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red-bank-yngstrom-zipprich-030420-500x332-8773287Councilman Ed Zipprich, right, with then-Councilman Erik Yngstrom at a workshop session in March, 2020. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)



Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich has been “exonerated” after a two-year “smear campaign” meant to “dehumanize” him, he said in a statement to redbankgreen Thursday.

Zipprich’s statement came in response to special attorney’s finding that he did not “interfere” in the award of a trash collection contract two years ago.

zipprich-ballard-shehady-123118-500x375-2666508Zipprich, left, with Councilman Michael Ballard and then-administrator Ziad Shehady in December, 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Attorney Scott Salmon’s unreleased report, obtained by redbankgreen, cleared Zipprich of allegations that he had interfered with, and might “sabotage,” the process of selecting a hauling contractor in mid-2020.

The allegations were made in internal emails written by then-business administrator Ziad Shehady that were leaked to redbankgreen in August, 2020, some of them less than 12 hours old.

Salmon wrote “there is evidence to suggest” that Shehady was the anonymous source of the leak.

Here’s the report: Red Bank – Salmon report 051722

On Thursday afternoon, Zipprich replied to a request for comment with a lengthy essay, titled “The Revolution Within.” Here’s the full text:

During conflict, an aggressor’s first strategy is to dehumanize the enemy. The Cold War and the 21st-century invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine are examples of this.

Once someone is seen as “less than”, it’s easier to attack and destroy. The aggressors represent their actions as virtuous, maintaining that eliminating their “evil” opponent is for the public’s good.

In Red Bank, where I’ve lived and served as a volunteer and elected public servant for more than 20 years, we are in a conflict for our town’s future. On one side are the developers and their supporters, aggressively fighting to turn our historic, neighborhood-oriented town into an apartment-filled city on the shore. They are fighting against those of us who are committed to preserving our historic neighborhoods and small town charm.

In this battle between big city development versus small town preservation, a new enemy has been created to confuse and distress residents.

This “evil enemy”, apparently, is me.

In 2018, two young candidates, claiming to espouse the beliefs of the popular “Our Revolution” political movement, approached me in my role as Chair of the Red Bank Democrats to run for Council. I was very happy to welcome them and supported their nominations through our established process, and our team worked hard to see them elected. Shortly after they were sworn in, however, many in our party began to doubt their intentions.

While we didn’t know that one of these two officials would face criminal charges, we knew as a party that we could not endorse their reelection. And because we as Democrats chose to stand up against their highly unethical and unprofessional actions, the attacks against me intensified. 

These elected members of our Borough Council joined together to destroy my good name and reputation. Supported by our former Business Administrator Ziad Shehady, they engaged in an ongoing smear campaign, going so far as to falsely and very publicly accuse me of “bid rigging.”  

 When I protested this charge and demanded an investigation to prove my innocence, the then-majority and Mayor Menna stonewalled.  Council voted to pay for an investigation into these charges.  For a year we waited for a report, only to be informed by the mayor that his recommended attorney would not return his calls and in fact had never opened an investigation.

 Had the majority of Council remained skewed against me, Red Bank might never have learned the truth. Luckily the last election changed the balance of power in our town.  A new attorney was retained and we now have his full report.

 I have been exonerated.  I did not break any rules or regulations while researching the bid request compiled by Shehady, but was in fact exercising my legislative authority and oversight by ensuring the bid reflected the Borough’s needs

 The report also makes clear that the documents that were leaked to the press were encrypted and circulated to the mayor, the Borough Attorney Greg Cannon and the four (former) majority members of Council by Shehady. These members of our government knew that I had done nothing wrong, yet for over a year they continued to let this lie against me flourish, hoping to do by rumor and innuendo what they couldn’t seem to manage at the ballot box: undermine my leadership.

 While I’m greatly relieved to finally be able to prove the utterly false and destructive nature of these accusations, I am deeply saddened that it had to happen at all.

This war of personal destruction needs to end. It is tearing the town apart. Voters should know that I never lied to the public, I never leaked privileged information to the press, never called fellow council members “liars” or “toxic” on the dais. I’ve never stolen a penny from anyone, nor have I denigrated residents or anyone else with racial slurs. I never abdicated my legislative obligations for personal gain, and I have not supported anyone who has, once the transgression was discovered.

As the report makes clear, I was exercising my authority as a duly elected member of this municipality.

Zipprich also serves as chairman of the local Democratic organization, and all the town’s current elected officials are members, though the party has been deeply split over the past three years.

The unnamed “two young candidates” from 2018 refers to Council President Kate Triggiano and former council member Hazim Yassin.

Triggiano told redbankgreen via email that she would not “dignify” Zipprich’s claims with a response.

“I’m embarrassed for Councilman Zipprich and the fact that he is the face of our beloved Red Bank Democratic Party,” she wrote. “I’ll keep focusing on doing real work around here for the community.”

Mayor Pasquale Menna did not respond to a request for comment. In early April, after the Zipprich-led county committee voted to “dump” him in favor of Councilman Michael Ballard, Menna said he would not seek re-election.

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, a former Zipprich ally who is not seeking re-election after five three-year terms, sent the following:

This diatribe appears to distract from the issue at hand, which Is that a document discussed in executive session and advised by counsel to remain there, was leaked to the press. To deliberately ignore that counsel speaks volumes about the lack of ethics shown by the Councilperson.  Perhaps legal, but that’s a low bar for an elected official. It doesn’t take much guesswork to figure out who on Council leaked the document.

Even more disturbing is the fact that Councilman Zipprich views himself as a victim of war — over a garbage contract??!!   Compares himself to victims in Ukraine?!  How insulting to those poor but brave  people. Such hyperbole! Such pent up rage!  Rage clearly demonstrated by his inability to stop maligning Councilwoman Triggiano every chance he gets.  Is she that threatening to him?  Because she gets the work done?  Because she does her homework?  Because she is truly committed to improving Red Bank?  Because she is so well-liked? Councilman Zipprich would do better to take all of the anger and self-pity and turn it into a positive to get things done in Red Bank.  Be a real leader.  Is that really so difficult for you to do, Ed?

Shehady has not responded to a request for comment.

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