More than 24 hours after Mayor James Barberio moved ahead with the creation of a fourth captain's spot for the Parsippany Police Department, it appears the rancor between disagreeing sides has not died.
The issue at hand is what did the mayor and the council agree to during its July 10 meeting.
Councilman Michael dePierro made a motion to change a township ordinance in order to restrict the police to having three captains, rather than the four now permissible under law.
The mayor criticized the idea, saying he needed a fourth captain to head up the Office of Emergency Management and protect public safety.
At the meeting, dePierro was asked to put off his motion.
To avoid having a quorum—and triggering sunshine laws—Council President Brian Stanton said dePierro, Barberio and Police Chief Anthony DeZenzo, along with Council Vice President Vincent Ferrara would meet to discuss the matter.
Barberio said he only agreed to this meeting, which took place last Monday in the mayor's office at Town Hall.
But the video of the July 10 council meeting does show DePierro asking the mayor whether he would return to the full council after their meeting in order to give members an opportunity to discuss a possible promotion further. The mayor's answer is vague and difficult to pin down.
"He told us he would not make any promotions until we the council as a whole at our July 17 meeting had a chance to discuss it after he had met with Councilman dePierro and Councilman Ferrara," insisted Councilman Paul Carifi Jr,. who said he stands behind his characterization of the mayor as being deceptive. "That statement is on the record. He also said the chief would be available at our meeting for any other questions we would have. Obviously he did not do this and went ahead with the promotion anyway."
The mayor told Patch that he rejects all charges that he lied to the Township Council. He pointed to the fact that he indeed met with dePierro, Ferrara and the police chief.
"If anyone lied, it was Councilman dePierro," Barberio said. "We had an agreement [to move ahead with the promotion while cutting a lieutenant's position]. We shook hands on it. And two hours later, he reneged and I decided to move forward.
DePierro did not respond to Patch's requests for comment for this article, but he did say Tuesday that he indeed changed his mind because he felt uncomfortable with the deal.
"I did not have to meet with him," the mayor insisted. "And I was not bound to discuss the matter with the council again. I was not going to let them stand in the way of me protecting public safety."
"Regardless of what happened at that [Monday meeting in the mayor's office], the council as a whole was not present and could not ask any questions. We were not given that opportunity as was stated on the record that we would at our [July 10] meeting," he told Patch. "Point blank, the mayor stated he would not make any promotions until after the council as a whole had a chance to discuss it at our July 17 meeting."
Democratic council candidate Jonathan Nelson backed Carifi's view but indicated that who said what and what was binding could be perceived differently from varying angles.
"If the council meetings weren't run by the mayor and township attorney and they followed Robert's Rules [of Order], there would be no ambiguity," Nelson said.