FAIR HAVEN TEES UP PANTER, MALLET
Showdown at 9a sharp Tuesday, right here.
Incumbent 12th-district Assemblyman Mike Panter and his running mate, Amy Mallet, may have been aiming primarily at one of their Republican opponents last week with their suggestion of cronyism in the Fair Haven cell tower deal.
But the allegation has roused the Fair Haven council, who have come out their corner swinging not in defense of candidate and telecom consultant Declan O’Scanlon, they say, but of their own good names.
Tomorrow morning, the council will hold a special meeting at which they’ve challenged Panter, of Shrewsbury, and Mallet, of Fair Haven, to publicly make their case that the contract with O’Scanlon, a Little Silver councilman, was somehow tainted by a conflict of interest, as they alleged last week in a letter to the state Attorney General.
“They’re taking a shot at the integrity of the Fair Haven council,” says governing body president Tom Gilmour, who played a lead role in a four-year effort to eliminate a dead-zone in wireless service to the town.
“They decided to create some sort of conflict issue and to bring our mayor and council into the loop,” he said.
The Panter/Mallet campaign did not respond to a request for comment left by redbankgreen over the weekend.
Available for inspection at the meeting will be every document relating to the tower deal, said Gilmour documents which he says have always been available.
Every step of the tower deal was properly and fully disclosed, says Gilmour, who blasted Mallet in particular for failing to raise an objection to it until now, six months after the borough contracted with O’Scanlon to negotiate lease deals with the United Methodist Church on Ridge Road and the wireless carriers that will utilize the tower.
Recently, unnamed “political operatives” in Trenton began filing Open Public Records Act requests for the documents, says Mayor Mike Halfacre requests that he and others in borough hall interpreted as a search for an issue on which to attack O’Scanlon.
The episode has exposed some bad feelings. On his blog last week, Halfacre had this to say about the assemblyman:
It was only after Mike Panter failed us in our appeals to the DEP for a cell tower site that we were forced to hire a consultant to assist us in solving our cell tower problems. At a meeting between Fair Haven officials and the DEP to discuss siting issues, not only did Panter not appear on our behalf, he didn’t even send a representative.
And in a letter intended for the Asbury Park Press that was not published, but which appears on Halfacre’s blog, Gilmour blasted Panter for his “interference” with the borough’s appeals to the DEP. In an interview over the weekend, Gilmour claimed that Mallet “has never been to a council meeting in the eight years” that he’s been serving.
Still, Halfacre told us he wasn’t crazy about the idea of a special meeting. He says he tried to persuade the council to let the issue fade away, because the council would be in a position of “having to prove a negative.” But at least three members of six-member council, as well as borough Business Administrator Mary Howell felt too strongly to just let it lie, Halfacre says.
“I said, ‘This is politics, it’ll pass,'” Halfacre told us. “But their reaction was, ‘Yeah, on November 7th it’ll go away.’ They felt personally attacked.”
So is the meeting a government session or politics?
Halfacre says the governing body was required to give public notice of the event as a special meeting because of the likelihood that a quorum of its members will be present.