s children. That is not what municipal government is supposed to be involved in. He did not have an adequate answer of what he would cut, if needed, only stating what he wouldn’t cut. Vanaman did reiterate his opposition to abatements and reminded the audience that he has challenged the other commissioners on this issue. Further, he noted the noise issue at the racetrack and correctly pointed out neighbors were misled about how loud it would be.
Derella is impressive. I recall liking him the first time I attended a city Commission meeting that I actually introduced myself to him. I rarely do that. He has the facts. His presentation demonstrates why incumbents have an advantage as he has a record to run on. There is a master plan for the waterfront, taxes have stabilized, and ratables are up.
Shannon heads the Parks and Recreation Department. We have been impressed with the events the city has hosted over the years. We would encourage even more. Shannon is personable and really does seem to care for the town, not that the others don’t. Unfortunately, Shannon has not impressed me in either forum leading up to the election. He touted the litany of accomplishments of the Commission. He rightfully gets to share in the glory. He did not speak about what his department has done. Rather, he reminded the audience about “unfinished business”, then he talked about the vacancies at the airport industrial park. That’s a negative and not one that Shannon should be heralding. He also then went off on how Millville needs to become a green city. I note this was just nine days after the city recommended purchases of some Ford 350s. Duplicity at its best.
Mayor Quinn echoed the Commission’s good work. He indicated he was sincere about finding a resolution to the noise problem at the racetrack. He keeps thumping the need to build the ratable base of the city. Quinn was the first candidate to indicate that he would fulfill the Levoy Theatre’s restoration if a windfall came to the city. He spoke about attrition as a way of covering funding cuts. He’s an incumbent and has a handle on the city’s business.
I looked longingly at the candidates before the session ended. I asked myself who would get my vote. Unfortunately, I do not have five definites.
It is easier to list who I can dismiss. Those are: Roberts, Hertig, Flickinger, Wydra, Ennis, and McQuade.
That leaves the following in the running for me: Vanaman, Van Hook, Derella, Shannon, Sooy, Finch, Tesoroni, Quinn, and Marshall.
Vanaman, Van Hook, and Derella are likely. Shannon probably is as well (I just do not like how he is campaigning).
I am not a Quinn fan. I would welcome shaking the Commission up (How there can be consensus on issue after issue, year after year, is beyond me.). Perhaps Van Hook’s election would be enough even if Quinn were to remain. If Tesoroni, Van Hook, and Vanaman were all on the Commssion together, it may be too drastic of an about-face. Sooy, Finch, or Marshall replacing Quinn would probably create a balanced Commission that would address the racetrack noise, re-visit abatements/RAD, but keep growth in the city moving along with the waterfront development. While Quinn sounded believable on the noise issue, he has done nothing to date despite the cacophony of complaints. Since he exudes politician to me, I discount his concern on this.
I am still open for whom I will vote. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way for citizens to learn more about the candidates.