RED BANK, NJ: The Borough of Red Bank held an online Workshop meeting last night to discuss issues and reports provided by the borough’s department heads.

At the Public Comment portion of the meeting, Business Administrator Ziad Shehady said he would no longer be the managing the questions from the public. “I’m going to ask Greg (Cannon, borough attorney) to handle the public comments portion.  This is not something that I signed up for, something nobody had done before, so I’m happy to relinquish this,” said Shehady.   

To listen to the Public Comment portion of the meeting click HERE and go to time 1:38.

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Suzanne Viscomi gave a poignant and sharp response to the allegations of having used a racist term against Business Administrator Ziad Shehady.  Viscomi is a Board of Education member for the borough’s Primary and Middle and schools.

Viscomi was accused of calling Shehady “Mr. Jihad,” during the public comment section at the February 10 council meeting.

Viscomi said in part, “I apologized for fumbling my words and mispronouncing “Z’s” name.  There was no malice intended.  Over the last several months we have been listening to four council members ask us all to, “believe in the process.,” because they not want to make a rush decision about the future of the Senior Citizen Center.  Those same council members are asking the public to believe in their heartfelt sincerity and ask for time to get the right information to make healthy decisions.

Yet, ironically, theses four members were the first to rush to judgement and label me a racist. Councilman Yassin doubled down to take it to the next level of hatred by taking it to the media less than 12 hours after the meeting after I already made a public statement.  I read a quote from the councilman referring to Islamophobia.  Next the mayor fanned the flames with his posts on Facebook to garner support of the four council members.” 

To listen to Viscomi’s entire statement click, HERE and go to time 1:48:20.

To read Viscomi’s statement, click HERE.

Red Bank resident Sean DiSomma asked those council members who posted their response to the accusations against Viscomi on Facebook, saying, “Mr. Mayor, you posted something on Facebook that was just wildly inappropriate.  Why was everybody so excited and intoxicated, to smear just a resident?  And perhaps one of the most civically-minded resident?  Just to see that a governing body would be willing to pile on..., either all of you piled on or none of you said something.”    

DiSomma then posed the question to each of the council members, “Are you willing to apologize and show some humility and leadership?  I want to give you the opportunity to apologize to a girl with a speech impediment.  What kind of people are you?”

Responses by the Councilpersons and Mayor

Michael Ballard: “I spoke with Ms. Viscomi, I called her and expressed my feelings.  Sue knows exactly where I stand on that.”

Ed Zipprich: “I also called Ms. Viscomi and had a conversation with her.”

Mayor Menna: “I never mentioned anyone’s name in what I posted, I mentioned an idea.  And if anybody thought that I was referring to that person or considers it inappropriate, I’m sorry.”

Kathy Horgan: “Addressing Suzanne, I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

Erik Yngstrom: No response.  It should be noted that there are no known public posts by Yngstrom on this matter.

DiSomma called out specifically to councilpersons Kate Triggiano and Hazim Yassin asking if they would apologize for their Facebook postings.  There was no response from either.

In other business, Councilman Michael Ballard submitted a proposal to modify the Public Comment Protocol Policy that would allow those attending the meetings to ask follow-up questions.

The present policy does not allow the public to engage in dialogue or debate with the speaker, with questions addressed only after all public comments are heard, or, at the next scheduled council meeting.

To read the current protocol policy, click HERE and scroll down.

To read Ballard’s proposal, click HERE.

Tickets given out during snowstorms to the owners who did not move their vehicles face a $38 fine,

Business Administrator Zian Shehady proposed increasing the fines to provide more of an incentive for people to move their cars.  "I think $200 to $300 would be more appropriate.  

"I think we need to take a deep breath on this.  $38 is a lot of money to many people," said councilwoman Kate Triggiano.

Chief Darren McConnell spoke about how some vehicles that were ticked would not shovel out or move their cars for days. "We may have to look at more (of a fine) for those in noncompliance.”  "We'll do some research on rates and policies of other towns," said Shehady.

To read the entire agenda, click HERE.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 10.

The next Workshop Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 7.

To watch a video of the entire meeting, click HERE.

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