Former SBB Director and Brick Environmental Commission Chairman Glenn Compton had an excellent letter on the “Pay to Play” phenomenon – as seen from the standpoint of overdevelopment – published in the Asbury Park Press on April 1.
Asbury Park Press
Topic of the Day – April 1, 2003
‘pay to play’
Kudos to the Asbury Park Press for exposing the “pay to play” situation in Marlboro where the mayor, state senator and others are involved in a dubious relationship which, if you look hard enough, occurs in most towns in New Jersey. It has roots in the political spoils system and is based on the ethic the if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
When builders donate to politicians, it can represent a worst case scenario for New Jersey citizens. In return for donations, they often expect to gain access to the decision-makers who decide how the most-valued resource of a town is used – its land. Politicians often defend the practice by stating the need for ratables to pay for improvements, as if there was a net gain to the tax coffers when housing was built. We now realize there is no net benefit.
Times have changed. As New Jersey approached its carrying capacity, citizens realized that new house taxes never pay the full cost of services they receive from the town. And new residents want ever-increasing services that further increase taxes. But many politicians have not kept up with the times. They still accept donation from construction interests as if there is room left in New Jersey for unfettered construction . This simply is not the cased – New Jersey if full!
Builders should turn their attention away from virgin land and toward the task of rebuilding our cities and older suburbs. Imagine the fine result if a talented cpmpany like Hovnanian turned its vast resources to the task of recreating Camden or Elizabeth.
Public officials should refuse donations from people who want to buy their influence. Political parties should take the lead. They must develop a list of persons, companies and organizations from whom the should not accept donations and thus avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.
SBB note: Glenn Compton is a former Director of Save Barnegat Bay and was for many years the chairman of the Brick Township Environmental Commission under past administrations.