Joseph M. DiBella

Howell Democrats

MORLINO CALLS ON MAYOR, COUNCIL TO LET PUBLIC SPEAK

HOWELL TOWNSHIP (MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ): Howell Township Democratic Municipal Chairman Steve Morlino today calls upon Howell's Mayor Joseph DiBella and the town council to stop attempting to limit the public’s right to address their government.

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Howell Democrats

MORLINO CALLS ON COST OVERRUNS TO GET LOOK FROM PROSECUTOR

HOWELL TOWNSHIP (MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ): Howell Township Democratic Municipal Chairman Steve Morlino today called upon Howell's Mayor Joseph DiBella and the town council to refer the cost overruns of the North Howell Little League concession stand to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office.

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Niemann's got woes

Frederick Niemann was a giant killer in 2004. He had defeated the 17-year incumbent, William Dowd, for Monmouth County Republican Chairman, and seemed destined to a career of relative power as the boss of a large and powerful county GOP organization. But two years later, the Monmouth GOP is in disarray and Niemann may face a tough race if he wants to get re-elected to a second term. To Niemann's credit, he took over under difficult circumstances -- his party had just been through an unsuccessful bid to get Co-Senate President John Bennett re-elected, and Bennett's ethical issues had hurt the entire party. The following year, an early-morning sweep left eleven Monmouth County political leaders of both parties under arrest. But Niemann had had some problems, and today his party organization seems deeply divided. He has gotten into hot water over publicly indentifying loopholes in campaign fundraising laws, and for comments made about terrorism. His candidate in a Special Election Convention for Monmouth County Freeholder lost. And last Saturday, a convention to pick a new Freeholder candidate was a disaster. Niemann played footsy with one candidate, who failed to secure a first ballot win. The second ballot was full of contoversy: the Monmouth GOP Executive Director said that voting machines "were recalibrated after the voting was started." The vote ended with a one-vote margin for Manalapan Committeeman Andrew Lucas, but the party official later said it was a tie. Yesterday, Howell Mayor Joseph DiBella dropped out of the race.

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The Battle of Monmouth

Already experiencing trouble among party leaders, Monmouth County Republican Chairman Frederick Niemannn took a huge hit last Friday when the Asbury Park Press reported that he and his Finance Chaiman, Josh Elkes, set up political action committees in municipalities throughout Monmouth County to accept contributions from county vendors that could not contribute directly to the county organization under newly passed pay-to-play restrictions. Such PAC's may be legal, but campaign finance experts suggest some technical problems with Niemann's PAC's, including the use of the same Treasurer that Niemann already uses for his Chairman's PAC. The Treasurer is an accountant at Holman & Frenia -- which operates out of the same Toms River office building as Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore's law firm.

The same day Niemann denied knowledge of the PAC's, sources say he strongly supported in an address to the Monmouth County Affiliated Republican Club -- comparing GOP County Committee members who have questioned his stewardship to al-Qaida when interviewed by the press. This has resulted in public calls for his resignation by several local party chairs and elected officials.

So Far, two challengers have emerged to challenge Niemann when he seeks re-election to a second term as Chairman in June: former Freeholder Edward Stominski, who was dumped by party leaders when he sought re-election in 2004, and Mel Hood, an African American activist from Neptune. Sources say that other candidates are waiting until after the April 8th convention, when the Monmouth GOP picks candidates to replace retiring Freeholder Theodore Narozanick, and possibly Surrogate Marie Muhler.

In the Freeholder race -- which has recently been overshadowed by Niemann’s headlines -- Ocean Township Deputy Mayor David Hiers has withdrawn and endorsed Howell Mayor Joseph DiBella. DiBella lost a February Special Election Convention to Anna Little to fill the Freeholder seat of Assemblywoman Amy Handlin. Marlboro Mayor Robert Kleinberg, Holmdel Committeeman Terence Wall, Manalapan Committeeman Andrew Lucas and Asbury Park attorney Thomas DeSeno are also running.

Party insiders are expecting Muhler to retire, but she has still not made her intentions clear. Longtime Middletown Committeewoman (and former Mayor) Rosemarie Peters is already in the race, and Little Silver Councilman Rick DeNoia, who is close to Niemann, has begun to seek votes in the event that the incumbent backs out.

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DiBella's second loss

Political pundits in Central New Jersey rate 36-year-old Joseph DiBella as one of the rising stars of the Monmouth County Republican Party. But the race for Monmouth County Freeholder was DiBella's second loss in a Special Election Convention. One week after winning a seat on the Howell Township Council in November 2002, he ran for the State Assembly in a race to fill the seat of the late Melvin Cottrell. DiBella lost by 34 votes to Ronald Dancer, the Mayor of Plumsted. The 36-year-old DiBella is a Vice President in the Employee Benefits Division of Commerce Insurance Services. He began his political career in Middlesex County, where he won a seat on the Sayreville Board of Education at age 22, and later served as a Councilman before relocating to Howell in 1998. He ran for Mayor in 2003, when Democratic incumbent Timothy Konopka stepped down, and won 60% of the vote against DemocratSteven Farkas, another recent Howell resident who had previously run for the Legislature and Congress in Atlantic County.

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Monmouth GOP meets Saturday to elect a new Freeholder

Monmouth County Republicans are headed into Saturday's Special Election Convention with six candidates vying Amy Handlin's Freeholder seat. The conventional wisdom is that Howell Mayor Joseph DiBella is the front-runner, but Wall Republican Municipal Chairman Robert McKenna and Highlands Councilwoman Anna Little. Hazlet Committeewoman Bridget Antonucci and Marlboro Mayor Robert Kleinberg have some pockets of County Committee votes,and attorney Thomas Seno is viewed as having a lock of last place. DiBella has won endorsements from State Senator Joseph Kyrillos and Freeholder Director Bill Barham; McKenna's key backer is Assemblyman Sean Kean, while Little has support from Freeholder Theodore Narozanick and former Freehodler Thomas Powers. The worst kept secret in the Monmouth GOP right now is that the Republican County Chairman, Frederick Niemann, is quietly backing DiBella. Republicans will have another fierce contest in about two months, if Narozanick and Surrogate Marie Muhler decide not to seek re-election, and a third in June -- two challengers have already entered the race to take on Niemann for County Chairman.

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The Back Room

Was Buono/Silva a precursor to a national Democratic ticket?

An unprecedented number of female U.S. senators (20; 16 of them Democrats) has insiders chatting about a possible all-female national ticket if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton runs for president.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 23, 2014

Colorado politicians invite Christie to experience 'Rocky Mountain High'Colorado politicians slapped back at Gov. Chris Christie after he questioned their Rocky Mountain quality of life under the rule of legalized marijuana.“Whether it’s hiking season or snow season, we invite Gov. Christie to experience Colorado’s quality of life anytime,"  Sen....

Op-Ed

How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis

By HAYTHAM YOUNES As the May 13th election for Paterson officials nears, I've noticed a lot of candidates running using slogans and empty promises as if they weren't around watching Paterson get to where it's at today. I think it's important that... Read More >

Contributors

(4-23-14) Bridgegate Witnesses Not "RATS" if Testimony is Forced -Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision last week was covered in most newspapers and blogs as an affirmation of the... more »
(Absecon Island, NJ) --With his shocking win in last year's election, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian emerged as one of the most intriguing figures in the New Jersey political... more »
When it comes to profiling Christie, facts are for wussies (4/10/14) - As the national media stories on our Guv pile up, expect more blunders about the Garden State.... more »
This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »

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