The use of a $119,000 donation by pop star Bon Jovi for a new ambulance in Sea Bright has raised questions, the Asbury Park Press reports.
Nearly two years after Hurricane Sandy destroyed one first aid squad ambulance and damaged another, “some in Sea Bright question how Bon Jovi’s generous donation — originally intended to purchase a new ambulance — instead was used to refurbish an old ambulance and buy a SUV that is used almost exclusively by Sea Bright’s part-time emergency management coordinator,” the Press reports.
The article focuses on Read Murphy, who resigned as a council member earlier this month but still serves as the borough’s Emergency Management Cooordinator.
From the Press article, by reporter Suzanne Cervenka:
Borough officials, unaware of Bon Jovi’s donation, went ahead and used tax dollars to buy a new ambulance.
Instead of buying a second new ambulance, Murphy — who’s on the board of the fire department and first aid squad, both nonprofit entities separate from the borough — said the organizations decided instead to refurbish a damaged ambulance, and then use the rest of the money to purchase a SUV for use by the emergency management coordinator, another title Murphy holds.
Prior to Bon Jovi’s donation, the town never had a SUV for its OEM officials to use. Emergency lights and radio equipment for personal vehicles used to suffice.
Murphy said the vehicle “stays in my possession,” and he drives it for emergency management business and on fire and first aid calls. He said he sometimes uses the vehicle to go to dinner within town.
A Bon Jovi spokeswoman told the Press that the donation was “for an emergency management vehicle,” not personal use. In addition, town officials were unable to recoup the cost of the ambulance after learning about Bon Jovi’s contribution because Murphy used the balance of the funds to refurbish a second ambulance, according to the article.
Murphy says, however, that “there were no shenanigans” in the use of the Bon Jovi funds.