Pay to play and wheeling continue to be hot topics in Monmouth County through the dog days of summer. As usual both parties will seek to look like reformers, while at the same time protecting their cash flow and limiting their opponents cash flow. That's the game, and it has little to do with reform.
Middletown Township introduced a pay to play and wheeling ordinance this week that was modeled on many other ordinances throughout New Jersey, with an unusual twist. In addition to limiting the contributions of "Professional business entities" which do business with the municipality and county, Middletown's ordinance seeks to limit the contributions, cash and in kind, of liquor license applicants.
Have descendants of Al Capone been trying to buy Middletown's government? Having lived in and/or operated my business in Middletown for 10 years, I never noticed this problem.
More likely, this is the latest gambit in the ongoing battle of wills between the Azzolina family and the Carton family. Once partners in making Middletown the great place it is today, these factions have been at war since they split over the Towne Center development.
Former State Senator Joe Azzolina's family owns supermarkets and liquor stores in Middletown. They also own the land they want to develope as the Towne Center. They also own The Courier
Peter Carton, is the long time chairman of the Middletown GOP, and is the bond counsel for Middletown, Monmouth County, and many other municipalities.
Since the Middletown GOP, and thereby its governing body and boards,withdrew support for the Towne Center, Azzolina has been trying to get Democrats to take over Middletown in order to deny Carton his lucrative contracts.
Its all rather unseemly, on both sides, and the battle continues to be played out on the Township Committee and in the Azzolina owned Courier. I, and many others in the communtiy, have friends of both sides of this tiresome battle.
So, the way I see it, including liquor licensees as pay to players in the proposed ordinance is the Middletown GOP's way to jerk the Courier's chain, if not change their editorial content and advertising policies.
It won't work, it will just lead to silly litigation and campaign rhetoric that has nothing to do with good government.