Tag Archive: Mercer

Republican Mayor in Hamilton (Mercer) Wildly Inflates the Cost of Local Ethics Panel

Diary rescue from Monday – promoted by Rosi

Unelected Republican Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede came up with a whopper this past weekend to excuse why she doesn’t support a local ethics board in the wake of the worst corruption scandal in the township’s history.

In the Times of Trenton article by Mike Davis headlined “Fate of Hamilton’s ethics board becomes a political football” Yaede is quoted as saying that she is opposed because costs for the board could rise to $60,0000 or more.

First of all, the entire statewide budget for the administration of the Local Government Ethics Law is only $60K (2012)! That includes $35K to investigate complaints, $25K to issue advisory opinions and $5K to review local ethics codes.  

Union Busting In Hamilton Township (Mercer)

Hamilton Township is the Birthplace of the Modern Day Tactics of Union Busting

Well, to start, there is no Labor Day Parade in Hamilton Township, but that is merely a by-product of Labor unfriendly leadership within the Township.

Long before Chris Christie became Governor of New Jersey. Long before Wisconsin’s actions against Collective Bargaining. Long before John Boehner became Speaker of the House. Long before Republican Mitch McConnell became Senate Minority Leader…Hamilton Township has had John Bencivengo, Kevin Meara and Kelly Yaede hard at work busting up the Public Workers’ unions of the CWA, AFSCME and the PBA.

As we analyze what has happened in Hamilton Township it is as though Christie, Wisconsin and the Congressional Republicans ripped a page out of the Hamilton Republican’s playbook.

Claim a fiscal crisis and blame the public workers.

Bencivengo and team came into office by accident. On Election Day 2007, the Times of Trenton headlines screamed deficit and these three rode into office. http://nl.newsbank.com/nojavas… .

Since then, they have seized upon this deficit claim to justify a host of actions against the Township’s Public Workers, which they state were needed to save the money of Hamilton Township taxpayers.

With the backdrop set of “fiscal crisis” and historical deficit levels these three, along with the sitting Republicans on Township Council, began to work to bust up the CWA,

AFSCME and PBA workers.

What is remarkable is that they moved forward with tax hikes and public worker lay-offs and furloughs without ever having actually naming what this deficit amount was. They have said it was $10 million. Then they said it was $8.8 million and $14 million. Next they said it was $16 million. Finally, they said it was $5 million.

Below, in chronological order, are the links to the various deficit amount claims by the Republican incumbents.


http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file… (see page 16)



So, in 2008, the first thing that they set about doing was lay-off 54 public employees and reorganizing the Police Division.

In March 2010 they forced 8 furlough days on the remaining public workers in the Township. But in June 2010 they found the money to propose giving John Bencivengo a raise and to actually give significant raises to the non-Union Department Directors.

In 2010 they privatized the Engineering and Planning Department as well as the Ecological Center – further displacing public workers.

A further indication of their disregard for Public Workers and Collective Bargaining is that the Township’s Personnel Director is not an actual Personnel Director – lacking all Civil Service level requirements to hold such a position.

Bencivengo and the all Republican Council continually discuss how rising benefit costs are wrecking the Township’s budgets and that these costs need to be brought under control.

All of this is poor politics and pure political spin. The largest single increased cost to Township residents is  the enormous increased spedning and probable waste i.e. HAMStat, the reckless and very “un-Republican” 2008 $13.3 million permanent Tax Hike that these elected officials gave to residents. A tax increase that they instituted without knowing what the true financial picture of the Township was.

The next largest burden on the Township has been decreased State aide followed by the State’s hijacking of the utility Gross Receipts tax then followed by the diminishing property tax receipts.

Yet, despite their cries about labor costs and benefits increasing so dramatically over the past four years they have still found themselves able to increase Township spending a cumulative $20 million.

Yes, there is a global recession. However, due in no small part of the $13.3 million annual tax hike, Hamilton Township has lost more revenue due to lost tax receipts from exodusing businesses and residents than what the increasing labor and benefit costs have been.

The Public Workers in Hamilton Township are hardworking and have sacrificed much for the betterment of the Township. Unfortunately, their sacrifices appear to be borne out of Bencivengo’s, Meara’s and Yasede’s generalizations as well as their insincere and unsubstantiated claims of fiscal crisis.

Hamilton Township (Mercer) NJ’s Mayor John Bencivengo Admits to Inheriting a $5 Million Deficit

John Bencivengo Finally Gives the 2008 Budget Deficit a number – $5 Million

After years of obfuscation about what the amount of debt was when he took office in 2008 John Bencivengo, in a Letter to the Editor of the Trentonian, states,

“Who can forget the $5 million dollar deficit depicted in the Annual Financial Statement of Fiscal Year 2007?”


Throughout his 3 ½ years in office, John Bencivengo and Hamilton Township’s all Republican Council have pointed to a variety of differing amounts in defining what the deficit was.

In a Trenton Times article of June 17, 2008 announcing the appointment of John Ricci as the new Hamilton Towsnhip (Mercer) Business Administrator (in place of John Guhl), “

Bencivengo heaped praise on Guhl, saying that the exiting administrator had given the township “a turnaround beyond compare” as he attempted to tackle a $16 million budget deficit during his six months in office.”


John Bencivengo stated in his January 1, 2008 Inaugural Address

“we are confronted by the most serious financial crisis in our history, a budget deficit exceeding ten million dollars.”


The Mayor has finally given Hamilton Township residents a true picture of what the “most serious financial crisis in our history” was that confronted his administration upon taking office in 2008. His comments also put a spotlight on the fact that this $5 million deficit accrued under an all Republican Township Council’s watch.

It was the intentional murkiness of defining what the actual deficit was that allowed John Bencivengo and his Township Council to reorganize the Police Department, lay-off and eliminate 55 township positions, impose an 8 day furplough on all township employees and to raise municipal taxes to historic rates.

Now, this November, Township residents can make an informed decision about the incumbent Mayor’s and all Republican Township Council’s decision to address a $5 million deficit with a permanent $13.3 million tax hike.

Daniel Keelan for Hamilton (Mercer) Township Council – About Me & Why I am Running for Office

My name is Dan Keelan, I live in Hamilton Twp (Mercer) and I am running on the Democratic Ticket for Township Council.


Though I have closely followed international, national and local politics my entire life (not just my adult life), this is my first foray into politics.

I moved to Hamilton Township 7 years ago when I married my wife, a lifelong Hamilton resident.

In fact, when I proposed to my wife she said to me (almost as an after thought) “I am never moving out of Hamilton Twp!”. She was adamant.

Now some people may consider that “pre-condition” limiting and I admit that thoughts of never living in Ireland or retiring to Costa Rica flitted across my brain. But I was in love – I am in love. And 7 years later I can say that I did get a good bargain – my wife and Hamilton Twp.

My background is Sales and Marketing in the IT world. I worked for very small companies to a very large Fortune 1000 company. In the small companies, I worked with great people who were equally determined to succeed as I was and we turned these smaller companies into mid-sized employers of 100 or more people. It was tough, it was nerve wracking and it was satisfying. I got to work with a Fortune 1000 company because one of the small companies that I helped to start was acquired by them. I ran the Account Development division in the Mid-Atlantic for them, which consisted of about 22 employees and 2 managers who reported to me and had $300 million in revenue. If you want to test your mettle with politics go work for a Fortune 1000 company 🙂

I became tired of the large corporate world and took an opportunity to leave when they asked me to transfer. Today, I am on my own working to start my own company – Consulting on Energy, Solar and Telecommunications.


Despite my lifelong interest in politics and current events, I never thought that I would actually get engaged in the process as a candidate, but something motivated me. Something triggered and now here I am.

I know what the something is, but it only crystallized shortly after my sister-in-law was asked to run for Mayor as the Democratic Party’s nominee.

Location, Location, Location – wasted

Hamilton Township is essentially in the middle of NJ with excellent Interstate & Turnpike access. It has quick access to Newark’s and Philadelphia’s airports, is right on the Northeast train corridor and is convenient to NYC and the shore areas.

Despite this, Hamilton is fairing no better than other towns in NJ and this is because of the “same ‘ole same ‘ole” approach to governance from the incumbents.

Reckless and Unnecessary Tax Hike

Additionally, they are damaging the local economy by driving businesses and residents out of the township due to a reckless and unnecessary 33% tax hike in 2008. They justify this by alluding to a “historical fiscal crisis” which they have never satisfactorially defined.


They promised to do more with less, but their reckless tax hike has allowed them to raise spending by $30 million while at the same time laying off and furloughing Police Officers and other Township employees.

Public Safety

In March 2010 they furloughed the police department 8 days annually and then in June 2010 they gave Department Directors pay raises.

They hide crime from the residents by not reporting it to the local papers, while paying lip serive to the concept of Community Policing. Many Hamiltonians believe that they live in a safe community…they do not know about the Drive-by shooting, the Home Invasiions, the Armed Robberies, the assaults all because the incumbants do not want to hurt the economy or give the Township a bad name. This is disrespectful to the residents and to the Police Officers who competently servie us.

Partisan Politics

The Mayor and all 5 Council members are republicans who reside in a Democratic controlled County and LD. It is the municipal government that allows political affiliation to get in the way of partnering with their County and State leadership for assistance with funding/grants, implementing Complete Streets or Main Street programs, etc.

Redevlopment Now

They have little concept about proven redevelopment strategies that have been successfully deployed around the State and the country. Concepts such as Mixed Use Zoning, Complete Streets and Main Streets. They have made PILOT a dirty word – and it can be when not properly implemented, which means specific conditions applied to specific areas and types of business.

While neighboring municipalities such as Hightstown, Exing, Hopewell and Lawrence are reinventinf themselves, my town is dying and my opponents are making sure that no one is here to bare witness the funneral.

I have stayed educated on redevelopment strategies, Police Technology, the Township Budget and the concerns of the various neighborhoods. I am prepared to serve.


dan k

PS: Full disclosure. Until this spring, I was a registered Republican and supported the existing Republican Mayor and Township Council.

I was content with supporting them until I started educating myself in anticipation of supporting them this election year. In doing so, I could not reconcile what they have been doing with my belief system.

Trenton Public Library

brendanod has a question for some of you denizens of Trenton and Mercer … – promoted by Rosi

Read this in today’s Times of Trenton.  I have lived in Mercer and Northern Burlington my entire life.  My knowlege of Trenton politics is limited to newspapers, and conversations with others who work or worked for the City of Trenton.

One question keeps going through my mind.  Why can’t the Trenton Library be absorbed and become part of The Mercer County Library System????  Mercer County has a very good library system that operates branches in most of the other municipalities within the county.  This seems ripe for consolidation.  I would think the county has the knowledge,experience, and infrastructure to achieve this.

Obviously, Trenton taxpayers would have to become part of the system and pay into the library tax.  Some sort of deal would have to be worked out for the buildings, books, and everything else that goes into a library.  It doesn’t seem that difficult to me.  

I have never heard of this even being discussed.  Who wouldn’t want this? The County? The City? Both?  I would think no matter what the end result would be better for the citizens of the city.  What am I missing?  The current system appears to be on life support.

I know a few Blue Jersey readers seem to have good knowledge of the inner political machine of Trenton City politics. I was hoping to get their thoughts on this issue.  If we can’t achieve consolidation on this issue, I suspect nothing ever will.

Democrats Go Grassroots in Mercer

Some of the most watched campaigns in Central Jersey this season are Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein's race for Senate, Congressman Rush Holt's re-election in CD12 and Hamilton Council race of Joe Santo.    

This weekend, volunteers across CD12 and LD14 fanned out across the various communities to talk directly to voters about the importance of electing these three Dems on November 2nd.   These aren't your paid canvassers of years past.

Following the Obama for America model, they are using volunteers within the communities to reach out directly to voters.   As a 2004 Yale study revealed, these kind of personalized door-to-door contacts are the most successful and cost effective ways to get a campaign message across.

Greenstein volunteers prepare to canvass in LD14
Greenstein volunteers prepare to canvass in LD14 at the Hamilton HQ on Route 33


At 10am Saturday morning, the Greenstein and Santo HQ’s campaign staff provided lists of voters, scripts of questions to ask, and maps of the streets to be canvassed. Volunteers included a mix of students (Rider, Rutgers, South Brunswick High School to name a few), teachers, state workers, Democratic committee people and a few first time political volunteers. Of course donuts and coffee were also provided to help fuel them on their way, and bottled water to keep them hydrated on the campaign trail.

Opening the Party to All

What is the nominating process like in your county? Let’s have a conversation. -promoted by SJBrian

The Legislature has the highest number of women legislators in history. Many have pointed to the role that indictments and resignations due to corruption have played. In Mercer, the Freeholder Board has 3 out of 7 women holding office and a number of female Legislators. In addition, those indictments have not touched Mercer Democrats. How? The Democratic Chair, Rich McClellan, credits an open convention system.

Mercer County Campaigns

Hi Everyone!

We wanted to give the BlueJersey community an update on the campaign for Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and let you know what we’re up to leading into Election Day.

Also, we’ve got two commercials online that you can view.  A little more about the race and where you can go to help out any of the campaigns in Mercer County after the jump.

LTE + Home News continuing to highlight difficulties for women in politics

After a second article and second editorial on March 30th from the Home News:

More power to women seeking office in N.J.

The impending retirement of 12 state senators – all but one of them male – presents a long-overdue opportunity for New Jersey’s political establishment and the voters to put more women in the Statehouse come this fall. May the parties and the electorate answer that call. New Jersey’s rough treatment of female political candidates in recent decades has become something of a national embarrassment…

Home News Tribune editor

They accepted my 2nd letter and didn’t even title it so badly this time. In the print edition, it appeared below a picture of Seema Singh and one of Ellen Karcher, and next to another supportive letter for Karcher, which taken to together seemed to form a comment in and of itself – that they are continuing to keep the issue front and center on the opinion page.

My letter:

Women have long way to go in N.J. politics

Thanks to the Home News Tribune for a second editorial on the abysmal numbers of women in politics in New Jersey. I agree that it’s an embarrassment and we are a century behind. In my home state of California, an impressive 36 percent of 53 Congress members are women. If New Jersey had the same proportion, we would have five women in Congress, instead of none. And while New Jersey has never sent a woman to the Senate, both of California’s senators are women.

I’m happy to see Seema Singh endorsed to run for state Senate in the 14th District, although she is running in a tough district while open seats in safe districts in Middlesex County are still filled by men, e.g. Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes III in the 18th District. I agree with state Sen. Ellen Karcher, D-Mercer, Monmouth, that New Jersey is progressive and diverse enough to elect more women. She says, “We are woefully behind . . . I don’t know what accounts for that.” I would blame the structure of the parties and their unwillingness to open up the process.

I am less optimistic [than you] about the 12 state Senate openings. Besides running women this year, like Seema Singh, I advocate reforming the political process. If Gov. Jon S. Corzine can get a ban on dual office-holding through the Legislature, we could see more future opportunities for women and minorities.

Aside from personally wishing the governor a speedy recovery, I’m less optimistic about the prospects for a dual office holding ban if Corzine doesn’t resume his duties in the next couple of months. 

I hope Codey is going to work with Corzine’s agenda and not get bogged down on these types of reforms, which have been notoriously tough for the the legislature to pass without delays and watering down the bills.