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Bad Answer, Janice

Published in this week’s Star are answers from the candidates to this question from reporter Haley Behre:

Q.At almost every council meeting, much of the public comment portion of the evening is dedicated to either attacking or praising the current administration, sometimes with few issues/matters actually being brought up. It appears to be Democrat praise for the administration and GOP attacks of the administration from members of the public. How would you close the divide between the pubic?

I think my running mate Tom Burke gave a good and accurate response:

A. Burke: To me it’s a matter of respect. In the 10/17 edition of this paper, Councilman Brian Magovern said, “Do I talk to Jim Bean, no.” He indicated that Jim is a junior council member. Councilwoman Deicke often refers to my running mate as “Schneck” not David or Mr. Schneck. Jennifer Nicolay calls Jim Bean an “Act.” Is it any wonder why the GOP may say negative things? No Democrat on council seems to respect dissenting views. Instead of respect, the GOP is “an element.” The Mayor and council members are our elected officials, chosen to present the views of the residents. As such, each should be respected and respect each other. If everyone on the dais would act and speak with respect to each other and to members of the public, we would narrow the divide between both the public and council. There is always room for disagreement; disagreement with respect.

I liked Brian Magovern’s answer too:

A. Magovern: Certainly it is the right of every resident to voice their view during the public portion of a municipal council meeting. Yes, it is true that at nearly every meeting we hear from both our loyal supporters and loyal opponents. However, all residents at a meeting deserve an opportunity to come to the microphone and ask a question or state their view. After everyone has had an opportunity to speak, then some in the audience do take advantage of a second chance to speak. As a councilman I find that listening to both sides proves beneficial to understanding the concern of our residents, whether they are an opponent, supporter, or first time speaker. As long as there is an election each year for a council seat, then I expect both supporters and opponents will continue to exercise their right to be heard at Belmar council meetings.

I have to say that I have some real problems with what Janice Blackburn had to say.  It was almost the exact opposite of what I want to hear from my public officials.  Here it is with my comments in red italics:

A. Keown-blackburn: The nation has traditionally been divided on many issues. But, until recent times, there has always been a civility to it.  Read your history Janice.  Politics in this country has always been rough and tumble and at many times far harsher rhetoric was employed than what we see today.  It even sometimes ended in violent confrontations like the Hamilton-Burr duel.  That divide has grown and a discourtesy has come about. The same thing is happening in many towns across the nation, including here in Belmar.  You know that all we members of the “element” lived here when Ken Pringle was mayor, but Ken Pringle didn’t attack people when they disagreed with him.  I disagreed with him plenty and even started this blog when he was mayor, but he never attacked me, not one time.  Yes, Janice, things sure are different now.  I believe a lot of the divide here has to do with miscommunication and the understanding of the facts. I’m not sure what miscommunication occurred.  If nothing else, this mayor does a lot of communicating.  I would like to see closed workshops again. That way all council members can discuss and understand the issues before the meeting.  Ms. Blackburn, when you are done re-reading your American history you better open up a law book or two.  What you are proposing is a blatant violation of the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act.  I would keep the public comments to five minutes per person, as it is now, but limit each person to once per meeting.  Great.  Janice wants to limit our ability to speak to five or ten minutes a month, even with all this stuff going on.  I have proposed, and again here propose, to increase the public’s opportunity to speak.  I would have a public session at the beginnings of the meetings where people could speak for five minutes each, then another one at the end where people could speak for ten minutes. I would suggest bringing members of both sides together at an occasional meeting to sit down, discuss views, and reason together.  Again, that has to be done in public.  Mostly, I feel we all need to learn to compromise.  I’ve written about this at length before, so I’ll try to be succinct here.  Libertarians like me believe that we don’t have the right to tell peaceful, honest citizens what to do, and we also believe that a very compelling case must be made for taking any of anyone’s property.  Liberals believe in running people’s lives for them and in taking people’s money because they think they know better how to spend it.  So when a liberal wants to run my life and take my money, I’m not going to say OK, let’s compromise:  Run half my life and take half my money.  No.  I’m going to tell him or her to leave me alone.  We can compromise on some things, but if someone has a very bad idea, we don’t need to compromise just for the sake of getting along.  I’d rather just not get along than have someone force a bad idea on me even if its only half as bad as their original bad idea.

Here’s my response to the question, by the way:

A. Schneck: I really don’t see it that way at all. The citizens who question some of the actions of this administration include several independents and Democrats. And I just don’t see asking questions and criticizing certain policies as attacks. This administration is planning major changes for Belmar with big dollars involved. I believe it is our civic duty to ask questions about it. I’m certainly not asking questions because this year I’m a Republican candidate. Some of you may recall I ran in 2010 as an Independent, and I’ve always asked questions. Because we have a partisan form of government, it’s easy to dismiss legitimate criticism as being political. I have stated on numerous occasions that partisan government is inappropriate for small towns, and would prefer a non-partisan system with a less powerful mayor. I think having the parties involved causes division and unnecessarily complicates things like it has this year.


  1. joegoofinoff wrote:

    Respectfully, Ms Blackburn isn’t up on her “Roberts Rules of Order.” A speaker can be limited as she says, to 5 mins., but if everyone else in the hall has spoken, a speaker can retake the floor and speak again on the subject or open another subject. The only limitation is to time aloted each time the speaker takes the floor.


    Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    Ole Robert would have horrified at what went down Wednesday night.

    Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

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