Jonathan Maciel Penney addressing the council Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
A Republican candidate for Red Bank council called for an investigation Wednesday into the abrupt firing of the borough attorney in July.
Emails sent by Councilman Ed Zipprich in advance of the firing of Greg Cannon may have violated New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act, candidate and GOP party chairman Jonathan Maciel Penney told the governing body at its semimonthly meeting Wednesday night.
The emails, which Penney said he obtained via an Open Public Records Act request, show that Zipprich and a council majority allied with him “conspired behind closed doors to fire the borough attorney, likely violating” the law, Penney said, reading from a statement.
Led by Zipprich, a majority of the all-Democratic council terminated Cannon in July and attempted to immediately replace him with Scott Salmon, of the Jardim, Meisner & Susser firm.
But Mayor Pasquale Menna, who said he had not been informed in advance of the change, refused to use his authority to make the appointment. No public explanation for the change has ever been given.
A month later, Zipprich, backed by council allies Michael Ballard, Angela Mirandi and Jacqueline Sturdivant, succeeded in promoting Dan Antonelli for the position, without explanation for why Salmon was not advanced.
Penney said the investigation should also address whether Zipprich shared “confidential information” with Salmon, in light of the fact that Salmon had not been appointed when he was included in the emails.
Here’s Penney’s full statement, along with the emails he said he obtained: Penney Statement & emails 102622
After Wednesday’s meeting, Zipprich said the he would not comment. “This is a personnel matter,” he told redbankgreen.
Penney’s request appeared to get no immediate traction. Neither Horgan, who is stepping down December 31 after 15 years on council, nor Councilwoman Kate Triggiano responded to the call for an investigation. Both had voted against terminating Cannon.
“I think the record stands, the minutes, on how we voted and the comments that we made,” said Horgan.
Menna, now in the final weeks of a 16-year run as mayor, did not directly address Penney’s request. “Obviously, I was unaware of it,” he said, of the plan to remove Cannon.
Both Salmon and Antonelli served as attorneys in a legal dispute that pitted Horgan against Zipprich and Mirandi over Mirandi’s fill-in appointment in February. Horgan failed in her attempt to invalidate the appointment.
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