Plastic Bags and Politics, Stopping The Brigantine Green Team

brigantine bag-man
Brigantine Mayor’s Bag-Man

Efforts to make and keep Brigantine green and clean are stuck in political gridlock. What else is new. At issue: should Brigantine get serious about reducing use of harmful, single-use plastic bags?

Beth Kwart, chairwoman of Surfrider’s South Jersey Chapter wants Brigantine to institute a nominal 10 cent fee on single-use bags throughout the island to reduce litter. Council majority lead by Mayor Guenther & Councilman Simpson, along with Mike Brennan of the Brigantine Chamber….. say no.

Brennan; a Real Estate agent, has testified that single-use plastic bags have minimal impact on the overall environment. Brennan, along with Mayor Guenther, both think that requiring a fee will hurt business, and some could be forced to leave the island. That stretch of an argument was quickly smacked down. Remember, the business keeps the fees, there is no cost to the business. It’s the consumer that bears the very small, symbolic cost of this eco-friendly initiative.

Brigantine Chamber President Brennan doesn’t want to replace & reduce plastic bags, he wants to ‘properly dispose of them’. Brennan was chastised for that statement. It’s a well known fact that single use plastic bags do not break down naturally and typically end up in landfills. To date, there is no way to ‘properly dispose of them’.

Brigantine Chamber President, Mike Brennan; Mayor Guenther’s Bag Man

Plastic bags are a real problem living on a windy island like Brigantine. Not only creating unsightly and non-biodegradable trash, but these plastics do great harm to marine mammals, sea birds and other coastal wildlife.

It’s been noted that representatives from the MMSC; Marine Mammal Stranding Center have yet to make any statements about this issue. Could pressure to ‘stay out of it’ from Brigantine Councilman Simpson be the reason? We’d venture to say yes. The MMSC deals with a growing number of wildlife species that are injured or killed due to plastics in the ocean, air and back-bays.

Mayor Guenther sided against The Green Team and used scare tactics. Guenther read a document he received from a retail council. It used questionable, borderline false language that was clearly meant to scare. Banning all plastics, imposing tax on consumers, impact on prices, ACME supermarket might leave town, prices will rise, etc..

Listen to Brigantine Mayor Guenther Scare Tactics >


Some say this ‘slam dunk’ is turning into another political battle. As is common in Brigantine, this eco-issue pits Mayor Guenther against Councilwoman Lisa McClay.

The low-impact proposal would set a 10-cent fee per bag for consumers. It would also exempt bags without handles designed to hold non-prepackaged foods and pharmacy bags designed to carry prescription drugs. It excludes restaurants and customers using nutritional assistance programs. The 10 cent fees stay with the store.

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Last year, Longport passed an ordinance imposing a bag fee. It was the first NJ town to do so. Brigantine Chamber of Commerce President Mike Brennan and Councilman Simpson were not impressed. Both believe what’s good for Longport, isn’t necessarily good for Brigantine.

Plastic Bags ordinances are not new. Many bag laws have been successful.

  • Hawaii has a plastic bag ban.
  • 88 towns in California have ordinances dealing with reduction of plastic bag use.
  • 21 towns in Maryland are affected by a ban or fee on plastic bags.
  • 11 towns in Washington have taken action
  • 5 in Colorado, 5in New York, 2 in Alaska, and 1 in Connecticut.

Beth Kwart, chairwoman of Surfrider’s South Jersey Chapter, said that bag fees do work to reduce litter, especially for shore towns. “We’re the last point of entry before the stuff reaches the ocean,” Kwart said. “You could accidentally let go of a bag at the Acme in Brigantine and it can accidentally end up in the ocean.”

Monica Coffey heads up the Margate Green Team and Sustainable Downbeach, which is a coalition of Margate, Ventnor and Longport green teams. Coffey hopes Brigantine becomes the 2nd city in NJ to enact a bag fee. Coffey helped Longport adopt it’s historic bag ordinance. Coffey says Ventnor and Margate are taking a good hard look at this issue, and hopes Atlantic City will do so as well.

NOTE: Mayor Guenther (and Councilman Simpson) have been associated with a variety of environmental issues over the years. Most recently the collapsed road at Harbor Beach Cove, a street that was built on top of wetlands. No records can be found in regard to DEP, EPA  and other environmental approvals.

  • Dune carve-outs for friends
  • Gas station along the bay
  • Overcrowding of 4×4’s on beach
  • Human waste at the cove
  • Overbuilding along the water
  • Private dune road for former Police Chief Frugoli
  • Northend & golf course area dumping from the past

These are a few of the documented examples of anti-environment activity passively sanctioned by the 26 year Mayor of Brigantine, Mr. Philip Guenther.

What do you think? Please leave a message for Mayor Guenther in the comments below.

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9 thoughts on “Plastic Bags and Politics, Stopping The Brigantine Green Team”

  1. Got out just in time

    I doubt visitors would resist a 10 cent fee, especially if the signage and publicity/notification/education is proper.

    Meanwhile, as long as pols raping property owners continue unabated, plastic bags is hardly Brigantine’s biggest problem. In fact, it is almost fitting that plastic bags serve as this town’s tumbleweeds, reminiscent of old west ghost towns.

  2. Why not just use paper bags at the Acme and be done with all this mess!!! Years ago that was the only way to bag the groceries and it worked!!! Do away with the plastic bags and then you don’t have to worry about them or the 10 cent fee!!!

  3. Someone tell Guenther Simpson and Brennan that there are these things called eco friendly reusable shopping bags and that most humans now use them. Also let them know that the Brig Farmers market discontinued using plastic bags without any impact. I would also suggest that someone point the 3 amigos to the growing success of stores like Trader Joes and Aldi (increased sales year after year and new store openings), both of which do not use plastic bags (shoppers can purchase plastics at Aldi). Its nice to show the “ignorant and naive” real life examples of the successes that fly in the face of their silly nonsense.

  4. Guenther prefers to talk about the Brigantine residents that lost jobs from the casino fallout and elderly with fixed incomes and the prospect of losing a super market because of the increase cost of paper bags but doesn’t utter a single word ever about those same residents losing their homes because of increased real estate taxes from the city’s waste fraud and abuse.

  5. Regarding your quote- “It’s been noted that representatives from the MMSC; Marine Mammal Stranding Center have yet to make any statements about this issue. Could pressure to ‘stay out of it’ from Brigantine Councilman Simpson be the reason? We’d venture to say yes. The MMSC deals with a growing number of wildlife species that are injured or killed due to plastics in the ocean, air and back-bays.”
    MMSC provides information on our findings regarding plastic in marine mammals and sea turtles to anyone who asks. No one from the City of Brigantine has approached us to tell us to “stay out of it”, and you have not contacted us for our opinion. Feel free to stop by our Sea Life Museum to see the displays we have on plastic that we have found in and on marine life.

    1. Bob, can you provide your opinion on this ‘plastic bag’ issue? Your input/testimony would be highly respected and would carry much weight in the discussion. We will post immediately. You & the team at MMSC do great work, God’s work. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is a TOP ATTRACTION in Brigantine that we hope one day, become a top priority for City Hall.

    2. Mr. Scholekopf,

      We are so happy that you reached out. Apologies in advance if you felt slighted.

      It just seemed so obvious that the Green Team or others inside City Hall would reach out to you for input.

      We believe they should have talked to you FIRST.

      May we ask for your (MMSC) opinion on the proposed PLASTIC BAG ordinance? Specifically, how these non-biodegradable bags do much more harm than good….especially the harm towards marine life.

      Plus, if you could….your thoughts on SUV’s on the beach.

      Even though we LOVE 4×4’s on the beach…we also know that TOO MANY with LITTLE OVERSIGHT…..can be bad for the environment. Real Bad.

      With the recent freebie extended to our well-deserving military vets, we think 4×4’s will PACK our beaches to the gills… we have never seen before.

      FYI….we consider ourselves environmentalists. But, we also see the need for even-handed compromise with tourism & the economy.

      thank you so much for your input on these matters.

      we look forward to your response… it will be posted immediately.

      we will also heavily push people to your site….to learn more, donate, etc.



      Elliot, Sandy, Eco-Girl

      The BrigantineNOW team.

      1. Over the years we have found plastic in a variety of marine mammals and sea turtles. Not all plastics had writing on them to indicate where they came from. One of the solutions that we have come up with is to provide our customers reusable bags with our imprinted logo on it, or they may opt for a paper bag, or better yet- NO BAG. We have not used plastic bags in our museum for over 15 years.
        Merchants in Brigantine could do the same using their logo and a caption to promote their store and let people know they are trying to protect the environment. This way the bag becomes a souvenir to our summer visitors.
        As far as the 4×4 issue- as the original 4 wheel drive inspector in Brigantine, my job was to enforce safe speed of the vehicles and proper driving habits. I made people aware that they are sharing the beach with endangered nesting shore birds, nesting turtles, seals and other wildlife. I think the City should include these various animals that occupy the beach in their Rules and Regulations for 4-Wheel Drive vehicles, along with phone numbers for appropriate agencies when they spot an injured animal.

  6. Brigantine has a lot of problems as discussed in this forum, but trying to regulate plastic bags??? Give me a break. There are few issues that I agree with the mayor on, this might be a first. Sure, plastic bags along with plastic water bottles, Styrofoam cups, and countless other commonly used non-degradables end up being litter more than they should, and there are alot of bad consequences from the litter. But the solution isn’t creating more government rules and taxes to address them. The arguments for creating the tax seem to be that the fee will have no effect on the business owners or their customers since the fee is so low. So the bags will continue to be used and will be just as likely to end up as litter, and all that was accomplished was to annoy the few businesses left on the island with another annoying tax or fee. By the way, when I go to the ACME, I take a couple of cloth reusable bags so usually I don’t need plastic bags. Nobody said where the funds from this fee would go, probably not to offset real estate taxes.

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