By John Burton |
FREEHOLD — The four members of the county Board of Chosen Freeholders said they were taking a stance against the allegedly reprehensible language and behavior of Freeholder John Curley, as he vows to continue to challenge the board’s action.
Freeholders Thomas Arnone, Serena DiMaso, Gary Rich and Director Lillian Burry, all looking somber late Friday afternoon during a special meeting, took the rare step of authorizing a resolution of censure, publicly and formally admonishing Curley.
Reading the approved resolution, Jonathan Testa, the county’s special counsel, said Curley, by his actions, “has directly undermined and trivialized the county’s policy against workplace discrimination and harassment…” As examples, the resolution stated Curley “made comments of a sexual and vulgar nature to a fellow elected official during a public speech at an event attended by numerous County employees,” and “made many other vulgar and salacious statements” to female county employees. The resolution charged that Curley had publicly called county employees “queer” and “faggot” in front of, and referring to, county employees. In other instances, Curley is alleged to have verbally and publicly berated county employees.
The incidents Testa documented in the resolution were noted in an investigation and report conducted by a retired state Superior Court judge at the behest of the Michael Fitzgerald, county legal counsel, and county administrator Teri O’Connor.
“The decision to censure a colleague does not come to us easily,” Burry told the full-room audience in the Hall of Records on Friday. But, the action was needed, she continued, because, “Everyone should have a workplace where they’re treated respectfully.”
In addition to the censure action, the freeholders passed a resolution authorizing a review and update of the county’s police concerning sexual harassment. Fitzgerald said it was time to take a look at the existing guidelines because “times have changed” and the existing rules have been in place since 2006.
Curley didn’t attend the proceedings. His lawyer, Angelo Genova, however, took the floor and called the freeholders’ actions “a charade.”
“Today, the rule of law, you have chosen to abandon,” Genova told the county officials. Genova was referring to a federal judge’s ruling, in response to a lawsuit brought by Curley, to keep the report sealed at this point. Genova said he would amend his complaint to include this alleged violation.
“It is my opinion you have violated public ethics law,” Genova told the freeholders.
Genova had denied the allegations against Curley in the federal lawsuit.
“Freeholder Curley will continue to serve the people of Monmouth County,” and has no intention of resigning.
For the complete story, read the The Two River Times on newsstands Thursday, Dec. 14.
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