Santanello pushes back against borough council censure

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Councilman Bob Santanello hit back at his fellow council members Tuesday after the borough council voted to censure the councilman on April 20 over claims that he violated closed-session confidentiality, ignored demands from officials and compromised the borough’s legal position.

During the May 18 council meeting, Mr. Santanello called the censure factually incorrect and said those who voted in favor, Doug Vitale, Arlene Testa, Caryn Byrnes, and Mayor Paul Kanitra, would be “sunk by their own public statements.”

Borough officials claim that Mr. Santanello violated laws relating to closed session confidentiality when he exposed closed session information about the Amethyst Beach Motel during a meeting in March. 

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In an investigation authorized by the borough, Special Counsel Sean Gertner said he found Mr. Santanello’s actions discussing closed-session material to be a breach of his obligations as a councilman.

The claim also said the councilman compromised the borough’s legal standing in multiple cases in discussions with a former employee and ignoring demands from the borough administrator and multiple legal counsels regarding a harassment suit he is named in.

“You can only change the names that took Point Pleasant Beach to rhinos that love to complain about cancel culture, have tried to cancel me for living in the real world rather than the fantasy island where some other people on this governing body live,” said Mr. Santanello.

“I know some of you think I like doing this stuff, but I got to tell you, I hate this stuff,” said Mr. Santanello. “I don’t like being the moral conscience, I don’t like being the fiscal watchdog, but I’ve got a duty to my constituents and I’m not going to be silenced based upon that.”

“For me at least, when you have something to say, silence is a lie,” he said.

Mayor Kanitra said he will be filing ethics violations against the councilman during the April meeting.

In response Tuesday, Mr. Santanello said, “In fact, I’m so convinced I’ll win all three ethics complaints, if they actually file them, I’m going to urge our attorney please file them as quickly as possible so they’re adjudicated before the election in November.”

During the April 20 borough council meeting, Mayor Kanitra said, “Bob has spent the last two years working to undermine this administration in a selfish and political manner after his group was unceremoniously dumped out of office.

“His actions have compromised the legal standing of the borough and cost taxpayers untold dollars in legal fees and potential settlements,” the mayor continued at the time.

The council also voted to expel Mr. Santanello from receiving any information regarding the Amethyst Beach Motel, Jenkinson’s and employee-relations matters, addressing the mayor’s concerns that he is a liability to the borough in upcoming disputes on April 20.

Mr. Santanello was also stripped of his street and water-sewer utility committee chairmanship.

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