Spotswood council denies resolution entering into settlement with business administrator


SPOTSWOOD–In a 4-1 vote, the Spotswood Borough Council denied a resolution to enter into a settlement agreement between the municipality and Business Administrator Dawn McDonald.

On April 1, Police Chief Michael Zarro and Capt. Philip Corbisiero filed a tort claim notice in which they alleged Spotswood Mayor Edward Seely and Business Administrator Dawn McDonald had committed acts of misconduct and harassment and created a hostile work environment.

The notice alleges that Zarro and Corbisiero have been subjected to harassment, a hostile work environment, heightened scrutiny, defamation, contractual interference, age discrimination and retaliation by municipal employees.

Specifically, Zarro and Corbisiero have suffered these actions at the hands of Seely and McDonald, who have worked in tandem to jeopardize their positions in the police department and the future of their careers in law enforcement due to personal, retaliatory motives, according to the notice.

The council denied the resolution with Councilman Jose Rivera, Ted Ricci, John Melillo and Larry Kraemer voting “no” and Council President Charlie Spicuzzo voting “yes” on Dec. 16 during the council meeting.

Attorney Gina Longarzo, who is representing Zarro and Corbisiero, said, “We are attempting to settle but if that does not work we will be filing suit before the end of the year.”

More than 35 residents attended the council’s caucus meeting where they voiced their concerns about the resolution, ranging from the reasoning behind the settlement agreement to lack of transparency to possible extortion.

Resident Jackie Palmer asked why the borough would put together a settlement agreement for someone who is not suing the borough nor has a claim against the borough.

“We can’t discuss personnel matters. … It’s a personnel matter that cannot be discussed,” Spicuzzo said.

“So what you’re telling me is that as taxpayers we have to sit here and watch you all stare at us while we ask you questions and you say, ‘I can’t answer you,?” Palmer asked.

Attorney Lawrence Sachs, who was filling in for borough attorney Gary Schwartz, said that a personnel matter is like a litigation matter in that it cannot be discussed in public.

“So you have a resolution that you are going to vote on and that you can’t discuss that you advertised in public? No way,” Palmer responded.

Palmer also asked about the amount of the settlement.

Spicuzzo said the council was not able to discuss details about the settlement agreement either.

“It deals with the settlement and absolutely compensation being paid to an employee who probably will no longer be employed by this municipality, so therefore … it’s still a personnel matter,” Sachs said.

Spicuzzo confirmed that McDonald is still on paid administrative leave since August of this year, but further details were not available by press time.

Resident Collene Wronko said, “We are paying off somebody that can’t do her job and has caused all kind of turmoil including lawsuits from six different individuals. So we are getting rid of her but we are going to pay her off so she’s extorting us because she’s got a file on somebody. … I’m done, now we are going to start calling the attorney general, calling newspapers and we are going to make this really well known because this is ridiculous. Everybody knows except the five of you, which means there’s an awful lot of crap going on behind closed doors that shouldn’t be.”

Wronko continued to say, “This is enough. I live in this town. Tis is not going to continue and these people behind me they deserve better than the five people [who] are up here.”

McDonald could not be reached by press time.

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Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].