Politics ... Those Were the Days

Ah, the political parties definitely took sides in deciding local issues, but they did it with courtesy and politeness in the old days of the 1970s. Take the second time in his many years as Atlantic Highlands Mayor that Dick Stryker vetoed an action of the governing body….but he was voted down by the majority party, which, even though he was Mayor, was not his party!

And that’s how the borough authorized spending $72,000 for planters and islands in the harbor parking lot rather than installing electrical power to the piers, and making some repairs to piers and more.

It all started when the Mayor sent the administrator, J. Leonard Clark, a letter explaining the money could best be spent on repairs and maintenance, and “islands and planters seen unnecessary at this time.”

When the mayor’s letter was read at the meeting Council took sides, with Councilmembers Helen Marchetti, Jack Kelleher, Herb Moore and Peter Donoghue ready to fend off every argument Dick Stryker made. And Walter Curry and Bob Schoeffling, himself later to be mayor, didn’t have any power, since four votes were sufficient to overturn the veto, and those agreeing with the mayor couldn’t stop it.

Dick argued the money the other council people wanted to use came from a capital improvements budget that was set up to ensure there was money in case of a winter storm, or hurricane, or some other catastrophe. Pete countered there wasn’t enough money there to finance any of that anyway, so let’s just get the planters and islands. He made his suggestion “with due respect” to the mayor’s opinion…do you even ever hear that anyplace these days?

When Dick said more than 200 people objected to the expenditure, Jack said, of course with the same due respect, the people really wanted more organization in the parking lot so the islands were necessary. Neither Helen nor Herb said anything, but it was clear they were on the side of Jack and Peter.

The Mayor’s veto was overturned, the planters and islands were approved, and fortunately, there wasn’t a major storm or hurricane that screamed out for $72,000 in capital improvement funds.

And when the meeting was over? This council left their differences of opinion at the table. And no one recorded whether they all met at the Shore Casino, or one of the other establishments in town, to share a drink, talk about their families, the latest national news or some sports event and renew their friendships, their work behind them and left on the council table.


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