Jul 29, 2014

Deputy Mayor Sorry for Late-Night Call to Resident

Portion of Bruce Sisler's hour-long discussion with man recorded, posted on YouTube.

Deputy Mayor Sorry for Late-Night Call to Resident

One Morris Township resident claims Deputy Mayor Bruce Sisler called him after midnight on Aug. 3 and harrased him over conflicts involving Honeywell's rezoning ordinance.

Resident Lee Goldberg—who has been vocal throughout the whole Honeywell process— posted about 12 minutes of the phone call on YouTube earlier this month and said it caused a "disturbance in the household."

Sisler said Goldberg's complaints about the phone call have been referred to the Township Ethics Committee, which only first convened two weeks ago with its newly appointed members. The committee is currently reviewing the matter to determine if any action needs to be taken.

Sisler released a statement via e-mail Thursday apologizing for the late call, and said he only called Goldberg because he received an e-mail from him at 11:25 p.m. that night that criticized his work on the township committee in 2010.

"I was bothered by his e-mail's tone but regardless, I made a mistake by calling him at that hour," Sisler said. "The next day, I received an email from Mr. Goldberg that addressed some of the issues we discussed in our hour-long conversation that included ideas he had regarding township business."

Goldberg, when reached for comment Friday, said that his e-mail was not critical of Sisler's work, and instead he offered suggestions to Sisler about the e-mail messenger alerts that are sent to residents.

Goldberg also said his e-mail the following day was about an unrelated matter not involving the phone call.

The day Goldberg sent that e-mail to Sisler before the late-night call, he had received a messenger alert from the township about the West Nile Virus spraying. In Goldberg's 11:25 p.m. e-mail, he suggested to Sisler that he should use the messenger for publicizing the Honeywell process.

Goldberg also critiqued Sisler for including all of the residents' e-mails in the messenger, saying that it approached a breach of privacy.

"I was simply sending back a suggested e-mail saying, 'in the future you should be more careful.' There's a way to mask all of those e-mails," he said.

Goldberg has previously brought up issues regarding Sisler's potential conflict of interest. Last month, Goldberg sent an email to Township Attorney John Mills that suggested Sisler's current employment with Assemblyman Anthony Bucco Jr. poses a conflict of interest in the Honeywell proceedings. Sisler then recused himself, but has since been reinstated because residents signed a petition that requires a supermajority vote on the Honeywell redevelopment project.

This zoning ordinance for the redevelopment plan is currently before the township committee, and if approved, Honeywell can move along with its plans to add residential and office and lab space on its 147-acre campus.

When Sisler found out about the complaint from Mills about two weeks after the call, he said he immediately asked Mills to set up a meeting to apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg, but said the Goldbergs rejected the request.

Goldberg disagreed with Sisler's statement, and said Friday that Mills never hinted towards a definite meeting. Goldberg said Mills asked if he would be interested in a 'possible solution if he could arrange it,' and said it was not an acceptable conclusion.

"We were not happy with that sort of outcome," Goldberg said. "We thought the public should know about the behavior of their township committeeman."

Goldberg recounted the phone call to NJ.com Wednesday and said the "call woke him up, and struck him as odd."

"Mr. Sisler wakes my household after midnight, his words are menacing, harassing and he's angry. What's he going to do next?" he told NJ.com. "Mr. Sisler has disgraced himself and our township and should resign."

In the portion of the phone call that is recorded on YouTube, Sisler first asks Goldberg about his motives.

"I just want to know, what's your game plan, pal?" Sisler says at the beginning. "I just want to know, what's your game? What [do] you want?"

Goldberg responds and says, "to participate in the community I live in, is that not my game?"

Sisler says to Goldberg—who records township committee meetings—if he records himself, and asks, "Do you look at this and go, 'Am I being a jackass, or am I being thoughtful, or am I being critical, or am I being thoughtful?' Do you look at that?"

Goldberg answers, "All of the above."

Throughout the rest of the recorded portion, Sisler and Goldberg go back and forth, and later argue over Committee Member Jeff Grayzel's recusal, which was two days before the phone call. Grayzel has also been reinstated.

Sisler says in the call that Grayzel clearly had a conflict with his wife being a former employee with Honeywell while still holding a pension fund, and the problem is the fact that he didn't disclose it.

Sisler has called his conflict that was brought up "political retaliation"in response to Grayzel's conflict.

Mills told NJ.com that he doesn't believe the ethics complaint will hold up the Honeywell redevelopment process, and described it as "an unusual allegation."

The next step of the redevelopment process will be at the next public hearing on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Morris Township Municipal Building.

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