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Councilwoman Accuses Colleague in Leak, Calls for Resignation

Deputy Mayor says councilwoman’s allegations follow series of false claims.

Councilwoman Barbara Toffler this week called for a council colleague to resign and said she would seek to have criminal charges brought against the longtime political adversary amid a swirl of allegations following Teaneck’s .

In a statement read at Tuesday’s council meeting, Toffler said a voicemail she received from a Teaneck Suburbanite reporter “contemporaneously” identified the person responsible for leaking confidential information about a personnel last year, who she later said was Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen.

“The voicemail comes in at 5:42 on January 31, 2011 and describes a discussion Deputy Mayor Gussen is having with the Record reporter,” Toffler said in the statement. The caller, Toffler said, asked her about what was apparently overheard in that conversation from another person who she did not identify.

A day after the voice message, the Record published a story containing the confidential information before it was legally made public, her statement said.

“Adam Gussen is the person who leaked the letter,” Toffler said in an interview Wednesday, referring to the complaint filed against her by the town manager. “I would put my hand on the bible and swear that he released the letter.”

The councilwoman, who recently lost her bid for a second term, said she would pursue action against Gussen.

“I am going to pursue this and make every effort that a criminal charge will be brought against him and he will have to resign from the council,” Toffler said.

Toffler did not provide additional evidence, beyond what she acknowledged was likely considered “hearsay” surrounding the phone message. She said she has not filed any formal complaints, but was consulting with her attorney.

Gussen said Toffler’s claim followed a pattern of false allegations she leveled against Teaneck’s police chief and township manager. Toffler in February for what a council resolution called “erroneous and unsupported” claims in the press against the two officials. 

Toffler had a chance to depose anyone she believed was behind the leak through against the town council, but opted not to, Gussen said. She could also report any wrongdoing to the county prosecutor’s office, he added.

“I don’t believe she will do that for her yet again unsubstantiated accusations,” Gussen said.

“This is bitter, petty, vindictive and Teaneck deserves better,” he said.

The leaked letter came after Toffler and left the scene. Police ticketed her, but the councilwoman publically accused Township Manager William Broughton and Police Chief Robert Wilson of spreading news about her fender-bender in retaliation for her opposition to a position. The council resolution said the two officials did nothing wrong. 

According to the February censure resolution, Toffler told the council she had no evidence to support her claim against the chief and manager. Toffler she filed against the town council seeking to have the censure tossed.

Township officials have denied a request for the letter filed under the state's Open Public Records Act. 

Her allegations against Gussen came admit a flurry of complaints over last-minute campaign tactics leading up to the May 8 municipal election. The councilwoman cited negative e-mails, anonymous phone calls and a robo-call urging residents not to vote for her.

Toffler was also accused of removing campaign signs for Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin and Councilman-elect Mark Schwartz from a lawn on Wendel Place.

 

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JamesTS May 17, 2012 at 02:46 PM
How could this ever be proved in court? i dont think it could be. What is the evidence? not phone messages.
Keith Kaplan May 17, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Evil? This is where you lose the me and the average, every day residents and taxpayers. If you have a complaint about the other council members, tell us what it is. Tell us why you think they are wrong and most important of all -- tell us why your plan is BETTER and let us decide if we think that's correct. But instead, we are told about Kevie getting hounded and the "evil" that's in the world. News flash - getting killed in Tehran by your government is EVIL; getting raped and mutilated in Sudan is EVIL; getting jailed in Russia for voicing your opinion is EVIL. Getting an email telling people not to vote for someone which is properly signed and accredited by its sender is not evil - it's merely not nic (and spammy). But the more important issue is how to comport oneself AS A PUBLIC FIGURE. There are always going to be people that don't like what you do. Do you go and rise above it all and tell us why they are wrong and pledge a better plan, winning over the hearts and minds of people - or - do you focus on everyone else? In the last election, you received 3,362 votes, in this election, that dropped by over 750. The margin between you winning and losing was 344 votes. The reason that you aren't there next year is simple - the people that put you there last time simply didn't want you there again.
Barbara Ley Toffler May 17, 2012 at 03:35 PM
"Barbara called him in a tizzy" -- where did you hear that? Barbara called no one -- and was walking home from Wendel and River with Chaim Kiss' evil words ringing in her ears.. When I got home I saw off-duty Sgt. Rosano standing on the curb talking with my husband. Don't know if Gerry heard from police or if my husband called him -- but I had nothing to do with it. Remember -- all councilmembers know police officers well because they are the "messengers" who deliver our packets (apparenty the town feels that's a good use of police time.) So we all know most of the PBA members pretty well!!
What Lola Wants May 17, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Methinks the lady doth protest too much. Life is too short, Ms. Toffler lost for good reason as she is demonstrating right here. It is time to move on from the reign of temper tantrums to what is good for Teaneck. Move on.
Keith Kaplan May 17, 2012 at 04:10 PM
If anyone wants to see the meeting for themselves, it's now posted online at the township's website: http://www.teanecknj.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=content.pageDetails&id=5103&typeID=279 It can also be downloaded here: http://184.168.247.171/media/video/TCM_5_15_2012.flv
Against Evil May 17, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Barbara, speaking of doing nothing when evil rears it's head - for some reason, they forgot to read your name on the proclamation honoring Council-member Stern on being appointed to the NJ Commission on Holocaust Education (3 minutes and 20 seconds in). I hope this was merely an oversight and the mayor can correct it at the next meeting.
JAD May 17, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Can someone give me cliff notes version of the Keivi story? As far as the rest of this goes. I don't think anyone has clean hands in this situation. I highly doubt it is a coincidence that a neighbor called the police from witnessing her removing signs from their neighbors property. Just not buying it here. The irony that so many are up in arms on her suit against the township but have seemed to all but forgotten Broughtons suit is not lost on me. I also think Toffler vocalizes her theories without having absolute certainty that situations have in fact happened and reads all happening in a Toffler vs. them frame of mind. Any who just my 2 cents.
Keith Kaplan May 17, 2012 at 05:55 PM
JAD - as to your comment about Toffler vs. Broughton. Both exemplify situations in which township personnel can't seem to talk to one another in a productive dialog. While I certainly don't think that either lawsuit should have been filed (to be fair, I wasn't around for the Broughton suit, but have heard enough about it that I'm willing to go out on that limb here) - from my vantage point, Mr. Broughton seems to be doing his job without pointing fingers today. I think that's all we want to see. In fact, if that had been the case, I suspect, based on past levels of support, that Dr. Toffler would have been rejoining her council members next year.
Tim May 17, 2012 at 06:01 PM
There is one major issue that has yet to be resolved! Did Sergeant Gerard Rosano violate any rules or regulations by interfering with a police investigation at the behest of Barbara Toffler? Why was his presence at the scene omitted by Officer Gloria? What influence did Sergeant Rosano have on the police report? Ken Zisa was just convicted for interfering in two police investigations. Will we see the prosecutor get involved in this case of "alleged" police misconduct?
shimon baum May 17, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Dear Barbara, its over nobody cares move on signed all of Teaneck. You would think that she was physically forced to get into politics the way she tells it. For somebody with so many credentials do something else with your time.
JeffO May 17, 2012 at 09:57 PM
In the interest of fairness, I should report that I got a call from Councilman Gussen, who said he was calling, as I suggested, to "elaborate” on what he meant by “false allegations." My first reaction to him was, don't tell me in a private phone conversation -- post a reply on Patch. To which he said that Patch comments are not a proper forum for a councilperson. At any rate, he did not deny that he spoke with Record reporter Joe Ax prior to the closed council meeting, but insists that Ax was asking him about things he had heard elsewhere, and that he told Ax he couldn't discuss those matters. This would assume that Ax called Gussen and not the other way around. Based on the transcript of the recording which Councilwoman Toffler read at last Tuesday's meeting (I watched the video today online), it isn't clear who called whom. Now I tend to be a trusting kind of guy and would find it hard not to soften no matter who gave me the kind of categorical denial Gussen did. That said, I think the following should be noted: continued….
JeffO May 17, 2012 at 09:58 PM
-- Even if Patch is not a proper forum for a councilperson, certainly a council meeting is. Gussen had ample opportunity after Toffler read her transcript to tell the public what he told me, and he chose not to comment on it at all. I have to wonder if he really wants to say anything on the record. -- I asked Gussen that if wasn’t him, who did he think illegally leaked the confidential information? He replied it could be anyone on council, or in the clerk's office, or even Township Manager Broughton himself -- in which case, he rather disingenuously said, it wouldn’t be illegal. (Of course it would still be illegal. Broughton was the complainant.) Gussen even suggested that Toffler might have leaked it herself. I’ve heard this theory before, and in my opinion it’s a preposterous diversion. -- Our conversation turned to original event that set everything in motion -- the knocked-off license plate incident. I said to him, “You called the Record about that, didn’t you?” He admitted that he did, saying that he had a relationship with Joe Ax and would often call to put him on to stories.
JAD May 17, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Eh, 7 years, a settlement and a promotion seem to be the largest different between the two, but that's just my opinion. Like I said I don't think any party is really innocent in this whole mess. Do I personally believe Gussen had a large hand in the complaint being made public? sure. Do I think Toffler engaged in behavior that lead to the complaint in the first place? sure.
theresa fleming May 18, 2012 at 02:44 AM
just let go
JewishInsurgent May 18, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Barbara, I get it. I really do. You wanted to make a difference in your town and the town you grew up in. I wanted to make a difference, too. You hate politics. I do too. Politics is dirty and mean and infuriating. I respect your drive and how that forced you into politics reluctantly. I think it took a great deal of courage, and I feel for you that you were met with immense frustrations and that fellow coucil memebers did not treat you in a manner you felt you deserved. But, politics is dirty and mean and infuriating, and you jumped into it. No matter how you feel, you lost this round, and I'm sure that is partially because politics is dirty and mean and infuriating. But you have a choice now. You can make these petty arguements your legacy (I know, to you they are not petty, but does that matter?), or you can face loss with grace and fearlessness. Smile. Thank your fellow coucilmembers for their efforts (if you want to curse them privately, go right ahead). Make it known that you are going to continue making a difference in your own way. Then do just that! You have much to offer. Start a foundation or run a quality of life campaign, or do something else really big. Make it known that you are someone who Teaneck needs. you have more to offer than a voice in a board room. But don't ruin your chance at doing that by leaving a legacy of allegations and strife. It doesn't help you in any way.
JamesTS May 18, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I think that is well said. i do respect Council woman Toffler for her ideas and work to fight for other voices. BUT i felt she was very caught up in unproven accusations which in the end distracted from her ideas. I would hope she does not keep accusing people, going to court, etc and just please continue to be a constructive voice. I think she has lots to offer but the accusations and lawsuits were really just too much for me.
Rick Roll May 18, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Dear Councilwoman, None of this would have happened if you hadn't left the scene of an accident. You say you are familiar with Teaneck's finest officers of the law. Next time you strike a parked car with your moving vehicle, it would behoove you to call them. Sincerely, Teaneck Taxpayer
JeffO May 20, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Rick Roll, I agree that the incident you refer to, which took place outside a bank where a Teaneck councilman and ally of Gussen serves as a trustee, was the root of all this mishigas. However, it's important to note that this "accident" can't even be called a fender-bender. A license plate was knocked off -- how it was attached to the vehicle's front bumper, I'm not sure. In any event, Councilwoman Toffler quite plausibly says she did not see any damage. (I myself have tapped other cars in parking situations and have driven off without reporting it if I didn't see any damage.) It's also important to note that after the bank (where a Teaneck councilman and Gussen ally serves as a trustee) reportedly reviewed its security camera tapes, it wasn't just the police that were notified. Word of the alleged "hit and run" went viral. How professional. It's also important to note that Gussen admitted to me that he did not simply allow this overblown "hit and run" incident to be picked up by routine police blotter checks, but proactively called the Record reporter. It's also important to note that Gussen told me, by way of explanation, that he would often call the Record reporter with news tips. But not, apparently, in the case of a future, confidential, closed council meeting.
Keith Kaplan May 20, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Jeff, There is a world of difference between sending a public report to a reporter to get it on their radar screen and leaking a confidential meeting agenda (in fact, that difference comes with jail time). Gussen's explanation to you (as described above) is pretty much the same as he told me. The only thing we know for sure is that SOMEONE told a reporter about a confidential meeting. Toffler says that, subsequent to that information being leaked, she got a call from a reporter asking about it and wanting her to comment. My question is this - If Barbara was called by a reporter and asked about a confidential meeting, why do we assume that the same thing didn't happen to Gussen? Namely that a reporter called him with the same questions that another reporter called Toffler about? It seems as if the same thing happened to both of them and reporters were trying to get information. Why is Toffler's call with a reporter is evidence she's NOT the leak, but Gussen's is evidence that he IS the leak? Something just doesn't seem right about that. Without something more concrete, I don't understand how she can make allegations like she is currently making. This is nothing more than hearsay. Is she TRYING to get another censure from the council?
JeffO May 20, 2012 at 05:08 AM
JeffO 1:07 am on Sunday, May 20, 2012 I don't dispute you that unless Joe Ax or the person who overheard his conversation with Gussen provides more detail, Gussen has legally safe deniability. At the point in time of this leak, Toffler was trying to minimize damage. The suggestion that she was the source of the leak, in my opinion, is a cynical sop to the Toffler haters who will grasp any intellectually dishonest straw that is proffered to them. I still scratch my head as to who it would have been if not the most likely suspect. (And by the way, I think we can safely take jail time off the table for this offense. Let's not scare the the fair-minded people with the prospect of medieval punishment.)
JeffO May 20, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Notwithstanding what I said above, it should be noted that Gussen has yet to say anything specific about this matter publicly. Apparently he's talked to you, and he's talked to me, but not on the public record in anything but the vaguest terms. I wonder why that is.
Tim May 24, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I wonder why Sergeant Gerard Rosano was at Toffler's house when the incident in question occurred? I wonder why Officer Robert Gloria failed to mention Sergeant Rosano in his report, yet he named everyone else on the scene? I wonder if the Sergenat Rosano influenced the way the report was written. I wonder if Internal Affairs or the Bergen County Prosecutor is investigating this as there appears to be "alleged" interference which is in line with what Chief Ken Zisa of the Hackensack Police Department was just convicted of.
JeffO May 25, 2012 at 04:11 AM
"The incident in question"?? Tim, what the hey are you talking about? Actually, I know what you're talking about. And as mimicking it is of a certain slimy, mendacious, scurrilous scumbette who puts out a slimy, mendacious, scurrilous publication that the boys find useful, it is totally off-topic here. I suggest if you want to post about this incident which is NOT in question here, you post about it here: http://www.northjersey.com/news/151751895_Resident_claims_Toffler_removed_signs_.html
JAD May 25, 2012 at 04:22 AM
I think that they should call in the SWAT team, perhaps a few days in solitary. Has NJ outlawed public floggings for sign removal, if so we really do need to rethink that. For Pete's sake she took a sign out of the ground. What laws did she break? Was she trespassing? Did she take a swing at the neighbor who called the police? Did Toffler offer special raises for the officer to make sign gate 2012 go away? Honestly what laws were broken? Perhaps once someone can answer that then we can deal with the Toffler being on the grassy knoll theory. I think someone has been watching way too much 20/20
Barbara Ley Toffler May 25, 2012 at 12:28 PM
BLT Whoa guys. Nobody removed any signs. But -- wasn't anybody even slightly concerned that Mr. Kiss yelled menacingly at Ms. Williams and Dr.Toffler that "they" would get all people like Williams and Toffler off the Council and Board of Education? Not concerned that he said one of the women didn't belong in this town? (Suburbanite, 5/17/11). Are you curious as to who DOES belong in Teaneck?
Keith Kaplan May 25, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Why don't you stop religion baiting and fomenting divisiveness in town. The reason that you aren't there next year is simple - the people of TEANECK didn't want you there again. Don't blame Mr. Kiss. As I said above, in the last election, you received 3,362 votes, in this election, that dropped by over 750! The margin between you winning and losing was only 344 votes My preference, of course, is that you don't blame anyone - - and start to work on issue the town could use your talents for (like a 5 day work week or workshops). But if you seem intent on laying the blame, look in the mirror! And then ask yourself what it was (in over 700 people that liked you before) - that made them think you weren't good enough to vote for this time around?
JamesTS May 25, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Ok First off, I did not vote for Council woman Toffler. However I have only read this "incident in question" conspiracy theories published on the JewishVoiceAndOpinion.Com which was a laughable excuse for any unbiased reporting. That web site seems out to get Toffler and the article they published with a PHOTO of her house was absurd. I see The Patch and Bergen Record probalby have higher standards so people must use comments to try to spread these stories. Its really overboard. Why cant we just move on?? election is over. some lost some won. Lets stop with the conspiracies or leave those to the JewishVoice site. Cant we just stop? Enjoy the long weekend!!
Barbara Ley Toffler May 25, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Keith (Swiggle), Religion-baiting, not me. I came home to Teaneck and was called an anti-semite and worse and that hasn't stopped. That is religion-baiting. So, stop the nonsense. You're damn right I have talents -- and I've worked like mad to get workshops, a 5-day open municipal building. I fought as hard as I could to prevent GZA from taking the town to the cleaners, which it did. I have fought to control the outrageous legal spending -- finally got the the township attorney to specify what is covered by retainer and what is billed hourly. I've also been fighting as hard as I can to get legal review of professional service contracts, to get bidding on engineering, architecture, etc. contracts. But the Council majority supported NONE of those issues. . In fact, every time the Council majority doesn't support a wise suggestion of mine, the objection comes in the form of an ad hominem attack.. Sorry I didn't crumble like Kevie did. I had little desire to run after the horror of my life this past two years, but I was damned if people like you and your crowd (no -- not orthodox Jews -- just a group of good old American bullies) were going to scare me off. The disgusting campaign tactics used were no surprise, and thus, the outcome no surprise. But it's the town's loss. Who is going to stand up on that Council now and fight for all the people in this town? But, I'm not going away, and my mind and voice will be heard as loudly from the floor as from the dais.
Keith Kaplan May 25, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Unfortunately, you are also one of the most solipsistic individuals I have ever come across. Instead of stating those accomplishments / goals at each and every televised council meeting, we get tirades of "woe is me" and the "majority" is out to get me and "they violated my rights". The people CHOSE, of their own free will to get rid of you and put someone else in place and we still get three choruses of "negative campaigning" and they said mean things about me. Politics is a nasty game, I'll admit - but how you handle the comments of hecklers is where people judge YOU. The Judge rules that even on the MERITS, your lawsuit against the town (which cost us thousands) is a loser, and you still complain that your rights are being violated. And while you are correct that it was thrown out for missing the statutory 45 day deadline, the decision spends over 15 pages showing why it wouldn't have mattered, even if you had filed in time. The point is simple - be productive and stop the sniping. If you think they are being negative, say so (succinctly) and move on. Tell people why they should vote for you and express your positives. Otherwise, I encourage you to come to every single event and meeting. The more people see how vitriolic and narcissistic you are, the more they will realize they made the right choice on election day.
Against Evil May 25, 2012 at 08:33 PM
As far as your race-baiting and divisiveness is concerned, are these not YOUR WORDS, written a mere 3 days ago? "did you discuss the circumstances of those of us who are cultural, traditional Jews who are being vilified by ritualistic modern orthodox Jews? My family came to Teaneck in 1948....... And now the new modern orthodox community vilifies people like me." [Barbara L. Toffler - 5/21/12] Really?  All ritualistic modern orthodox Jews in Teaneck are vilifying you now?  It seems like race-baiting because you make incendiary comments about an entire segment of the community -  what exactly would YOU call it?

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