Incumbent 12th-district Assemblyman Mike Panter of Shrewsbury and his running mate, Amy Mallet of Fair Haven, are questioning how Republican challenger Declan O’Scanlon got the contract to negotiate the recently concluded Fair Haven cell tower deal, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.
The Democrats “hinted at cronyism between O’Scanlon and Fair Haven Mayor Michael Halfacre, who has been municipal prosecutor in Little Silver for seven years, where O’Scanlon serves on the Borough Council,” the Press reports.
“We want to make sure this is as transparent as possible and make sure the taxpayers understand the terms of the contract,” Mallet said. “We want to make sure everything is up front.”
In response, Halfacre told the Press that potential conflict-of-interest concerns were raised by O’Scanlon himself. He said the Fair Haven council, after awarding O’Scanlon a professional services contract, which requires no bidding process, put the job up for public bid, which O’Scanlon won in April.
Halfacre also told the Press that his annual appointment as Little Silver’s municipal prosecutor has nothing to do with O’Scanlon’s pick to negotiate the cell deal.
In January, Fair Haven was pursuing approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection to swap borough parkland for a 70-foot by 70-foot parcel in Fair Haven Fields for use as a tower site. The DEP rejected that application in February, which lead the borough to pursue leasing nearby land from the United Methodist Church, Halfacre said.
“That’s when . . . we talked about bringing in a consultant,” said Halfacre, a Republican. “He (Panter) should get his facts straight.”
O’Scanlon is reported to have earned $5,000 in negotiating fees and up to 35 percent of the first-year’s rent paid by wireless carriers for their use of the tower.