Sunday, June 24, 2012

Squeeze of Record Tax Appeals!

Just read the piece in today's HNT - Towns feel squeeze of record tax appeals. Tried to get the on-line link but it wasn't up there or it's part of new subscription service. Either way, I'm not able to give it to you.

It's a really good piece and sheds some serious light on the issue and it's fall-out - and you should read it when you can.

But, you know what's really ironic? Guess who was quoted up and down the piece? Senor Council President Rob 'March on Trenton' Karabinchak! You remember him, that bastion of protection for the tax weary residents of Downtown Edison.

Anyhoo, I thought there was something missing from the piece, so I shared my thoughts via email with one of the reporters who did the piece - and here's my thoughts:

Just read the above-mentioned piece in today’s HNT. Thought it was a very informative piece highlighting the issue and it’s fall-out. However, what caught my eye was the reference to and quotes from Edison Council President Rob Karabinchak. No doubt Mr. Karabinchak is well versed in the tax appeal process for both homeowners and businesses and has carried the lobbying torch down to Trenton, as you indicated. He’s certainly a knowledgeable source and a good reference to use in the piece.

But, when you use quotes like ‘The burden of tax appeals falls to the homeowners’, ‘that’s not fair’, ‘constitutionally everybody is allowed to appeal their taxes’ etc. - you know what’s missing from this piece and his quotes?

Disclosure of his own tax appeal!

At the June 13, 2012 Council Meeting, Mr. Karabinchak put forth a resolution (R.355-062012) authorizing a conflict tax assessor and attorney for any appeal before the Middlesex County Board of Taxation. It was approved. The resolution did not reference anywhere that he was the one filing the tax appeal and causing the need for a conflict assessor and attorney. He only offered up that info when he was asked directly at the meeting. I know, I asked him.

So, you can imagine my surprise when he talks in this piece of what’s fair, the taxpayer’s burden, etc. - yet he has no problem joining in on the tax appeal process and conveniently forgetting to let the residents of Downtown Edison know. Is that fair? Guess we all have our own definition of what’s fair.

Clearly, Mr. Karabinchak has the same right as anyone else to file a tax appeal and that goes without question - but it becomes a tad bit hypocritical to be the torch bearer for the tax appeal battered residents when you sponsor a resolution for yourself at the last minute, dump some more costs on the residents for a conflict assessor and attorney and forget to disclose that fact in the resolution -  thereby trying to keep the residents of Edison in the dark that the resolution was for him. Concern isn’t his tax appeal – it’s his trying to hide it.

So, you’ll forgive me if I don’t take Mr. Karabinchak’s concern for the tax appeal battered residents too seriously or jump on his his request that we demand tax appeal reform by contacting our state legislators. Hey, not for nothing, but this is the same guy who last year told the people of Edison that there was a zero municipal tax hike – even after the tax bills went out and we already paid half the year’s 2.9 cent or 2.7% municipal tax hike.

Anyhoo, I thought the piece was very good and helpful to the residents – but it would of been better if there was just that tad bit more disclosure.

But hey, I'd say more but I got to go and contact my state legislators so they can change the law for homeowners so we can pay Karabinchak over 3 years just like the commercials - in case he wins his tax appeal.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Top 10 Reasons

why the Edison Township Council chose their campaign manager's wife as the new Township Clerk:

10. Because they wanted to attract and encourage the best & brightest talent available to come work for our town.

  9. Because they wanted to create a career path for the staff in the Clerk's office.

  8. Because they believe having absolutely no work experience in this field is the best kind of experience needed to head-up a department in Edison.

  7. Because it makes perfect sense to them that Robin, Michelle & the rest of the Clerk's staff should spend all the time needed to train their new boss.

  6. Because they didn't have to agree on a salary with this new hire before they voted on it and that's a money saver.

  5. Because a score of 97 on the first of 5 courses needed for a RMC by this hire was good enough for El Presidente Karabinchak.

  4. Because we expect the Council to do what's in the best interests of the people of Edison and they believe this is their flagship moment for demonstrating that public trust.

  3. Because they're not oblivious to how ridiculous their actions may seem to everyone else - they just know politics always trumps people in Edison.

  2. Because they were going for the Guinness Record for the best Resident & Taxpayer "In Your Face" by a local governing body.

  1. Because the Dem Party internal party power struggle has gotten so out of control that the abnormal & bizarre is now the norm in Downtown Edison's one-party rule.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rob "March on Trenton" Karabinchak

Well, I made the unfortunate mistake of going to last night's Edison Council Meeting. Haven't been there in a while and just wanted to get the status of one of the Council's 2012 budget amendments. Further, I made another mistake by actually reading the agenda for the meeting. And some things stuck out in the resolutions.

The first was R. 355-062012 - Resolution authorizing a conflict Tax Assessor and Attorney for any tax appeal before the Middlesex County Board of Taxation.  Now, what could that possibly be? There was no indication given of who the tax appeal was for that created the need for a conflict tax assessor and attorney - no block & lot number, no address or nothing to indicate who it was for. But, it obviously had to be someone on the Council.

So, I asked Council Presidente Rob "March on Trenton" Karabinchak. You remember him. He's the guy that sat there last year and told you that there was no Muni Tax Hike even after you received your tax bills and already paid half the 2011 muni tax increase.

He's the guy that actually spent $100,000 in a prior campaign for a single seat on the Council for a single year against an opponent who only spent to the max $3,000.

He's the guy who promised to pinch pennies for us but didn't even recognize the 2.9 Cent Muni Tax Hike in 2011.

He's the guy who actually was part of $6.5 million Council cut to a prior defeated school budget but didn't see the irony of sponsoring a resolution to Trenton demanding we get our fair share of state aid.

Well, that's enough for now.

So, turns out that that he is the one filing a tax appeal necessitating the need for a conflict tax assessor and attorney. Now, there's no problem with him filing a tax appeal - every taxpayer has that right and should if they believe their taxes are excessive.

Problem here is that he tried to hide it.

Funny, but here's a guy who pretends to carry torch for the property tax appeal battered residents of Downtown Edison yet files one himself and tries to hide it. What does that say about someone who sponsors a resolution for himself at the last minute, dumps some more costs on us for a conflict tax assessor & attorney and forgets to tell us in the resolution it's for him?

But wait, it gets better with Karabinchak at the helm. Turns out the Council hired a replacement for retiring Township Clerk. They hired the wife of their campaign manager in the last Council cycle. The same guy who worked in the administration, no longer does and still has some outstanding issues pending. When Karabinchak was asked if the person was a RMC or had any experience in the field at all - with a straight face, he said No! And this is even better. When asked how much they were paying this person, he said he didn't know.

So, let's see what we have here. They actually hire the wife of their campaign manager (who still has some outstanding issues with the administration) who has no experience in the field and they won't tell us how much she is making and going to cost us.

Great answers to the residents of Downtown Edison by Senor Karabinchak.

Finally, here's a guy that shouldn't even be on the Council - much less Council President.

Anyhoo, what do I know? I still can't figure out why they continue to treat the residents of Downtown Edison with such disrespect and lack of openness & transparency.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Board of Mythomania - NJ ASK Results

Recently saw these results up on the NJ DOE website for the Assessment of Skills & Knowledge testing given in 2011 and 2010. Plucked out the total population scores for Language and Math for both the third & eight graders by school here in Downtown Edison. There's some interesting data here and it makes for a very informative, if not eye-opening read. There's also further breakdowns of the data you can see on the NJ DOE website and it's worth a view.

Anyhoo, here's what I plucked off the NJ DOE website and, as usual, if anyone wants this file just let me know:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Outstanding People in Downtown Edison!

Just read the piece about the Edison Chamber's 13th Annual Dinner for Edison's outstanding people and businesses on June 12th. Look who's been named Educator of the Year - Administrator-a-Mundo - Señor Dr. Richard "Build the Trust" O'Malley. Congratulations to Señor O'Malley for his Outstanding status here in Downtown Edison! Something, isn't it? Come on now - really, wouldn't you of liked to of been a fly on the wall for the discussion of the criteria used for that selection? 

But hey, if you want to go and share some Hugs & Kisses with Señor O'Malley - it will only cost you $85 and if you really want to show your congratulations, you can take a congratulatory ad out - prices range from $150 to $2,000.

Just like the old days where you had to pay to hear the Mayor's State of the Township address.

Anyhoo, let's hope the Board of Mythomania doesn't take out any ads for this Commemorative Journal.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Board of Mythomania's Super Performance Bonus Criteria

Well, according to the performance bonus agreement between the Board and Super Dr. Richard "Build the Trust" O'Malley, he is eligible for a bonus for the 2011-12 school year. Though his employment contract clearly includes eligibility for performance bonus up to 2%, it's not quite clear whether he is eligible for that performance bonus in 2011-12. Still awaiting clarification of his eligibility in 2011-12 from the school district.

Continuing on, according to this bonus agreement, he is eligible for a maximum bonus of 2% of salary. It is based on the Board of Mythomania's goals set for the 2011-12 school year. Any bonus paid will not become part of regular compensation and Super O'Malley's performance will be reviewed by the Board President and approved by a majority of the board.

Some more particulars - any amount allotted (up to 2% of salary) for a bonus will be based on the achievement of seven (7) board goals. Half of the bonus (50%) is allotted to the improving four (4) results on NJ ASK for third-graders and eight-graders (decreasing %'s scoring at partially proficient and increasing %'s scoring at advanced proficient). Each of the four results is weighted equally at 25%. The other half of the bonus (50%) is allotted to the achievement of three (3) other board goals (establishing a public education fund, setting a facilities plan & timetable and expanding community outreach to residents & businesses) . Each of these 3 goals is weighted equally at 33%.

So, what do we have here? Each of the NJ ASK results are worth 12.5% of the money allotted for a performance bonus and each of the other board goals are worth 16.6% of the money. Guess it's possible that they can fail miserably on the testing results but send out a few surveys to find out what you think about public education in Downtown Edison - and Super O'Malley still gets some of that bonus money!

Seriously now, can these goals be any more general or vague? What does decreasing or increasing testing score %'s mean? Does one-gizillionth of 1% qualify? And what's with those other 3 board goals. I could qualify for those and I don't work there!

Sadly, why does the board pass along all their board goals on to the Super? Clearly, I recognize that the board sets the policies and the Super runs the school district but don't you think that that board should have some goals inherent to their role - like board oversight?

This is one silly set of performance indicators. But hey, what do I know, I still can't figure out the criteria difference between a 2% raise and 2% performance bonus for O'Malley over there on Mythomania Lane.

Anyhoo, there's a file that includes a performance bonus calculator as well as the performance bonus agreement and the board's goals for the 2011-12 school year. Anyone who wants the file, just let me know:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

RalphB - New Blog Location


When I can get a chance to set this up, I'll be writing the blog from this location. Anyone who wishes to opt off the email list, just let me know. No explanation necessary.