Friday, October 20, 2017

VIDEO: New Hope Mayoral Candidates Delevich, Keller Offer Contrasting Visions at Thursday Forum

Monday, March 20, 2017

Indivisible Lambertville - New Hope Rally Draws Large Crowd

By Charlie Sahner

More than 250 citizens from District 7 in New Jersey and District 8 in Pennsylvania attended a boisterous political rally and workshop held Sunday afternoon by Indivisible Lambertville-New Hope at the New Hope Eagle Volunteer Fire Company facility on Sugan Road.

Indivisible Lambertville-New Hope is an educational and advocacy organization concerned with issues facing the Affordable Care Act, environment, education, equality, and of causes specific to N.J. and P.A. The larger network of Indivisible groups in the U.S. numbers nearly 5,000, according to organization estimates.

Cindi Sternfeld of Lambertville leads the local group, and she addressed a lively crowd on Sunday, before attendees broke into approximately 10 sub-groups identified with issues around which members align. Other “tasks groups” enabled members to focus on legislative actions, communications, events, and social media.

What’s next for Indivisible Lambertville-New Hope?

“We are actively working on a number of issues and holding our legislators accountable to the people they were elected to serve. Where there is unfairness, threats to public safety and well-being, and where there is suppression of human rights as afforded by our Constitition, we will make our voices heard, and they will be loud.”

The group is hoping to next meet on the third Sunday in April, say leaders.

Above, raw interview footage featuring Cindi Sternfeld and Kristin McCarthy.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Why did New Hope Borough Council President Scandone Resign, Then Change His Mind?

Why did President Bill Scandone resign from New Hope Borough Council Jan. 6, only to reverse course and “rescind” his resignation on Jan. 18?

Borough Council at a Jan. 17 meeting had given him the latitude to withdraw his resignation by voting in a split decision not to “accept” it. Scandone was absent from that regularly scheduled meeting, but explained in a statement read aloud on his behalf that he was quitting the group due to “familial obligations.”

When he reversed his resignation the next day on Jan. 18, he reportedly said he was “thrilled” to remain president. So why did he offer to resign in the first place, and why is he unwilling to explain the general nature of the “familial obligation” that was significant enough for him to resign, then wasn’t?

Scandone isn’t saying. He hasn’t responded to repeated requests for information about his on-again, off-again resignation.

Documents obtained by the Free Press show that Scandone at first referred to “personal matters” in a Jan. 6 letter to New Hope Borough Manager Cathryn Thomas informing her of his “resignation from the New Hope Borough Council effective immediately.” Thomas also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Scandone went on to explain in his letter, “These matters will take greater priority in 2017. I intend to focus on familial responsibilities.”

Documents also reveal that one day earlier, on Jan. 5, Scandone canceled a meeting with Larry Panzica, owner of Moo Hope Ice Cream at 22 S. Main St., and new owner of the former Cryer’s Hardware building at 20 S. Main St. Also apparently invited to attend were Thomas, Zoning Officer Jim Ennis, and Council Member Ken Maisel (who serves on New Hope’s Universal Construction Code Committee, or “UCC”).

Scandone nixed the meeting “as a first step in addressing your concerns,” referring to a stern note sent a day earlier by Council and UCC Member Claire Shaw describing a “suspected agenda” that included discussion of “Larry Panzica’s experience/complaints with the UCC process.”
“I would like to know what you view our purpose as a committee to be,” asked Shaw in her Jan. 4 letter to Scandone. “If it is to trouble shoot and resolve UCC issues, then why have you circumvented the committee’s jurisdiction?”

The letter goes on to assert, “You have kept information from this council for the last 12 months to promote your own agenda and you have continually failed to include members of council on important issues, choosing non-council, non-residents as your confidants.”

Additional documents and interviews with multiple sources over several months reveal a pattern by Scandone of intervening directly in controversial issues and projects under the jurisdiction of council and its sub-committees, often in private meetings with Council Member and former Revitalization Committee Chair Joseph Franlin at his side. Franlin‘s influence has risen along with that of the Revitalization Committee, which last year promoted the doubling of parking meter rates in downtown New Hope, along with the proposed “Cannon Square” project.

Did Shaw’s Jan. 4 criticism of Scandone’s actions lead him to resign from borough council on Jan. 6? Scandone won’t comment. But new information continues to emerge, and it’s painting a portrait of dysfunction at the highest level of New Hope’s municipal leadership.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

INTERVIEW: Comedian Julie Goldman talks about People’s Couch, Commentary vs. Schtick, and Her New Year’s Gig at RRazz Room in New Hope

By Charlie Sahner

Comedian Julie Goldman’s New Year’s Eve show at RRazz Room in New Hope may be the hottest ticket in town come Dec. 31.

She’s currently a series regular on the Bravo hit “The People’s Couch,” and co-host of the “Vanderpump Rules After Show.” Former star of Logo’s “Big Gay Sketch Show,” and cast member of “Gay Skit Happens,” Goldman and creative partner Brandy Howard wrote for Joan Rivers on “Fashion Police” on E!, and are looking forward to the release of their “Dumb Gay Politics” podcast on iTunes.

Julie, how did you land that primo gig on “People’s Couch”?

Goldman: There was some kind of random audition notice, very ambiguous, so I called a friend, and they said, ‘why not?’ Once we found out it was for Bravo, we said ‘oh my god.’  There were many more auditions, but we got through. It’s been three great seasons, and its really helped as far as exposure — Bravo fans are very rabid. We love working with Bravo.

Your promo material said you were one-half Lesbian, one-half comic — what’s the other half?

Jewish. I don’t go to temple, I don’t believe in God, I just went to Jewish summer camp.

We all did. How much of your show is social commentary versus schtick?

It’s a pretty even mix. The basis is social commentary, even if it’s schtick. Anything I’m doing or saying — even a fart — I’m commenting on something. I want people to come away empowered. I’d rather they love or hate the act than feel indifferent. I don’t want anybody leaving the show saying ‘eh, she was alright.’

So will you take a shot at the President-elect?

Ridicule him? Yes. And ridicule ourselves, too. The inability to laugh at things has helped create the divisiveness.

You and Brandy have a number of projects in the works…what’s most exciting to you right now?

We’re launching a Dumb Gay Politics podcast on iTunes, and it’s airing next week. I’m gay, she’s a dumbass, and we’re just going to comment in a passionate and uninformed way.

And are you looking forward to spending New Year’s Eve in New Hope?

Yes! It’s gonna be super-fun to be back in New Hope again, and I’m super-excited that a bunch of friends from New York City will be coming down to see the show.

Get your New Year’s on with Julie Goldman at the RRazz Room at the Raven in New Hope on Saturday, Dec. 31, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40. The RRazz Room at the Raven is located at 385 W. Bridge St. in New Hope.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Organic Food Luminary Maria Rodale Visits Stockton Farmers Market Dec. 3

By Charlie Sahner

Organic gardening superstar Maria Rodale will visit the Stockton Farmers Market in Stockton, N.J., on Dec. 3 to promote her new cookbook “Scratch.” Co-hosted by Farley’s Bookshop of New Hope, Rodale will be signing copies of the book.

Simply put, Rodale is a big deal. She represents the third generation of a family that helped lead the “real food” movement long before it was a trend, and runs the world’s largest independent publisher of health, wellness, and environmental content.

Rodale is also the author of numerous books, most notably 2010’s “Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe.” Her newest work, “Scratch: Home Cooking for Everyone Made Simple, Fun and Totally Delicious,” is also her first cookbook.

“It’s based on the delicious recipes and remembrances that shaped her life and her food journey—including her farm-to-table roots and her Pennsylvania Dutch heritage,” say promoters. “Written in her warm, signature style, Rodale encourages readers to roll up their sleeves and see the kitchen as a place to ‘experiment, learn, make a mess, and laugh about it.’” 

Her father, Jerome Irving Rodale, grew up on New York City’s Lower East Side, changing his name from “Cohen,” as was typical among immigrant families. Rodale was a Renaissance man and visionary.

He founded Rodale Press in 1930 to sell books and magazines, and began promoting a healthy and active lifestyle centered around organically grown foods, and founded the Rodale Organic Gardening Experimental Farm in 1940. Rodale Press began publishing Organic Farming and Gardening magazine in 1942. He also created Prevention Magazine in 1950, which emphasized preventing disease rather than curing it, along with the dietary return to whole grains, unrefined carbohydrates, eating less meat, using herbal medicines and dietary supplements, and breastfeeding.

Maria Rodale will be signing copies of “Scratch” from 11-2 on Dec. 3 at Stockton Farmers Market at 19 Bridge St. in Stockton. Seems like a neat gift for the healthy eater in your life, or yourself.

Friday, September 9, 2016

New Hope Will Try to Double Parking Meter Rates Oct. 18 to Help Revitalize Local Economy

By Charlie Sahner

New Hope Borough Council will vote as early as Oct. 18 on a proposal that would see parking meter rates double on Main Street in what Borough Council President Bill Scandone said in a Sept. 3 statement was an attempt to “revisit the perennial conundrum of parking.”

“There has been a significant amount of dialogue and research involved with the Revitalization Committee, and I have been involved with data gathering and analysis,” Scandone said. “There was a 2010 study, and we’re following up on that with information gathered since then.”

If it seems unusual that a group charged with boosting New Hope’s economic prospects would recommend raising parking prices for the very tourists on whom New Hope merchants depend for their livelihood, it’s because they and some other New Hope officials believe that the shortage of parking spaces in New Hope is caused by employees of businesses snatching up all the good spaces near where they work on Main Street. Scandone, Revitalization Committee Chairperson Joseph Franlin, and other New Hope officials believe that doubling the rates on Main Street parking meters could drive local workers farther away from the center of town, leaving more parking space for visitors. Paying twice as much to park at Main Street meters “would be a bargain for visitors, given the rates charged by private lots,” according to Scandone.

“Parkmobil and other devices have made parking meters more versatile,” he explained. “Presumably, therefore, it would be possible to charge different rates for different locations throughout the borough.”

In fact, the ability to raise parking rates quickly and easily was a major consideration in the adoption of the Parkmobil phone-based parking meter payment system by New Hope in the spring of 2015, according to Borough officials interviewed at the time. Parkmobil users also automatically receive warnings on their cell phones when their parking meters are about to run out. Unfortunately for the borough, revenue from parking tickets dropped as a result. Parking meter payments and parking tickets make up a significant portion of New Hope’s annual operating budget, which has been under intense pressure for some time.

On Oct. 21, 2015, the Free Press reported that the Revitalization Committee of New Hope Borough Council had already recommended raising parking rates and extending parking meter hours of operation to compensate for the shortfall. At the time, the Revitalization Committee and Borough Council were also discussing a move to require “registration” by commercial building owners to assess fire safety, property maintenance and “appearance,” and charging them a $65 annual inspection fee. That move ultimately morphed into the adoption of the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code by Borough Council last month.

Borough officials interviewed since 2015 have downplayed the negative impact of the Parkmobil system on revenue, saying at first that there was not enough data to support the assertion, and later saying that parking ticket revenue overall has not declined, without explaining how they are offsetting the loss from Parkmobil.

When the Revitalization Committee advised in 2015 that the borough should consider raising parking rates and extending meter operation times to compensate for a shortfall in parking ticket income, borough council initially supported a parking meter rate hike, but was reportedly lukewarm on extending hours, sources indicated. In the end, the whole proposal seems to have been tabled.
At the time, Revitalization Commitee Chairperson Joe Franlin vigorously denied that any parking recommendations or advice had been discussed with Borough Council. Franlin is one of four contenders being considered Sept. 20 for the Borough Council seat being vacated by Cliff Montgomery.

Ironically, Montgomery and fellow Borough Council Member Connie Gering appear to have been active in the Revitalization Committee’s moves since 2015, belying assertions that the parking rate increase plan being considered on Oct. 18 is of recent vintage. Franlin continues to decline comment on questions about when he advised Borough Council on parking increases, and why the Revitalization Committee appears to be more concerned with closing the borough’s budget gap than boosting business prospects.

“I would like to point out that many of the answers to your questions can be found in the 27 months of Revitalization Committee minutes and two annual summaries that have been produced during my tenure as President,” said Chairperson Franlin in a statement.

Scandone refused to say whether the current plan is an extension of the one first presented to Borough Council President Claire Shaw and others in September 2015, or a new proposal by Franlin, and whether he and other council members initially adopted Parkmobil to enhance visitor parking convenience, or expand future flexibility to increase parking rates.

Reaction on the street to the Borough’s parking scheme was generally negative.

Business owner and resident Joel Roberts.
Business owner and resident Joel Roberts.

“We don’t want any parking increase placed on the back of tourists,” said one angry retailer.

Another retailer was fatalistic, saying, “They should create a space for local employees to park. But they’ll get an increase anyway. Let them have 25 cents if they have to. Just don’t tell the tourists.”

Mystickal Tymes owner and New Hope resident Eric Lee said he “could live with” a 25-cent parking increase, but that increasing some parking ticket amounts should also be considered.

New Hope resident, former Zoning Hearing Board Member, and Mechanic Street Mugs Owner Joel Roberts said, “This is a tourist town. A majority of the budget of the town comes on the backs of the tourists — parking meters, parking tickets, the Business Privilege Tax, and sales tax. So when you do something that hurts business, you’re killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

“It’s hard to understand how they can make it easier for tourists to pay for parking, then raise the rates on them,” continued Roberts. “It takes advantage of them. That’s ridiculous.”

Two other residents interviewed Wednesday were adamantly opposed to any parking increase.
“We don’t need our taxes going up because nobody comes here anymore,” said one.

“A disaster,” remarked another.

Meanwhile, Borough Council continues preparations for a parking rate increase.

“Assuming all the data are scrubbed and verified, a presentation is scheduled for consideration at the 18 October 2016 Borough Council meeting,” wrote Scandone in a statement.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Now, for something completely absurd and pointless...and those are its good points. It's the Lambertville Chamber of Comics!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Liberty Hall Pizza in Lambertville Celebrating Expansion with Fundraiser for Fisherman’s Mark

Liberty Hall Pizza in Lambertville is commemorating the opening of a
new 540-square-foot private event space by holding a pizza eating
contest on July 11. The expansion will increase the Neapolitan
pizzeria’s capacity from 60 to approximately 90 seats by mid-July.

The pizza contest, or “panarda,” involves up to 32 participants
eating their way through Liberty Hall’s menu until one diner is left
standing. The cost to enter the Pizza Panarda is $40, and all proceeds
from the event will benefit Fisherman’s Mark Food Pantry. It all takes place on Monday, July 11, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Competitors will be served half pizzas until they surrender and can’t
continue eating. Diners will begin with Margherita pizzas, and
literally eat their way through the restaurant’s entire menu, if they
make it through all 13 pizzas. The last person remaining will win a
pizza party in the new private room for up to 30 guests.

Dubbed “The Back Room,” the exclusive nook will have a large screen
TV and state-of-the-art audio visual system for corporate events, family
gatherings, holiday parties, and overflow seating during Liberty Hall’s
busier nights.

“I thought it would be fitting to mark our expansion with a classic
event that will have our participants expanding their stomachs for a
great cause,” said Liberty Co-Owner Chris Bryan. “We’re really happy to
open our new space to benefit Fisherman’s Mark Food Pantry.”

Liberty Hall Pizza is located inside the Canal Studios Complex at 243 N. Union St. in Lambertville. “Pizza Panarda” contestants can register by calling the restaurant or visiting their website.

Fisherman’s Mark has been part of the Lambertville community for nearly four decades,
providing guidance and support to people in crisis as well as
facilitating innovative, responsive programs and services that promote
stability, health and wellness.