Home>Local>Gloucester>County commissioner blocked from discussing Gloucester fire marshal facing probe in dog’s death

Mantua Township Committeeman Shawn Layton, the Gloucester County Fire Marshal, with his late K9, Ember. (Photo: Shawn Layton).

County commissioner blocked from discussing Gloucester fire marshal facing probe in dog’s death

County counsel refuses to issue Rice Notice to Shawn Layton

By David Wildstein, September 21 2022 12:01 am

A Republican county commissioner in Gloucester County is being told that they can’t discuss a county employee in closed session without first notifying him that he’s on the agenda, and they can’t get the matter placed on the agenda without the consent of the Democratic majority.

The New Jersey Globe has identified the employee as Gloucester County Fire Marshal Shawn Layton.   The county prosecutor is currently investigating the death of a first responder dog assigned to Layton that died last month after allegedly being left in his county-issued vehicle overnight.

But the county counsel, Eric M. Campo, rejected a request from Commissioner Christopher Konawel to issue a Rice Notice – a legal requirement that public employees be informed that their job will be discussed in a meeting – so that Layton’s employment status can be discussed.

“For a Rice Notice to issue, there must be an agenda item proposing the discussion of personnel issues and approval by a majority of the Board to discuss the issues in executive session, which there is not,” Campos wrote in a September 6 memorandum obtained by the New Jersey Globe.

Campos said the decision to put an item on the agenda rests with board director, Frank DiMarco, a Democrat who is up for re-election this year.

“Employees may not be discussed in public and the agenda will not contain an item for personnel and a resolution to go into executive session to discuss ‘the status of employment,’” Campos said.

Campos said that the commissioners cannot discuss an employee without having “more than just a generalized dissatisfaction or unvetted complaint.”

“Even in the most extreme and emergent circumstances, personnel issues are not brought to the Board without a specific reason or basis,” stated Campos.

The refusal of the county counsel to permit Konawel and another Republican, Nicholas DeSilvio, to discuss the politically connected Layton’s employment without a Rice Notice, essentially ends any discussion that the commissioners might want to suspend him pending the outcome of the prosecutor’s investigation.

The New Jersey Globe has confirmed that Layton, a Mantua township committeeman, has not been at work since the dog, a three-year-old Golden Retriever named K9 Ember, was found dead on August 13.  He has been using sick days and vacation time.

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