‘Let’s Go Brandon’-chanting official causes ruckus at NJ restaurant, manager says
UPDATE: Deputy Mayor Pamela Richmond provided New Jersey 101.5 with a statement refuting the accuser's claims. See her complete statement at the end of this story.
HOWELL — The township's deputy mayor is facing calls for her resignation after she was accused of threatening to spit in the face of a restaurant manager.
The target of Deputy Mayor Pamela Richmond's reported ire revealed the allegations during the public comment section of the Township Council meeting on Tuesday.
Kimberly Shulskie, a manager of The Ivy League Restaurant in Howell, she Richmond and her boyfriend John Bitner had a "very disturbing and unhinged" argument on Oct. 9 after they began chanting the anti-President Biden slogan "Let's go Brandon" at the bar while watching a football game.
Shulskie — a Republican supporter for former President Donald Trump — said she calmly told them to stop as it was riling up other customers and she was concerned about things turning violent.
"Her and her partner's reaction was so aggressive and irate because they were drunk. Come to find out in hindsight they had both been at (co-owned) Chapter House drinking before they showed up at Ivy League and they were drinking the night before," Shelsky said.
Bitner and Richmond began shouting profanities and told Shulskie to "take off your mask so I can spit in your face" as children and families watched.
Shulskie said the pair climbed up on the bar, screamed in her face and threatened to have her fired.
"They tried to intimidate me by telling me she hoped I liked my job because I won't be there tomorrow and that I should call the owner Bob Jaspin so that they could both scream in my face," Shelsky said.
Richmond, a Republican, said she has hired an attorney but did not address the allegations during the meeting.
Police got involved
Shulskie said she was going to call police when Richmond and her boyfriend refused to leave. Shulskie, who said she didn't know at the time that Richmond was deputy mayor, said she tried to de-escalate the situation by walking away as Richmond bad-mouthed her to customers.
"Her and her companion's actions are completely inappropriate and despicable for a deputy mayor and community servant, which is why I am bringing this incident to light," Shelsky said at the meeting. "This type of person should not be governing any part of municipal government whatsoever. She has a drinking problem and she should see help."
Shulskie said she filed a police report and has security video of the incident.
Police Sgt. Peter Kuppler told New Jersey 101.5 that officers took a report of harassment involving Richmond and Shulskie on Oct. 9. He did not know if a complaint was signed.
A person who answered the phone at The Ivy League said the restaurant's management had no comment and declined to provide a copy of the video.
A call to step down
Two members of the council offered their apologies for Richmond's behavior.
"I'm very sorry that you had to experience that. It's inappropriate, unprofessional, unethical," Mayor Theresa Berger, a Democrat, said. She later called for Richmond's resignation, which was greeted by applause from the audience.
John Bonevich, a Democratic councilman, called the manager's account a "very serious allegation." He said the council has received emails about Richmond's behavior.
"The Deputy Mayor continues to use her position to intimidate, harass, and destroy people's lives when they disagree with her. This is unbecoming of an elected official," Berger told New Jersey 101.5 in an email. "This isn’t the first offense, and unfortunately I believe not the last. I stand by my decision, that she should resign from council, before the rest of the complainants come forward, worsening this situation. The deputy mayor didn’t even have common decency to apologize. It might have gone differently for her but her arrogance is her worst enemy."
Richmond does not appear to have plans of stepping down from her position. She posted the music video to Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" on her Facebook page and called it her theme song.
Full statement by Deputy Mayor Pamela Richmond
“The reckless lies that Ms. Shulskie spewed, in writing and at a Council meeting, about John and me, are false and she knows that they are nothing but lies. In fact, Ms. Shulskie was notified by Legal Counsel, to cease and desist from making any further publication or dissemination of these lies and demanded a publication of an immediate retraction.
“If Ms. Shulskie, or anyone else for that matter, continues with the publication or dissemination of these lies, we will have no alternative but to pursue all of our legal rights and remedies.
“I never made statements that she claimed were made by me and significantly, neither John or I, was intoxicated and we have many folks who were at the Ivy League that afternoon who will attest to the truth.
“It is equally disturbing that others, including Mayor Berger, Councilman Jon Bonevich and multiple Board of Education members, jumped on the proverbial bandwagon and called for me to resign, without obviously confirming the facts or seeking out the truth. These individuals are equally guilty of knowingly spreading lies and defaming both John and me. They too will have to account for their reckless and negligent behavior.
“Sadly, in this day and age, people feel a sense of entitlement to spew whatever comes into their mind, regardless of what actually occurred. Well, it must stop. Even if my opponents do not believe so, the truth matters, and I believe that most people feel the same way that I do. If being the victim of this type of careless, reckless and abusive behavior is the catalyst for bringing it to a halt, then I am up to the challenge. It is always worth fighting for truth rather than bowing to the censure crowd and cancel culture.
"John, My Children, The Ivy League and the Owners did not deserve any of this. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and supported me from day one I truly appreciate you all."