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Maybe They’re Part Of The Belmar House Tour

$4250 Donated To Promote Post-Sandy Tourism Diverted To “Home By Summer”

Page 21 of the Borough’s February 27, 2015 payment of bills list offers up something worth looking at: a $4250 expenditure paid out of the tourism fund to the “Home by Summer” charity created and championed by Mayor Doherty.  (Home by Summer seeks to raise $200,000 to restore one house and build one house for the last two Belmar families that have not moved back to their homes since Sandy.)

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Obviously this is problematic…the Tourism fund contributing to Home by Summer…so the documents related to it were OPRAed by a concerned citizen who then shared them with me.  Let’s have a look.

First, the check:

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 3.05.28 PMAnd the P.O. for it:

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Money collected for the express purpose of attracting tourists to Belmar can’t be spent as charity for individual private citizens.  It is not legal under the New Jersey statute that authorizes the creation of tourism commissions.

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The law gives the Tourism Commission….not the Mayor or Council….exclusive authority to disburse all revenues related to the tourism fund.  And it limits all expenditures to “public” purposes only (that benefit the populace as a whole.)

Did the members of the Tourism Commission vote to use tourism funds for a non public purpose?  Did they even know about it?

Of course this is a problem.  But it gets even more interesting.

According to a press release from the Borough’s website, the money came not from Tourism but from the Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce!

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(I don’t know why it’s dated 2014.  Everyone knows it’s this year and it’s even called “Home by Summer 2015”.)

So did the $4250 come from the Chamber or did it come from Tourism?  This letter, which was included in the document packet, adds to the mystery:

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I guess Ms. Mars isn’t sure if Doherty is mayor of Wall or Belmar.  Either that or she thinks that Belmar is part of Wall or something.  I’m also guessing the word that was cut off on the photocopy is “check”.

The “Waves of Support” she refers to is a Sandy recovery initiative jointly created by the civic organization Navesink Business Group and  Jersey Promise, a charity created by Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal.

I don’t know what the Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce’s involvement with this is or why the “designation of funds” change from Tourism to Home by Summer prompted the letter.  And I haven’t seen anything to indicate that the Chamber ever sent “Home by Summer” any money.

Actually, the OPRAed documents reveal that the $4250 that was eventually sent to Home by Summer was originally a donation made by Gopal’s Jersey Promise to the Tourism Commission.

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New Jersey statute does allow for charitable donations from any source to local tourism commissions.

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You would think that for a town that thrives on tourism, a private $4200 donation would be a notable event and whoever made the donation would be publicly thanked for it (particularly if the donor happened to be the chair of the county Democratic party.)  Maybe they could have rescinded the recent 33% increase in the tourism fee that all businesses here pay.  Thanks Vin!

Note, though, that the check is dated 12/19/14.  It sat unmentioned and uncashed for over six weeks.  Finally on February 9, 2015 it’s posted simply as a “tourism fee” from fee payer “Jersey Promise”.  (The regular tourism fee was $75 but increased this year to $100.)

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Two weeks later, on February 23, a P.O. was made to send $4250 from Tourism to Home by Summer.  The check was sent March 3.

Does Vin Gopal even know about this?

If, in January or early February, the town had decided that Home by Summer was more important than Tourism it could have returned Gopal’s check and asked for a new one made out to “Home by Summer”.  That would have been fine.  Why all the shenanigans?  And shouldn’t Tourism demand the money back since it’s not allowed to be spent that way?

Oh…and by the way…what ever did happen to that Buy-a-Board money?


  1. Resident wrote:

    This stinks, both families have close associations to the town. The one home was a modest one-story, two bedroom, one bath home, in terrible disrepair. It is now a four bedroom, three-bath, two-story extravagant replacement home. The other home, again from a well-connected family to the town spent much of 2013 vacationing in far away places. All I am saying is this town is so biased, there are many, many, other families in significant debt after taking out loans some over $100,000 to repair their homes. It is unfair to pick two families that MIGHT be having financial problems who are replacing more than what was there. When the money settles these two special picks, will have profited from this charitable fundraising. Some of us are still dealing with continued flooding and sewage. Follow the money and the connections

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink
  2. Chris C. wrote:

    Look at the date Mary Brabazon wrote next to her signature on the requisition. Odd…

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  3. BG wrote:

    Hmm, something smells about this.

    Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  4. callmecynical wrote:

    The more this administration gets away with, the more shenanigans they will pull. What irks me is that “they” seem to think this is business as usual – or the local electorate is downright ignorant and chooses to stay that way. The bears (coyotes?) are watching the fox who guards the hen house. I am watching the horizon for a bold, independent hero to appear and be a thorn in the side of the dominant “party” in town, and I don’t necessarily mean D’Jais.

    Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
  5. Frivolous wrote:

    If this and the beach utility are being misused , someone should file suit. If history is any teacher it’s the only thing they will listen to.

    Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink
  6. Eugene Creamer wrote:

    …. moving forward …. next …. squeeze the Brewery guys …. they’re new in town.

    Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 9:04 pm | Permalink
  7. nomomoney wrote:

    At least the attempt by Brandls to have a take-out window in their proposed space by the brewery was just voted down by the planning board. Don’t need crowds on the sidewalk making noise and messes.

    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  8. GUEST wrote:

    Frivolous, why don’t you file??? No one wants to take on the expense of suing the town. For one, it cost money, and two, when the town is told they can’t use these funds, guess who’s pocket they are going to use to pay the funds back?

    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  9. Resident wrote:

    Good idea let’s just stick our heads in the ground, wait and watch the mayor misappropriate all the funds for 4 more years. We should have tremendous liability by then and then we will get sued. Being sued is inevitable. Pay now or pay more later. If you are unclear on that concept you do not have a grasp of the entire situation.

    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
  10. nomomoney wrote:

    In addition, when the town loses a lawsuit, they have to pay the lawyers and court expenses, and that pool of money used is funded by tax dollars. The plaintiffs may win but also lose in the sense that they still pay through their tax dollars. The mayor is a big loser for the town.

    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink
  11. GUEST wrote:

    The entire situation is clear. Get out of Belmar now!

    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink
  12. Pay Attention wrote:

    First The borough has a “professional liability insurance policy”. How do you think the $15,000. legal fees for Capt. Huisman were paid? Second given the facts, like in the Huisman case of official misconduct, the State brings the charges (criminal) against the official or official. What’s missing?


    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink
  13. Resident wrote:


    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  14. forrest gump wrote:

    Run, someone-else-with-integrity, run. We need help in this town. Upset the apple cart or derail the gravy train before we go bankrupt. Boy, I love clichés.

    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  15. Tom Dilberger wrote:

    When I was in the Philippines years ago, I saw a native dance whereby the barefoot dancers stepped in and out between two long hard wooden pieces being struck together, all this to the beat of the music. All they had to do was make one false (dancer or wood handler) move and the dancer had a broken ankle. Well, that goes for our leadership in this town except when they finally make whatever mistake it is they’re going to make, it won’t be a broken ankle they get.

    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  16. nomomoney wrote:

    The Borough’s professional liability insurance rates must be going up based on the number of “frivolous” lawsuits brought against it. Who provides (some of) the funds to the local coffers to pay the insurance bills? The taxpayers, of course. The ins and outs of billing I do not know. (Thank you, #12, I forgot about that type of insurance.)

    Friday, April 24, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink
  17. Anonymous wrote:

    #16 too bad there is no law for govt accountability, all that voted yes to projects that a Judge said no to They should be made to pay legal and fees lost due to their misdeeds!!

    Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink
  18. nomomoney wrote:

    Why avoid lawsuits when you have insurance to cover the costs? That is like the irresponsible car driver who shrugs his/her shoulders when he hits something and says, “Hey, insurance pays, no matter.”

    Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink
  19. nomomoney wrote:

    #12, regarding “what’s missing” – on the purchase order bottom left the dates by the initials are missing, and in the center bottom the tax i.d. number is not filled in.

    Regarding how payment is made, I would guess that Belmar pays the bill to the vendor, then submits proof of payment to the insurance company for reimbursement.

    Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

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