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Belmar’s Problem Citizenry

I don’t understand how the mayor and his allies think that they can pin responsibility for all his difficulties on the “element” (whatever that is) or on the group of Belmar Concerned Citizens, or on the Republican party, or on Jim Bean or former mayor Ken Pringle or on anyone but the mayor himself.

We didn’t have a family member hop on AshBritt’s payroll days after the storm.  We didn’t subsequently allow AshBritt to enjoy multi-million no-bid contracts from the borough that extended for months past the actual emergency.  And we didn’t publish the headline news stories about it in the Star Ledger or in the Asbury Park Press.  If the mayor had not created the conflict in the first place we could have been spared all this.  And if his own judgement didn’t tell him it was a problem, perhaps he should have read the state law about the subject.  I quote:

40A:9-22.5 Provisions requiring compliance by local government officers, employees

a. No local government officer or employee or member of his immediate family shall have an interest in a business organization or engage in any business, transaction, or professional activity, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest

Yet somehow the mayor and his circle think that the AshBritt blow up was some kind of problem with us, not him.

It also wasn’t us, who in total disregard of the state’s strongly-worded advice, decided to personally run our own Sandy charity with other people’s money.  Clearly the state was already concerned about an apparent conflict of interest, but to really stick his finger in their eye, and ours too, the mayor insists on keeping the beneficiaries (many receiving payments of $5000) secret.  They are known only to the mayor and one staffer.  We’re not saying these people didn’t need help.  But when that help comes directly from an elected official, you have a pretty good idea who their going to vote for in the next election.  Again, it is those who questioned the propriety of this activity that are the bad guys, not the one who’s actually doing it.

Most recently the populace refuses to behave itself with regard to the two-story banquet hall slated to replace the Taylor pavilion.  I am absolutely certain that if Doherty had simply acted to rebuild what was there before the storm, there would have been zero opposition to it, even if we had to pay for it with no outside funding.  It would have been a total non-issue.

But the mayor couldn’t do that.  He had to push a (possibly illegal) ordinance through the council granting him special powers to circumvent the public bidding process and enter into business agreements, including the issuing of liquor licenses, with private interests of his own choosing.  Weeks later he announced his grand plan to replace Taylor with a building that will have a capacity for 400 people.  But, you see, the folks that think that maybe the public should have something to say about all this, and we number in the many hundreds, we are the problem, and we are the ones  that are the object of scorn and ridicule from the mayor and his friends.


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