PRINCETON: Council hires attorney to probe alleged confrontation between administrator, rec director

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
The Princeton Council has hired a North Jersey attorney to investigate an alleged confrontation that municipal administrator Marc Dashield had in June with recreation director Ben Stentz, a source familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
Joseph M. Wenzel, a Clifton-based lawyer, last week received a contract capped at $7,500. The Council resolution hiring him never spelled out the matter that he would be handling, only that it would be for “neutral third party investigations.” He did not return a phone call seeking comment this week.
The Stentz-Dashield incident stemmed from a private meeting June 25 that Mayor Liz Lempert and other municipal officials had with business leaders about a proposal to require them to provide their employees with paid sick leave. The town also is considering putting that requirement on itself, a move that would have a major impact on the recreation department given it employs large numbers of part-time workers.
Toward the end of the meeting, Mr. Stentz raised a point that tracking paid sick leave could pose an administrative challenge. Right after the meeting, Mr. Dashield allegedly confronted Mr. Stentz. Details of the encounter have remained sketchy, as municipal officials have said they would not discuss a personnel matter that has led Mr. Stentz to file a complaint.
Mr. Stentz has declined to comment, while Mr. Dashield has not responded to phone or email messages.
Mayor Lempert, appearing Tuesday at a public event at Community Park Pool, declined to comment.
“No comment,” Councilman Lance Liverman said Tuesday.
But the controversy has raised broader questions about whether the town is shutting down internal debate about paid sick leave and what message this sends to municipal staff, who now might be reluctant to raise questions about town-business when ideas are being vetted.
This also comes with Mr. Dashield in his first year as the top government employee and the town having recently given Mr. Stentz a $18,500 raise to keep him from taking the municipal administrator’s job in Colts Neck.