By JOHN T. WARD
Things got snippy Wednesday night when Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna claimed he was being dissed by two council members.
A routine discussion over a scheduling question briefly turned into the latest in a recent series of episodes in which the mayor squared off against fellow Democrats Kathy Horgan and Ed Zipprich, and they aligned themselves with the council’s lone independent.
The exchange occurred at the outset of the workshop portion of the meeting, when Menna proposed changing the date of the next meeting, September 14, because he expects to be absent.
The three Republicans on the council — Linda Schwabenbauer, Mark Taylor and Mike Whelan — said they could attend a meeting on Monday, September 12. But when Horgan asked Menna why the date had to be changed, rather than simply have Council President Cindy Burnham preside in his absence, Menna replied that there is a tradition of “courtesy” in which such mayoral requests were routinely granted.
Whelan made a motion that the meeting be set for the September 12, and the vote resulted in a tie: the three Republicans in favor, the others opposed. That meant Menna would be called on to vote: under the borough’s charter, the mayor votes only in the event of a draw.
“I’d be happy to vote yes” to change the date, Menna said. “It’s the first time in the 27 years I’ve been here [as council member and mayor] that the council hasn’t honored the courtesy.”
Still, he said, he would not vote in favor for his own convenience, and asked Whelan to withdraw the motion.
Whelan declined, forcing the vote.
“It seems like everything is combative at this table,” Menna said, before casting a “no” vote, meaning the meeting would remain scheduled for September 14. “I appreciate the vote of the three people who voted to give me the courtesy.”
Menna has found himself at odds recently with Horgan and Zipprich over planning issues and other matters. They, in turn, have occasionally aligned with Burnham — a former Republican seeking re-election as an independent since she was dumped from the GOP ticket — against the united front of Schwabenbauer, Taylor and Whelan.
Later in Wednesday’s meeting, Menna ran into more minor friction with Horgan and Zipprich when they pressed him on why they were being asked to vote on a resolution that was added after the draft agenda was drawn up, with no explanatory material provided.
The resolution concerned a correction to a tax map error.
Menna said he had not had a chance to explain the issue.
“There’s zero information on it,” Zipprich, before joining the rest of the council in unanimous approval of the measure. He asked that supporting documents be supplied whenever agenda items are “added at the last minute.”