Jackson Councilman Says GOP Blogger’s Advertising Bills to Township are “Very Exorbitant”

JACKSON – Citing “very exorbitant” fees billed to taxpayers by local blogger and direct-mail advertising leaflet publisher Phil Stilton, Councilman Barry Calogero has asked the Jackson Council to revisit advertising deals made with Stilton, a political ally of Mayor Michael Reina who publishes of JTOWN magazine and GOP-aligned political commentary blog “Shore News Network.” Councilman Ken Bressi, a favorite target of Stilton’s, agreed with Calogero’s concerns and said it was time for Jackson to look into more affordable options.

Jackson Councilman Questions Advertising Expenditures With Reina Ally’s Publication

“…It seems like a very exorbitant fee for one full page,” Calogero said at a recent Jackson council meeting. The elected official chose to vote no on a recent payment made to the Stilton publication. “I’m going to vote no on this,” he declared. “I think it’s a really exorbitant fee and we can do better in the future going forward.”

Calogero was the only Jackson council member to cast a dissenting vote against paying the Stilton advertising bill. Council members didn’t recall what they hired Stilton, who seldom dabbles in Republican Club politics and unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Jackson School Board, to advertise at the meeting.

Stilton’s rates start at $900 for just one issue, according to the 2016 advertising rate sheet published on the blog, which, for the most part (on the online site), contains content sourced from other publications, sometimes without their permission.

Are taxpayers getting their money’s worth from Phil Stilton? (print advertising rates from JTOWN)

By comparison, one of Stilton’s competitors that has been eating into his advertising marketshare in Jackson, Micromedia Publications, had an advertising rate that was hundreds of dollars less than that charged by him, according to publicly available advertising rate sheets.

$595 is charged by the Jackson Times for the same amount of advertising – no wonder Councilman Calogero had concerns.

Stilton, who is known for using strong-arm tactics to get his way, previously made attempts to smear his lower cost Jackson rival, The Jackson Times.

Emails obtained by Ocean County Politics showed repeated attempts by Stilton and spokeswoman / wife Christine to push his products on Jackson officials, in addition to voluminous amounts of OPRA requests,

Councilman Bressi: Not Worth It To Advertise In “Document” That Isn’t Legally Qualified For Public Notices

“I definitely concur with Mr. Calogero,” Bressi said. He cited two reasons, including the cost and the fact that taxpayers are paying to advertise “in a document that doesn’t even even meet the criteria to be a legal advertising newspaper for the township.”

Councilman Bressi wondered if Jackson residents were even reading the “document,” which is occasionally mailed to Jackson residents, and whether the township’s advertisements were being seen in Stilton’s publication. “So how are we reaching our residents if it’s not qualified?” he questioned.

The emails diverted the attention of Jackson officials to include business administrator Helene Schlegel in order to respond to numerous inquiries from Stilton and his wife Christine. Rather than address the township’s business, Schlegel and others were forced to respond to their multiple pushes to sell advertising to the township.

In addition to shaking down Jackson politicians for advertising payments, Stilton’s publication previously received money from the law firm of Ocean County GOP chairman George Gilmore, whose firm hasn’t paid recent federal income taxes, but still managed to come up with money to give to Stilton in 2015 for his transient publication that only ran one issue and never returned, “TR Magazine.”

 

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Gavin Rozzi

Gavin Rozzi

Gavin Rozzi is the editor of Ocean County Politics and a lifelong Ocean County resident, residing in Lacey Township. Gavin's work centers on the intersection of money and politics in Ocean County, with a focus on public corruption. He can be reached via email at editor@politicsoc.com or via phone at (848)-667-0840 or on encrypted phone / text app Signal.

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