A leak of emails, including correspondence between Councilman Ed Zipprich and a prospective bidder for the trash contract, is the subject of an investigation. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich will get the investigation into a leak of emails he requested earlier this month.
Approval of the probe, as well as final adoption of the 2020 budget; extended hours of parking meter enforcement; and a half-dozen police department promotions are all on the council’s busy agenda for Wednesday night.
• The leak, to redbankgreen, of emails in which Business Administrator Ziad Shehady suggested Zipprich was out to “sabotage” the bidding for a new trash hauling contract, would be investigated by the borough’s labor counsel, under a resolution up for council approval.
The trash contract was to be awarded at Wednesday’s meeting, but does not appear on the agenda.
In the emails, which were shared anonymously with redbankgreen, Shehady wrote that a July 17 Zipprich email challenging the terms of the bid was “suspiciously and curiously” similar to an August 4 letter to the borough from Tom DeLisa, whose company, DeLisa Demolition, currently holds the contract.
DeLisa has not responded to a request for comment. Zipprich said that he was within his rights “as an elected official to review the garbage bid specs,” but did not address questions about the similarities between his concerns and those expressed by DeLisa.
Zipprich told redbankgreen via email August 5 that he had “called for an investigation as to who leaked this confidential information to you to besmirch my reputation.”
Under the resolution, labor counsel – Mark Tabakin, of the Weiner Lesniak firm, was appointed to that position in January – is to investigate the leak of “certain correspondence [that] transpired between Borough officials, the legality and effect of which has now been questioned.”
The resolution says the mayor and council have “resolved to investigate the matter to ensure the legitimacy of the bid process and to implement any necessary corrective action(s) going forward.”
Tabakin would also be authorized to “solicit potential investigators from amongst the locally practicing retired judges in Monmouth, Middlesex, and Ocean Counties, as appropriate in his discretion,” the resolution says.
• A public hearing and adoption vote on the $22.4 million municipal budget is slated.
The plan would increase the local portion of property taxes by 2.8 percent. The owner of a home assessed at the 2019 town average of $366,231 would pay about $130 more this year, Shehady said at the council’s July 22 meeting.
• An ordinance up for introduction would extend the cut-off time for downtown meter enforcement to 9 p.m. from the current 6 p.m.
No change in parking fees is proposed, and metering would continue to start at 9 a.m., Monday through Saturday, with parking free on Sunday.
• Engineering firm CME Associates is up for a $70,000 contract to design and engineer a proposed permeable parking lot at Marine Park.
The firm would also be awarded a $30,500 contract to do the engineering design work for a new deck and other upgrades at Riverside Gardens Park.
• DMR Architects would be awarded a no-bid, $82,300 contract to “provide architectural and engineering services to implement certain post-pandemic protection measures” at borough hall and other town facilities under a resolution up for consideration.
• Annual license fees would be effectively increased for most retail stores and restaurants, under a proposed law change up for final adoption.
Retail operations of up to 4,000 square feet would pay no less than $150 per year, up from between $25 and $100 currently. Restaurants would be charged based on seating capacity, at a minimum $150, whereas at present they’re charged on a sliding scale based on square footage.
• The agenda includes a half-dozen police department promotions, ceremonies that in non-pandemic times pack the council chambers with family members and other well-wishers but this year will be confined to Internet screens.
They include the elevation of Lieutenant Errico Vescio to captain. Beau Broadly and Robert Campanella would move up to lieutenant, from sergeant, and patrolmen George Travostino and Garrett Falco, along with Detective James DePonte, are to be sworn as sergeants.
If you value the kind of news coverage redbankgreen provides, please become a paying member. Click here for details about our new, free newsletter and membership information.