Wednesday, June 24, 2009

OPMA hearing on Friday, June 26th, in Atlantic City

On Friday, June 26th, at 9 a.m., the attorney for the City of Port Republic and I will argue our cross motions for summary judgment. Our argument will be heard by Judge Perskie in Atlantic County and both the attorney and I will be participating by speaker-phone. I have been assured, however, that the argument will be conducted in open court, so anyone who wishes to listen to it and Judge's Perskie's decision may attend the hearing.

The issue is a familiar one: How "promptly" must the Port Republic City Council publicly disclose at least redacted versions of its executive session minutes?

The facts of the case are: 1) I submitted an OPRA request in August 2008 for the minutes of two City Council executive sessions held in January 2008; 2) I was initially denied access to the minutes and was provided with redacted versions in November 2008, after I filed suit and had filed a motion demanding that at least redacted versions of the minutes be given to me.

My argument is a) that providing redacted minutes nearly ten months after the meetings and nearly three months after they're requested is not "prompt" as defined by N.J.S.A. 10:4-14; and b) that the Court needs to balance the public's interest in disclosure against the City's administrative burdens and establish a standard time period within which the public can expect minutes to be produced.

Port Republic's argument, the best that I can understand it, is a) that the redactions it made to the executive minutes were authorized, and b) that because I eventually received properly redacted minutes, "the issue of promptness is moot." I have vigorously argued that Port Republic's argument is irrelevant and completely misses the point of the relief I am seeking.

The motion paperwork is on-line here.

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

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