This morning the
Asbury Park Press Neptune Nudniks have an article about something that might be happening and that might cause something else that’s bad to happen.
Two of the three mayors on the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority may be breaking confidentiality rules — and possibly jeopardizing millions of dollars in redevelopment deals — to keep their governing bodies up to date on property negotiations affecting their towns. (Emphasis added)
In a nutshell, the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) is the entity responsible for redeveloping the fort that Congressmen Frank Pallone and Rush Holt let get away. The authority is governed by a 13 member board. 6 of the board members are representives of the State government. 1 is a Monmouth County Freeholder, 3 are “public members.” The final three are the mayors of the communities that host the fort, Oceanport, Tinton Falls and Eatontown.
Here’s where APP reporter Bill Bowman got a basic fact wrong:
A state authority under the umbrella of the state Department of Community Affairs, FMERA is the sole body that seeks out potential buyers and lessors and negotiates and approves contracts for the property.
FMERA is not under the umbrella of the state Department of Community Affairs. It is an independent authority staffed by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The controversy that the APP is stiring up over something that hasn’t happened is about two of the three mayors on the FMERA board briefing the other members of their towns’ governing bodies, in confidential executive sessions, about what is happening at the fort. Those mayors are Michael Mahon of Oceanport and Michael Skudera of Tinton Falls. The third mayor, Gerald Tarantolo of Eatontown, is not filling his council in on what’s happening at FMERA meetings, maintaining that doing so would be “leaking” confidential information. Members of the Eatontown council are frustrated with Tarantolo’s silence.
There have been no incidents of confidential negotiations blowing up or parties colluding reported. But the APP reporter goes on about what could happen if confidential information was leaked by a member of the Oceanport or Tinton Falls councils, in violation of their fiduciary responsibilities.
MMM suspects there is more that the APP has screwed up about this “story.” We’re reaching out to Skudera and Mahon to see if they were quoted accurately.
It is most unusual that FMERA employees would trash board members in the newspaper, as happened in this “story.”
But Bruce Steadman, FMERA’s executive director, said the two mayors’ actions are problematic.
“As a board member, the mayor is entrusted with confidential FMERA operating information that must remain confidential until it is appropriate to be made public,” he said.
Really? Steadman saying that, in the context printed, would be like County Administrator Teri O’Connor trashing a freeholder or Middletown Administrator Tony Mercantante trashing Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger. Steadman can’t be as foolish as Middletown Library Director Susan O’Neal. We’ll also be reaching out to Steadman.
There’s good reason to believe that the APP is making up their own facts to create a story where there isn’t one here.