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I Need Surgery….Does Belmar Too?

Next week they’ll opening up my neck all the way to the spine.  Then they’ll scrape out what’s left of two of my discs, grind open the spaces between the vertebrae where discs used to be, chip away bone from the inside of two or three of my vertebrae where bone spurs are poking into my spinal cord and put those bone chips into two little titanium cages that will be inserted into my spine where the two discs used to be.  Then a metal plate will attached to the front, spanning three vertebrae and held in place with six screws.

It’s called Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  (At least I hope not.)

That’ll fix one pain in my neck but not the other.  And the other has been hurting a lot since last Tuesday.  I know many of you feel the same.  (Our friend “Old Man” is going to burn a hole in his stomach with all the aspirin he’s been taking.)

We’ve been working towards the obvious solution…winning enough elections to take power…for several years.  We have absolutely nothing to show for all the time, money and effort.  Even last year’s referendum victory has now been undone.  The mayor is a master at political patronage and the urban style political machine he has created is more like something you would see in Bergen or Hudson than down here at the shore.  I believe that through the patronage of borough employees and their families, beachfront employees and their families, the specials and their families and certain businesses in town and their employees and their employees’ friends (a D’Jais help-wanted ad this spring even said you have to live in Belmar) the mayor owns three or four hundred votes.  Add in the couple of hundred residents that vote on autopilot for one party or the other every year and the mayor needs to win over very few hearts and minds in order to have his way in an election.

We’ve been fortunate that Ken Pringle has used the courts to stop Doherty from exercising power that he does not legally have, such as beachfront redevelopment or the appropriation of funds that belong to the beach, but that has not prevented the mayor from doing a lot of damage with the power that he does legally have.  And I’m sure that having to sue the borough all the time is not something Mr. Pringle likes doing or wants to keep doing.  Plus it’s expensive for all of us.

You may have noticed that so far everything in this story has been the mayor the mayor the mayor.  I haven’t mentioned the Council and herein lies one of the problems.  In Belmar the mayor is the Council.  Through his election-winning patronage machine the mayor gets to decide who sits up there to vote yes on everything he wants to do.

In the federal government the president doesn’t create new laws.  The Congress creates laws and the president enforces them.  Same thing in the states. Governors do not create new law.  The legislatures do and the governors enforce them.  I strongly feel that the same formula should be used in municipal government.  New ordinances should spring from the Council.  The mayor should have veto power, which could be overridden.  He or she should only vote as a tie breaker.  The Council should also be increased from four to six so the people have more representation and so we have the power of more brains and personalities working for us.

Think this is a radical idea?  Think again.  What I’ve described is the form of government used in Brielle, Manasquan, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Lake Como and Neptune City.

It’s called the “Borough” form of government under the Faulkner Act but there’s a problem with it.  Under Faulkner this form of government is necessarily partisan.  If we want to go non partisan we either have to keep the form of government we have but as non partisan, such as Bradley Beach, or revert back to a three member commission like we were before 1990 and as Avon is currently.

A non partisan system would make it much harder for the mayor to get his hand picked candidates elected because they would have to get elected independently and not as part of a slate or a team.  It would also make it harder to raise money from the unions and to hide where contributions are coming from.  Further, couldn’t use state and county party apparatus and power to influence local politics.  Maybe the Council would cease being just a branch of the Belmar Democratic Committee.

Switching to a Borough form of government, or switching to a non partisan government, would reduce the absolute power the mayor enjoys over the government of Belmar.  I’m not sure which would be better and I offer this blog as a forum where we can bounce ideas off each other…particularly ideas from those more learned in these matters than myself…and maybe reach a consensus on whether or how to move forward from here.

That’s if any of you want to.  I’ll help but I don’t think I should lead such an effort as I still plan to move out of state in a couple of years.

Today’s poll:

* One more note.  I’m working on a new investigative report this afternoon which hopefully will be ready for publication tomorrow.


  1. Just Passing Through wrote:

    Feel better Dave.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you Dave, Karen and the girls. Peace be with you all. See you in two weeks pal.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  3. bipartisan wrote:

    It’s important to note that it USEDto be guaranteed 800 dem and 400 Gop votes each election with the remaining 1200 to 1300 unaffiliated. Yes, I said voted.

    Voter apathy appears to have reared it’s ugly head in Belmar. Prime target for JOHN V. KENNYs of this world.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink
  4. OLD MAN wrote:

    Yes hope all goes well. I’m thinking of switching to wine? Red –of course.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  5. Planet Belmar wrote:

    Prayers on your surgery. At least (unlike others in the political limelight ) you have a spine. Listen I am totally onboard with organizing a petition for a change of form of government. After being admonished this morning for not having the civic mindedness to attend last evening’s “Bootlickers Ball”, I would like to explore the sustainable development plan for Belmar ” livable,inclusive, affordable.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 11:40 am | Permalink
  6. legion wrote:

    #5 Please do it. Things will just get worse around here, with the arrogance and high and mighty attitude of the mayor and council.

    Courageous Dave, get better – keep your head up. My friends and I wish you well.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink
  7. linlee wrote:

    I know many prayers will be with you for a successful surgery, and a speedy recovery. My prayers will among them.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Permalink
  8. An Observation wrote:

    It does not matter the form of government, what does matter is the honesty, integrity,and being ethical which none of these people have or have any motivation to change. If the Judge has to keep them in line so be it It is not our problem its their reputation which obviously they could care less about. It is unfortunate that the majority of the Democratic voters have any idea of what is going on or could care less, that is very sad. They think they have won but in reality they are Losers. They have to scheme to get things done instead of honestly informing the public.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  9. ms.nobody wrote:

    Yes, they have to cheat to win. I wish people would yell, “It’s free, it’s free!” every time they see the mayor and any council members, plus any members of the BDC. Needling trumps lying. I mean telling untruths… (I am not promoting harassment.) Indeed, these people are LOSERS. Thanks, Mr. Trump.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink
  10. South Side wrote:

    Best wishes for a successful surgery and speedy recovery.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink
  11. Anonymous wrote:

    Feel better Dave. Speedy recovery.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  12. Cathi wrote:

    Wishing you a successful surgery and a full recovery. Be well and don’t worry.

    Monday, November 9, 2015 at 7:09 am | Permalink
  13. admin wrote:

    Appreciate all the kind wishes. Wasn’t trying to get sympathy though, just joking that the Nov 3 pain in my neck was as bad as the real pain in my neck.

    Well maybe a little sympathy isn’t so bad.

    Monday, November 9, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink
  14. Tulip wrote:

    How do we find out the results of your procedure without making the Mrs. More upset than she will be. On that note I hope everything goes well and your up and around PDQ. Good luck and hang in there.

    Monday, November 9, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink
  15. Tom Dilberger wrote:

    Me too Dave – hope all goes well.

    Monday, November 9, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  16. bipartisan wrote:

    Get some rest and behave yourself. No tucking your chin down to read your smart phone. The doctors, nurses, the girls and Karen want a 100% recovery. They read your blog too and know how successful you are as an investigative reporter. Good luck.

    Monday, November 9, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

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