Government

Councilwoman Quinn's Incident Statement Against Former Manager David Troast; Part 2 of 2

SPARTA, NJ - A Sparta Township Council member has said she felt “threatened” and feared for her safety because of the actions of the community’s township manager.  The story that began last August, regarding a verbal exchange between Councilwoman Christine Quinn and former Township Manager David Troast at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, continues to unfold. 

Troast's and Quinn's statements about the exchange in the restaurant did not differ substantially.  The difference comes in the perception of what was said.  Troast indicates in his statement that "she had no particular response or reaction" to his comments, while Quinn felt threatened enough to contact the police. Quinn, Troast, Mayor Gibbs and witness Mary Ann Ryan all gave statements to the police about the exchange.

The following day the council met in a previously scheduled, executive session. By the next Township Council meeting, Troast had tendered his resignation.

Sign Up for E-News

With Troast's resignation came requests from reporters at the Sparta Independent and New Jersey Herald for the Incident Report regarding Troast.  The township's attorney advised not to release the documents to the public, saying it was a personnel matter and was therefore excluded from the public's right to see. This denial of access led the New Jersey Herald and citizen Jesse Wolosky to file a civil complaint alleging a violation of New Jersey Open Public Records Act.  

Subsequent to that, former council member Michael Spekhardt filed ethics complaints against councilwomen Quinn and Molly Whilesmith.  His complaint alleges both "acted in their official capacity in a matter where she has a personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair her objectivity or independence of judgment.  Additionally, they attempted to use their official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for themselves."

Spekhardt explained he is relying on information available to the public as a foundation for his complaint including articles in the New Jersey Herald, meeting minutes and court brief that had been posted on-line.  

The Civil Action Verified Complaint filed by the Herald against the Township of Sparta sought "access to public records relating to police incident reports regarding former Township Manager David Troast and related Voluntary Statements of Molly Whilesmith, Christine Quinn, Gil Gibbs, John Schon, Jerry Murphy and David Troast." Whilesmith, Schon and Murphy, however, had not made statements regarding this incident. 

Spekhardt also cites the Superior Court ruling of Dec. 6 as rationale supporting his complaint against Quinn and Whilesmith. Judge Weisenbeck ruled against Sparta last Friday, Dec. 6 ordering the police report to be released by the following Monday, Dec . 9.  Once the documents were released, it was apparent that Whilesmith had not made a statement, as had been conjectured by the Herald and others.

Spekhardt plans to follow through with the ethic complaints against both councilwomen, saying 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.  He questions how Quinn could be fearful and feel threatened by the former township manager on Aug 15 and then be objective in a discussion about his employment on Aug 16. 

The code of ethics pertaining to local goverment officers seems to be related to business dealings where there is a possible financial gain for the official.  The language of the code, taken on its own however, could seem to relate simply to matters of conduct.  The violations listed in the complaint fall under "NEW JERSEY STATUTES TITLE 40A:9-22.1 et seq. LOCAL GOVERNMENT ETHICS LAW; 40A:9-22.5 Provisions requiring compliance by local government officers, employees... subsections (c) (d)."

There have been no further actions from the Department of Community Affairs regarding the ethics complaint to date.

Quinn made the following statement;  "As a result of events which transpired on August 15, I submitted a voluntary statement to the Sparta Police Department. If history were to repeat itself, I would make the same decision.

It's unfortunate that this incident has drawn attention away from positive community events and services which happen every day within Sparta Township. It is my hope that, with the reports now public, we can return our focus and energies accordingly."

Troast did not have any comment, citing the restrictions of the separation agreement. 

Sgt. John Paul Beebe, public affairs officer speaking for the police department, said, "We are not a political agency.  Mrs. Quinn is a citizen who also happens to be Town Council member.  She did absolutely the right thing by coming to the police after feeling threatened.  While the situation did not rise to the level of a criminal charge, the compliant was a legitimate public safety concern.  Mrs. Quinn was advised, as are all citizens in a situation like this where the police have not observed the alleged offence, that she could sign a complaint at any time from one to three years, depending on the statute of limitations of the  offence being charged."

"Additionally, the investigation did find that there was a firearm on township property without the permission of the Chief of Police and this is a violation of township policy."

"Further, the police want to continue to urge citizens to report anything that appears to be a threat or threatening situation.  Public safety is the primary mission of the Sparta Police Department."

With the court ordered release of the police report many questions have been answered.  Several more, according to some involved, have been raised.  It is also apparent that the story will not conclude until the ethics complaints have been resolved.

This is the second in a two part article on this subject.  For the first part can be viewed at  http://thealternativepress.com/towns/sparta/articles/councilwoman-quinns-incident-statement-against-f

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Sparta

Sparta Police: Wanted Pennsylvania Man Faces New Charges

June 21, 2017

SPARTA, NJ- A Pennsylvania man with an outstanding warrant is facing additional charges related to drunk driving.  On June 18, around 10:50 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Arlene Lippencott followed up on a report of an erratic driver, police report.

Lippencott found the red Hyundai on Route 10 north and saw that the driver David Eisner could not stay in his lane.  When she stopped and ...

Sparta Police: Wanted Newton Man Facing New Charges

SPARTA, NJ - A Newton man with an outstanding warrant is facing new drug charges after a traffic stop on Route 15.  Sparta Cpl. Marc Rubino pulled Brett Petersen over after seeing Petersen change lanes, cutting off another car on June 13 around 7:30 p.m.  

Rubino checked Petersen's documents he found that the 33-year-old had an outstanding warrant from the Sussex County ...

Franklin Police Report $30,000 Loss from Break-in at Franklin Mineral Museum

FRANKLIN, NJ – Burglars broke into the Franklin Mineral Museum early Monday, June 19 around 4:40 a.m. stealing approximately $30,000 in precious stones, gems and minerals. They broke in through a second story window and caused significant damage to the shelves and the museum’s display cabinets, according to Franklin Borough police.

In addition to the monetary loss, the merchandise ...

Obituaries

- Jun 2, 2017
Jillian Mari Baluyot, 17, of Nutley, passed away on June 2, 2017. Born in Secaucus, she lived in ...
Read more
- Feb 21, 2017
Marisa Rincon (30) passed away in Randolph on February 21,2017. She was born is West Chester, PA ...
Read more

When is Enough, Enough? An Example of Bureaucratic Indifference

June 23, 2017

We have all had experiences with the unpleasantries of bureaucracy whether on the municipal, county, state, or federal level.  It can be very frustrating which no doubt is partly responsible for the associated negative stereotypes involved.

None of us enjoy having to “jump through “certain hoops.  If we are honest with ourselves, there are times when we are impatient and ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, June 24, 10:00 AM

Newton Medical Center, Romano Conference and Education Center, Room 100, Newton

Alzheimer’s New Jersey’s Newton Support Group

Education Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_b8ebffbb707fbe7abba6_pfp_ball

Sun, June 25, 11:00 AM

Farmstead Golf & Country Club, Lafayette

EWGA NNJ Annual Play for P.I.N.K. Charity ...

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back Sports

Sun, June 25, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

A New Era: Women, Their Hats and Social Change

Education

Sun, July 2, 12:00 PM

Under the Tent, Denville

Joey Bella Memorial Fund, Inc. Tricky Tray

Giving Back

Mon, July 3, 12:00 PM

Under the Tent, Denville

Joey Bella Memorial Fund, Inc. Band Beer Beefsteak

Giving Back

Newton's Merriam Avenue School Ends School Year With Some Fun

June 15, 2017

NEWTON, NJ—The students and staff at Merriam Avenue School ended the school year with fun, color, and style.

On Friday, June 2, over 500 students from kindergarten up to fourth grade participated in the annual Field Day event held at the school.

“Field Day was organized by Mr. Down and Mrs. Waldron and me”, said one of Merriam’s gym teachers, Scott Zymet, ...

Local residents graduate from Morristown-Beard School

June 20, 2017

The Morristown-Beard School Class of 2017 has officially joined the ranks of MBS alumni as the School held its Commencement ceremony on campus on Saturday, June 10.

Faculty, family, and friends gathered under the tent on Senior Circle and cheered as the following 103 seniors received diplomas:

Jennifer Rose Adelman of Short Hills — University of Michigan

Julianne Alevras of ...

THIS WEEKEND Visit Sussex County's Rock Ribs And Ridges Festival

Grab your family and friends and head to the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta this Saturday and Sunday, June 24th and 25th for great food, awesome music and a super laid-back crowd at Sussex County’s Rock, Ribs and Ridges Festival.

 Get ready to rock as a slew of songsters take the stage over the weekend:

Saturday, June 24

1:00 PM     Farmer Phil ...

Even Drinking in Moderation is Too Much for Our Brains

A 30 year study published in the British Medical Journal this week found an association between alcohol consumption, brain shrinkage in the area responsible for cognitive skills, and diminished “language fluency” ( a measure of memory and thinking skills). Regular, moderate drinkers (4-7 drinks a week) were 3 times more likely to have more brain shrinkage and less language fluency, ...

Sparta United Methodist Church Thrift Shop Holds Half-Price Sale

June 23, 2017

The Thrift Shop of the Sparta United Methodist Church, 71 Sparta Avenue, is holding a HALF-PRICE SALE from Wednesday, JULY 12 through Saturday, JULY   15. 

ALL ITEMS IN THE SHOP WILL BE HALF PRICE.  All proceeds support local, national, and global charities. 

Shop Hours:  Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 ...