Politics doesn’t have to be a blood sport

By Art Gallagher

I was in Maryland on business this afternoon when I received the news of Alex Desevo’s arrest.    Someone was calling me with a scoop.  Word of the arrest had made it to the holmdel-patch police blotter and the sordid details were leaking out.

My first reaction was sadness.   A member of my community, someone I know by name and who knows me by name, was in the middle of a personal, family and career crisis that was about to become very public and very humiliating.

That Desevo is “on the other side” didn’t even occur to me until my friend who called with the scoop said, “do you know what they would be doing it if was one of usThey made stuff up about our guys and called their employers trying to get them fired.”

“True, but we’re not like that,” I said.  The truth is some of us are like that.

Within an hour I was receiving more calls.  The APP had the story. Desevo’s professional head shot was on the front page of the paper’s website.   The APP beat me to the sordid details and salacious implications that I wasn’t relishing reporting.

Desevo was not the only Middletown resident charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance by the Holmdel police on June 18.  He was the only one who became front page news.  That is part of the price one pays when you’re a proverbial big fish in a small pond.

Sometimes, especially on a local level, I think it is appropriate to relate to each other and to both good news and bad news  not as us and they but as we.   

There is no point piling onto Desevo.   He won’t be a candidate much longer. His arrest should not be a campaign issue, assuming he resigns his candidacy.  He needs to get help and do some serious work on himself.  His career is likely in shambles.  His family must be under a lot of stress.

Desevo’s problems are not Democratic problems or Republican problems.  They are  human problems. 

Desevo does not deserve our sympathy, as he brought this upon himself.  Nor is his plight a cause for celebration or scorn.  Concern is appropriate.  Holding to account is appropriate.  Support of his recovery is appropriate.

Posted: June 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Middletown | Tags: , | 23 Comments »

23 Comments on “Politics doesn’t have to be a blood sport”

  1. MarionBarry said at 6:26 am on June 25th, 2011:


    You are spot on with your story. However, looking back at the history of Alex Desevo and things he’s done in Middletown makes this story very ironic and front page news. If you google back to his 3 previous failed campaigns, you’ll find the following quotes:

    From 2003: “Democratic candidate for committee, Alex DeSevo, came before the committee asking his opponent, Peters, to sigh a “Contract for Clean Government,” which he created and has signed himself. The contract would require Peters to pledge, among other things, to “hold a high moral standard,” while serving and “not be involved in any sex scandals.”

    “In his seventh pledge, DeSevo said he “pledges a high moral standard while serving on the committee and I will not be involved in sex scandals.”

    The problem here Art is that “Middletown’s self proclaimed watchdog” has thrown more accusations against the Republicans in Middletown than almost anyone else besides Middletown Mike. I agree with you that politics should not be a blood sport but let me tell you something my friend, these people would dance on a Republican grave like no tomorrow.

  2. ArtGallagher said at 7:30 am on June 25th, 2011:

    Mayor Barry,

    The irony and tragedy of Desevo’s situation gives us an opportunity to change the tone of local politics.

    To hit them like they hit us perpetuates the nastiness of local politics.

    That their hits on us were sometimes fabricated increases the tempation to pile on to their self-inflicted wounds. That doesn’t make it right, nor is it smart politics.

    As a former municipal chairman I know first hand how difficult it is to recruit good people to serve in elected office. It is easy to get people to serve in appointed office. Good people really do want to contribute to their community.

    Yet good people are very reluctant to submit to and subject their families to the bullshit that goes along with running for office.

    The Middletown Dems have engaged in “dirty politics” for as long as I’ve been living in the area, 17 years. The only elections they have ever won during that period were due to our self-inflicted wounds.

    From a political point of view, we should hope they keep doing what doesn’t work.

    I know they would dance on a Republican grave like no tomorrow. I also know that they dig those graves and fabricate poison to try to “kill” us with. I’ve been subject to it myself.

    However, we don’t have to respond in kind. We and the communities that we serve are better off when we take the high road.

    That doesn’t mean we should just take their fabricated attacks without response. When the Middletown Dems came after me and this blog three years ago I had a grand time turning the tables on them with facts, humor and ridicule. Their mouth piece left town and is affraid to come back.

    Desevo’s current situation is not cause for dancing. His life is in shambles.

    We demean ourselves and don’t serve our community by dancing in this situation.

  3. brian said at 12:05 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    When your whole platform is to compromise, is it any wonder that the Republican party is an election cycle or two away from becoming extinct.
    When the Dims intent is to destroy both our country and our way of life, you bet your ass this is more than just a blood sport, it is a matter of survival.

  4. Rick Ambrosia said at 12:42 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Thank you Art. As you know, I was saying that same thing. He has a problem…a huge problem, and needs to get clean before it kills him. Unfortunately for your party, there are people like Brian in it that ultimately give it the bad reputation it has now. It would be better to expunge yourselves of people like that and let them go live in Idaho or Montana or someplace where radicals like that can exist with each other and build shelters to live in. DeSevo needs help, but people like Brian will kick them to the curb before helping them. Sad on both counts.

  5. TheDigger said at 1:48 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    It is truly sad when a human being self destructs, and in the process destroys his family.

    Did Alex even think about what this would do to his family?

  6. Tom Stokes said at 2:07 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Art – you are absolutely right – but politics has a long history of being a blood sport. It’s sickening and disgusting, but some (on all sides) seem to relish in the gladiatorial sport now called politics.

    Whatever happened to an honest discussion of issues without rabid name calling and fear mongering?

    As for this individual, I suggest that if he were using crack-cocaine, which is extremely addictive (one or two hits), he will need a trinity of therapies.

    One being a physical rehab program to wean him off any addiction; two would be psychological assistance to determine what led to this self destructive behavior; three, and perhaps most important, spiritual guidance in terms of restoring faith in God (faith can allow one to receive God’s grace of hope, which can restore peace to the soul and healing will come from that peace).

    I would ask all to say a prayer for him, and his family, that he can overcome his internal demons.

    Criticism or condemnation of one who is obviously ill will not help the body politic, nor will it resolve his personal problems.

  7. Justified Right said at 3:26 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Art look at my column here on MMM about Meeting Vin Gopal, and look at my opening lede.

  8. Johnny said at 3:49 pm on June 25th, 2011:


    Can you give us at least two examples of Middletown Dems engaging in “dirty”politics that wasn’t first started by the Middletown Republicans and when they ever fabricated or lied about an issue or candidate?

    I’d like to know.

  9. ArtGallagher said at 3:58 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Yes Johnny, I can. But I am not going to.

    If you don’t know, its not important. Let’s more forward and hopefully with a greater degree of civility.

  10. brian said at 4:07 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Oh lil ricky, it’s so hard to take someone whose face is covered in man butter seriously……………………

  11. brian said at 4:27 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, South Carolina, Indiana–conservative states that are creating jobs, reducing their defecits, gaining house seats
    New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Illinois, Michigan—liberal states losing jobs, flirting with bankruptcy, losing house seats
    lil ricky–need more proof that liberalism is a mental disorder???
    ps wipe your chin

  12. Rick Ambrosia said at 4:43 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Thank you Brian for proving my point.

  13. Proud Republican said at 5:18 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Art, I hear what you are saying, but this case is not political – it is a crime that involves a political person. Big difference. If you look at the history of the Middletown Democrats, they have brought this all on themselves. Even Democrats outside of Middletown cringe when they talk about the Middletown Democrats. Remember when they tried (very unsuccessfully) to get two members of the TC fired from their jobs? Remember Pat Short’s lie that the Republicans doubled their salary? Or the ad they ran claiming that the Republicans blackmailed one of their candidates into running for office? Or the way they libeled the mayor about his resume even after he sent you the resolution as proof? Or the arrest of one Democrat for stealing signs and lying to the cops? Or the false public accusations by Democrats of corruption year after year? What about their vandalizing and stealing of Republican campaign signs year after year? I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Sorry Art – there is no sympathy for bad people when bad things happen to them – especially self-inflicted bad things. I think the mayor and the party chairman’s comments on the subject were the epitome of class – despite the garbage thrown at them over the years by this pathetic, classless group.

  14. Johnny said at 5:44 pm on June 25th, 2011:


    That is a cop-out answer. I don’t think you can name 1 instance of the Dems in Middletown being the first to throw the mud around or 1 example of a totally fabricated issue.

    I appreciate that you are taking the high-road here but let’s be honest, the Middletown Republicans have pulled some very nasty and dirty trick on the Dems for years.

    I only need to go as far back as last year and site the sleaze, misrepresented and false campaign literature sent out against Sean Byrnes last year.

    Or a couple of years ago when your friend Tom Stokes, who just so happens to be a member of the Middletown Republican Party, has pulled two dirty tricks of his own on behalf of his buddies.One by making false accusations against Pat Walsh and the payment of legal fees brought about when they were both engaged in a pissing match when the two were BOE members. The other an attempt to embarrass Sean Byrnes by filing an ethics complaint against with the NJ Bar for opposing his reappointment to the Middletown Sewer Authority, where is acrues State Pension credits, enjoys a $1750 yearly stipen and health benefits on the tax payer’s dime.

    Again, I appreciate your civility on this issue, Desevo needs a lot of help to get his life in order, but please don’t insult our intelligence by stating that the democrats in Middletown have been engaging in “dirty” politics and fabrications for 17 years when that is just not the case.

    If anything it has been the other way around as Republicans have been attempting to hold onto the reigns of a 30+ year dynasty.

  15. ArtGallagher said at 5:49 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Oh well Johnny, I may have copped out, but Proud Republican didn’t.

    It looks as though the mud is about to fly. I’m not going to stop it, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

    Oh, and Johnny, Tom Stokes provided backup documentation to his allegations against Walsh and Byrnes. It’s still linked on MMM if you want to look for it.

  16. Johnny said at 6:24 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    Oh so proud republican, please stop your making me cry!

    Pat Short didn’t lie about the Township Committee raising their salaries, he used political finesse.

    When he questioned several times why the budget line item for wages and salaries for the committee more than doubled, no one would give him an answer. Only afterwards the political gamesmanship did short get an answer out of his fellow committee members and CFO; due to shoddy accounting the CFO place miscellaneous lawyer fees under a line item that it wasn’t meant for.

    As for the accusation about false campaign literature dealing with blackmail, how do you know they were false? Just because the Republicans wouldn’t admit that they used underhanded tactics against one of their own doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.

    What mayoral resume was libeled by the Dems? Are you talking about the one Fiore sent to the Middletown talent bank shorty after his arrival in town. The resume that stated that he was the Director of Parks & Rec. in Carteret when he was really working part-time as summer help for P&R? That resume is still floating around out there posted on the old Courier website and a couple of other blogs,if I’m not mistaken.

    And please don’t be so self-righteous about campaign signs, we all know the dirty secret about campaign signs, everyone steals them, knocks them down, throws them in the bushes and attempts to deface them. No one is innocent in that regard.

    After 30+years of one party rule in Middletown you can bet your ass there is corruption in town, a former mayor going to jail for taking bribes, a former mayor sexually harassing a former Township Clerk which cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars and allowed to keep his job as the director of the sewer authority. Hell,I can even go back a little further and site another former mayor who exposed himself to a few women that worked for the DPW.

    If you don’t like those examples how about having Peter Carton making millions of dollars off the township due to the fact that he also acts as bond counsel for the Middletown.

    Nope, no corruption in Middletown where the republicans are the first to point fingers and the last to take responsibility.

  17. Tony Fiore said at 8:09 pm on June 25th, 2011:

    No Johnny. I told the reporter for the Courier that I ran a recreation program while I was in college. That is and has always been the truth. Never did I say I was the head of parks and recreation. You remember the Courier, the newspaper bent on ruining the lives of any Middletown Republican because they opposed the town center. The source was never my talent bank application but a reporter who twisted my words in an interview to try to make me look bad. Just another example of EXACTLY what Art and the previous posters have eluded to. That’s what she was paid to do but she failed. I supplied the appropriate proof to Art in 2008 to back up my claim. Never did the Courier supply there’s.

    The point is that the Middletown Republicans can have a field day with this Desevo story if we wanted to. We won’t because it’s not the right thing to do. Alex Desevo has thrown many grenades and made many accusations against plenty of current and former TC members during his time. What he did in Holmdel was wrong and he’ll pay his due but it doesn’t have to come from us.

    Sadly, if the shoe was on the other foot I’m sure you would be celebrating the point on one of us. If you want to hit a candidate on the issues, go right ahead. I’d be the first to tell you that’s part of the game. But to take it to a personal level is childish and doesn’t belong in local politics.

  18. Proud Republican said at 10:33 am on June 26th, 2011:

    Art, don’t waste your breath on Johnny. He is one of those guys who would still cling to the belief the world was flat even after Columbus’ third voyage proving it was round. He is one of the angry Democrats who, in the face of enormously successful Republican leadership in Middletown over the years, has been reduced to making up outlandish claims and then swearing by them regardless of how many times they’ve been proven to be lies. You watch Art, the Republicans as usual will take the high road and let this sordid drama unfold on its own. One thing I will remind you of Art is an APP headline from the early eighties the last time the Middletown Democrats were in control – “A House in Disorder.” Seems eerily similar to their current state.

  19. Tom Stokes said at 11:03 am on June 26th, 2011:

    To Johnny:

    I suggest your pathetic attempt to rewrite history is just that – pathetic.

    I never made false charges against Pat Walsh; she made the false charges against me and those charges were thrown out by a judge. And, under testimony, she admitted she she took almost $100,000 from an individual suing the school board (while Pat was on the school board). Oh, and she never reported taking those monies on her financial disclosure form as required by law. I wonder if she reported it to the IRS?

    Oh, and since you brought it up, I didn’t embarrass Sean Byrnes with an ethics complaint. He did that to himself. And the fact is HE WAS CONVICTED of an ethics violation by the State. Perhaps he isn’t broadcasting that fact. I wasn’t going to, until you brought it up.

    As for the charges against the current democrat candidate for township committee I would point out that they are charges; in our system of jurisprudence one is innocent until proven guilty.

    The fact is that both parties have had scoundrels within their ranks; it just seems that the local democrat party has more than the taxpayers of this community can afford.

    That being said, I believe no good can come of trashing another based upon innuendo and personal problems; the issues at hand are spending priorities and the tax burden placed upon us as citizens, whether federal income tax, state income tax, property tax and sales tax. Truth does matter.

    No political party has a claim to infallibility, but on the whole, the Republican Party when it stands on principles, has my vote. Locally, Tony Fiore and Stephanie Murray will most definitely have my vote.

  20. TheTruthAboutGallagher said at 11:55 am on June 26th, 2011:

    Politics Doesnt have to be a blood sport? Really? Really? Coming from a guy who delights in pointing out the short comings of others, while trying to hide his!!!

    What about the blood Mr. Gallagher draws bashing Democrats, or people in his own party like Republican Anna Little!

    Perhaps that doesnt count as drawing blood on someone!! Give me a break!

  21. ArtGallagher said at 8:12 pm on June 26th, 2011:

    The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

    Take it elsewhere “Michael”

  22. TR said at 9:49 pm on June 26th, 2011:

    Well Art you are right about one thing there is no sense in piling on with this one.
    BTW having met Desevo I am not suprised he is involved in a scandal. I can’t believe that anyone who has actually met him would trust him. but I digress.
    While there is no point in piling on you are wrong when you say politics does not have to be a blood sport. It always has been and always will be. Politics is actually pretty tame compare dto the way they played in the first 125 years of our country.
    Politics is like war, in fact I believe von Clauswitz said war is just an extension of politics. Holding back when you are at war usually turns out badly. Sure you can pay nice if you want but my granddaddy taught me never take a knife to a gunfight.

  23. tmz said at 3:15 pm on June 27th, 2011:

    Let the games begin!