I read the letter you published last week from public relations consultant and part-time resident Mason Phelps (“Let’s Get Our Chamber Back”). His letter seemed odd coming from someone who was invited to join our chamber as a member of the board of directors because of his public relations skills, who shortly thereafter sold out to Jeremy Jacobs, disclosed private information discussed at a chamber board of directors meeting, and was given the option of resigning or being terminated. He chose to resign.
In terms of Mason Phelps, I don’t have a problem with someone earning a living. But don’t take Jacobs’ money, violate our trust, then run over to the other chamber and offer to set up a competing equestrian committee out of spite, and believe that you have anything to say about the Wellington Chamber of Commerce. We don’t need a lecture from you about the role of the chamber.
The Wellington Chamber has been out front trying to make our local leaders understand that they have a responsibility to the business community and all of our residents to support the International Polo Club and the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. These venues bring a huge financial benefit and help support property values in this community. It is just as important to the restaurant owners, dry cleaners and retail establishments as it is to members of the equestrian community. For any member of our council to support going to war with Mark Bellissimo as a tool of Jeremy Jacobs constitutes malfeasance in office.
Speaking of misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance in office, please don’t blame me, the chamber, or the Palm Beach Post for writing stories about our elected officials. Try blaming Mayor Bob Margolis for violating the people’s trust by taking $2,500 from Neil Hirsch, the wealthy owner of the Players Club, on May 19 and then voting on May 22 to revoke the approval for the Global Dressage Festival. Or voting to support the Players Club’s monopoly on late-night closings against the Grille, a competing restaurant. In all, Margolis received over $6,500 in gifts from wealthy individuals, each of whom has had business before the council, for a “legal defense fund?” Shame on you, Bob.
And while we are on the subject of taking money, I find it astonishing that Councilman John Greene requested an approval from the Commission on Ethics to move into Neil Hirsch’s house on May 21, and then voted against the Global Dressage Festival on May 22. Mr. Greene eventually moved into Hirsch’s guest house, accepting the gift of free lodging in the amount of $2,948, as calculated by state law. He also received a free vacation with a value of $3,189. Mr. Greene also accepted a gift check in the amount of $5,000 from an officer of the corporation that operates the Players Club. That’s $11,000 from the owners of the Players Club.
I’m not making this up. The Palm Beach Post doesn’t make up stories. These are facts obtained from reviewing the state gift disclosure forms these elected officials filed. Also, why didn’t Mr. Greene file his mandatory gift disclosure form until Dec. 26 when he started taking gifts from Hirsch in June? Maybe he didn’t want us to know about these gifts?
Mr. Phelps is correct about one thing: I did write a letter to the governor. I asked him to look into these very shady goings on in our village, and I did so in my capacity as the chairman of the chamber’s political action committee, and not the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.
I think we should all be concerned about why these council members have become so cozy with the very rich people in this community who have lined up against the dressage facility. Why have we seen $496,000 in campaign contributions from Solar Sportsystems Inc., a Jacobs company, and watched quietly while people from Jacobs’ hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of these three council members. Why are our council members accepting “legal defense fund” contributions from local millionaires, and then voting on issues that matter to them? When did this form of behavior become acceptable?
I have been told by an investigator employed by the Commission on Ethics that they will soon need a full-time investigator just for Wellington. (I hope he was joking.) I’m afraid that “Corruption County” has found a new home in Wellington, and the chamber PAC will continue to shine a light in every corner of our community, because the people have a right to know. Mason, I don’t wish to be rude, but I’m not the least bit interested in hearing anything about what the Wellington Chamber should be doing from a non-chamber member on Jeremy Jacobs’ payroll.
Alexander Domb, President
Wellington Chamber of Commerce