Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Serving as an appointed municipal official

One way to make a difference in your community is to serve as a member of a municipal board. In order to find out what boards have vacancies, submit the following OPRA request to your municipal clerk:

OPRA request

I would like the following government records in accordance with the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the common law right of access.

1. The municipality's up-to-date directory of local authorities, boards
and commissions, as required by N.J.S.A. 40A:9-9.2

2. The municipality's "Citizen Leadership Form" as required by the same

I submitted such a request to Penns Grove Borough in Salem County and the responsive documents are on-line here.

As you can see, the following vacancies currently exist in Penns Grove: two positions as Planning Board Alternate; one position on the Redevelopment Agency; two vacancies on the Recreation Board and one position on the Shade Tree Commission. Vacancies may also exist in your town.

Friday, July 15, 2011

No appointment needed to make OPRA request

In a July 12, 2011 letter, Government Records Council (GRC) Executive Director Catherine Starghill advised a South Jersey school district that it could not require records requestors to schedule an appointment before stopping by to make an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request unless the district's enrollment does not exceed 500 pupils.

Starghill's letter was in response to a complaint from local activist John Schmidt who complained that he had stopped by the Gloucester City (Camden County) school district's offices on June 1, 2011 to make an OPRA request but was told that he needed to first schedule an appointment. In his letter, Schmidt pointed out that N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(e) provides citizens with "immediate access . . . to budgets, bills, vouchers, contracts" and other records and that the district's policy of requiring people to first schedule an appointment unduly burdens that statutory right.

Starghill's and Schmidt's correspondence is on-line here.