Freeholder Director Tom Arnone today announced his opposition to the public question that would amend the New Jersey Constitution to allow casino gambling in Northern New Jersey.
“My first responsibility as a Freeholder is to make sure Monmouth County’s interests are my top priority,” Arnone said in an announcement released by ‘Trenton’s Bad Bet,’ the group that has been campaigning against the constitutional amendment, “Unfortunately, the ballot question on casino expansion is misguided, shortchanges our horse racing industry, and favors a small group of out-of-state, special interests.”
“In no way does this legislation help Monmouth County,” Arnone concluded.
Presumed Oceanport Mayor-elect Jay Coffey, center,addresses supporters as Culllin Wible , left, and Councilman Joe Irace,right look on. photo via facebook
In the Oceanport mayoral race, “Write-In” has defeated incumbent Mayor Michael Mahon by a margin of 988 to 721.
Monmouth County Clerk told MoreMonmouthMusings this morning that each of the Write-In votes will be reviewed today in order to determine the winner of the race, subject to the counting of provisional ballots and certification of the election.
A bi-partisan coalition of Oceanport leaders supported Attorney Jay Coffey, a registered Democrat, in his campaign unseat the Republican mayor who was unopposed on the ballot. Coffey is widely expected to be the winner of the campaign. He declared victory last evening.
Oceanport’s all Republican municipal government has been in turmoil for the better part of the year as Mahon stopped communicating with members of the Council, particularly regarding redevelopment issues at Fort Monmouth, and a growing distrust of Borough Administrator John Bennett festered throughout the governing body and members of the public.
For the past eight years, it has been my privilege to serve the people of Oceanport. At all times, I have done what I felt was best for our borough because I, like you, truly love our collective home. As you know, I have been very outspoken on behalf of Oceanport. I have used my position as Councilman to keep Oceanport residents informed of important issues pertaining to Oceanport, oftentimes to my own personal detriment within the very Council on which I serve.
It has been my honor to help the people of this borough, but nowI am asking for your help in return on a matter of critical importance:
THIS TUESDAY, Nov. 3rd, is ELECTION DAY. I am asking all of you to vote for write-in Candidates John F. Coffey II (for mayor) and Cullin Wible (for Councilman, full term). I believe Partisan Politics are irrelevant when it comes to doing what’s best for our town. We need strong leaders who personify the honesty, integrity and inclusiveness that Oceanport Residents deserve.
I fully endorse John F. Coffey II (for mayor) and Cullin Wible (for Councilman, full term). They are committed to getting Oceanport back on track. They have vowed toserve only the best interests of the people of our borough. I have confidence in their abilities to do so.
Transcript from statement read at the Dec. 5, 2012 Oceanport Borough Council meeting by Councilman Joseph Irace:
Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace
Tonight we are being “asked” under court order, to approve an affordable housing plan for the Borough of Oceanport for COAH Round 2. The entire debate on Affordable Housing is one that I have trouble understanding intellectually, socially and fiscally. While we all embrace the idea of lower priced homes, where newly married couples and our aging population can remain in our town for now and years to come, I have a hard time accepting the fact that the Courts, and not our legislature, have the ability to mandate how many homes and the type of homes that a municipality must provide. This is especially troublesome to me because the rest of the town bears the tax burden of this unfunded judicial mandate.
This COAH legislation and the resulting judicial decisions have been a social planning experiment gone awry from the very beginning. The confusing and often contradictory laws and court rulings arising from Rounds 1 and 2 of COAH have led to the Borough being sued for lack of compliance and have cost our residents hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The entire system is broken and needs to be fixed.
Chairman Ramos, and members of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, thank you for inviting me to speak before you today on this
important topic. I am Oceanport Councilman Joseph Irace.
When the State of New Jersey voted to allow casino gambling in Atlantic City in 1976, it marked the dawn of an era wherein, for close to a decade and a half, New Jersey had a de facto monopoly on casino gambling on the East Coast. That era ended in 1992 with the advent of Foxwoods Resort Casino. In the years since then, we have seen a steady encroachment upon Atlantic City’s position as the premier East Coast destination for casino type gambling. New York, Connecticut, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland now offer substantial gaming options to the general public. Indeed, as of April of 2012, Pennsylvania’s gaming industry was second only to that of Las Vegas. Quite clearly, the landscape has changed immeasurably since 1976 and New Jersey’s stranglehold on the East Coast gaming industry is no more. This isn’t an Atlantic City gaming industry problem, it is a New Jersey business development and retention problem.
Similarly, three decades ago, the State of New Jersey was a pre-eminent player in the horseracing industry. The Meadowlands, Freehold Raceway, Monmouth Park, Atlantic City Race Course and Garden State Park — the latter three called the “Golden Triangle” of New Jersey racing — all offered top notch, stakes level horse racing at quality venues. As we are all aware, the New Jersey horseracing industry has suffered setbacks over the past few decades and the root of these setbacks can be traced to the same source as that which has negatively impacted on Atlantic City. New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia have all committed to the Racino business model and this has placed the State of New Jersey’s horseracing industry at a decided disadvantage. Again, this isn’t a horseracing industry problem, it is a New Jersey business development and retention problem.
For far too long now, New Jersey’s gaming industry and New Jersey’s horse racing industry circled each other warily as opponents. It is high time that they stop viewing each other as competitors and start viewing themselves as comrades at arms with a singular purpose: melding both industries in such a fashion that New Jersey once again becomes the East Coast’s premier gaming AND horse racing destination. Based on the revenues generated by Racinos in the surrounding states and across the nation, the question of whether or not these two industries can co-exist, and indeed THRIVE, is no longer arguable. Quite simply, if New Jersey’s gaming and horse-racing industries fail to embrace this new business model, both will perish and the State of New Jersey will be lesser for it.
Our elected officials and both industries need to stop thinking parochially and start thinking globally. The infrastructure, manpower and talent are already in place. We just need the desire and commitment to get this done, and get it done sooner rather than later. The State of New Jersey has waited long enough to get its act together. The states that have already embraced the Racino business model have demonstrated that what is good for the horseracing industry is good for the gaming industry and vice versa. More importantly, what’s good for those industries is also good for all of New Jersey.
I implore our legislators to make every effort to convince these two parties that it is imperative that they stop competing with each other and start complementing each other in order to re-capture the hearts, minds and loyalty of their consumers. If the gaming and horse racing industries fail to adapt to the new paradigm, neither will survive. And that won’t be a gaming or horse racing problem — that will be a tragedy for the State of New Jersey.
William and Joe discuss Monmouth Park racetrack, Fort Monmouth, the challenges Oceanport has faced in recent years with uncertainty for both institutions, and what looks like a promising comeback for Monmouth Park.
Gov. Chris Chrisite boarding a State Police helicopter on his way to address a power outage in Atlantic County after addressing the press in Monmouth County about the current water crisis. Photo by Art Gallagher
Oceanport, NJ- Governor Chris Christie implored Monmouth County residents to conserve water and to express their patriotism by not shooting off private fireworks for the duration of the water crisis caused by the major infrastructure failure at New Jersey American Water Company’s Swimming River water treatment plant. Addressing the press at the Wolf Hill Recreation area in Oceanport, Christie said “if a lot of things go perfectly” the water crisis will be over by the July 4th holiday.
Christie announced that residents of twenty two towns should boil their water before drinking or cooking. Those towns are :
Calls on taxpayers from Oceanport and neighboring communites to join the fight
“Atlantic City is now a FAILED business model”
Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace’s remarks at the borough’s reorganization meeting today:
2011 marked a year of challenges and changes to our Borough. Oceanport’s future well-being hinges upon two very important issues, the continued viability of Monmouth Park and the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth, neither of which is really within our control. If these two matters aren’t addressed properly, the consequences for Oceanport and our neighboring communities will be devastating..
The more immediate of the two issues is Monmouth Park. 2011 was a year in which uncertainty was the only certainty when it came to Monmouth Park. Was the State going to remain in control, lease or sell the park to private ownership? The decision was made to lease. Then came numerous changes, negotiations, finger-pointing, name calling and, ultimately, a muddled picture as to who is actually in charge. Just last week, the State decided to continue racing in 2012 under the control of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority and rebid the lease in 2012 for the 2013 racing season. For 2012, the current agreement, as we understand it from reading about it in the newspapers, calls for 141 racing days at an average purse of $150,000 per day. To put that number in perspective, we were racing at $1,000,000 a day in 2010 and $400,000 a day in 2011. The projected daily purse of $150,000 is the lowest for any major track in the United States. In fact, at $150,000 a day in purse money, Monmouth Park, the most beautiful and historic racetrack this side of Saratoga, can no longer be considered a major track. 2012 also calls for no stakes races and, more notably, no Haskell. The long term ramifications of this are obvious. Is Trenton determined to undermine and eliminate racing in New Jersey? It sure seems that way.
Trenton’s stated position is that the State of New Jersey can no longer “subsidize” horse racing in New Jersey. And, you know what? I ABSOLUTELY agree with Trenton on that issue. Because the fact of the matter is that the horseracing industry doesn’t have to be subsidized. It just has to be allowed to compete on equal footing with horse racing in New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland. But the big thinkers in Trenton have blinders on when it comes to the realities of horse racing and gambling in today’s world. With the stroke of a pen, our elected officials in Trenton could permit “racinos” in New Jersey, but instead of allowing our state’s horse racing industry to compete with the gaming, racing and casinos that have popped up in New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland, our Trenton brain trust has chosen to invest $250,000,000 of taxpayer money in a stalled Atlantic City casino development.
The Atlantic City business model is outdated. New Jersey no longer has the monopoly on gambling that it had in the 1970s. Indeed, by any reasonable financial analysis, Atlantic City is now a FAILED business model. But our elected officials in Trenton refuse to acknowledge this fact and, instead, have chosen to pour $250,000,000 of taxpayer money into a venture — that private firms won’t touch — in return for a 20% interest in the business. What is 20% of nothing? We need our elected State officials to stop investing in THEIR past and start investing in OUR future.
Monmouth Park is the Borough of Oceanport’s largest tax ratable and one of the jewels of the Jersey Shore. Monmouth Park’s continued viability should be this governing body’s NUMBER ONE priority in the year 2012. Oceanport’s citizens and the citizens of ALL of the Jersey Shore communities should make their voices heard on this issue. We aren’t asking for a handout from the State! We just want New Jersey to be able to compete on equal footing with New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland. We’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got the people, we’ve got the horses. We just need the tools. The State of New Jersey needs to adopt the Racino business model NOW!
As far as the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth is concerned, this issue will present huge challenges as we head into 2012 and well beyond. Decisions made today will have an impact – one way or another — on Oceanport for the next 25 years and beyond. When we unsuccessfully battled for local control of the 419 acres that are located in Oceanport, we were concerned over what the State would do to our small, family oriented, residential community. Today, rumors abound that our 2nd largest employer, CommVault, which ranks only behind only the embattled Monmouth Park as a source of employment, has been lured to the Tinton Falls section of the Fort Monmouth site. It is believed that this move is premised upon large tax breaks and tax credits being given to CommVault by the people who are charged with the duty of redeveloping the fort while creating jobs. This isn’t job creation, however, it is job poaching. And the Borough of Oceanport loses a business to Tinton Falls under the guise of “job development” at the fort. How can this be a good idea?
I am cynical, at best, about the State of New Jersey’s ability to create jobs at the fort, especially in view of the State’s past record in this area. That is to say, the State of New Jersey doesn’t have a history of creating jobs— other than government jobs. Stated simply, government does not have the ability to create private sector jobs and the historic and profound lack of accountability at the State level is all the more reason why the Oceanport Municipal Council fought long and hard for local control over the fort’s redevelopment. Sadly, we lost that battle. Now it is this governing body’s duty — and the duty of all members who follow us —- to make sure that we don’t lose the war. We must remain vigilant and continue to demand that we have a voice in the redevelopment process, not just a seat at the table. We cannot stand idly by as the bureaucrats and politicians try to fit square pegs into round holes in the name of “job creation” The only thing worse than doing nothing about the redevelopment of the fort is doing something badly, and that’s where I am afraid we are heading. And this isn’t just an Oceanport issue any more. A bungled fort redevelopment will have a devastating financial and social impact on Monmouth Beach, Long Branch, Little Silver, Fair Haven, Rumson and Sea Bright, too. The citizens of those towns should be just as concerned as we are that the fort gets redeveloped properly and organically. If we expect to be heard, then we all have to involve ourselves in the process.
Bureaucrats and politicians have come to expect — and, indeed, thrive on — an apathetic electorate and they have no incentive to do the will of the taxpayer if they have no fear of the taxpayer’s wrath. We, as a governing body, have a duty to educate the people who elected us about what is actually happening at the fort and involve them in the process as much as possible. Those who elected us, however, have to be willing to stand up and be counted by attending and, more importantly, PARTICIPATING in meetings of the Fort Monmouth Economic Redevelopment Authority and the Oceanport Borough Council so that we can fight the good fight for our community.
In closing, we have a lot of work cut out for us. We must continue our fight to protect the Oceanport that we all know and love. All of us who live here and raise our families here know that we have a lot to lose, and we have only ourselves to blame if we let others dictate our destiny. You’ve got a governing body that has proven that it is willing to fight for our right to control our own destiny. None of us have any political aspirations beyond that of serving the people of Oceanport. Help us take the fight to the powers that be. Stand up for yourselves. Get vocal. Stay vocal. Get involved. Stay involved. We need you. We need each other. Let’s work together for a better Oceanport in 2012
VLT’s, slot machines, or an all out gaming casino in the Meadowlands is the only way to protect horse racing in New Jersey
Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace delivered the following report regarding the borough’s Monmouth Park Task Force at this evenings council meeting:
On Monday January 10th our Monmouth Park Task Force met to discuss the future of Monmouth Park as it pertains to the recent Hanson Report Part 2. Our Task Force meeting was attended by a varied cross section of members including two former New Jersey State Senators, a horse veterinarian, thoroughbred owners, and concerned Oceanport residents. The meeting was very specific and our participants quite vocal and knowledgeable. Our Task Force once again maintained the position that VLT’s, slot machines, or an all out gaming casino in the Meadowlands is the only way to protect horse racing in New Jersey. All the surrounding states of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland now have some form of gaming at their race tracks. This uneven playing field enables our competitors to lure New Jersey horseman out of State with larger purses and better quality horse racing.
Knowing the current legislative posture in New Jersey and knowing that gaming is not coming to the Meadowlands this year, our Task Force was once again proactive in seeking solutions to get us through 2011 and beyond. Among the suggestions were: working with Monmouth Park to seek alternative revenue streams such as a boardwalk type facility in the picnic area, upscale restaurants, concerts, retail boutiques and perhaps even a hotel. Anything to make Monmouth Park more desirable as an asset to the State, not just for horse racing, but as a destination place in the heart of the Jersey Shore.
The Task Force continues to ask for the actual financials of Monmouth Park, not of the full New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, of which Monmouth Park belongs. Are the numbers the State uses correct when they say the facility loses $6 million? We do not think so and would like to see the empirical evidence.
We continue to be concerned with the possible veto of a bipartisan bill approved in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly that would enable horse racing to not only survive, but to thrive. It is important to remember that horse racing contributes 7,000 jobs, $110 million in federal, state and local taxes, and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape and open space to New Jersey.
Our Governing Body and our Task Force will continue to lobby our elected officials on behalf of Monmouth Park. It is important not only to Oceanport and Monmouth County, but to the state of New Jersey as well.
The following are Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace’s remarks from today’s Reorganization Meeting:
Good Afternoon and Happy New Year!
This afternoon, I’m fortunate to have my family and friends with me as I begin my second term on Oceanport Borough Council. I would like to thank the residents of Oceanport for giving me this chance to, again, serve as your councilman. It is both an honor and a privilege.
I would like to thank my wife Eileen who, God knows puts up with a lot, and our two daughters Kristi and Samantha. Samantha often serves as my official photographer and Campaign Manager. The support and understanding of my family is an amazing gift that is truly appreciated. I would also like to thank my parents, Joseph and Jennie. Mom & Dad, you are true inspirations to me and great role models, too. Thanks to my Brother Rick and his family who are also with us today. To all the residents of Oceanport, your overwhelming support is the reason I sit here today. I pledge to continue my best work in my next three year term.
Congratulations to all the fire and first aid officers sworn in today. Special thanks to Tom Crochet, outgoing Chief, for his dedication to our borough. I’d also like to thank outgoing Councilman Jay Briscione for his many years of service. Jay’s contributions regarding our two biggest issues, Fort Monmouth and Monmouth Park, have been invaluable to all of us as a Governing Body. I’m glad Jay has volunteered, to remain active in both of these important projects. Welcome back Ted Ibex. As a former Councilman, Ted has played an important part in what our team has accomplished. I know he will be able to hit the ground running as he begins his current term.
The borough of Oceanport continues to deal with the direct and immediate impact of the closure of Fort Monmouth and the inane decisions involving Monmouth Park Racetrack. We as a Governing Body and community have to be increasingly vigilant and proactive knowing we don’t have ultimate control over either issue.
The actions being taken today regarding Fort Monmouth affect the future of Oceanport. Regardless of the political ramifications, we as a Governing Body, worked hard on the Fort Monmouth Redevelopment Bill. We participated in conversations and debates that consumed many hours and were not always cordial but were necessary to protect Oceanport and our future as a community. As a Governing Body we were able to extract an unprecedented 40 amendments to the original Fort Monmouth Bill which gave us some say in what happens in the 419 acres that will be located in our boundaries. Ultimately, this bill seems to reflect a lot of compromise as set forth in the amendments; HOWEVER, the one place that there was no compromise is in the underlying premise of the bill: State control. In my opinion, everything after State control is secondary. Therefore our vigilance going forward is vital to making sure Oceanport is protected as redevelopment progresses.
The recent Hanson Commission Report seems to suggest that Atlantic City casinos are more important to our State then horse racing. As host town to Monmouth Park, Oceanport couldn’t disagree more. The Commission seems to totally disregard the benefits that horse racing brings to New Jersey; such as 7,000 jobs, $110 million in federal, state and local taxes, and 57,000 acres of working agricultural landscape and open space.
A study done by Christiansen Capital Advisors, commissioned by the New Jersey Department of Treasury at a cost of $100,000, recommended the installation of slot machines at the Meadowlands. The reports stated that 5,000 machines at the Meadowlands would produce $750 million annually and that 10,000 machines would produce $1.5 billion annually. The same study suggested that 2,100 slots at the Meadowlands would reduce Atlantic City gross gaming revenue by a mere .01 percent and perhaps save live racing at Monmouth Park. Why were this study, and its results ignored?
Clearly, we need to remain involved and active in both matters as we head though 2011. I know that with Mayor Mahon’s leadership and the active role our Council has taken on both matters, Oceanport is in good hands!
In closing, I would like everyone to remember our troops who are serving overseas. We are able to enjoy our many freedoms because of their willingness to serve.