By JIM BEAN
With regard to the “a proposal, a helicopter and a conspiracy theory” story, the public needs to understand that Mayor Doherty used his official capacity to grant a favor to a friend “of many years.” This favor was paid for by us, the taxpayer. It involved using multiple employees’ time, police resources, a green acres park, and the risk of liability in which the town shouldered the insurance. This risk is why the NJDOT believes landing a helicopter somewhere other than at an approved heliport is considered a sufficiently dangerous operation that requires special approval.
Particularly disturbing is that the mayor’s friend, Leo Ayala, instead of being asked to help to defray the cost, apparently was asked to donate $2,500 to Doherty’s election fund. This occurred around the time the event was being planned. Although the mayor says a lot of people donate to his campaigns, his friend Leo never did before. In the last five campaigns Doherty ran for public office, Mr. Ayala never donated once. According to the New Jersey campaign disclosure website, this is the first political donation Mr. Ayala has ever made in New Jersey.
This is a textbook case of Official Misconduct [N.J.S.A. 2C:30-2] as described on the New Jersey League of Municipalities website. He also broke Belmar’s zoning ordinance Section 40-5.3 which specifically prohibits “any airport, landing field, landing strip, heliport, helistop, off-heliport landing site … or any other facility used for the landing or take-off of any aircraft, either as a primary use or as a use accessory, auxiliary or incidental to any primary use.”
Is the mayor above the law? Doherty’s actions are just another example in a pattern of lawlessness that includes: no bid contracts to his wife’s company’s clients at three times the going rate, mishandling of $7,000 in donated gift cards, changing an ordinance about swimming pools to benefit one specific donor, stating the pavilions are free when the court won’t allow them to be, and changing Belmar’s pay-to-play ordinance specifically for his run for Freeholder.
At the July 20 borough council meeting, when asked about the helicopter landing, the council members denied knowing anything about the event. This is strange, considering Councilwoman Jen Nicolay’s husband posted on Facebook a picture of the event taken by one of her children. Is Councilwoman Nicolay so brainless that she didn’t know or didn’t care that helicopters are landing in public parks? Or is this just the council covering up for their corrupt mayor?
I suspect Mayor Doherty knew he was in trouble when he took to Facebook to try to gain public support for these actions. The smearing of those who questioned his unethical activities tells me he has no actual defense. Of course his zombie-like blind followers took the bait that the “Belmar Republicans” are just mean and “plant conspiracy/corruption rumors.” Maybe we just loathe corruption?
Lawless Matt continues his behavior at the expense of everyone in Belmar, including his supporters. I guess they don’t mind being used.
Jim Beam is a former Belmar Councilman