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Why I’m Voting No On Question One

The right to bail is part of the heritage of the English speaking peoples.  Since King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215 the right to bail, a natural outcrop of the right to the presumption of innocence until tried and convicted, has been understood in our culture as a birthright.  It has been confirmed in pretty much every English language governmental constitution since 1215.  I personally believe that every single human being on the planet has that right.  The only question is whether the particular government you live under is just enough to enshrine it into law.  New Jersey, with the assent of a population that doesn’t understand what is at stake here, is about to un-enshrine it.

Whenever the government wishes to roll back our freedoms within the criminal justice system, or rather reduce the extent of our freedom they choose to recognize, they always point to the most sensational crimes, the type that only happen once a decade or so, as it’s justification.  I’ve heard the 2007 Newark school yard shootings used as an example in this case.  One of the killers was out on bail for a very serious crime.  But in this case the bail was obviously set too low.  It doesn’t mean you get rid of bail altogether.

While the occurrences of the types of crimes they use to justify the narrowing of our rights are few and far between, the application of newly acquired government power becomes routine and is often applied to situations that would have never occurred to the people who voted in favor of it.  Just look at the scope of various activities that creative prosecutors and attorneys general have applied racketeering laws to.  One clause in the proposed law, “will obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process” could be applied to well-meaning people who frequently engage in peaceful civil disobedience.  Or maybe even against people who hire lawyers.  Who knows how they’ll eventually twist it, particularly if civil disobedience becomes more commonplace and governments start to feel more threatened.  Remember that surrendering freedom is very easy, winning it back is difficult at best (and usually impossible.)

The other major part of the proposed change deals with the thousands of poor, mostly young, people incarcerated while awaiting trial for non violent offenses.  These people have been granted bail but can’t afford it.  I would bet that at least half of these cases involve possession or distribution of marijuana.  So instead of creating a new bad law to alleviate the unintended consequences of an old bad law, why don’t we just get get rid of the original bad law, namely marijuana prohibition.

I Won’t Hold My Breath

“I believe that fully disclosing all campaign contributions is necessary because the people have the right to know who is financing politicians’ campaigns,” Councilman Doherty added earlier this week. “The more information voters have about a candidate, the better informed they are, and this will lead to a better decision at the voting booth. In addition, shedding light on the campaign finance system will ensure it is not abused by politicians at the expense of tax payers.”

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I presume this will be listed as an in-kind contribution along with every source of funds that the Monmouth County Democrats have.

 

Keady Is One Of Ours, Governor

Asbury Park Sun, 11/02/12:

The city of Asbury Park put out a call for volunteers earlier this week after Hurricane Sandy hit, and more than 100 people turned out to help. Aid is needed for manning voting booths; overseeing recreation and helping with cleanup and other duties in Belmar. A beach cleanup in Ocean Grove is slated for 10 a.m. tomorrow. City residents Joe Grillo, Joe Woerner, Jim Keady and Bret Morgan have been helping to coordinate volunteer efforts.

NJ.com, 11/11/12:

We passed lines of cars waiting for rationed gas. We passed blocked-off streets and downed power lines. We went through intersection after intersection without working traffic lights. And we finally arrived at the Belmar police department – a model in efficiency for the volunteer effort. It wasn’t two minutes after we signed in that Jim Keady, an Asbury Park resident who grew up in Belmar, approached us. “Are you guys here to help out?” he asked. “You can hop in the back of that big red truck out front.” And then quickly we were in the back of a dump truck headed to the first of four homes we helped to gut of waterlogged furniture and boxes of mementos, decorations, appliances and lifetimes of collectibles, children’s craft projects and toys.

Coast Star, 11/29/12:

The 10th Avenue Freeze Out: Rebuilding Belmar event opened up with local politicians, such as Congressman Frank Pallone [NJ-6], Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, Assemblyman David Rible [R-30], Senator Robert Singer [R-30] and Assemblyman Sean Kean [R-30], as well as Mark Farrell, owner of Connolly Station, and Jim Keady, a volunteer in Belmar, speaking about the community, personal experiences and moving forward after Hurricane Sandy.

Maybe someone should have mentioned this to Governor Bigmouth. What a disgrace!

Another Special Election Coming?

The deadline has passed.  The Council had until October 31 to formally accept the petition’s stipulation that the pro-union language at question be kept from our bidding ordinances.  Since the deadline for “adequate notice” of a meeting tomorrow has passed, the option to accept the petitions is no longer on the table.

The Falkner Act will now require a referendum on the matter.

Jim Bean obviously would never reintroduce such language but I believe even if he wins the election the Falkner Act will still require a referendum.  Under Bean it would be a formality and there probably wouldn’t need to be a special election.  He has stated that if it’s necessary to have a referendum he will try to include it on the June primary ballot so there’s no cost to the taxpayers.

Borough Administrator Colleen Connolly has already announced the mayor’s intention to reintroduce some sort of “responsible bidder” ordinance and it’s pretty certain Doherty won’t wait until June to get the referendum out of his way.  He is going to put us through another special election.

If he wins next week, this stuff is never going to end.

A.G. AshBritt Dismissal….Exoneration Or Obstruction?

One characteristic of this blog that makes it fun to do is that many of its readers are smarter than its author.  It took one of those sharp-minded readers to connect the dots on two separate topics that have been covered here but that had never occurred to me might be related.

One caveat before you continue:  Please allow yourself about an hour to work your way through this presentation.  There are four videos as part of it and I strongly suggest you watch them in sequence, in their entirety, and without distraction.

The first story begins with the ethics charges Jim Bean filed against Mayor Doherty about the AshBritt contract.  Here is his May, 2013 letter to the state Local Finance Board, which is an arm of the state Department of Community Affairs:

Bean letter1

Bean letter2

On August 29 the Department of Community Affairs wrote to Doherty and stated that it was referring the complaint to the Sandy Fraud Unit of the N.J. Attorney General’s Office.

 

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Many of us suspected this was a punt by the Local Finance Board because if you read the end of the letter it states that by that action the Board is required to close its own investigation.  It should be noted that three members of the Local Finance Board have conflicts with regard to Doherty.  But let’s give the Board the benefit of the doubt and assume that they saw enough evidence to suspect that criminality might be involved.

At this point we’ll leave the Attorney General’s Office to do its work.  We’ll report its findings later on in this presentation.

Ten days after Doherty received his bad news there was a huge traffic jam in Fort Lee.  It lasted for three days.  Bridgegate was on!

And it was bad.  No need to go into details here about it but everyone agrees it did severe damage to Chris Christie’s credibility.  Enough damage that Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer felt she could finally tell the secret she had been keeping without becoming political road kill.

On January 18 of this year, at the height of the Bridgegate media explosion, she appeared on the MSNBC show “Up with Steve Kornacki”.  She alleged on the show that back in May of 2013 Lieutenant  Governor Kim Guadagno and Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable had on separate occasions told her that Hoboken Sandy relief aid would be withheld unless she approved a development project proposed by the Rockefeller Group.  At the time Rockefeller was being represented by Port Authority boss and Christie ally, David Sampson.

One of those occasions was at a public television panel discussion on the recovery from Sandy.  The panelists included Dawn Zimmer, Richard Constable and our own Matt Doherty.  Doherty’s proximity to the two made him a star witness for the Christie Administration even though he gave two entirely different accounts.   When initially contacted by an Asbury Park Press newspaper reporter after the Zimmer allegations surfaced, Doherty denied hearing any such conversation:   “I sat next to Mayor Zimmer and, if I recall correctly, (Constable) was on my other side.”   Read it here.   The Christie Administration provided copies of this article to news outlets as proof that Zimmer’s claim was untrue.   But MSNBC’s Rachel Madow quickly responded with a photo taken of the panelists at the taping of the Monmouth University program which showed that Doherty’s memory was faulty, and that he had actually been sitting on the opposite side of Zimmer from Constable.  See it here.   Nevertheless, Doherty would remain a star witness in the Randy Mastro  internal investigation into Zimmer’s allegations.   Mastro’s memo summarizing his office’s interviews with Doherty reflects that by the time of Mastro’s first interview with Doherty on January 28, 2014, less than 10 days  after Doherty had misremembered sitting between Zimmer and Constable and hearing nothing, Doherty now recalled not sitting between them and hearing not only what Zimmer and Constable had talked about 7 months earlier, but also what Constable had not said.

The $3 million Mastro report, which found Christie to be as innocent as Bambi, was released March 27, 2014.

 

MSNBC guy Steve Kornacki does a great job with this.

 

Pretty nasty remarks about Zimmer in Constable’s statement.  If she was telling the truth (and I strongly believe she was) that would make Constable not only a crook but a real jerk.

 

Here is the next segment, where Kornacki interviews Doherty.

 

Kornacki finds Doherty’s answers to be “confusing and self contradictory”.  (Welcome to our world, Steve.)  Here he discusses Doherty’s credibility, or rather the total absence of it.

 

Mastro could not have been very pleased about the interview or about Doherty’s email to Kornacki the following morning.  His report’s entire defense of Christie was resting on Doherty’s statement in that report that he had heard the entire conversation and that Constable never said what Zimmer alleges he said.  Not only did Doherty equivocate on whether he heard the entire conversation, he contradicted Constable’s account of what the conversation was about.  (Personally, I believe that Doherty was telling the truth when he originally told the Asbury Park Press that he didn’t hear the conversation.)

 

Kornacki reports on Mastro’s reaction:

 

The interview memoranda of the Mastro report was released only after a tremendous amount of public pressure.  It revealed that of the 75 witnesses cited in the report only one was contacted again AFTER the report was released and that was Matt Doherty.  Here is the full memorandum on the Doherty interviews:

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So on the morning of April 8, just before the memorandum containing the interview notes is released, 12 days after the Mastro report is released and 8 days after Doherty flubs the Kornacki interview, Mastro places a call to Doherty.  Looks to me like they are trying to salvage his credibility and make sure he doesn’t stray again from the official story.  Wouldn’t you love to know what was said between the two of them?

WE INTERRUPT THIS PRESENTATION TO REPORT THAT THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE HAS CONCLUDED ITS INVESTIGATION INTO BELMAR MAYOR MATT DOHERTY’S TIES WITH ASHBRITT ENVIRONMENTAL!

IT HAS CLOSED ITS FILE ON THE ALLEGATIONS!

Untitled

 

Hey look, it’s dated April 8!  Same day that Mastro called!

Not only is the timing of this letter quite…um…interesting, but why is it addressed to Matthew “Dougherty”?  They investigated the guy for 7 months but never investigated how he spells his name?  Also why is it sent to the borough and addressed to him in his official capacity as mayor?  This was a criminal investigation of him personally and not any business of the borough government.  It should have been sent to his house.

This letter sure looks like it was prepared in a hurry.  If this was the carefully arrived at conclusion of a long investigation they wouldn’t have made mistakes like those.  I’m guessing the decision to drop the investigation came on April 8 and the letter had to go out that day.

Was the investigation dropped in exchange for Doherty’s promise to cooperate in discrediting Dawn Zimmer?  Or perhaps it just seemed problematic for their star witness, upon whom the credibility of the report’s findings rested, to be someone who’s under criminal investigation.  Maybe they wanted to get that out of the way before anyone noticed.   Either of these scenarios would be a reason to rush the letter and either one would constitute obstruction of justice.

One more thing worth noting.  Doherty waited nearly a month before releasing the letter.  I remember thinking at the time that it was rather odd.  Perhaps he thought that if he had released it around the time the Mastro report memoranda was released that somebody would have noticed the connection?  If that’s the case it did work……..at least for a while.

 

Big Story Breaking Tomorrow Morning!

Been working on it all day today.  Make sure to log on in the morning because you don’t want to miss this!

Day 21

Contribution page was updated today, but there’s still no link to the Democrat 29 day pre-election reports that were supposed to be made available October 6th.  (There are two reports, one for the mayor’s committee and one for the joint candidate committee.)  I found the reports on the NJ ELEC site last week and put them up on this blog.  Why aren’t they on Belmar’s site?

10-27 DISCLOSURE PAGEThe fact that there were no contributions in the period is irrelevant.  The reports are supposed to be up there.

Hit Week

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It Never Ends

Got my invite for the mayor’s “town hall” event:

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invite 2

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Both sides state that the invite was paid for by the Doherty for Mayor campaign.  Clearly a political event.

Now I would never suspect the mayor would ever use town resources to help his political campaign but I do like to verify things so I fired off an email to Loretta Hill, Business Administrator for the Board of Ed.

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Great.  Since it is a political event the mayor is paying for the use of the school out of his own pocket.  I presume it will be listed as an in kind contribution in his next filing with the borough.  Right after he finally makes the last filing which was due October 6th.

In any case we can put that issue to rest. School resources are not being used for a campaign event………..or are they?

Forwarded to me this morning:

 

email

A Flood Of Interest In Lake Como

I was asked to remove the top part of this post and I am honoring that request.

I will keep my own remarks about the sudden attention that is being given to Lake Como:

First of all I have no confidence in Paul Calebrese or Maser Engineering anymore.  These are the same people who told us that $7 million was a good price for two simple buildings that by all accounts should have cost no more than $4 million.  They are also the same people who wanted $1 million in engineering fees to oversee the construction of them and then sent out a letter a week before the special election endorsing the project.  If we were to hire an engineer who didn’t overcharge us and interfere in our elections, and if we can prevent Mayor Doherty from bringing back the “responsible bidder” ordinance (by not re-electing him), we could probably get the project done for around $3.5 million instead of Mr. Calabrese’s projected cost of $6.1 million.

But is it even the right project?  Mike Seebeck has discussed Mr. Celabrese’s proposal at length with a civil engineering official in Virginia Beach, a city with long experience dealing with hurricane related flooding. This person was an expert in exactly this sort of thing and he had serious reservations about what Calabrese planned to do.  We can disagree about politics and about whether you like Jim or Matt but can we all agree that if we’re going to spend millions of dollars on this project that we better make absolutely certain that the thing is going to work?  I invite Mr. Seebeck to share with us what he has learned when he has time.

And please consider this:  Whether or not Calabrese’s plans are the right plans, why is he working on them this year instead of last year?   It’s because last year he was busy designing rooftop golf, bathhouses and a 2nd story banquet hall.  This year is a mayoral election year so this year Mr. Calabrese has been asked to work on something the people actually want.

This past spring the Council voted 4-1 to pass the $7 million pavilion bond.  Jim Bean cast the sole “no” vote.  He always explains his vote when he votes no and what he said was that while he would have been happy to vote to fund construction of the 10th Ave safety building, he could not vote to spend money on a community center/tourist attraction until the flooding of Lake Como was addressed in a serious way.  Just thought you should know that.