Government

Ethics Charges Dismissed Against Whilesmith and Quinn

May 24, 2014 at 7:16 AM

SPARTA, NJ-The ethics charges filed against Mayor Molly Whilesmith and Councilwoman Christine Quinn have been dismissed by the Local Finance Board.  Whilesmith provided The Alternative Press of Sparta with  a copy of the letter she received from the state, signed by Chair, Thomas H Neff.

The charges were lodged by former Sparta council member Michael Spekhardt.  Spekhardt asked the state to look into what he considered to be a breach of ethics.  The complaint  involved issues that eventually led to the separation of former Township Manager David Troast from the municipality.  Speckhardt alleged Quinn and Whilesmith, "used their official position to file a police report on a matter that was deemed to be an administrative issue."

Events in question began at a ribbon cutting ceremony on August 15, at which Quinn alleged Troast to have made remarks about following her to the event and having a gun.  After the event Quinn filed a complaint with the police stating she felt threatened by Troast's remarks.

Sign Up for E-News

Later that day Troast was escorted off municipal property when it was confirmed that he had a gun in the trunk of his car.  Though the gun was secured, it was still considered violation of municipal code. 

The next day there was  a closed  meeting that had been scheduled and noticed prior to this incident.   The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Troast's continued employment in Sparta.   At the next township council meeting Troast resigned.

Spekhardt's complaint specifically indicated violation of NJSA 40A:9-22.5 (c) and (d) prohibiting; local government officials from using their "official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages and from acting in official capacity in any matter where he...has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment"

Whilesmith's letter states their investigation showed that she was neither the one to file a police report nor did she  make a statement to the police.  It further states  she was not present at the public portion of the meeting during which the vote to accept Troast's resignation. 

The letter states; "The Board found no evidence that you availed yourself of an unwarranted privilege in violation of NJSA 40A:9-22 (c) as attendance at a public meetings via telephone is acceptable. "  Whilesmith had teleconferenced into the executive session portion of the meeting.

"Additionally, the Board did not find that you had a prohibiting personal or financial involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair your objectivity or independence of judgment with regard to your participation in the August 16, 2013 closed session meeting or  you participation via conference call in the Executive Session of the August 27, 2013 meeting. " 

In response to this letter Whilesmith said, "I respect the right of every citizen to hold their public officials accountable.  It would be my expectation that a complaint be factual, not based on gossip.  I have missed two meetings in four years - fortunately, I was not in attendance at the meeting pertaining to Mr. Speckheardt's allegations.   I believe the complaint should have been withdrawn, rather than cost the taxpayer a single dollar to investigate."

Spekhardt and Quinn declined comment in time for publication.  In an interview after the complaint was filed, Spekhardt had said he planned  to follow through with the ethic complaints against both councilwomen because  he would "simply like an outside agency to look at the matter to determine the appropriateness of their actions," regarding the separation of Troast from the township. 

According to the letter from Neff, "This case is now closed."

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Sparta

Sparta Police: Newton Man Causes Accident, Faces DWI Charges

January 22, 2017

SPARTA, NJ – After a two-car accident on Main Street a Newton man was charged with several DWI related offenses.  On January 13 around 5:34 p.m. Sparta police responded to a call of an accident at the intersection of Main Street and Town Center Drive, near the Stop and Shop police report.

One car had struck the back of another, police report.  Sparta Cpl Dan Elig arrived to ...

Sparta Police Seek Help Identifying Car Burglary Suspect

SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta police are asking the community for help in locating a person of interest in several car burglaries.

Police have released two photos; one of the man they are seeking to identify and the other of a vehicle police believe may be connected to the suspect.  They believe the suspect may have driven the car when the burglaries took place.

 According to ...

Sparta Police: Bronx Man Charged with Trying to Fill Fraudulent Prescription

SPARTA, NJ – A man from Bronx, NY was taken into custody for trying to fill a fraudulent prescription at Sparta CVS on January 16 around 12:51 p.m.

Sparta Police were called.  When Detective Brian Hassloch got to the Theater Center he saw a person meeting the description given by the CVS, driving away in a black mini-van.  Hassloch and Detective Jeff McCarrick stopped the ...

The Epidemic of Opiate Abuse

January 17, 2017

I do not agree with the Governor on much, but I am happy to hear that he has decided to work on drug issues in his final year of office. In our state and in my ex-rural region of Sussex County opioid abuse continues to be a major issue, but it has become now more of a national issue. According to The New York Times, “Opioid addiction is America’s 50-state epidemic.”  ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, January 24, 12:00 PM

Sussex County Main Library, Frankford

Shaking Your Family Tree – For Free!

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, January 24, 12:00 PM

Louise Childs Branch Library, Hopatcong

American Girl Club

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, January 26, 7:00 PM

Franklin Firehouse, Franklin

Stop the Chop on Sparta Mountain Town Hall Meeting

Education Health & Wellness

Fri, January 27, 7:00 PM

The Inn at Millrace Pond, Hope

A Night of Songwriters At The Inn

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_9ffec5ae3c45d5263138_skylandslogo

Sat, January 28, 8:45 AM

Skylands Ice World, Stockholm

Learn to Play

Sports

Former Quarterdeck Inn Site Set To Transform Into 105 Room Hotel LBI

January 17, 2017

SHIP BOTTOM, NJ - The owner and developer of two distinctive properties in Stafford and LBI plans to erect a 105 room Victorian style hotel at the former site of the Quarter Deck Inn at the entrance to Long Beach Island in Ship Bottom.   The plans were approved a few years ago for the large hotel but the owner decided to moderately renovate the Quarterdeck building and develop it into the ...

Public Invited to Discuss Parenting Styles at County Council Gathering

January 23, 2017

Parents are invited to learn how to identify their child’s personality type and discuss parenting styles to match at the next meeting of the Project Sussex Kids General Council, Tuesday, January 24th, at Project Self-Sufficiency.  Meetings will be held at 9 a.m. and at 6 p.m., in order to maximize opportunities for participation by the general public.  Project Sussex Kids, the ...