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Thursday, July 18, 2024


Stone Harbor Council Fires Administrator

Stone Harbor Logo
Stone Harbor Logo

By Vince Conti

STONE HARBOR – Borough Administrator Robert Smith was summarily removed from office effective immediately on a 5-to-1 vote of Stone Harbor Borough Council Feb. 9. 
The council held a special meeting two days after their regularly scheduled meeting, with the motion to remove Smith as the only item for action.
Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour initially appealed to the council not to act without discussion and debate. Instead, the council did not move forward a resolution to go into closed session for discussion of the matter. The motion to move the resolution for a closed session was made by Councilwoman Robin Casper, but it received no second.
Councilwoman Jennifer Gensemer then made a motion to remove Smith, which received a second from Councilman Frank Dallahan. The mayor’s normal call for discussion, which follows any motion, was met with silence. The vote was called, and Smith was removed with only Casper voting no.
According to Davies-Dunhour, the taxpayers will be on the hook for a severance of almost $50,000, while being provided with no reason why the firing of Smith was an emergency measure and what issues had led most of the council to vote for his removal.
Davies-Dunhour repeatedly called the meeting and the council action an example of bad government. She said the motion to remove Smith was not on any posted public agenda. She accused the council of acting in “cloak-and-dagger” fashion, saying that council members had clearly discussed this among themselves where she said “veiled threats” were made. Davies-Dunhour did not elaborate on the nature of the alleged threats.
After her calls for fact finding and debate, which she characterized as the normal process of good government in the borough, failed to move her colleagues on the governing body, Davies-Dunhour said she was embarrassed by actions of “dirty government.”
Smith stood and said he was honored to have had three years as the borough administrator. He wished the borough and its elected officials well. Smith praised Davies-Dunhour, calling her the sharpest mayor he has worked with in a career in which he worked with many.
Smith then said he understood that his removal from office was effective immediately and left the room prior to the meeting being adjourned.
No member of council who voted to remove Smith spoke publicly about their reason for that action. The public is left to wonder what could have required the council to act in an emergency manner to remove its highest appointed official within weeks of the reorganization meeting, at which Smith’s appointment for 2023 was affirmed.
This is the second time in a matter of months when a high-level public official was removed or led to resign with no reason provided to the public for the action. 
In Upper Township, the Board of Education parted ways with its long-term superintendent, with an agreement to pay him $300,000, but provided no rationale for the public as to why the action was taken. 
Thoughts? Questions? Contact the author, Vince Conti, at

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