Gopal likens Belmar protest to a home invasion
17 year old says he wasn’t paid to protest
Belmar Mayor “Lawless Matt” Doherty and Monmouth County Democrat Chairman Vin Gopal are continuing to use a naive 17 year old boy as a political pawn in an attempt to create sympathy for Doherty because his “safe space” was violated by Belmar residents who protested outside the mayor’s home during a fundraiser featuring Senator Cory Booker on August 10.
The residents were protesting Belmar not authorizing a local restaurant to transfer their liquor license to a new location, despite the fact that the borough had approved the building of the location and the mayor had signed a redevelopment agreement authorizing the location. They were also protesting the mayor allowing a $2500 campaign contributor to land a helicopter in a borough park without obtaining the consent of the Council or providing public notice. Doherty said the restaurant owners, the Harmon brothers, made a bad business decision by building out the new location without first obtaining approval of the license transfer.
The following day in an apparent reaction to our article, Doherty posted a picture of a 17 year old boy holding a sign that said “The Mayor IS A LOSER” on his facebook page with a caption that blamed the protest on the Belmar and Monmouth County Republicans.
The mayor’s post got the young man in hot water at home, which prompted him to send an email to Doherty pleading that the post be removed from facebook, apologizing for participating in the protest and stated that he was offered money or food for participating in the protest.
Doherty and Gopal then started a PR campaign using the boy’s email to allege that he was paid and implying the Monmouth GOP and this website had something to the protest and the payment.
Rather than accepting the boy’s apology, deleting the post and letting the issue fade away, Dirty Doherty and Goofy Gopal have kept the issue alive in a foolish attempt to shame Monmouth Republicans for drawing attention to the protest, as if a protest by residents outside a fundraiser headlined by a U.S. Senator is not a newsworthy event or as if Monmouth County voters would not be interested in the fact that Belmar residents are not happy with how the mayor is governing his town when he is running for freeholder.
Dirty and Goofy’s PR campaign culminated with an app.com article that raises more questions than it answers about the boy and his email that was posted online on Friday and is in today’s print edition.
Gopal send an email blast out this morning linking to the app.com article, the MMM article and asking for volunteers to help them fight the nasty Republicans. In his email, Gopal likens the protest to a home invasion and says the Republicans should know that it is wrong.
It wasn’t wrong. It was democracy and the exercise of the first amendment. It was a peaceful protest on public property. Maybe Doherty was upset that his kids found out that he is not universally loved. Eventually the Doherty kids will find out there is no Santa Claus. If he wanted to shield his kids from political speech, he should not have held a political event at his $1.4 million house.
The app article and Gopal’s email made an issue of the fact that the 17 year old boy said he was a county employee in his apology email to Doherty. Gopal’s email disingenuously implies that the county taxpayers paid the boy to protest and raises a question about other county employees being paid to protest. The app article stated that the boy could not be reached and that there was a question if he even sent the email.
MMM reached the boy this morning. Before Doherty and Gopal claim that is proof that MMM was involved with the boy, his protest and payment, we’ll tell you how we found him. A reader who had obtained his email via OPRA sent it to MMM. With his name, we searched for a facebook profile and found it. His phone number is all over the profile and posted in a group of facebook users that shares phone numbers. The boy shared his phone number in that group in 2013.
Like app, we are not disclosing the boy’s name because he asked and because he is a minor. He is a victim of Doherty and Gopal’s poltical ambition.
The boy acknowledged that he did send the email. He said he was not paid. Rather he was offered payment in the form of money or food. He declined because the protest “was something fun to do” to “help out a friend.” He would not name the person who asked him to participate but said it was not a business or organization. “Just someone I know.” He is a seasonal County employee. “That has nothing to do with this,” he told us.
The boy is very upset about the attention his participation in the protest is receiving. He said he regrets emailing Doherty and wishes he had spoken to him on the phone instead.
Doherty and Gopal should leave the kid alone and let this post be the last word on the matter. No one was paid to protest. The protest was a legal, peaceful exercise of first amendment rights.
Gopal opened his email saying he welcome heated debate and conversations on the issues. Let’s have that and leave the kid alone.
Let’s talk about the kind of change Doherty wants to make to Monmouth County.
Let’s talk about Doherty’s fiscal record…taxes, spending and debt.. and compare his record to that of Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and Deputy Freeholder Director Serena DiMaso.
Let’s talk about how Belmar has not been paying its fair share of County property taxes, leading all Monmouth County taxpayers to carry that burden.
Let’s talk about why the Salt liquor license was not transferred.
Let’s talk about Doherty’s involvement in the Bridgegate controversy.
Let’s talk about beach fees, parking fees and property taxes.
Let’s talk about why Doherty has lost every lawsuit that former Mayor Ken Pringle, a fellow Democrat, has brought against him.
Let’s talk about Doherty’s wife’s business relationships with Belmar vendors and contractors.
We don’t think Gopal and Doherty really want to talk about those issues. That is why they are putting a naive 17 year old boy in the local media spotlight and distorting the truth about the protest held outside of Doherty’s $1.4 million home while a political rally was being held there.
Matt and Vin and should really be ashamed for the distortions and blatant lies. Leave the kid alone.