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No Strings Attached, Just Chains

In a way you have to feel sorry for Matt.  If you’re a Democrat, it’s much easier to be the mayor of a poor town than to be mayor of a town like Belmar, where you have constituents who have assets and income that they expect you to protect.  The class warfare demagoguery that is the perennial election strategy of most Democrats doesn’t really sell where many of your voters are the very people against whom the class warfare is being waged.  (In a republic, the purpose of government is to protect the minority from the predations of the mob.  After all, the majority doesn’t need protection, right?  But as we rapidly become a pure democracy, the government has taken the role of inciting and leading the mob instead of protecting us from it.)

So what to do about Stephen Sweeney?  President of the state senate, Sweeney (Todd) is the state’s most powerful Democrat.  He’s not someone that our politically ambitious young mayor wants to get on the wrong side of.  Problem is that Sweeney, a former Ironworkers Union chieftain, is basically a socialist.  He doesn’t believe we should allow New Jersey to have small towns.  When you have a lot of small towns, some of them might be wealthier than others.  To the mind of the socialist, this is unacceptable.

State and local taxes and debt have skyrocketed in New Jersey in the last two decades.  This was the result of busybody governments that are completely owned by the public workers unions.  But Steve Sweeney wants you to think that the reason Belmar’s taxes are too high is because Belmar exists.  He wants us to merge with other towns.  He talks about forcing us to engage in “shared services”, but what he’s really after is “regionalization” and “shared tax bases”.  This way every town autonomous region in the state would be sure to have a poor area to support and nurture

Sweeney’s latest scheme is to force any towns that receive state or federal dollars to restore their beachfronts to provide free access for everybody and to pay for all the costs out of their own municipal budgets.  He said that if we would only take this magic pill called “shared services”, we would have plenty of money for it.  Of course Belmar mayor Matt Doherty correctly points out that we already share a lot of services, but he doesn’t understand that the consolidationist beast is insatiable and won’t stop until Belmar is considered to be a neighborhood, not a town in itself.  Interestingly, Sweeney’s bill is being co-sponsored by uber conservative state senator Michael Doherty.  (And when I say no relation to Belmar’s Matt Doherty, that’s the understatement of the year.)  Of course Doherty the senator’s motivation is a polar opposite to that of his co-sponsor Sweeney.  Sweeney wants us to take the money because he wants to put us in chains.  But Senator Doherty wants to make acceptance of the aid so unpalatable that we find a different way to rebuild the beach.

By the way, Sweeney correctly points out that resort towns (like Belmar) should have a great tax advantage since many of their properties are summer houses (in Belmar, I think it’s maybe a little over one third) and that the owners of these properties pay the full property tax but don’t send their kids to our schools, or use their share of other services.  I made this point myself in a recent city council meeting, but I wanted the windfall to be used to lower everybody’s taxes.  Sweeney wants it to be used to subsidize other peoples’ entertainment.   Of course currently in Belmar it is being used for neither.  It is just being spent.

I doubt Sweeney’s proposal will become law, but if it does Matt Doherty will have to come up with $6.5 million dollars to pay for the rebuilding contract he’s already signed.  This will certainly mean higher badge prices and higher taxes.  He can’t say he wasn’t warned as I have repeatedly discussed this potentiality both on these pages and at the council meetings.  And I, and Councilman Jim Bean, have urged him to slow down and look at all funding possibilities before issuing bonds and signing contracts.

Matt chose to fund the boardwalk with welfare in the form of FEMA.  But welfare is always a trap.  I wish he hadn’t have been so hasty in accepting it.


BTW, Sweeney isn’t the only lefty giving Matt heartburn.  The environmental fetishists, to whom Democratic politicians always have to kowtow, don’t approve of the wood he plans to use.

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