Red Bank Together

Wednesday, March 03 2023
Press Release:

COUNCILMAN BALLARD RESPONDS TO PORTMAN’S SURPRISE VETO

RED BANK, N.J. - On February 8, 2023, the Red Bank Borough Council voted 5-1 to enact a Short-Term Rental (STR) ordinance.  This ordinance had been the subject of three Council discussions in 2022 and another two council discussions in 2023.     

Over the course of these five public discussions, Council heard a variety of impassioned pleas from residents to stop the spread of STRs into residential neighborhoods, and equally passionate rejections of such limitations from STR owners and real estate brokers, most of whom do not live in Red Bank.  The Council also received volumes of emails from residents and out-of-town owners reflecting their respective desires. After over 15 hours of testimony, we passed an ordinance that allows STRs in commercial and mixed-use areas, but not residential zones.    

Two weeks later, on February 23, Mayor Portman blindsided all five yes-voting members by issuing a press release announcing he would, for the first time in Red Bank in over 40 years, veto a properly adopted Borough ordinance. He did this after a three- and half-hour public meeting and subsequent 30-minute executive session the previous night where the Mayor never mentioned his intent to veto the STR ordinance to the public or the Council.     

Roughly 20 minutes after the end of February 22, four-hour long Council meeting, I began receiving emails at 10:54 pm from local press asking for comment regarding the press release Portman had issued about his veto decision.    

The following morning, I awoke to an Asbury Park based free newspaper’s front-page headline screaming of the veto, with Portman’s press release published inside.      

This means that Mayor Portman provided his press release to an out-of-town publisher days before the public and the Council were informed of this unprecedented rejection of norms and public opinion.  The Council was not officially notified of the veto until late morning, Thursday, February 23, when the Borough Clerk forwarded the same release which had already been splashed across newspapers and websites around Monmouth County.    

Despite his campaign promises of transparency, civility and common-sense council interactions, Portman did the opposite by engaging in what I believe is nothing more than a political stunt aimed to slow down Borough operations and serves as a wink and a nod to the demands of the money-based, non-resident political influencers and donors.     

In other words, rather than putting Red Bank residents first, Mayor Portman put us last.    

As Council President, I view the Mayor’s desire to govern by press release unacceptable and a disservice to his office, the public, and the Council.  I maintain that his actions have violated the trust of the voters and expose him as a Politician eager to resort to secret, backdoor shenanigans for political gain. I am requesting that a Special Meeting be convened by the Red Bank Council to discuss the timeline and processes by which Mayor Portman issued his veto, and whether the Council is open to taking up a vote to override the veto that the Mayor issued.   

Regards,  

Councilman Michael K. Ballard


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