Democrat To Focus On EconomyBy John BurtonMIDDLETOWN – It’s about a year-and-a-half away before New Jersey residents cast a vote for their next governor and probably quite a while before voters start thinking seriously about that election. But it isn’t too early to campaign and announce one’s candidacy, believes Monmouth County’s own Philip D. Murphy, who has thrown his hat into that ring.Businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Germany, Murphy, 58, a Middletown resident, and Democrat, who at the time of his announcement last week was the first declared Democratic candidate for the 2017 gubernatorial contest, a race to determine who will succeed two-term Republican Chris Christie.Despite the fact that the race is a long way away–and probably most people, if they’re thinking about politics at all, have their attention fixed on the presidential race escapades—Murphy and his family decided it was the opportune time to break out of the starting gate.“If we can in a small way get to a better debate, get the state back on its feet sooner rather than later,” Murphy said in an interview with The Two River Times this week about his announcement, “I want to be part of that.”Murphy has had a successful career in business, having worked for about 20 years for Goldman Sachs multinational investment banking firm, holding a number of positions with the company. Before ending his full-time career with the company’s management in 2003, Murphy headed up the company’s Frankfurt, Germany, operations as well as other high-placed spots level positions. He has also been active on a number of philanthropic and civic fronts, establishing with his wife, Tammy, a teen helpline called 2nd Floor, for 180 Turning Lives Around, an organization that assists victims of domestic and sexual violence and their families, and working with other charitable organizations over the years; Murphy had been for a period the organization’s board president. He has also co-chaired Renewing Our Schools, Securing Our Future, a national task force studying public education; and Richard Codey, while serving as acting governor in 2005, selected Murphy to head up a task force looking at public service pensions and health benefits.Murphy hasn’t held elected office but has dabbled in national politics. He served as national finance chair for the Democratic National Committee under then-chairman Howard Dean (who, Murphy said, he considers a friend) from 2006 to 2009. According to his bio provided by the campaign, Murphy raised in the neighborhood of $300 million over that period for the national political party.Following his tenure with the DNC, President Barack Obama nominated Murphy to be the Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, and with the U.S. Senate’s approval, Murphy served in that posting from 2009 until 2013.Going forward with the campaign Murphy said, “The economy is ‘job one’ in this state.”He pointed out New Jersey’s unemployment rate remains high compared to the rest of the region (and higher as the national percentage); employment hasn’t recouped yet from 2007, prior to the “Great Recession”; New Jersey has one of the highest percentage of long term unemployed (more than six months) of any state; and, Murphy said, we lead the nation in “zombie foreclosures”—where homeowners have walked away from their properties.“Those are just the facts. I wish they weren’t but they are,” he said.With a background in the private sector, in international economies, of “What works, what doesn’t,” as well as an appreciation for the public sector’s ability, Murphy maintained he has the right stuff to create jobs and right the New Jersey ship after eight years of Christie.The next governor, Murphy is convinced, needs to be “prepared to make decisions based upon what’s best for the next generation,” as opposed to “what’s best for his or her next election.”“Too many, it seems on both sides of the aisle, just kick the can down the road, borrowing from our kids’ future to make up for the lack of discipline today,” he added. “We need a leader who says enough, stop, we’re not doing that anymore.”Murphy is the youngest of four kids, growing up in a working class family outside of Boston, Massachusetts. His family were loyal Democrats, where John and Robert Kennedy were revered. Those were his roots, the commitment to hard work and the belief that the Democratic Party is dedicated to helping all, especially the middle class improve their lives, which they believe benefits the whole country, Murphy maintained. “No matter how much success I’ve had in the private and public sector,” he said, “nothing has taken me off of that set.“That’s where I started and that’s where I remain.”The campaign is just getting under way but Murphy has begun the process of reaching out, attending events, working the phones to raise money and heighten his visibility.With no incumbent, before too much longer he’ll undoubtedly have announced competition for the party’s nomination. Other names purportedly considering testing the political waters are political warhorses state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, from Gloucester County; Union County’s Senator Raymond Lesniak (whose announcement he wouldn’t be running for re-election to the Senate is seen as precipitating his run for the governor’s office) and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, from Middlesex County. Also considering joining the fray on the Democratic side is Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who had also previously worked for Goldman Sachs.On the GOP side, Evesham Township Mayor Randy Brown, in Burlington County, has expressed an interest in running, while Ocean County businessman Joseph Rudy Rullo has begun campaigning, establishing a Facebook page. And there is incumbent Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, apparently considering a bid for her boss’s job, as is state Senator Tom Kean Jr., who represents the 21st Legislative District in Morris County and is the son of Gov. Tom Kean.
By John Burton || As a NJ Transit commuter train left the Middletown station a couple of days after commuters had to address renovations at Penn Station, the train conductor offered a shrug and commented, “So far, so good.”For some taking NJ Transit’s North Jersey Coast Line to work or for day trips, the sentiments expressed by the conductor who declined to give a name, seemed to sum it up.Donna Garvin, Middletown, was waiting for the train, which she takes to Newark, for her work. She’s grateful not to have to travel into Manhattan and will avoid some of those recent delays and disruptions. But she’s noticed a few things that are different, though minor, in her commute. “You know it’s been getting kind of busy,” more than usual, she said, suspecting other riders are taking alternative routes to work.“It is what it is. What are you going to do?” Margret Belletta of Middletown said with a shrug of her own, as she readied to make her way to work on the train.Some of these commuters observed that traffic has been light, chalking it up to that it’s mid-July and many people are probably on vacation, avoiding some of these issues.“I was wondering how it’s going to be,” after vacations, Garvin said.Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, which owns and operates the more-than-a-century old commuter rail hub, Penn Station, in midtown Manhattan, began its long-planned repair project on Monday, July 10.The project is intended to repair and upgrade infrastructure, such as some electrical and track work to the aging facility, which has been plagued by delays and other problems – regularly causing agita for harried travelers. The project is expected to take until early September, transportation officials announced, and is expected to cause delays to NJ Transit, Long Island Railroad, Amtrak and local subway service operated by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), while a number of tracks are out of service.The anticipated disruptions have caused some New York media outlets to hang the moniker “Summer of Hell” on the project.But as Edward Poplawski, a Red Bank resident awaiting the train at Red Bank’s commuter station, observed, “It’s not been terrible,” for his daily trek to work in New York. He has a theory, explaining, “There’s been so much news about it, I think people have found alternative routes.”Poplawski, too, did a little planning, preparing for what this could mean for his daily commute. “I’ve taken an earlier train to avoid some of it,” he said, observing there appeared to be fewer people or about the same and schedules have been pretty steady.“It’s been nothing out of the ordinary,” said Monmouth Beach resident Richard Coplan, waiting at the Red Bank stop. “In both directions. The same as usual.“I’ve had no disruptions,” Coplan said, adding “yet.”Work was taking Red Bank’s John Cusick into New York, not a normal occurrence for him. “When I realized I had to go in today I thought I would take a later train,” he said, “to avoid the rush crush.” And it appeared to be working so far, he observed, given the lighter than usual crowd at the rail station.Debbie Docs, Little Silver, too, was taking the later train, what she dubbed “the under-achievers train,” as opposed to the earlier ones dominated by New York-bound movers-and-shakers.“Throughout the system that seems to be the account,” that things are running relatively smoothly, said Nancy Snyder, a NJ Transit spokes- woman. And that, she continued, “is the result of weeks of preparation,” among NJ Transit and the other groups involved.In addition, “Most of our customers have done their homework mapping out their travel pattern,” she observed, giving them a leg up on the process.Some have opted for the ferry service. Regular NY Water ways rider Ed Schweitzer noticed the difference this week.As his 5:10 p.m. ferry docked at the Belford terminal Tuesday, streams of riders hurriedly made their way off and home. “There’s many, many riders,” Schweitzer said. And given that, “They’re doing the best they can,” he concluded, referring to the ferry company.The issue isn’t so much the ferry, but with the available parking around the terminal, due to the extra ridership. That has forced Schweitzer to leave his car at his Middletown home, relying on his wife to pick him up, he said.“There’s competition for the seats,” he has noticed on his two daily trips. Schweitzer said he’s been assured as a long- time customer (13 years, since the terminal opened) he would have his place on the boat. “I buy the 40-ride book (of tickets) every month,” he said. “So, I think that’s fair.”“Any business will be loyal to its customers,” confirmed Pat Smith, a spokesman for NY Waterways. “If we have a loyal NY Waterway customer we’ll take them first, over somebody who showed for the first time today.”But the company has taken additional steps to accommodate what Smith confirmed has been a bump in ridership. That has included contracting with NJ Transit by operating a specific ferry line, with two boats, from Hoboken to the 39th Street terminal intended for NJ Transit customers, with NY Waterways cross-honoring tickets. The ferry company has an additional boat “that can jump from different routes,” as needed, Smith said.“We’re dealing with all of it,” he said. “The point is to take everybody we can.”This article was first published in the July 13-20, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 12, 2016)–Halo Farms’ front-running Danzing Candy cruised to an impressive two length win under Mike Smith in Saturday’s Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Clifford Sise, the lightly raced Kentucky-bred colt by Twirling Candy got 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.04 and picked up 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, assuring him of a berth in the Run for the Roses on May 7.“He warmed up great, he was on his toes,” said Smith. “Our game plan was to put him on the lead unless he didn’t jump out of there well. We didn’t want to experiment…I left there very aggressive and he didn’t get away with anything (slow fractions). If you go 22 on this track today, you’re smokin’. And for him to hold off the caliber of horses he held off, was very impressive.”Bred by Ted Aroney’s Halo Farms and owned by Halo Farms and Jim and Diane Bashor, Danzing Candy paid $13.00, $5.20 and $3.40. A maiden special weight winner two starts back on Dec. 26, Danzing Candy was a 5 ¾ length allowance winner here on Feb. 4 and thus picked up his third win from four starts. With the winner’s share of $240,000, he increased his earnings to $308,650.“I expected him to be on the lead,” said Sise. “We didn’t want to experiment in this race. Mike just said, ‘I’ll let him come out the first few jumps and if he’s there, he’s there. If somebody sends, he’ll sit second.“He (broke) much better today. He’s good now. We’ll stay for the Santa Anita Derby (Grade I, $1 million at 1 1/8 miles April 9). He’s three for three on this track. Why would we change now? I don’t see any reason to, but you never know. You’ve got to leave that up to the owners.”Ridden by Gary Stevens, favored Mor Spirit appeared to get a bit rank around the Club House turn, but settled readily down the backside when next to last going past the half mile pole. With a cue from Stevens, he picked it up between horses around the far turn, rallied well, while within himself for second money and galloped out on terms with the winner past the wire.Off at 8-5 in a field of six Derby hopefuls, Mor Spirit paid $3.40 and $2.20.“I’m very happy, because he was way too keen in the early part of the race, he was really fresh…” said Stevens. “He was super sharp. As I was coming into the lane, I knew I wasn’t going to catch the winner, but I knew we had to get some (Kentucky Derby) points. I like where we’re sitting for the Santa Anita Derby. I lost a battle today, but I like our position. Bob (Baffert) was happy, so I’m happy…He’ll settle a little better for me in the Santa Anita Derby.Exaggerator, who is trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by his brother, Kent, was content to lag early and picked it up in eye-catching fashion heading into the far turn as he skimmed the rail, but he flattened out late, finishing three quarters of length behind Mor Spirit.The second wagering choice at 2-1, Exaggerator paid $2.40 to show.With the winner getting 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, the second, third and fourth place finishers earned 20, 10 and five points respectively.Danzing Candy set fractions of 22.96, 46.11, 1:11.04 and 1:36.38 over a main track that although was listed as fast, had been dulled by heavy afternoon rains on Friday. 1-2-3 FINISHERS HEADED TO GRADE I, $1 MILLION SANTA ANITA DERBY ON APRIL 9