Saturday, October 29, 2005

My dear mother...

You know how I noted that my mother votes for people because she likes the sound of their names?

We live in Middletown, and this is what she told me today (this is a direct quote):

"I think I'm going to vote for Tom Wilkens because he swims good."

She noted that she was going to vote for Alex DeSevo too, probably because his name is more familiar to her and because he's Italian, like my mother's family is.

I wonder what percentage of the electorate votes based on a similar methodology. I guess it makes sense since people are so fed up with the political process that those who do vote hold their nose when they flick the levers.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Scratching my head...

I'm really scratching my head on the Asbury Park Press' series of endorsements. If you've noticed, every assembly endorsement has been for Republicans. And I totally understood that -- all the endorsed Republicans have been incumbents -- until today.

In today's issue, Republicans Beck and O'Scanlon received the APP endorsement over Democrat incumbents Panter and Morgan. I've heard grumbling from many a Democrat campaign about the APP -- the county's only daily newspaper -- not giving them a fair shot. I'm starting to see some truth in that.

I've said before that anyone who underestimates Republican 12th District Assembly candidate Jen Beck will get a lesson coming to them very quickly. She's smart, she's savvy and she's a force to be reckoned with. She's stood up to the so-called Red Bank "McKennacrats" as the borough's only Republican council member (until John Curley switched parties) with integrity and a sharp eye on the bottom line. Republicans at the Monmouth County GOP Convention last April made a smart choice. (And, by the way, Beck winning the party nod was unexpected - it was the forceful speech she made at the convention that got her nomination. No one "made" Jen Beck except for Jen Beck.)

But, what leaves me scratching my head is this whole "Panter & Morgan are the tools of the Democrat machine" idea. Yes, they have gotten a ton of money from the state legislative. (Is it any big shocker that state Democrats want to desperately keep a seat that had been a solid Republican district for years?) But does anyone forget the fit state party bosses threw in not wanting Panter and Morgan (selected to run by Mon. Cty. Democrat Chairman Vic Scudiery) to get the party nod? Does anyone remember all the money thrown at Gemma by state party bosses when he challenged Sen. Karcher for the Democratic nomination?

And Panter and Morgan have made their own roads in Trenton -- this, of course, is also pragmatic: no Democrat aligning themselves with state party bosses will likely last long in Republican-dominated Monmouth. (And that's why Beck and O'Scanlon are fighting forcefully to prove them as such) But NPIRG, a state public interest group, gave them a 100% rating. And David Rebovich, a non-partisan, sharp observer of New Jersey politics, gave them a raving column.

So, I'm supposed to believe that Morgan is a Trenton insider because he's advised the state Department of Health about young kids who might have SARs or been exposed to anthrax or whatever rare diseases his medical expertise is in and Beck, who was a lobbyist for a number of years as well as an aide to Assemblyman Azzolina, is not? The logic feels pretty tortured to me.

Come on, Asbury Park Press.

Next stop, the 13th District in which Dasaro and Flynn -- both of whom have received little money from the state Democrat PAC, partly because of Dasaro's refusal to step down from the party line late in the game when state Democrat leaders tried to replace him on the ticket -- are those evil Democrat-machine insiders...

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Please let this season be over

Sorry I haven't posted in forever. A hacking cough and some fluish thing kept me in bed for a few days. I really can't wait for election season to be over. I totally understand that candidates have to make the final push to get themselves coverage, but boy it's killing me.

I'm really interested to see what effect the "Monmouth 11" and the "Club Monmouth" series will have, if any, on this year's outcome. The election is less than two weeks away folks.

Register for an absentee ballot here.

Here's the interactive part of today's entry. I'd like to hear some of your predictions for the following races:


Mayor (1 seat):
David Sobel (D, incumbent) VS.
Peter Morrison (R)

Council (2 seats):
Joseph Raymond (D, incumbent) & Thomas Perry (D, incumbent) VS.
John Gartley (R) and Sheldon Chaplowitz (R)

Atlantic Highlands

Council (2 seats):
John C. Archibald, Jr. (R, incumbent) & Peter Doyle (R) VS.
Stephen D. Noonan (D, incumbent) & Robert J. Sutton (D)


Committee (1 seat, full term):
Ric Medrow (R) VS.
James DiNardo (D)

Committee (1 seat, unexpired 1-year term):
William J. Kolibas Jr. (R) VS.
Kevin Lavan (D)


Committee (2 seats):
Tony Orsini (D, incumbent) & Janet Berk (D, incumbent) VS.
Rocco F. Pascucci (R) & Alan R. Bateman (R)


Council (2 seats):
June E. Atkins (R, incumbent) & George J. Strang VS.
Joseph E. Sheridan (D) & William Ortman (D)


Mayor (1 seat):
Beatrice Duffy (R, incumbent) VS.
Mary Aufseeser (D)

Council (2 seats):
Sharon D. Roselli (R, incumbent) & Robert Kee (R, incumbent) VS.
William J. Malley (D) & Meghan Mullaney (D)

Council (1 seat, 1-year unexpired term):
Vicky Allen (R, incumbent) VS.
Neil Mendelsohn (D)


Committee (2 seats):
Pamela M. Brightbill (R) & Thomas P. Wilkens (R) VS.
Alex DeSevo (D) & Steve Borbely (D) VS.
Joe McGrath (I)

Red Bank

Council (2 seats):
John Curley (R, incumbent) & Kaye Ernst (R) VS.
Guy T. Maratta (D) & Louis J. DiMento (D)

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Sign Wars

How much time and effort goes into blanketing our roadways every year with hundreds upon hundreds of political signs? And, perhaps more telling, how much time and effort goes into opposing political organizations tearing one another signs down?

Welcome to the nitty-gritty silliness of politics. The Sign Wars are likely not going anywhere, no matter how many residents complain each year about the untidy assemblage of signs that continue to litter neighborhoods long after elections have been won or lost.

At the end of the day, though, does anybody actually vote for a candidate because that person's signs are more heavily splattered along jughandles than another candidate's?

I know that some citizens (like my dear mother) walk into voting booths and decide that one candidate's name looks "friendlier" than another's, but do the Sign Wars legitimately have any affect on that decision? I tend to think not.

The Sign Wars are, at heart, a turf war. This part of town is mine, that part of town is yours, etc. It's also a show of force, i.e. I have the manpower and the money to put up five times more signs than you and tear down your signs at a faster rate than you can tear down mine.

At the end of the day, the Sign Wars are an effort in futility that allows local parties to rouse the troops and unify their organization for a common effort.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Place yer bets!

All right Monmouth County folks, there's about a month to the election. I keep hearing poll numbers that contradict each other from my sources in Democrat and Republican camps. I'd like to hear your commentary about it.

I'm not going to predict, but I will speculate on the races, as I see them from the ground level. If I'm seriously off-target I expect mocking by all!

Monmouth County Freeholder Race
William Barham & Lillian Burry (Rep.) VS. Rebecca Aaronson & Barbara McMorrow (Dem.)

    The APP's Club Monmouth series but a dent in the chrome engine of the all-Republican Freeholder board. But, more likely, the harder blow may have been when former long-time Freeholder Director "the Governor of Monmouth County" Harry Larrison was arrested on bribery charges.
    Barham and particularly Burry have a reputation for being no-nonsense office-holders. Will Aaronson and McMorrow be able to communicate to the voters their message that continuing the Republican stronghold in Monmouth is bad government?

13th District Race
Amy Handlin & Sam Thompson (Rep.) VS. Michael Dasaro & Bill Flynn (Dem.)

Handlin, despite her 15-year tenure as a freeholder, has managed to very shrewdly cast a public image as a "reformer" (and having a kow-towing press never hurts any either). Will Dasaro and Flynn be able to communicate their message that Handlin is a hypocrite, having been on the periphery of the scandals surrounding the MC Republican Organization?
    Handlin, to the best of my knowledge, hasn't made any campaign stops in any town other than Middletown and the Democrat-stronghold of Aberdeen. Officials in Keansburg and Keyport, two municipalities in the 13th District, say they haven't even seen Freeholder Handlin in their town in recent years. It seems that Handlin and the MC Republican Party is counting on the strength of Middletown to carry to this election.
    Another question is how will Thompson fare without his long-time running mate Azzolina? Azzolina, for whatever the woes in Middletown, always had a strong reputation with labor and carried 25% of the Democratic vote.
    A lot will depend on voter turn-out and how well the Democrats in the traditionally working-class areas of the 13th District are able to mobilize their base. Same for Republicans in the white-collar areas of Middletown and Holmdel. The Clean Elections program threw a monkeywrench into this election and more will depend on grassroots efforts than press and messaging.

12th District Race
Declan O'Scanlon & Jennifer Beck (Rep.) VS. Mike Panter & Bob Morgan (Dem.)

Panter & Morgan have managed to create a new breed of Democrat - fiscally responsible Democrat - unseen in other parts of the state. It's not just good government, it's also pragmatic: Democrats in Monmouth County will not appeal to the Republican demographic by falling in line with Democrat heavy-weights in Trenton.
    With the state and county Republicans having written off the 12th District after Bennett's defeat in 2003, O'Scanlon & Beck have had a tough time getting attention to their message. But O'Scanlon & Beck are both fighters. They will throw 150% into their campaign come hell or high water. Whatever the outcome in this election, Beck will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Republicans would be smart to look to Beck for the Freeholder line when Freeholder Ted Narozanic retires.

11th District Race
Steve Corodemus & Sean Kean (Rep.) VS. Matt Doherty & Jim Reilly (Dem.)

The state Democrats have poured a lot of money into the 11th District with a frantic stream of press releases that seem to be making a dent. Not to mention the thousands of dollars in cable ad buys.
    Corodemus and Kean haven't taken the blitz lying down, painting their opponents as state Democratic machine insiders. Corodemus and Kean also have established an environmental record that matters in the minds of 11th District voters.
    The 11th District race will be close, but I think the Democrats will have difficulty unseating the Republican incumbents.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Republican leader tied to controversial religious group

(Published in the October 6, 2005 issue of The Courier.)

Republican leader tied to controversial religious group


During last year's Monmouth County Freeholder race, Republicans had a bone to pick with Democrats after a derogatory comment about women made by one of the Democrat candidates years earlier, was made public.

Republican Freeholder candidates in 2004, Amy Handlin and Rob Clifton, and their campaign manager, Dan Gallic (formerly the executive director of the Monmouth County Republican Organization), gained political traction when they revealed that Democrat candidate Steve Morlino made a joke during a Howell Township Council meeting stating that some women "should be muzzled."

"If my opponent is threatened by intelligent women who speak their minds, he'll have a tough time working with the people of this county," Clifton said at the time.

What Republicans kept in their closets, however, was Gallic's connection with a religious group that has been sharply criticized for its own views of women, as well as statements by former members likening the group to "a cult."

The People of Hope, located in Plainfield, is a Catholic charismatic covenant community that was founded by Gallic's father, Bob Gallic, and a handful of others in 1977. However, the People of Hope is not recognized by Catholic Church as a lay organization, according to Jim Goodness, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Newark.

"There was a time (in 1991 when the community appealed to the Archdiocese of Newark for official recognition) when Archbishop Theodore McCarrick (now Cardinal Archbishop of Washington) had expressed reservations about the organization," Goodness said. "They were not in communion with the archdiocese. There were some concerns as to whether or not this was truly a Catholic organization."

According to Goodness, the Catholic Church now allows priests to say mass for the People of Hope, but the organization is still in no way recognized as a lay Catholic community.

Gallic's involvement with the People of Hope first became news in the political sphere during state Sen. Anthony Bucco's 2003 re-election campaign against challenger Blair MacInnes. Gallic served as Bucco's campaign manager.

According to MacInnes, Gallic was quoted in a local Morristown newspaper as saying, "The only thing that makes [MacInnes] legitimate is her husband and her husband's money."

MacInnes's campaign charged that the comments were sexist and called attention to Gallic's involvement with and leading role in the People of Hope.

"Koinonia Academy [in Plainfield], the school run by the People of Hope, has been accused of teaching female students classes in 'active submission' and discouraging female students from attending college," an October 16, 2003 release from MacInnes's campaign stated.

The above release also states: "Former members of the group reported to the Bergen Record that: husband[s] and wives are encouraged to go out only on 'prescribed date nights'; teenagers are prohibited from dating without approval from group leaders; older women are told not to wear pants or makeup; two women who left the group described a husband who wrote out his wife's daily schedule in 15-minute intervals."

A former member, who contacted The Courier but declined to allow his name to appear in print for fear of retaliation, confirmed the specifics issued by MacInnes's campaign. The source also confirmed that women in the group were taught to be subservient to men.

Many members left the group in the early 1990s following McCarrick expressing concerns about the community.

A family member of one such individual created a web site [] billed as "The Hope Awareness Center." The Courier has been in contact with the web site's creator but is withholding the person's name because of fears expressed by former members who are no longer supportive of the organization's teachings.

The site details several aspects of "cult-like" control exhibited by the organization.

"It is important to note that many members of these communities are good and faithful people who are trying to do the right thing but are living in a deceptive environment," the family member writes on the site. "These groups are considered totalitarian and high demand organizations with rules and regulations that enslave many people and take away their own independent thinking and thought processes."

Among the issues the Hope Awareness Center details is a 1985 state and federal investigation into tax records to determine whether or not Bob Gallic misused funds to purchase land that his and other high-ranking community members' homes were later built on. The investigation did not yield any charges.

Also included on the web site is a 'letter to the editor' that appeared in Fidelity Magazine, a now-defunct Christian publication, according to the Hope Awareness Center. The name is withheld by the Hope Awareness Center, though archives of Fidelity Magazine are available for purchase.

An excerpt from the letter reads:

"The following briefly examines each control I experienced…in the Hope pastoral system. Behavior control was accomplished by the structuring, regulation and discipline of a member's physical reality. Hope members schedule their week with the discernment of a pastoral leader…

"Thought control has only one goal: to transform the thought mechanisms of a person to be 'one with the group.'… As recently as June 23, 1991, at a general gathering of the community a senior head coordinator decided that it is a sin of deception and unity to read material that is critical of covenant communities and Hope.

"Emotional control uses fear as an effective way to keep members committed to the group. Very often many were prayed with to be delivered from fears the group in its own way instilled them. By the false creation of fears…and enemies, and making those enemies seem imminent (Islam, Communism, etc.), the community imposed an unconscious fear to leaving the confines of the group…

"Sharing and relating is controlled…Women getting together was also controlled. After all, women had to be protected from gossip or complaining. The general observation is that most women have superficial relationships and are missing a particular bond and support that women need with each other."

Not all former members felt harmed by their experiences in the People of Hope or thought the group espoused beliefs that were sexist.

"I always felt that the Hope community did a better job of respecting women's dignity and uniqueness and their giftedness better than any group outside them. My own experience led me to be a far better spouse," Michael J. Donnelly wrote in an e-mail.

In another e-mail Donnelly stated, "The aspects of community life which have led people to judge it as 'cultish' are its seeking to find and live a common life of morality and supportiveness toward each other…I would call the People of Hope a non-ordained religious family which seeks to serve God in a dedicated and committed way."

Gallic's perspective

While the former members of the People of Hope that The Courier spoke with said otherwise, Gallic denied he was ever a leader of the religious community and said he is not currently a member.

When asked if his father founded the People of Hope, Gallic said, "I believe he did."

Gallic, a resident of Warren Township in Somerset County, who ran unsuccessfully in 2003 for an Assembly seat left vacant by state Sen. Tom Kean, did acknowledge that he attended the Koinonia Academy.

Gallic, whose one-year tenure as Monmouth County Republican Director ended in August, said his views do not matter in the campaigns and organizations he works for.

"I didn't know Monmouth County from a hole in the wall. I didn't know who [Monmouth County Republican Chair] Fred Niemann was [before August 2004]," Gallic said.

While Gallic is no longer the executive director of the Monmouth County Republican Party (and no one has been selected to replace him as of yet), he said he does serve as a political consultant for the county organization and acknowledged serving as Handlin's and Clifton's campaign manager last year.

"I'm not the executive director of the Monmouth County Republican Party. I'm nothing. I resigned in August. I'm just a consultant. My views do not get put into anything. If and when I'm elected to public office, that's when my views will matter," Gallic said. "As for anyone who wants to attack me personally, my only response is that my grandfather was Jewish and I have an uncle who is Puerto Rican."

MacInnes, a Morristown resident, recalled the 2003 campaign and Gallic's campaigning style in particular as turning very ugly.

"I had a very contentious relationship with Dan Gallic. I think he and the People of Hope have a Medieval notion about women," MacInnes said, noting that she believed some of his comments about her revealed him to have a misogynistic view of women.

"I found Gallic to really be a right-wing ideologue. I would think that the Monmouth County Republicans would have enough on their plate without having to defend Gallic's position on the role of women in politics," MacInnes said. "New Jersey is 43rd out of 50th states in terms of the number of women in elected office. Whereas many people, including myself, would like to see that change, I think Mr. Gallic is happy to see that number stay as it is."

Niemann did not respond to questions about why Gallic was selected as executive director or what his role was or is in the Monmouth County Republican Organization.

With reporting by Jim Purcell


"I didn't know Monmouth County from a hole in the wall. I didn't know who [Monmouth County Republican Chair] Fred Niemann was [before August 2004]," Gallic said.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bob Hyer

Former Keyport Councilman Bob Hyer passed away today after a battle with cancer.

I got to know Mr. Hyer while covering Keyport. Whatever he did or did not do, he was always an extremely courteous and kind man to me.

My thoughts are with his family. It must be an incredibly difficult year for them.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Politics 101: County Chairs

County and municipal chairs wield immense power -- including line assignment and disbursement of funds -- and they remain relatively under the radar.

Every once in awhile party factions get it into their heads to rise up and attempt to replace a county or municipal chairman.

Even seasoned campaigners don't quite "get" how a chair race works. There is usually a universe of about 700+ votes, which are comprised of party committee members. How does someone get to be a party committee member? Well, the county or municipal chair, with their power of line assignment, gets to choose whose name appears on the ballot during the notiously low-turnout primary election.

Trying to "seize" party committee seats is an up-hill battle, even for seasoned campaigners. Grassroots folks have to work long and hard to ensure control of the seats. When it comes to county chair races, Trenton insiders are relatively clueless about the labor-intensive grassroots aspect of it.

Look at the Monmouth County Republican Organization's successful coup of Bill Dowd: it wasn't successful because of the well-paid staffers or Trenton insiders; it was successful because the worker bees in Monmouth County Republican politics had gotten fed up with Dowd and were able to organize against him.

In legislative and gubernatorial elections, money does matter, but in chair races, with a universe of only 750+ votes, the election is deeply personal and loyalties matter.

Essentially, being a Trenton insider yapping about how you're going to get a ton of money from the state and replace the county chair when most municipal chairs don't even know you, let alone like you or have any loyalty to you as they do the county chair, is a fool's errand and only a complete moron would even attempt to replace a chair without knowing the vote count.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 02, 2005

William Bennett, what planet are you on?

I give Doug Forrester credit for decrying former Education Secretary William Bennett's racist and idiotic comments this week (though I do wish Forrester would have said something sooner).

What in God's name was Benett thinking? And if he's willing to make such horrifying statements in public, I'd hate to know what he says behind closed doors.