Monday, May 29, 2006

The Dots Are Further Connected

Organizer defends PAC that pushed for Lenape school budget
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 05/28/06

Before the April school elections, an organizer of the political action committee that unsuccessfully worked for passage of the Lenape Regional School District budget described his group as broad-based and without apartisan tilt.

While bearing out organizer Stephen Madosky's description of the Coalition for Children's Education to an extent, the group's campaign contribution reports still have a flavor harkening back to the GOP-backed PAC that pushed for the 1997 Seneca High School referendum.

One large April contribution revealed the existence of a second Lenape PAC, dormant until recently but linked to its 1997 predecessor through acurrent school board member.

Its treasurer is the wife of board member John Jeffers, who has ties to J. Garfield DeMarco, the GOP power broker behind the successful PAC pushfor a $68.7 million referendum to build Seneca High in Tabernacle and expand Cherokee High in Evesham.

Also among the coalition's contributors are two key Burlington County GOP backers: the Haddonfield-based firm of Archer and Greiner, which has reaped massive fees as Lenape's attorneys, and Richard Alaimo Associates, a Mount Holly engineering firm.

Madosky, organizer of the Coalition for Children's Education, maintained last week that his PAC was exactly what he described, a broad-based group mainly from his hometown of Medford with the students' best interests in mind.

"They happen to be my friends," Madosky said of his contributors. "If I ask, they'd give it to me. You can try to make something out of it, but I assure you they're just friends.

"Through a spokesman, DeMarco said he has had no involvement with any Lenape PACs since the 1997 referendum. Madosky's PAC had 11 contributors as of its initial reports. They gave a total of $9,200 through April 15 and include some business owners livingin Medford, such as the owners of Cherry Hill's Coastline Restaurant and a Berlin construction company.

But then there's the $1,600 contribution from the here to fore unknown Committee for Lenape's Future, headed by Jill Jeffers, wife of the Lenape board member.

Although it's legal for a board member, let alone his wife, to push for passage of a bond referendum, the Republican couple from Mount Laurel did not publicly let on about their agenda.

John Jeffers is deputy executive director of the Burlington CountyBridge Commission, of which DeMarco is chairman.

John and Jill Jeffers did not return calls seeking comment.

The Burlington County GOP has denied any interest in the Lenape election.

Like DeMarco's 1997 PAC, the Jeffers' PAC was backed between 2000 and 2002 by firms that reaped contracts from the Seneca project, including Archer and Greiner.

The Committee for Lenape's Future, which contributed during that span to John Jeffers' board campaign and others, had been dormant for several years until recently giving money toward graduation parties for Lenape's four high schools.

Archer and Greiner anted up $1,000 for the Madosky PAC two months ago.

Archer and Greiner is Lenape's law firm and was paid at least $817,000 in fees related to the Seneca project from 1998 to 2001. It gave $8,875 to the Burlington County GOP in 2004.

Richard Alaimo Associates gave $500 to the Madosky PAC and is also a key Burlington GOP contributor, giving $25,000 in 2004.

John Maroccia, incoming Medford Democratic chairman, saw the firms'donations as confirmation of a GOP connection and efforts to bulk up their own bank accounts.

Officials from the two firms did not return calls seeking comment.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Understanding Low Income Housing

Low Income Housing does not necessarily mean "undesirables" are coming to Evesham. If the housing to be built is done via COAH (Council On Affordable Housing) & HUD guidelines the price line breaks down as such:

Income Guidelines 2006 (effective 3/8/2006)

LOW $25,500 MOD $40,400 one person

LOW $28,850 MOD $46,150 two people

LOW $32,450 MOD $51,950 three people

LOW $36,050 MOD $57,700 four people

MOD referring to moderate income

If we are talking about apartment rentals, the following is 2005's final for an efficiency to a 3 bedroom.

efficiency - $663.00 per month w/o utilities

1 bedroom - $761.00 per month w/o utilities

2 bedroom - $914.00 per month w/o utilities

3 bedroom - $1,095.00 per month w/o utilities


To facilitate the production of sound, affordable housing for low and moderate income households by providing the most effective process to municipalities, housing providers, nonprofit and for profit developers to address a constitutional obligation within the framework of sound, comprehensive planning.

Interestingly enough, Mt. Laurel is in an uproar over Evesham putting low income on their border, yet it is because of Mt. Laurel these standards exist.

The Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) was created by the Fair Housing Act of 1985 as the State Legislature's response to a series of New Jersey Supreme Court cases known as the Mount Laurel decisions. The Supreme Court established a constitutional obligation for each of the 566 municipalities in the state to establish a realistic opportunity for the provision of fair share low and moderate income housing obligations, generally through land use and zoning powers. The legislature provided an administrative alternative to this constitutional obligation via the Fair Housing Act.

Evesham, as usual, never does the right thing, the Twp. Just came out of a judgment of Repose because they didn't do the lawful thing to begin with. Now we are stuck with building 233 units and purchasing land that supposedly will not exceed $2.5 million dollars. A very nice chunk of change to fulfill our obligation set by the court.

Make no mistake, the above figures are accurate, meaning that a working mother with a child could afford to live here, but if all units are not utilized, section 8 vouchers, by law must be accepted.

On a personal note, clustering low income housing is a very bad idea for all. The stigma attached to "projects" like what is proposed in Evesham will be very detrimental to the children living there and coming into our schools. Like it or not the reality of NIMBY (not in my back yard) is alive and well. While I abhor the government forcing this on us because of the impact to our schools in particular, the law is the law. We the tax payer will foot the bill for all of the children coming into our schools and because of the clustering and not spreading out the homes, the closest schools will feel the impact. Evesham has low income sites scattered throughout the Twp. Case in point, we have an elected official that lives in low income housing. The Mayor and Council need to do better and find more alternatives instead of pushing all the obligation on Mt. Laurel's border. The easy answer is not always the right answer.

I challenge the elected officials in this town to find alternatives rather than dumping their issues on Mt.Laurel's border, clogging our schools and generally pushing their problem where no one can see it. If the job is done right using scattered sites, which, by the way, is obviously more work at the drawing board (not an Evesham strong suit) the impact to all will be lessened and a neon sign will not be tattooed to the foreheads of the children who's parents are trying to provide a better life for them.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What Will They Do?

Tonight is the special council meeting for the defeated school budgets.

Will the Mayor and Council cut the school budget by more than $300,000? Will they cut at least a penny? Will they do the will of the voter or bow to the BOE?

Here's a bigger question, will the School Board threaten to cut school trips or activities if they don't get what they want. This wouldn't be the first time for these tactics.

Let's wait and see, just remember, it's for the children.