Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Barnegat Mis-Leader

That Pulitzer Prize-worthy bastion of excellence-in-journalism arrived in everyone's mailbox this past week. The Barnegat Leader is a rah, rah, rah, sis-boom-bah free newspaper (and we use the term loosely) direct mailed and chocked full of advertisements and press releases camouflaged in newsprint to give them an air of legitimacy.

One featured story provides a forum for the cowardly Thomas "Hopeless" Hartman to engage in yet another episode of self-canonization. Hopeless regurgitates what he believes were his accomplishments during the overly long period he took up space on the township committee.

In one of his biggest lies ever put-in-print Hopeless declares "I kept my promises!"

And that declaration by Thomas Hartman is absolute crap.

Hopeless claims he preserved several hundred acres of open space. That statement is pure Bull Durham made by a cowering crumb who would not recognize truth if it hit him where he sits. A cheap political thug who attempts to manipulate the system to fatten his own wallet after proving his incompetence and polluting the countryside with his flatulence.

Does anyone forget how it was Hopeless Hartman who, singlehandedly, riled the volunteers who serve on the Open Space Committee when he, along with Jeffrey "The Cigar Store Indian" Melchiondo, tried to purloin open space funding to pay for a park that county government promised to build for free?

Does anyone forget that Hartman got himself a cushy county job for over $70,000.00 plus benefits after being axed by two private sector employers in less than thirteen months?

Does anyone forget that Hartman started defending Ocean County Freeloader and rejected congressional candidate "Diamond" Jack Kelly when Kelly defaulted on his promise to build the Watts Park once he (Hartman) got the public sector job?

Does anyone forget that Hopeless Hartman proved his bigotry and hatred when he supported that pathetic little mouse Alphonse "Big Al" Cirulli's discrimination against our neighbors who desired a simple and private ceremony of civil union?

Does anyone forget that it was Hopeless Hartman who flat out confessed that he knew about the defective police radio system for five long years and did absolutely nothing to fix it until after Barnegat Police Officer Chris Smith was attacked and almost lost his eye?

Does anyone forget that it was Hopeless Hartman who voted to bring in a tax revaluation company and caused the single biggest tax increase in Barnegat's history?

Does anyone forget that Hartman lied when he promised a traffic signal at Rosehill and Barnegat Boulevards prior to the opening of the 2007 school year? Construction on that project first began last month but only after several serious accidents.

Does anyone forget that Hartman singlehandedly desecrated Barnegat's Heritage Day?

Does anyone forget that Hartman failed to recuse himself from a vote at the Planning Board when a client that his former employer (he got fired) represented came before them and he (Hopeless) voted to approve the application under suspicious circumstances?

Why was this truthful and accurate information not in the article? Hell, The Barnegat Mis-Leader is no newspaper in ET's opinion. It is a disgrace to journalism. It is not even fit to wrap fish in.

On the front page of The Mis-Leader is an article about the controversial cellular tower that Cingular Wireless wants to build on Lower Shore Road. If approved by the Zoning Board, this tower will wreck a priceless land site that could and should best be used for recreation.

At its May meeting, current Zoning Board Chairman Anthony Gorman unequivocally stated that the July meeting would be for public testimony on the application. Both sides had completed the presentation of their cases and called all witnesses.

has dragged this case on for months in a deliberate attempt to bring the opposition to its knees financially. The "opposition" is a small group of our courageous neighbors who are paying for their own attorney with their own money. It is a scummy tactic used by lawyers when they know their case is weak.

Three members of the ET consortium were in town hall at the July meeting. The room was packed. Low-and-behold if Gorman does not allow Cingular to further convolute matters by calling another witness to "rebut" earlier testimony. Now the case has been delayed until September. And Cingular is changing its tune in an effort to resuscitate new life into an application they know should be rejected.

It is a shame that they seem to have found an ally in Anthony Gorman - a person who should be impartial but might not be. Gorman used to be employed by a firm that is a major cellular carrier.

Gorman is a Hartman-Cirulli-Melchiondo appointee to the Zoning Board. Gorman was Hartman's campaign manager before Hartman quit. There is more ET could add but we will refrain. Unlike Hopeless Hartman, ET will not cause a family pain or embarrassment.

The unilateral ruling by Gorman to allow this additional witness was a clear betrayal of the public trust. A trust necessary for the Zoning Board or any other Board or Commission to maintain the faith and respect of the community. How many bites of the apple will Gorman allow? How many chances to "get it right" will Gorman give this corporate giant at the expense of local townspeople?

Hell, when the objectors lawyer attempted to call the former Zoning Board Chairman as a witness, it was Gorman who refused to allow the testimony to be put on the record. Gorman is the Zoning Board Chairman. Gorman rules on the objections. Gorman is supposed to maintain a level playing field.

Conspicuous by his absence was Zoning Board Vice Chairman John Germano. Mr. Germano knew the criticality of this case. No excuse or other viable reason for his absence was given when roll call of the Board members was done. Had Germano been announced as being ill, ET would not be writing this. But his possibly over-casual attitude about participating like he promised to do when he took his oath of office merits comment.

Yes, this is the same John Germano who was anointed as the athletic director of Barnegat High School by Thomas "The Million Dollar" McMahon while his mother served on the school board and his (Germano's) qualifications were challenged. Mrs. Germano was subsequently defeated by a landslide in a failed reelection bid.

It should be noted that the "star reporter" for The Barnegat Mis-Leader did not attend the July meeting of the Zoning Board. Anything he wrote is, therefore, based on second-hand knowledge making it possible hearsay. Typical of The Mis-Leader.

The Barnegat Mis-Leader has an invisible editorial policy in ET's eyes. Never have we seen the publication opine on an issue. Never have we seen one of its "reporters" (roll over, Edward R. Murrow) go beyond the press releases to get the real story. The closest this rag comes to "investigative reporting" is to print an advertisement for an Easter egg hunt.

Barnegat politics are sleaze incarnate. Due, for the most part, to the absence of a working press that understands and practices the edicts of the time-honored traditions of the Fourth Estate, the Hartmans, Cirullis and Melchiondos are virtually free to indulge in the scurrilous flim-flam that hits all of us in the pocketbook.

Just imagine how the six o'clock news would rip into a phony like Hartman. Hell, ET would give two months of social security checks to get Hartman on the air with our good friend Bob Grant. Heck, imagine Hartman, Cirulli and Melchindo facing off with that suspender-wearing media giant Larry King!

It is the pusillanimous press corps who covers Barnegat that gave birth to ET, The Barnegat Press and other such websites. It is the feckless, topical reporting of prepubescent correspondents that help us grow. It is the obvious acts of censorship wherein a web editor for the major daily in this area would rather post a photo of her being licked by a dog then provide a fair forum for open and frank dialogue in an effort to ferret out the truth.

Only two writers have ever shown the testosterone to be called "reporters" as ET defines the word. Gregory Volpe and Alan Guenther. Remember the names of these journalists. There is zero doubt in ET's mind that you will soon see their bylines either in major, legitimate newspapers or on television. They have the stuff and are not afraid to use it.

As for the lead reporter (or is it "only") on The Barnegat Mis-Leader, well, we are going to be kind and say the old geezer is just tired and needs a long rest.

Rest well Mr. Englund, ET will press forward.