Toms River Board of Ed “Clean Slate Team” Braces for Heated Campaign
The three "Clean Slate Team" candidates for the Toms River Board of Education won't have to contend with lawsuits from the current board over allegations of campaign flyers being emailed to district email addresses, however the candidates feel they are being targeted unfairly by the current administration.
The special session on Friday was called over an email blast from candidates Joseph Torrone and Ginny Rhine, two of three candidates running under the banner of the Clean Slate Team, who are running on an anti-corruption platform and seeks to replace members of the board who served under Michael Ritacco. Superintendent Frank Roselli conferred with Board president Ed Garrity to call the meeting, citing that sending campaign emails to school district email addresses violates district policy.
The meeting was created with the intention of whether or not litigation was necessary, however Rhine and Torrone claimed the emails were sent out via an email blast put together from a third party company. Since the emails all come from paid databases it didn't violate policy. According to the Toms River Patch, the candidates assured the 64 school emails that were targeted were removed from any future lists, which was enough for Board Attorney Thomas Monahan.
Clean Slate Candidate Torrone (who is the husband of current BOE member Loreen Torrone) says that by choosing to back a special meeting for the email blast rather than allegations over re-election flyers posted around school property for Ritacco era board members Gus Kakavas, Jamie Ann Jubert, and John Reuther.
'Mr. Roselli has clearly chosen sides in this election" claims Torrone, adding the superintendent knew the matter was illegal "and he swept it under the rug."
Roselli denied claims of bias, saying the email blast issue violated policy, while the flyer situation was tied to the unions. Thus needing to be handled differently. However Tarrone says both matters should have received an equal amount of attention.
"The flyer was soliciting funds for Kavakas, Jubert, and Reuthbert, the incumbents, at the Board of Education Building and at the various schools. That's clearly illegal, yet without any facts he attacked us and threatened legal actions against us. To me it's the height of hypocrisy." Says Joseph Torrone.
Torrone feels that "power" and "control" are behind the current administration's actions targeting the Clean Slate Team. He notes in 2009, several candidates were sued by Roselli and the Board for using school email addresses to distribute campaign information, however Torrone notes in that scenario the candidates got the emails through the school directory rather than a third party company that uses purchased email leads.
The three candidates aren't the only Clean Slate Team members around, in the last election Ben Giovine, Alex Pavlive, and Loreen Torrone all women based on the Clean Slate campaign platform. Torrone say's what defines the Clean Slate Team are their demands to see the information and allow it to be public.
"I feel we are being targeted unfairly because people are afraid to lose power and control. We represent change, we want to involve the community, we want to have more input from the community, we want to open up this community and open up this crowd that's over the Toms River Regional School System."