Councilman wants Battaglia complaint report

West Milford. Township Councilman Lou Signorino wants to see a report based on the employee complaint of the late Township Clerk and part time administrator Antoinette Battaglia.

11 Dec 2019 | 04:41

The fate of a report regarding a personnel complaint by the late Township Clerk and part time Administrator Antoinette Battaglia remains up in the air despite a 3-2-1 vote by the Township Council last week to show it to those named in the document.

“(Releasing the report to those named in it) is the current direction given by the council,” Township Attorney Fred Semrau said Wednesday.

Township Councilman Lou Signorino, who said he is among those named in the report, made the motion during the Dec. 4 meeting to allow him, and others named, to see the contents of the document filed earlier this year.

“I would like to have a copy of that report,” Signorino said during the meeting. “Because I don’t know what was said. That’s my name, my family’s name, my reputation is in there.”

The township denied an Open Public Records Act request for the document by the Messenger on Wednesday citing the personnel nature of the report.

Battaglia, who died after a battle with cancer in May, was ousted from her part time role as acting township administrator last December by a vote of 5-1, with former Township Councilman Mike Hensley being the only dissenting vote.

Battaglia became the township clerk and then accepted a part time role as administrator under Democratic Mayor Bettina Bieri in 2015.

She held both positions until the council terminated her contract as administrator last year, citing a need for the community to have someone full time in the position.

During that time, she earned $94,000 as a full time clerk and another $38,000 as a part time administrator.

Signorino, former Councilman Tim Wagner, current Council President Peter McGuinness, Councilwomen Andie Pegel and Patricia Gerst voted to end Battaglia’s tenure as administrator.

Battaglia was paid through March for the position and continued on as clerk until her death a couple of months later.

Prior to her death, however, Battaglia filed an employee complaint with the township.

Township Attorney Fred Semrau said earlier this year that the complaint was investigated and that a report on the matter was submitted and no other administrative action by the township was warranted.

Signorino, however, said that he received a memo from the township regarding the report and that he wanted to be allowed to see its contents.

Semrau said at several meetings that the report was confidential because it dealt with a personnel matter, and that it would remain in the employee’s file.

Signorino pressed for a vote to release it Dec. 4, and gained the support of fellow council members McGuinness and Gerst.

Councilwomen Ada Erik and Marilyn Lichtenberg voted against the release, and Pegel abstained from the vote.

With only one more council meeting left in the year next week, which will also be the last meeting for both Signorino and McGuinness, it is not yet clear if the report will be released, or viewed, by anyone.