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Appropriately Held In A Back Room

Violation of Open Public Meetings Act?

Taxpayer resources used for “political event”?

SID an arm of Democratic machine?


Reprinted with the permission of Coast Star newspapers:

Private meeting leads residents to question mayor

By Patrick Farrell

BELMAR — A meeting held Tuesday night in the back room of Connolly Station has left some residents concerned with Mayor Matt Doherty’s actions in his campaign to win the Aug. 19 special election for the $7 million beachfront pavilions.

The meeting was announced by the Belmar Business Partnership in a July 10 email that stated, “Mayor Doherty will host a meeting n [sic] Tuesday, July 15, 2014 to discuss the pavillions. The meeting will take place in the back area of Connolly Station beginning at 6 p.m. All are encouraged and welcome to attend.”

Prior to the meeting, there were discrepancies as to who was hosting the meeting, and what the meeting would pertain to.

Sal Marchese, president of the Belmar Business Partnership, said the meeting was hosted by Mayor Doherty, and that it was for “informing people on what benefit [the pavilions] will be for Belmar.”

Mr. Marchese also noted that the BBP had nothing to do with the meeting, despite sending out the email invitation.

According to Mayor Doherty, he was not hosting the meeting.

The mayor said that a group of people in town who collectively want the Aug. 19 vote to pass, allowing the pavilions to be built, organized the meeting and invited him to speak.

“It’s not a town meeting, not a public meeting … I’m going to be there, but there’s no town business being conducted,” the mayor said Tuesday afternoon.

Despite the invitation inviting all to attend, several residents, as well as one councilman, were not allowed into the meeting.

“Mayor Doherty told me I was not allowed in … that it was a political event, and that he wouldn’t come to a Republican event so he didn’t want me there,” Councilman Jim Bean said.

Councilman Bean is the lone Republican on the Belmar Council.

“The major concern I have is that the Belmar Business Partnership sent out emails to everyone … said everyone was invited … and then when we got there, they picked and chose who they let in so they had no dissenters,” Councilman Bean said. “There were Democrats who got rejected … I’m a councilman and I got rejected … they are using town resources to push political agendas.”

Councilman Bean was the only member of the council not in attendance, which means a quorum was present at the private meeting. A quorum is formed when the majority of the governing body is present.

The New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act, commonly known as the Sunshine Law, requires that adequate notice be given for a meeting where a quorum of a public body will be hosting a discussion of public business.

By that accord, whether or not Mayor Doherty and the remainder of the council were in violation of the law would boil down to whether or not the subject of the meeting would provide exemption for the council, according to Thomas Cafferty, general counsel of the New Jersey Press Association.

“Clearly we had a quorum present, and clearly this was public business,” Mr. Cafferty said.

According to Mr. Cafferty, the meeting would be exempt if the mayor could prove that it was a political caucus meeting.

“It appears to me that this meeting would not prevail — that this was not a political caucus, presumably they didn’t verify that those remaining were members of the political party,” Mr. Cafferty said.

According to the mayor, the announcement from the Belmar Business Partnership was miscommunicated, and it was not intended to be an informational meeting, rather a meeting of political strategy.

“It was political business to a win a campaign in August,” the mayor said.

“It was not a government meeting … no government business was done,” Mayor Doherty said. “It was a private meeting, held by a group of people who want to see the ballot initiative passed.”

Those critical of the mayor’s action argue otherwise, citing the meeting announcement’s phrasing, which stated it was a meeting to discuss the pavilions — and open to all residents.

At the meeting, glossy handouts, printed by the borough, were distributed, raising further concerns for residents such as Joy DeSanctis.

“I’m concerned about the mayor using his position to pick a side,” Mrs. DeSanctis said.

Mrs. DeSanctis said the handouts, stamped with Belmar’s logo and the borough address, “are terribly misleading.”.



  1. Anonymous wrote:

    “It was political business to a win a campaign in August,” the mayor said.

    Why does the mayor care so much about “winning” this ? I thought this was just about spending 7 million or not. I say put nothing up there, save all the money, the taxpayers of Belmar win.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink
  2. Guest wrote:

    How does the Mayor justify all of his double-talk? How could this have been a political meeting if there were many non-resident borough hall employees at the meeting working? Or, were they working the crowd?

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink
  3. guest wrote:

    The use of the Belmar Logo should not be authorized on non-official business mailers.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink
  4. admin wrote:

    It’s not just that. The town paid for them.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink
  5. Sen Charles Sumner wrote:

    Landmark Decision- NJ Local Finance Board 2013:
    Randall Paulenvich v Mayor Syvia Petillo, Hopatcong NJ

    ” The use of public funds by an individual advocating a specific position on a ballot constitutes the use of one’s official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for one side in the ballot question.”
    The decision was made originally and on appeal to an ethics complaint “abuse of power” brought by a resident of Hopatcong after the mayor spend over $2500. on a mailer and postage advocating her position.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    The mayor says in the article that it was a political meeting. If that’s the case then the literature that was handed out should say who paid for it. If you’re saying that it said Belmar paid for it then there is a very serious problem.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink
  7. Guest wrote:

    “There is a very serious problem!”

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
  8. VITO CORLEONE wrote:

    We need new leadership.. This town is in a mess..The mayor can turn around more than the pretzel manufactures. I want to run next time . The five families will back me for sure.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
  9. admin wrote:

    This is for you, Vito

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  10. VITO CORLEONE wrote:

    That’s what i have been saying all along

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  11. Anonymous wrote:

    This doesn’t have anything to do with the discussion, but if we’re putting videos on here, I love this.

    29th Street (1991) part 3 – YouTube
    Video for 29th st. part 3► 9:38► 9:38

    Feb 3, 2010 – Uploaded by limemintify
    A great movie about life. All copyrighted/trademarked media is owned by their respective companies.

    Feb 3, 2010 – Uploaded by limemintify
    A great movie about life. All copyrighted/trademarked media is owned by their respective companies.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  12. Guest wrote:

    Where do I file the abuse of power, and official misconduct! And why hasn’t anyone already filed it???

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

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