By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger
One month ago we began reporting on the efforts of Neptune Township to change the guidelines that the HPC uses to protect Ocean Grove’s historic designations.
At the Township meeting, Dec 12, 2016, where those new guidelines were presented, members of the HPC expressed serious concern when they went to the microphone to protest. But those comments were unofficial, and Deborah Osepchuk, the chairperson of the Commission, promised to review all the changes and to present an official HPC response.
On Dec. 13, we posted an article about the meeting and we said, “The HPC itself made no formal announcement about their opinions, but it is our understanding that they are not pleased with the changes. Don’t they have an obligation to inform the OG public about their concerns?” Later that day, the HPC voted to draft a statement speaking out against the guidelines.
The Neptune Twp. web site says this about the HPC: “The current members of the HPC are dedicated to the goal of sharing information about the benefits of preserving Ocean Grove’s heritage and to ‘Recapture the Spirit of Ocean Grove, with all residents.”
At Blogfinger we wrote a series of articles on this subject, calling it “The HPC War” and we sympathized with the HPC. We asked Ms. Osepchuk to send us the official HPC response for our readers to see. She said she would.
The next day she did an about-face and said that she would not provide BF with the requested information on advice from the HPC attorney . The legal reason given was unbelievable, and we posted a piece on 12/16 on the subject of the “silent treatment” offered by the HPC.
We urge our viewers to re-read that post (linked below) and to especially read the comments:
Ms. Osepchuk said that she was not allowed to communicate with the media, but if you look at the Coaster on-line, you will find an in-depth interview with the HPC dated Dec. 14, 2016. The HPC had indeed made up its mind . The Coaster reported that: “HPC Chairperson Deborah Osepchuk said the Commission was ‘absolutely against the changes.’”
So what we have here is duplicity on the part of the HPC. *
We contacted the Chairperson again a few days ago and inquired if there was any progress regarding the guidelines issue. She said that there was none and she didn’t mention that there was an official HPC position and that the matter had been discussed with the Home Owners Association and with the Coaster. This is deceit by omission.
She also didn’t tell us that the HPC would present their official position regarding “the HPC War” to the HOA meeting next week. Instead she said, “We’ll be talking preservation and the importance of guidelines at that meeting.”
It looks like the lawyer for the HPC advised them to specifically ignore Blogfinger, but that it was perfectly OK to give out the information to the Coaster and to the HOA. Is that possible? Maybe that lawyer should comment here about what seems to be atrocious legal advice to the HPC to selectively ignore a request for information from a member of the press.
The HPC is an arm of the Neptune Township government and its denial of our request appears to be a violation of the Freedom of Information Act and a rude stiff-arm to the only media source totally devoted to Ocean Grove and totally based in the Grove.
Why would the HPC deny Blogfinger news that belongs to the people of Ocean Grove? We can speculate, but the bottom line is that 50 people at the HOA meeting will hear the news next week, but we get an average of 5,000 to 7,000 views per week and higher on Blogfinger.
The only explanation is fear—they don’t want to expose their opinions to the scrutiny of the BF viewers, because we allow you-the-people to challenge them in our comments section.
This is disgraceful, and it puts the HPC in an alliance with the untrustworthy HOA and with the Coaster—a publication that could care less about our town. I used to admire the HPC, but no more. Blogfinger will watch them with suspicion. There’s something fishy going on over there.
*Dictionary.com Duplicity is deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in two different ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing.