5/02/2006

Eminent Domain: Choreographing Long Branch's mayoral dance: New Jersey Eminent Domain Blog, 5/1/06

By William Ward

“It’s not unusual… It’s common. And until somebody makes it illegal, they’re going to keep doing it.”
— Alan Marcus, Republican lobbyist, New York Times (1/1/06)

Adam Schneider, incumbent and three term mayor of Long Branch, is in the fight of his political life with two challengers who are against eminent domain abuse, Rev. Kevin Brown, and Alfie Lenkiewicz and the New Wave Team.

Schneider’s hope is pinned on a split vote between the two opposition campaigns running against Long Branch’s eminent domain policy. If the opposition vote is split, Schneider could sneak in. Remember “one-term Byrne” in 1974? Everyone thought Governor Byrne was through because of the income tax passage. In the Democratic primary of 1974, he came through because the opposition in his own party was split, and he went on to beat the Republican candidate. Both opposition candidates (Brown and Lenkiewicz) need to take a long hard look at their chances. One of them has to step aside in order to defeat Schnieder, and it should be done soon because the election is less than two weeks away.

Eminent domain abuse in Long Branch is the biggest issue in the campaign. All of Long Branch is waiting for Judge Lawson’s decision regarding the MTOTSA area property owners’ objection to the “right to take” issue which was argued March 24, 2006 and scheduled to be decided in thirty days. The court’s decision is expected this week. The mayor and his administration have little sympathy for the havoc and destruction Long Branch is about to wreak on the MTOTSA area property owners. The mayor has said as much in his public statements. The property owners may or may not win in court with Judge Lawson. That is why the May 9, 2006 mayoral election is so important.

The mayor has said publicly that he is not supported in his candidacy by developers. This is patently untrue and the public records reveal that indeed the mayor has accepted donations from Applied Management, its Vice-President Greg Russo, city attorney James Aaron, and one of Aaron's corporations, ERBA. Perhaps the most revealing aspect of “pay to play” and the insidious way it affects an elected candidate are the donations Schneider has received from Executive Continental Inc., a company owned by former Senator John Lynch and John E. Westlake.

The New York Times (January 1,2006) reported that Lynch explains “Executive Continental’s mission as helping developers win government approvals for their projects. If they succeed, the firm is paid a colorfully named ‘success fee’.” This consulting firm has received large payments from Applied Management, the designated developer in Long Branch. According to the Asbury Park Press:

Their revenue from Executive Continental is “substantial,” said a person familiar with the business. Their most profitable relationship is with The Applied Companies of Hoboken, of which Executive Continental has been paid “hundreds of thousand’” according to Lynch.

Following the campaign trail, Lynch has donated money to the Schneider campaign through his PAC, New Directions Through Responsible Leadership, and Westlake through Alma, Inc. Alma and Executive Continental share the same office in Tinton Falls that was raided last November by federal agents. According to the Asbury Park Press (April 18, 2006), “Lynch has said in published reports that Executive Continental works as a subcontractor to Alma.”

Last December, Jackie Corley wrote about Lynch’s intrigues in Monmouth County. Lynch has contributed to several municipal campaigns in Monmouth County including the Atlantic Highlands Democratic Party, Manalapan Democratic Party and the West Long Branch Democratic Party. New Directions Through Responsible Leadership contributed to Adam Schnieder’s campaign.

So directly or indirectly, Schneider has received significant support from the developers, specifically Applied Management, the designated developer for Beachfront North and Pier Village in Long Branch.

Let’s not kid ourselves about Beachfront North Phase II. Another 180 condominiums ride on Judge Lawson’s decision – about $140M in gross dollars calculated at $800,000 per unit. This is why Applied Management and Hovnanian are desperate for Schneider’s reelection.


New Jersey Eminent Domain Blog: http://www.njeminentdomain.com