BEDMINSTER, NJ — In the aftermath of the unrest at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 and the PGA’s announcement that it has canceled plans to hold its PGA Championship tournament at Trump National Golf Course in 2022, Bedminster Mayor Larry Jacobs spoke about the decision at this week’s Township Committee meeting.
Jacobs told the Township Committee that, following the uprising in Washington Jan. 6, he was not surprised at the PGA’s announcement.“Frankly, from my perspective I was anticipating this as soon as I heard about it,” Jacobs said. “We had just started discussions with the PGA in preparations and logistics for the 2022 event.”
Jacobs said that advance teams, construction crews and other infrastructure agents need to plan more than a year in advance for an international event the caliber of the PGA Championship.
“There would have been, of course, benefits that Bedminster would have enjoyed, and there would have been some problems,” Jacobs said. “There would have been traffic issues--where are they gonna put all the cars?--(but) ultimately I think most of the traffic issues were not going to be in Bedminster. I think very few parking opportunities were going to present themselves in Bedminster.
“Similarly, I don’t think that a lot of the hospitality benefits were gonna be enjoyed here in Bedminster. We’ve got some restaurants, but we don’t have hotels, so I think a lot of those benefits would have gone to our neighboring towns--Bridgewater, Bernards Township, Branchburg, lots of hotels, Somerville (with a) vibrant downtown.
Jacobs added, "I think a lot of our residents would have had employment opportunities with the PGA, perhaps only on a temporary basis. But those opportunities are gone.”
Jacobs then read a statement which also appears now on the Bedminster municipal website, emphasizing that the statement comes from him as township mayor, and not from the Township Committee as a whole.
Jacobs’ statement read:
During the January 4th Bedminster reorganization meeting, I took the oath of office as Mayor for Bedminster Township; the same oath that is administered to elected Township Committee members and to all the volunteers serving on our boards and committees. The oath includes the following pledges: “I will support the Constitution of the United States and the State of New Jersey; I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and to the Governments established in the United States and in this State, under the Authority of the people”. Two days later on Wednesday, January 6th, a rally protesting the results of the presidential election devolved into a mob that stormed the Capitol building resulting in multiple deaths. One of those who died was a Capitol Police Officer who sustained fatal injuries while defending the Capitol. He was a New Jersey native and military veteran. He was 42 years old.
The Constitution establishes the process by which Americans select our presidents. The opportunity to challenge the electoral process and the results lies within our court system. Rallies and protests demanding that Congress repudiate the election are protected under the First Amendment’s rights of “freedom of speech” and of “the people to peaceably assemble.” When those efforts become violent they are no longer constitutionally protected speech but are criminal actions and the perpetrators should be treated accordingly.
The Constitution remains the touchstone for how we run our governments, including local government. The Trump family owns and operates a world-class golf club in Bedminster. Trump National Golf Club has the right to apply to Bedminster Township for permits and approvals. As always, those applications will be considered on their merits and in accordance with the Municipal Land Use Law. Whether President Trump’s words or actions rise to the level of incitement is a pending legal matter for the Senate and, perhaps ultimately, for the Supreme Court. Bedminster has no jurisdiction in those proceedings. Regardless of the impeachment outcome, Trump National remains entitled to fair proceedings here in Bedminster. The Bedminster Township Committee and Land Use Board are not appropriate forums for defending or prosecuting the President’s actions or words.
The Bedminster Township Committee will continue to make its decisions based on what is best for Bedminster. During my time on Township Committee, we have avoided symbolic resolutions that do nothing to promote Bedminster’s interests. Our focus should remain squarely on Bedminster and our residents, and not on pushing any extraneous political agenda.
This statement was posted on the Bedminster website on January 18, 2021, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Dr. King was successful in implementing transformative civil rights policies through non-violent protests and employing words of love over the rhetoric of hate. For all those seeking change in our national discourse regardless of party affiliation, there is no better model than Dr. King.
As recited in our oaths, we support the Constitution and bear allegiance to the governments established under the authority of the people. On January 20, 2021, the United States will have a new President and Vice-President. As Bedminster Mayor, I wish Joe Biden and Kamala Harris success in their positions.