Commissioners Accused of Biased Referendum Language for Rebuilding Margate Boardwalk

Rebuilding the Margate Boardwalk

Did Margate Commissioners create a biased, ‘poison pill’ document that will only scare local taxpayers about rebuilding the Margate Boardwalk?

Mayor Becker, along with Commissioners Amodeo and Blumberg met on July 16 to discuss potential wording for a boardwalk referendum ballot question. A resolution was to be voted on. Commissioner Blumberg made a motion to table and delay that vote.

Why are they delaying this simple vote?

City solicitor, John Scott Abbott, updated attendees on efforts to rebuild the Margate Boardwalk.

Listen: Margate Commission Audio. July 15, 2020.

Listen.

Margate Boardwalk Committee (MBC) not happy about Margate’s suggested referendum wording. (see below) It’s written like a poison pill. It’s not open and unbiased, says Stephanie Bloch from the MBC.

Margate Boardwalk Committee alleging the commissioners are offering the public a “poison pill – a choice so distasteful, it will be immediately rejected by the voters.”

Questions remain about current referendum wording. City Administration wanted changes designed to scare.

Margate Boardwalk Committee

MBC’s Bloch: Administration trying to scare taxpayers? This is a NON-BINDING referendum.

Deadline to get referendum question on November ballot is August 14.

Commissioner Maury Blumberg made a motion to delay…. and table the resolution for now.

Response to Margate City’s Proposed Referendum Language

In the high-stakes world of corporate finance, we refer to the proposed language you have given us for a referendum on the Boardwalk (dated July 14th, 2020) as a “Poison Pill” – a choice so distasteful, it will be immediately rejected by the voters. 

If you were truly committed to an open and unbiased examination of this referendum, you would NOT:

  1. Propose a study to determine the cost of a Boardwalk and then name a price for that same Boardwalk – before conducting that study. This is a blatant contradiction. If you already know the cost of the boardwalk, then you don’t need a study. If you need a study, then you certainly don’t know the cost of the boardwalk. You can’t have it both ways.
  • Give $30 million dollar figure for cost of Boardwalk without basis in fact. The most expensive version of the Boardwalk that our Committee proposed – on basis of estimates provided by qualified vendors – was $24 million.
  • Give cost figure for Boardwalk without description of what that money will buy. What kind of a Boardwalk are you proposing exactly? The Margate Boardwalk Committee suggested 4 different version ranging from $14mm to $24mm. Would anyone ever buy anything without knowing what it is? That is not a legitimate question to put to the voters.
  • Use the phrase “…in excess of” in front of every cost figure in order to induce fear of runaway expenses. If you know how to manage construction contracts, then you should be capable of managing to precise cost limitations.
  • Insert the line “these initial costs do not include any potential litigation costs” which is another rhetorical trick to create fear of a known and controllable cost.

This is a Non-Binding Referendum. The purpose is to determine voter interest in rebuilding Margate Boardwalk….NOT A DECISION TO BUILD A BOARDWALK.

Why are Commissioners insisting that referendum include price for the Boardwalk? We can only conclude that it’s to negatively sway the vote.

We propose: Elimination of price for Boardwalk; elimination of phrases “in excess of” in front of cost for the necessary studies and “these initial costs do not include any potential litigation costs.”

The Margate Boardwalk Committee


RESOLUTION #135-2020. NON-BINDING REGARDING CITY OF MARGATE CITY CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW BOARDWALK FOR VOTER APPROVAL ON THE NOVEMBER 3, 2020 GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT.


WHEREAS, the City of Margate City Board of Commissioners desires to ascertain the sentiment of the voters of the City of Margate City (hereinafter “Margate”) with regard to the construction of a new noncommercial boardwalk on its public beach extending from the existing boardwalk at Fredericksburg Avenue in Ventnor City (on the border with Ventnor) to Coolidge Avenue in Margate (on the border with Longport); and

WHEREAS, the intent of this ballot question is for the voters of Margate to express their sentiment and give direction to the Margate Board of Commissioners regarding the construction of a new boardwalk; and

WHEREAS, this ballot question and the determination by the voters shall be advisory in nature and nonbinding on the Margate Board of Commissioners.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the City of Margate City Board of commissioners hereby requests that the Atlantic County Clerk place the following question on the November 3, 2020 General Election Ballot:

“Shall the City of Margate expend monies estimated to be in excess of $285,000.00 to conduct a study so as to determine the feasibility and costs of building a non-commercial boardwalk upon Margate’s public beach extending from and connecting to the end of the existing boardwalk at Fredericksburg Avenue in Ventnor (on the border with Ventnor) to Coolidge Avenue in Margate City (on the border with Longport)”

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the following interpretive statement concerning the above question be placed on the November 3, 2020 General Election Ballot for the City of Margate City:

“This question, if approved by the Voters, will give direction to the Margate City Board of Commissioners on whether to expend monies on a study to determine the feasibility of constructing a boardwalk estimated to cost in excess of $25,000,000.00.

Monies spent would include title investigation, design, engineering and permitting of a boardwalk structure. These initial costs do not include any potential litigation costs.

1 thought on “Commissioners Accused of Biased Referendum Language for Rebuilding Margate Boardwalk”

  1. Lawrence Snyder

    This proposed ballot question is obviously worded to precondition the answer with a negative response.
    How can you state the costs now if you are looking for a study to determine the costs.

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