Dems want to know why they were banned from fair

The rumble of the arrogance of power is not limited to the halls of the White House these days. You can also find this arrogance of power in the halls of the Colts Neck town hall where the five Republican members of the Township Committee, Ben Forrester, Jim Stuart, Ken Florek, Lillian Burry and Tom Hennessy, and the former Republican state senator and current township attorney, John Bennett, decided to rescind the already approved application of the Colts Neck Democrats to participate in the annual Colts Neck Fair.

We had applied by the deadline of June 30, paid for the space at the same time and had been approved by the fair committee. We even received the vendor welcome packet. We would have been handing out voter registration forms, absentee ballots and change of party declaration forms, along with some hand fans and water to the general fairgoers. According to one member of the fair committee, when Committeeman Hennessey found out that we would have a presence at the fair, “he was livid.”

On Aug. 3, Bob Bowden, township administrator, called to inform us that the governing body felt it was not right to have politics at the fair. This is such a hypocritical statement, it is at best laughable, and at worst, un-American. The fair has seen its share of politics in the past with former Republican Gov. Christine Whitman being invited to wander the grounds, along with Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Forrester during last year’s Republican campaign.

Former Republican gubernatorial nominee Bret Schundler was personally escorted around the fair to meet and greet Colts Neck voters in 2002 by then-Mayor Lillian Burry.

Does this governing body seriously think that the general public is that stupid to believe that five Republican committee people and one Republican attorney can keep out the local Democratic Party and say that it’s not politics? I guess it’s all right to be at the fair if you are in the “right” party. Please, tell me how this is not political.

According to the township adminis-trator, the Township Committee gives the Colts Neck Fair committee “seed money” to the tune of $25,000 a year, just to start them off. These dollars are also taxpayer funds, of which the Colts Neck Democrats have contributed to, since we are all citizens of the township, and we are all taxpayers as well. Why should we be denied a place at the fair when other out-of-town vendors are welcome? Please tell me again how this is not political.

What this action by the governing body indicates is that we are getting to our opponents in some small way. For the first time in 16 years, two well-qualified Democratic candidates, John Stolz and I, will be running for the two available seats on the Township Committee. This also means that the Republicans have to do some work.

For the first time in 16 years, they will have to explain themselves to the general public and cannot just cakewalk into the committee seats. I believe this action was taken by the governing body to prevent an opposing voice to be heard. This is why they are keeping us out of our own fair. What are they afraid of? Please, tell me again how this is not political.

Why had it taken over a month to finally tell us that we were not welcome at our own township fair? If the Township Committee got together to discuss our involvement, then where was the general notice to the public about this meeting? Did that violate our state’s Sunshine Law?

Where is the general accounting of all the taxpayer “seed money” spent over the last decade, and since the fair committee is apparently a nonprofit corporation separate from the Township Committee (another laughable matter), then has the taxpayer “seed money” ever been paid back into the general funds? These are all questions that will need to be answered in a public manner since, I believe, the public has a right to know.

This is an outrageous situation with a Township Committee that is out of control and drunk on its own power. It’s time we had some oversight on our governing body and come November, we plan to show them that the voters of Colts Neck are not to be taken for granted any longer. Hopefully, these same voters will see this for what it truly is, dirty politics at its worst.

Maybe it should be renamed “The Colts Neck Republican Fair.”

Rick Ambrosia

Democrats Municipal chairman

and Democratic candidate

for Township Committee

Colts Neck