Friday, February 11, 2011

Chatting with George Newberry at the LBRC Meeting Thursday Night

Maybe I'm offending the Highlands Republican Club for blogging this, or violating some other non-existant by-laws, but George Newberry, who is exploring his options and looking to challenge Amy Mallet for her Freeholder seat was a guest at the Long Branch Republican Committee's monthly meeting Thursday night. George is the first of hopefully many candidates to come meet with us and hopefully more will follow.

My personal notes on George are below, hopefully I'll have a chance to have a similar chat with any other possible candidates prior to my chairman going to vote for one and hopefully my notes are accurate. If something doesn't sound correct, assume *I* got it wrong, not George and give him a call to discuss the issue; he seems to be a very open and honest guy. My notes below pickup following the prayer/invocation of the meeting (my chairman doesn't begin meetings with a Pledge of Allegiance....)

So my chairman mostly ignored George (and Christine Hanlon, who is our Monmouth County State Committee Rep) and just plowed ahead into reviewing a district map/voter lists to try to fill seats, which is an effort that has been ongoing, with no progress from them for months (I did bring on three new committee members Thursday night, hopefully I'll bring 3 more on next meeting).

So while they were reviewing maps instead of talking to Christine or George, I asked George about the two (seemingly minor) issues that I/others had but seemed to fester in comments on Art's blog:
1) Why the same PO box as the Lincoln Day event?
A) George formed an ELEC account for his "testing the waters"/exploratory committee and Mary Fran Lane is his treasurer. The PO box DOES NOT belong to the county committee but is a PO box owned/used by Mary Fran/John.

From what George went on to say, Mary Fran is the treasurer for various other candidates (and I think the county?). Having heard his explanation, it really seems like a complete non-issue and makes perfect sense. I'm not sure if/why/how anyone would hold this against him, that is, I'm not sure that George using a respected and reputable treasurer (or the county using a respected and reputable treasurer) is a bad thing.

2) What with the Union tie to IBEW local 400, where Eric Houghtaling of Neptune Democrat fame is also a member?
A) George has been a member for 25+ years, and knows of Eric, but George is a Republican. He said he's been through their meetings and propaganda but his brain is wired Republican and their "persuasion committee" has not persuaded him in 30 years. He cites his life-long Republican registration/votes and elections. He also (maybe rightly?) notes that via his union tie, he may be able to bring labor votes to the Republican line that traditionally go to Ds.

Aside from those questions, he was also asked about towns receiving State Aid (ie, towns taking taxpayer money gathered by the state and then re-distributed), and if he accepts that aid? George explained the roots of most of that state aide as being the Public Utility Franchise Tax where JCP&L/NJNG/etc have substations, etc in town and those taxes USED to be paid to the town and then spent in town, now those taxes are collected by the state and then paid back to the town, in the form of state aide. I think overall he says to accept that state aid because it's aid due to the town anyway. Seems reasonable to me, but again, maybe I need to do more research to confirm this is the real case/story. So i'd say George is ok with state aid, but would prefer if local taxes stayed local.

He was also asked about County Parks/Seven Presidents OceanFront Park (in Long Branch)/beach access. He didn't get into County parks, he told me it's a bigger topic he'll research and we can talk about another night, but he seemed to be of the opinion that the towns have to collect beach badge fees to cover the cost of beach cleanup/moving sand, etc. LB used to have a few places where you can get onto the beach for free, those places no longer exist, so as a local/town issue, many people are annoyed at the taxes they pay, and they pay the "use tax"/badge fee to get on the beach. I'm not sure that George addressed the fact that LB taxes DO go to the beach area, and the badge money/"use tax" helps that - but clearly even people in LB who don't use the beach are paying for it, where people a town over in Eatontown or whatever that don't use the beach aren't paying for it in their taxes, or paying the use tax. So I'd say that George accepts the cost to use/fund the public beaches - I'd be curious to talk to him again/get more information on the costs/usage of county parks (one thing I forgot to note is that at the Wolf Hill County Dog Park -- the park "closes" at 8... because I guess at night dogs could damage the grass or something? seems silly to close the dog park but maybe there is good reason, I just don't know)

And, most important to me, he was asked about his position, even though it doesn't seem like it's an issue that the Freeholders could address (unless maybe the Freeholders could somehow get the Sheriff's department to handle permit issues instead of the state police?) on 2A rights. George is an NRA member, or at least gets the American Rifleman magazine which he had handy, he's been to the NRA headquarters/range in VA, seems to be a gun owner, and/or used to be a gun owner and generally he seems to understand how/why Right To Carry is not only a fundamental right, but is also useful in addressing crimes. I'd noted to George that as municipalities cut police budgets, the police unions are suggesting that the budget/staff cuts "put the public in danger" and explain how they'd be unable to do their jobs, which leads me to think that my own safety and security is my responsibility and the police can't do it, which lead us to a brief discussion on the Castle Doctrine, etc. I also noted to George that there is no public shooting range in Monmouth County, but there is the private police academy range (I think??). George notes that part of the issue in NJ is that guns have been banned/regulated so much and for so long that the general perception is that they must be bad and it's a perception issue that is difficult to overcome. Overall, George seems to be a very pro-2A candidate, which means a lot to me and a few people in my local district.

He was also asked about the always popular county jail costs/issue - that is cost to house federal inmates "at a loss". George (again, maybe rightly, I don't know the answer) notes that if federal inmates weren't housed there (even at a loss), then the cells remain empty and are just be a bigger loss as they'd be bringing in no income, but there would be some expense to maintain those cells/staff for them. He also noted the always popular option/calls for privatizing corrections officers at the jail but again (seemingly rightly) notes that there is (officially or unofficially) information obtained by corrections officers, passed on to the sheriff, passed on to other law enforcement agencies and acted on. George notes that private workers may not be as comfortable cooperating with law enforcement. So I'd say George is AGAINST privatizing the county jail.

George was also asked if he's spoken to the other freeholders about being their running mate/fellow board member. George said he had a very positive meeting with Lillian Burry but we didn't talk specifics of those talks/meetings. He said he's worked closely with Tom Arnone in the past when Tom was mayor of Neptune City. He hasn't met/talked to John Curly. For the record, I REALLY like John Curly as a person and as a representative and the things John seems to stand for so John Curley's opinion/willingness to work with George is important to me. George did say something about working with or talking with Rob Clifton but I don't remember the answer/details and didn't take good notes. I'll leave it up to others to obtain George and/or Rob's relationship if they are interested.

As other random notes, George overall seems like a reasonable and rational individual. He carries pocket Constitutions and hands them out which I think says something positive. He has nice business cards which gives a very professional appearance. He also seems to have some older, classic cars and a classic truck so being a car-guy, I share some interests with him.

Hopefully our LB muni chairman reaches out to any other interested parties/candidates for offices and invites them to the next meeting as it will be the last meeting before the screening committee votes, which I'm told is scheduled for March 26. It'd be nice to see/think that any potential candidates will reach out to the committees and the CC people will get a chance to ask their questions, do their own reviews and provide fact based input to their chairman, who should vote in accordance with the CC members. OR, if the nominating process becomes "open", then I'd hope that the CC people have the opportunity so that they can vote based on facts, not vote based on George using a PO box that matches the lincoln day po box, or being a union member.

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