By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich said he has asked for an investigation into a leak of emails in which Business Administrator Ziad Shehady suggested Zipprich was out to “sabotage” the bidding for a new trash hauling contract.
Separately, friction between Shehady and Councilman Michael Ballard flared up again at the council’s workshop meeting Wednesday.
As reported by redbankgreen Wednesday, Shehady raised concerns in emails about “meddling” and “sabotage” of the bidding for a five-year contract for private trash and recycling cartage that the council is expected to award August 19.
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.
On Thursday, Zipprich told redbankgreen via email that he had “called for an investigation as to who leaked this confidential information to you to besmirch my reputation.”
Zipprich also said he had “spoken to several attorneys to make sure that I was within my right as an elected official to review the garbage bid specs. All concur that I was – as does our borough attorney.”
He did not, however, address questions about the similarities between his concerns and those expressed by DeLisa.
Asked by redbankgreen Thursday if he had received or was aware of a formal request by Zipprich for an investigation, Shehady replied that he had forwarded the question to the borough Attorney Greg Cannon, “as it would not be appropriate for me to comment on what transpired in Executive Session.”
Cannon did not immediately respond to follow-up questions, including who would conduct such an investigation.
There was no obvious evidence of tension between Zipprich and Shehady during Wednesday’s session, conducted via Zoom.
But Ballard, who has sparred with Shehady over the still-pending 2020 budget, criticized Shehady for failing to participate in a public presentation of the spending plan Tuesday night.
“I’d be remiss, Z, if I didn’t tell you how disappointed I was, and residents were, that you weren’t on that call,” Ballard said.
He said he had gotten no response from Shehady to a request that he attend, and called his absence “disrespectful.”
That set off a flurry of overlapping accusations. Shehady said Ballard was being disrespectful by airing his gripes during the meeting and “and attacking me publicly
Shehady said he had alerted the mayor and council via that he would be available by phone, but his car had been crushed by a tree during Tuesday’s storm, he’d lost power at his home, and was able to get back to borough hall “only in time to set up and facilitate that meeting.”
“A phone call to me would have been nice, to give me the heads-up,” Ballard said.
Shehady responded that Ballard had scheduled the meeting without asking him to participate
The back-and-forth ended after Councilwoman Kathy Horgan said loudly, twice, “let’s move forward.”
Ballard and Shehady also clashed at the council’s July 23 session, when Ballard complained that he had not previously seen a slideshow on the budget presented by without notice by Shehady, even though he had asked that it be created.
Zipprich and Ballard, Democrats, are up for re-election in November, facing Republicans Jonathan Maciel Penney and Brian Irwin.
Earlier this week, Zipprich held off a challenge by activist Ben Forest to win another term as chairman of the local Democratic committee.
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