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Red Bank, a Diverse Little Town? Just a Viscomi Away

On my hypothetical diversity scale of 1 to 10, Red Bank scores an 8. Find out where we lose 2 points.

A quick review of 2010 Red Bank census data confirms what one would surmise just by travelling around town: we are a diverse little town.  Pick a demographic - ancestry, age, sex (twice a week?), income, housing status, education level, marital status, you name it and we have a pretty good spread across the categories.  I’m sure if we dug deeper, beyond the typical census data, our diversity would manifest further.  For example, how many people reading this blog prefer National League to American League baseball?  Pepperoni to sausage?  Pepsi to Coke?      

However, one place I don’t see diversity is on Borough Council.  How’s that, you ask?  Doesn’t our Council makeup reflect a range of ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, and assumedly, preference in pizza toppings?  Yes.  All true, and all great.  Seemingly, it’s a pretty good cross section of the population.  But put on an affirmative action blindfold for a moment and you’ll see the absence of diversity to which I allude - that of political thought.  For as much as I find the inclusivity of the Council’s structure laudable, I find the apparent lack of internal political dissent troubling.   

For full disclosure, although those that have read my past musings already know I’m politically right of center, I am not registered with any political party.  As for the Republican Party, I believe the neocon agenda has severely crippled the platform.  And I still have no idea what the Tea Party stands for.  So, force me to make a political affiliation under threat of no beer for a month and I’ll tell you I’m a Libertarian Light, or maybe a quasi-Libertarian.  I want limited government, a preference for market oriented solutions, and advancement of individual liberties.  

For further disclosure, I’ve only attended a couple of Council meetings over the years - between schedule conflicts involving kids, home life, work, etc. - we all know the story.  But, I am involved locally through volunteer activities and I stay in tune with the pulse of local government.  With several local and hyperlocal news outlets available, I can easily read news items in lieu of attending meetings.  

Now, back on topic:  this lack of political diversity notion is not a unique observation on my part.  Obviously the Council is all of the same political party.  But furthermore, their collective reputation is one of a cozy little family - maybe a little too tight knit.  Not in the conspiracy sense, but rather in the vein of non-diversified representation.  I’ve heard this insularity implication from different sectors during unrelated conversations.  

So, as a knee-jerk skeptic coming from a science background, I wanted to put the innuendo through a statistical test - to see if there is fact behind the inference. I therefore contacted Borough Hall to inquire about a running tally of voting records... but no such animal.  So, I did the next best thing within my blogging budget of zero dollars - I randomly opened Council meeting minutes on the Borough website.  The pattern seems to be that yeas and nays are unanimous across the vote on any given matter (granted, many of the topics were rather vanilla where one would not expect much debate).  Further, local news stories tend to show the Council in constant harmony.  So maybe there is something behind the neighborly chatter and street corner gossip.  Maybe our Council’s bloc mentality reputation is earned and well deserved.  

Though some more than others, I’ve gotten to know our Mayor and Councilpersons over the past few years.  I enjoy working with them.  They all seem like genuinely good people.  But, whether or not I would send them a Christmas card doesn’t influence my desire to see a truly representative branch of local government. I think something is lost when there is no opposition, when a large minority percentage of the population has no voice.  So, no personal offense to either Mike DuPont or Art Murphy, but this Council needs a yin to the yang, a Tory to the Progressive, a Pepsi to the Coke.  This November, vote for dissent and let’s give Suzanne Viscomi a chance.  

I’m Andres Simonson and I approved this message.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Marybeth Maida October 19, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Let's see... we have a gay white man, two black women, one white women, and three white men... looks pretty diverse to me! And let's not forget: Red Bank has prospered under Democratic Leadership -- it was Dead Bank when the Republicans were in charge -- (their most notable accomplishment being to run the town so far into ruin it became the only town in America to have a McDonald's pack up and leave-- seriously!!!) This November 6th, what Red Bank needs to do is ignore those calling for partisan disruption and dissent and instead re-elect the candidates who have a proven record of success and will keep our town moving forward. It's not about Republicans or Democrats, it's about who has the knowledge and the experience to take care of our town's business. Art Murphy and Mike DuPont are clearly the best choice for Red Bank. Just like Dominos Pizza -- they deliver!!!
Andres Simonson October 19, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Hi Marybeth – thanks for the reply See, that’s it exactly - those of us that don’t think Domino’s qualifies as pizza don’t have any representation. :-) And regarding your first line - I don't understand - I clearly state just that in my piece? My point is, diversity goes beyond census statistics. There is a large percentage of the population that do not have their philosophies represented. Hence, we lose a couple of diversity points. Also as stated, I don't pay any dues to a political party. So, it's not strictly about that and it's not sour grapes. I just think, as do many others, that we are missing some checks and balances as currently constructed. And, yes, I would be writing the same thing if they were all Republicans, all Libertarians, or all Pizza Populists.
Brian Hanlon October 19, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Agree w/Andres... I am part of that population you just described - "the silent, yet active % "... Although I prefer a thin crust w/extra cheese from one of the many local eateries... And I have openly supported the current Mayor & Councilpersons elected... But there is obviously a lack of opinion w/ political diversity & tolerance of different opinions in our cool little town as well.
george coffenberg October 20, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Marybeth, when the town was known as dead bank it was due to a poor economy just like has occured over the past few years where many stores have been empty and now only recently starting to fill up. What the current administration has not realized and why businesses keep failing in town is for the following reasons 1. charging for parking and parking tickets if you exceed the time which creates an unfriendly visitor experience 2. property taxes. most commercial tenants pay what is called a triple net lease whereby property taxes are passed on to the commercial tenant. 3. rivercenter special tax passed on to only the commercial properties in town 4. inspection and approval costs for opening up a new business along with some of the most difficult fire safety requirements in the state of NJ. 5. Water and Sewer bills that are about 35% higher than neighboring towns. Towns like Rumson and Monmouth Beach have some of the lowest tax rates in the area and are run by Republicans so your point that the Republicans are poor at running towns is not a very good argument. I am not saying that it should be all one party either, as Andres has pointed out you need ideas from different points of view and that is why Red Bank should add people other than fellow Democrats to the borough council.
Cindy Burnham October 20, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Maybeth, I don't know where you were in the 80"s, but everyone wanted McDonalds out! It became a hang out and a very dirty place. Red Banks ups & downs are a cycle, like life, but George is right on. I don't see the stores all filled, infact, I see them pretty empty and it is due to the miss management of the town by this administration. Pay for parking, tickets, high water & sewer bills, permits, fees & fines. These practices are what is killing RB. This council over spends and borrows and now must try to find revenue to pay for their spending. They are not creative enough to find revenue that will not effect the town, taxpayer or business owners. When this council voted to give away 51 Monmouth St, the old police station, it was being rented out by the YMCA for $7,000.00 a month. Now that's revenue that will not effect the town, residents or business owners.
Cindy Burnham October 20, 2012 at 01:06 PM
I love that anyone is free to write on blogs and share their opinion and thoughts, but you should disclose that you are more than just a supporter. You have received 2 checks from the Red Bank Democratic Campaign 2012 fund. 9/7/12 check #1028 $1,075 Printing/Website 7/23/12 check #104 $150 Printing Form R-1 Report of Contributions and Expenditures This is public information that be found on the http://www.elec.state.nj.us/ To make it even easy for anyone to review where this fact is coming from, please visit www.choice4redbank.com, the “Research” tab. Viscomi has run a truly grass roots, campaign and the number of her volunteers has been growing as momentum has been picking up.
george coffenberg October 20, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Marybeth, I think Cindy has pointed out why there is a total need for a partisan disruption.
george coffenberg October 20, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I think this what the Murphy Dupont ad is about which makes no sense. They raised the height limit from 50 feet to 75 feet to allow a hotel to be built next to a residential home and they protected the neighbors. http://hub.gmnews.com/news/2012-08-02/Front_Page/Red_Bank_Council_acts_to_protect_neighborhoods_bus.html
Cindy Burnham October 22, 2012 at 12:22 PM
This is exactly what I'm talking about. These guys are true politician! They flip things around to make themselves look like they are doing right, when really.... they are not. When I brought up the fact that the DEP is withholding TURF funds for Count Basie Field until the parking issues at Maple Cove are resolved, they flipped it around and said how terrible it would be that thousands of children would miss out on playing baseball. They never addressed what they were doing to resolve the Maple Cove parking lot issue. They just borrowed mo money to do the field and have in fact hired an expert from T&M to plead their case that 94 Front (the lot next to the library )and the Maple Cove Parking Lot were mistakenly put on the Green Acres Open Space List. Why?? Once off the list, these sites can be sold. Telling the public they Dupont and the others are protecting the neighborhoods is not all true. I would hate to be the resident that lives next to the Hampton. Who would want to live next to that! Allowing the Metropolitian to over develope on Wallace St, allowing a residential home to become a non conforming office use in a residential HISTORIC neighborhood, allowing mohawk pond to become so run down, when that is the main park for the West Side Residents. There are many many more examples. I believe RB would have let 7 Eleven goe 24 hours if residents had not come out and protested.
george coffenberg October 23, 2012 at 01:21 AM
From Hub Newspaper explaining development and donations in several towns including Red Bank. http://hub.gmnews.com/news/2006-09-28/Letters/010.html
george coffenberg October 23, 2012 at 01:56 AM
from the star ledger regarding how pay to play still exists. mentions sayreville where mike dupont is a borough attorney, nj turnpike where mike dupont is the treasurer, and t and m engineering the red bank borough engineer. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/04/how_nj_pacs_are_skirting_the_l.html
george coffenberg October 23, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Monmouth County Freeholder John Curley explaining his feelings about Ed McKenna and his PAC http://www.politickernj.com/max/24926/democrats-target-curley-mailer Here is an excerpt from an article in the bayshore courier news from a few years ago. A 2000 race for the Monmouth County Democratic chairmanship pitted Red Bank Mayor Ed McKenna against Scudiery. McKenna received $5,000 from the New Directions PAC for the ultimately unsuccessful attempt. Lynch’s PAC has continued to support McKenna’s role as a Democratic leader in Monmouth County, contributing $9,700 to the Red Bank Democratic Party and $2,500 to the Monmouth County Council of Democrat Leaders PAC, a committee McKenna is affiliated with, since 2002
george coffenberg October 23, 2012 at 11:34 PM
From Red Bank Green in Nov 2011 After he wrote the last figures from the local districts on a running tally board, former Mayor Ed McKenna, who frequently taunts his opponents, jabbed his middle finger into the air.
george coffenberg October 23, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Here is an article from Red Bank Patch supporting what Cindy said previously http://redbank.patch.com/articles/environmental-commission-fights-for-relevance
george coffenberg October 24, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Has anyone ever explained how people with so many jobs can get their work done? If these are important jobs I am sure there are unemployed people who could use a job. http://www.redbankgreen.com/2009/12/borough-salaries-may-rise-by-3-percent.html
george coffenberg October 24, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Here is an article from the star ledger showing Red Bank records were requested by the Federal government as a result of the Lynch investigation. It involved Pennrose renovating the River Street school building and building another senior housing building in Red Bank. http://www.yabbers.com/phpbb//viewtopic.php?t=2762&sid=03d3c5f08bbd0aec356ed6975bac0477&mforum=voiceucnj
Andres Simonson October 24, 2012 at 11:49 AM
In a classic example of how Coucilpersons can get complacent, last night, I walked by Mr. Murphy’s truck illegally parked on Mechanic Street near the corner of Broad. The area is clearly a yellow-curbed no parking zone. The truck was parked mere feet from a fire zone in front of the fire house – an obvious safety hazard. I walk past the new Democratic base camp on Broad, and there was Mr. Murphy. Brazen. I guess Coucilship has its privileges – lest anyone else try this at home.
Cindy Burnham October 24, 2012 at 04:57 PM
This weekend, while driving through Broad St. I also saw Mr. Murphy's truck double parked on Broad St in front of their new Dem headquarters. I watched for 15 min while his truck, doubled parked, sat running. Don't we have a no idle ordinance? I guess the police commissioner is above it. I have to wonder, and so should everyone wonder what other things Mr. Murphy feels he is above.

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