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Doherty Defends The Constitution!

In today’s Coast Star:

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 8.20.37 AM

From the story:

Borough business administrator Colleen Connolly said she sent a letter to the committee of petitioners on Tuesday, advising them that their petition protesting the adoption of Ordinance 2016-01 is being returned on the advice of legal counsel, Ramon Rivera, Esq. of Scarinci Hollenbeck Attorneys at Law.

“The council did the right thing in changing the ordinance,” Mayor Matthew Doherty said. “Clearly, it violated the state constitution, it arguably violated the federal constitution, and it was not properly recorded with the Secretary of State. I think we dodged a bullet that no one ever sued us over the ordinance because they clearly would have won.”

Ms. Connolly and Mayor Doherty also said the original pay-to-play ordinance had never been recorded with the New Jersey Department of State, as required by the state.


Mr. Rivera’s review, a copy of which was provided to The Coast Star by Ms. Connolly, noted that it had been undertaken at her request. It specifically addressed Ordinance 4-19 titled “Restrictions on Campaign Contributions by Vendors to the Borough” and Chapter IX of the borough code titled “Conflicts of Interests.”

The new ordinance, approved by the council on Feb. 16, essentially weakened the pay-to-play ordinance by allowing for potential pass-through contributions from political action committees [PACs], eliminating the requirement that all candidates report contributions made to their campaign and removing restrictions on candidates voting for or discussing vendors who have contributed to their campaign.

However, Mr. Rivera wrote that the borough’s former pay-to-play ordinance had gone “beyond the scope of the municipality’s power,” citing its potential to restrict state campaign contributions, and its inclusion of conflict of interest penalties and restrictions conflicting with the state pay-to-play law, as well as “broad language” that could raise First Amendment free speech concerns.

Therefore, Ms. Connolly said, the borough is legally unable to grant the petitioners’ request that the old ordinance be reinstated while the new law is put to a public referendum.

Mr. Rivera’s review states that the language in the borough’s former conflict of interest ordinance “violates the state’s pay-to-play law as it may be read to restrict out of county and state-level contracting and contributions.” It cites Schroeder v. County of Atlantic, which concluded that a “state’s ability to contract with donors remains exclusively subject to the state pay-to-play statute.” Additionally, Mr. Rivera said, the former ordinance exceeded municipal authority by regulating elected officials according to ethical considerations and imposing penalties for infractions. While state statutes give a municipality the authority to determine duties required of its officers, a municipality cannot regulate ethical conduct, Mr. Rivera argued.

The ordinance’s definition of “entity” was also problematic, he wrote, because it did not align with the state’s definition of business entity or establish exceptions for labor unions within the definition of entity. Mr. Rivera recommended such language be revised.

I’ve already OPRAed Rivera’s report and will publish it as soon as I receive it.

Of course this move is going to be fought but it will probably buy Doherty the time he needs to take as much money as he wants, from whoever he wants, for his freeholder race.  (I wonder if he loses the case whether he can be made to return contributions that were not permitted under the old ordinance.)

Star subscribers can read the entire story here.


  1. Anonymous wrote:

    This lawyer gave his opinion, which means absolutely nothing. Matt Doherty, THE CANDIDATE, can try to fight this in a court of law. Not one dollar of taxpayer money should be spent on any legal issues regarding this.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  2. A Voter 2 wrote:

    The Mayor and council should copy this ethics requirement, it is legal, constitutional and follows the state of NJ guidelines. If you do not, you prove to the taxpayers the how unethical and incompetent you really are and deserve to be criticized and sued.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  3. Robert wrote:

    Funny I just received another email from Matt’s campaign about the fund raiser at the Spring Lake Manor….

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  4. Perspective wrote:

    Can we demand a rewrite of the new ordinance? Is it too late?

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  5. admin wrote:

    That could be part of any negotiations if they had certified the petitions like they were supposed to do. This maneuver…I guess we’ll have to see if it’s legal.

    My guess is that it’s nonsense.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  6. excuse me wrote:

    Wow – they are really fighting hard for the opportunity to be sleazy.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  7. OLD MAN wrote:

    And people wonder why Trump is so popular

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  8. Just Passing Through wrote:

    #7 Amen old man

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink
  9. Tulip wrote:

    #7 would you explain why you think Trump is so popular?

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink
  10. Just Passing Through wrote:

    #9 Tulip I think people are fed up with politicians, that do not care about the people they represent. They care more about getting money for their campaigns and political action committees which generate millions of dollars. They talk about problems but never solve them. A former basket ball player I forget his name said ” for over 60 years poor black Americans voted democratic , today they are still poor and still black”

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink
  11. Bill Straus wrote:

    Trump is popular because people are sick and tired of establishment politicians taking advantage of the people. 1 political correctness. 2 Crony capitalism 3 government overspending 4 no accountability in government 4 Dem or Rep establishment no difference. 5 Hypocracy. 6 Illegal aliens coming in. 7 Illegal aliens getting free stuff. 8 Illegal aliens committing crimes and not deported (Kate’s LaW)9 Gun control. I can go on but I think you get the idea

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink
  12. joe goofinoff wrote:

    #10, Interestingly, during the Jim Crow era (the 60-70 years prior to the 60 years you mentioned), Black people were poor, but they maintained families and did productive work and ran businesses. Now, they don’t do any of those things for the most part.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  13. admin wrote:

    They still do but there’s certainly much less incentive now.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  14. The People wrote:

    I know that they would wish to change it, BUT my copy of the N.J. Constitution begins as follows: “All power is inherent in the people”. Now it does not say some power. It does not say the power is inherent in the elected officials. It does not say that the power is inherent in the political class. Likewise Mayor and Tom Burke for that matter, it does not say the people have to be right. It does not say the people can be wrong sometimes. It says what it says, Mr. Rivera.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink
  15. Belmar Dude wrote:

    This will produce another “frivolous” lawsuit that Mad Matt will lose again.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink
  16. OLD MAN wrote:

    #9 check #11 Said it best……………..

    Friday, April 1, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink
  17. ALLTRUMPEDUP wrote:

    #11- Bill you hit the nail on the head, couldn’t agree with you any more on each and every point. And we could go on and on. That is why Donald will be our next president, like him or not. Billarly is same old, same old establishment.

    Friday, April 1, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

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