Monday, May 10, 2010

No Good Choices In Long Branch Race

Photo credit: James Hogan

Tomorrow is election day in New Jersey cities with "non-partisan" forms of government. In Monmouth County there are elections in Bradley Beach, Keansburg and Long Branch.

In Long Branch there is a uber contentious race between incumbent Mayor Adam Schneider, the poster boy for eminent domain, and self proclaimed Zen Monster Brian Unger. A third candidate Bob Krebs is trying to position himself as a sane alternative to Schneider and Unger.

Each mayoral candidate has a team of council members running with them. Only one of Schneider's incumbent council members is seeking another term. Congressman Frank Pallone's brother John is running for council independent of any of the mayoral teams.

Let's dismiss Krebs off the bat. His website reveals that he is clueless to how municipal government works or doesn't work, depending on your point of view. He touts his background as a certified financial planner, i.e., someone who sells insurance, annuities and high load mutual funds, as a qualification to reduce Long Branch's high property taxes.

Schneider has been Mayor for 2 decades during which he transformed the Long Branch beach front from a drug ridden crime den into Miami Beach North, while trampling the property rights of his neighbors. Pier Village, the concrete crown jewel of the beach front has not lowered property taxes any. Quite the contrary. Schneider's reign should be a cautionary tale to municipal leaders running the rateable chase as a way to lower taxes. Should Governor Christie bring equity back to New Jersey's education funding such that Long Branch and the other 30 "former Abbott districts" start paying their own way for education, Long Branch residents will be crushed by the tax burden such that they will beg the government to seize their properties.

Last week confessed swindler Solomon Dwek testified that he bribed Schneider through an intermediary. Schneider has denied the charge and reacted with outrage that his opponent Unger would try to capitalize on it. The Long Branch City Attorney has asked the U.S. Attorney to clear Schneider before election day. That would be today.

Unger is a loose nuke. He opposes eminent domain, but favors beach front development so long as the development creates high paying union jobs, the developers don't make any money and the state and federal governments foot the bills. He wants to turn Long Branch into Huntington Beach, California. Maybe he's counting on global warming to handle the weather.

Unger is (was?) the editor of Zen Monster a literary journal for poetry, fiction, essays, art work, calligraphy and "subversive political commentary"

The best thing Unger ever did for Monmouth County was run as an Independent for Freeholder in 2005. With the help of the Asbury Park Press who called for their readers to give the kung fu surfer a bullet vote, he kept the Monmouth County Freeholder Board in Republican hands in the face of voter outrage over Operation Bid Rig.

Unger has the support of the Monmouth County Democratic Organization. Schneider has some surprising (and disappointing) support from prominent Monmouth County Republicans, if this facebook group is credible.

If I had to bet on this race, I'd put my money on Schneider. If I had to vote in the race, I'd move.

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