Councilwoman Rejects Resignation Calls In Point Pleasant Beach

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, NJ — The president of the Point Pleasant Beach Borough Council is rejecting calls to resign from her seat in the wake of what the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office has ruled a bias incident.

Rosa Crowley, who has served on the council since January 2022, has faced repeated calls for her resignation from Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Douglas Vitale and from borough residents after an argument with her neighbor in February.

Video of the incident has circulated in local resident groups and was sent to Patch. It shows Crowley and her neighbor, Jason Kaplan, shouting at each other, with Crowley calling Kaplan a “Jew” in Spanish, according to the police report on the incident.

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According to the police report, there had been multiple incidents between the two, and Kaplan said Crowley had made antisemitic comments to him in the past, including calling him a rat.

The incident, which happened Feb. 27 as Kaplan was moving out of his house, was referred by Point Pleasant Beach police to the prosecutor’s office for review as a possible bias incident.

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At the March 5 Borough Council meeting, Vitale and a few residents asked Crowley to resign and she refused. The next day, the prosecutor’s office issued its assessment that it was a bias incident, but said Crowley’s behavior did not rise to the level of a bias crime, a spokesman with the prosecutor’s office confirmed.

At the March 19 borough council meeting, Vitale again asked Crowley to resign, as did several residents. A petition also is circulating on Change.org calling for her resignation.

“You have brought immense shame on all of us of every faith and all backgrounds,” Laura Goldfarb Edwards said. “You must resign for the good of the future of our town.”

“I can’t believe that I am in my hometown addressing antisemitism,” Dennis McGlinchy said. “It’s mindboggling. Christ was a Jew.”

Crowley did not respond to a Patch request for comment. At the March 19 council meeting, she called it a political attack, saying, “My ongoing issues with my neighbor who has harassed me for a long time plays no role in my being on council.”

“The council has no place to judge me for an action I’m accused of outside the capacity of a councilwoman. I was taunted in my native language and discriminated as a Spaniard, and was told ‘Mirror mirror,’ and I responded, ‘mira you.’ That is the truth, and all those who truly know me know that’s the truth.”

“She still denies what this police report unequivocally said,” resident Larry Schwartz said. “She is denigrating the integrity of the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department. That alone makes her unfit to sit on the council.”

“You are the bully,” said John Bash of Newark Avenue. “You are the harasser.”

“You kicked major contributors off committees for having the guts to stand up for independent-thinking candidates,” Bash said, referring to the Jan. 1 reorganization meeting where a number of volunteers were dismissed from serving on the borough’s committees, including the Recreation Committee and the Senior Committee.

“This isn’t a political issue, it’s a human decency issue,” another resident said. “We all represent the companies we work for and the boards we sit on.”

Vitale asked the council to censure Crowley or to remove her as council president and from the committees she sits on, but all three requests failed. Crowley, Councilwomen Arlene Testa and Caryn Byrnes, and Councilman Arthur Gant Jr. voted no on the censure and removing her from committees, while Councilmen Michael Ramos and Joseph Pasola voted in favor. On the motion to remove Crowley as council president, Crowley and Gant voted no, Ramos and Pasola voted in favor and Testa and Byrnes abstained.

“Crowley has embarrassed both herself and our community with her bigoted diatribe,” Vitale said in a statement he issued Monday. “She must take responsibility for her actions by resigning.”

“In this case, the victim reports that this is not the first time she has levied an ethnic slur at him, it’s just the first time she was caught doing so on camera,” he said. “We cannot be silent in the face of such obscene bigotry. We have to confront it head-on and defeat it before it metastasizes. Antisemitism and hate has no place in our State, County, and our community.”

Vitale, in his statement Monday, said he planned to urge state Sen. James W. Holzapfel, Assemblymen Gregory McGuckin and Paul Kanitra, and Ocean County Commissioners Virginia Haines, Gary Quinn, Bobbi Jo Crea, Jack Kelly, and Frank Sadehgi “to condemn Crowley and her blatant conflicts of interest that she has failed to recuse herself from.” Kanitra, the former mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, was closely allied with Crowley before he stepped down to run for Assembly.

Crowley has been accused by Vitale, Ramos and residents of having a conflict of interest in sitting on the Building Committee because she has matters pending before the borough’s land use boards. At the March 19 council meeting she led an effort to temporarily table some salary and title adjustments, including that of Brian Martin, a fire subcode official in the building department; the delay on the appointments drew criticism from several people.

“Crowley has failed Point Beach and embarrassed the people of our Borough,” Vitale said Monday. “It’s time for her to go.”

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