Two Ocean Gate Council Seats Now Vacant
Allegations of political chicanery in Ocean Gate send two councilmen running for the door.
They are citing several reasons from secret closed door meetings, unfair practices and an under current of partisan disrespect. Is this a political issue or a misunderstanding? Were they kept out of important decisions in the mostly Republican council because they were Democrats?
Of the six on the dais, James McGrath and Frank Santarpia were the two Democrats in the Republican majority. They allege they weren't told of two meetings about Mayor Paul Kennedy's proposed salary increase, two of which took place back in December of 2013. Then, at the January 1st reorganization meeting in the borough, the salary was bumped up. When McGrath went to question it, he claims he was shot down.
McGrath tells Townsquare Media News, "when I went to ask about the issue, Mayor Kennedy got up and said this is why I don't invite you to my meetings."
The major issue for McGrath and Santarpia is how Mayor Kennedy's salary went from $20,000 a year to a whopping $50,000. That is a 150% increase. Kennedy also serves as the acting borough administrator for the community.
McGrath feels the council and the Mayor have violated the state's Sunshine Law, which requires all meetings to be advertised in local papers or through other public channels. Therefore, he has sent a letter to the Attorney General's Office to try and open an investigation.
Townsquare Media has reached out to the AG's office for comment or at least a clarification on whether they received the letter. They sent us an e-mail statement saying they did hear from someone in Ocean Gate but they can't give us any more details than that.
Santarpia decided to resign citing personal reasons. McGrath apologizes to the community he loves. He tells us "I just couldn't stay here anymore and be disrespected that way."
When McGrath asked if it would be better to have the borough administrator job advertised, he was allegedly shot down and told "this is the way it is and this is how it will stay."
Kennedy plans to address the issue today.