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'Club Monmouth' Republicans Embrace Redistribution of Wealth…To Fellow Republican

Why should taxpayers pay $1.2 million to preserve a farm for former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas?

In Monmouth County, New Jersey taxpayers will be forking over $1.2 million to preserve a farm for former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas.  Using funds from the Farmland Preservation Incentive Grant Program, taxpayers will provide a windfall to Mr. Lucas, who presided over public meetings where competing properties were considered but bypassed for funding.  This transaction puts on display how the levers of government can be pulled in a way that favors those closest to Republican party leaders.

In a shadowy business transaction that Mayor Lucas has never fully explained, Diamond Developers at Burke Farm, which lists Mr. Lucas as its Managing Member, entered this “farm” property in Manalapan into the process for farmland preservation approval.  Mr. Lucas then participated in municipal town meetings in Manalapan where local funds were available for preservation.  As he did so, Mr. Lucas neglected to mention his interest in this property and his pending application.  Obviously, given his conflict, he should have recused himself. 

In response, a local resident filed a detailed, lengthy ethics complaint citing the meetings in which a conflicted Mr. Lucas participated.  Remarkably, the Ethics Board has now dismissed the complaint. In a one-page opinion, that on the one hand holds these facts as an example of what not to do, but on the other fails to take any action against Mr. Lucas, the Board has made plain its partisan bent and, in doing so, its irrelevance. Mr. Thomas Neff, a Monmouth County resident and Chairman of that Board, had previously contributed $750 to the Republican Senate Majority Fund headed by then Senate President John Bennett (who is now the Monmouth County Republican Party Chairman). They cite that they relied in the advice of the Manalapan Township Attorney, who was appointed by Mr. Lucas and is a political contributor to Monmouth County Republican campaigns. That in itself is a clear conflict of interest. Mr. Lucas participated in meetings where he disqualified properties for funds that he was also competing for.  If this case creates no cause for ethical concern, then we should just dissolve the Ethics Board.

Every member of the Monmouth County Republican Party Freeholder Board, aka ‘Club Monmouth’, voted for this application. One ‘Club Monmouth’ Freeholder even aggressively defended Mr. Lucas’ role in all of this. These self-proclaimed budget hawks and fiscal conservatives fell silent as one of their own profited at taxpayer expense. Mr. Lucas claims he is a businessman – however his business is making over a million dollars off of hardworking taxpayers, NOT off private funds. He fails to understand the difference.

As we the taxpayers gift this farm to Mayor Lucas, we should at least know the details of the deal.  How much profit for the Mayor on this deal?  Sadly, he steadfastly refuses to answer questions related to his acquisition price.  If you happen to run into the Mayor, make sure he thanks you for your generous gift.   

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George Clark October 15, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Nobody has anything to add to this? No outrage whatsoever? No "pitch forks" on the farm you wanna grab? Then we get what we deserve. These tips of the iceberg of political corruption are never seen or acted upon. So instead of hitting the iceberg straight on we try to steer away from it and sink because of lack of iceberg and ship knowledge. lol. Titanic lives to sink another day real soon.
bd October 15, 2012 at 07:13 PM
What exactly is a vince gopal???? and why should i care what he says.......................
George Clark October 15, 2012 at 08:10 PM
if he speaks the truth you should care, because this type of corruption is exactly why nj is in the shape it is. Because nobody cares they are being robbed until they are totally broke. This system is totally broke and has been for 2000 years or more. You must be on the take too if you don't care to hear the truth.
bd October 15, 2012 at 10:00 PM
logic precludes using honest and democrat in the same sentence rendering your point moot
Bob English October 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Mr. Gopal is the Monmouth County Democratic Party Chairman. Unless you have no problem with forking over $1.2 million of Nj taxpayers $$$ to a politally connected insider to preserve a farm, maybe you should care what he has to say.
cynicinmarlboro October 16, 2012 at 12:10 AM
If he wanted to preserve his property, all he needed to do was put it in his will that the land would be given to the town/county/state upon his death with the provision that it should not be developed. A nice sign would be erected indicating his generousity. Instead, he took all he could for it while preventing others from benefitting. Now the state will change the rules, but because it was not stated properly to begin with it seems that personal ethics is not a factor. Typical NJ politics. Reminds me of the Wasser Breyer State fiasco at the FRHSD. Rules were changed after the fact, but he was not in the wrong either. Another example of personal integrity that was lacking with him and others - some of whom remain on the FRHSD payroll simply because of "tenure." In private industry they would have all been shown the door.
Curious George October 16, 2012 at 11:44 AM
If the tables were turned and this was done by democrats I can only imagine the vitriol that you would be hurling at them. What is it about this deal and the shady way it was supported by the attorneys Lucas appointed, makes this in anyway either ethical or even legitimate in your eyes? These should be the poster faces of conflict of interest.
George Clark October 16, 2012 at 02:23 PM
yep, "snitches" wouldn't be tolerated among them either, because they all wanna do it when it's their turn to rob. It's sad that the dbs of the world see it as our side against dems instead of us protecting ourselves from all the corruption in government and society for that matter. He just says the other guys do it too. lol.
Paul Schlaflin October 16, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Of course it reminds you of Wasser, everythig does. It was the only time in your life your opinion had any relevence. Do you like anything?
Gary Faraci October 16, 2012 at 07:24 PM
bd is just another right wing coward who won't reveal his / her identity and makes irrelevant stupid attacks. When someone has nothing of substance to add to the discourse, they retort to stupid remarks like this. bd = being dumb
bd October 16, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Gary the typical Dim----adds nothing of substance while attempting to attack the messenger---let's talk about the honesty and integrity of the current regime's handling of the terrorist murders in Libya, or Milhous proclaiming we made $$$ on Gubmint motors the exact same day the CBO announces a $25Billion loss, or Grimace the flotus telling us about the great recovery where 800k jobs were created while 8 million dropped out, or Stedman Holder's forthrightness on F&F----models of integrity these DemoncRATS.............................

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