Thursday, August 8, 2013

My letter to a fire district regarding closed session practice

Fire districts are typically not used to having their procedures questioned.  I will post the district's response to my letter below, if any, on this blog.

August 8, 2013

Robert F. Gaskill, Esq.
40 E Main Street
Moorestown, NJ 08057-3310
via e-mail to rgaskill@gaskill-law.com

RE:    Florence Township Fire District No. 1

Dear Mr. Gaskill:

I've reviewed some of your client's executive session meeting resolutions and minutes, which I've placed on-line here.

I ask that you please review the following four questions with your client and let me know if you are willing to make any changes in the Fire District's closed session practice.

1. Do you believe that minutes, such as those kept of the May 28, 2013 meeting, stating only that "Discussed issue of employee punctuality - Directive to Battalion Chief Mullen to implement same" are "reasonably comprehensible" as required by N.J.S.A. 10:4-14?

2. Do you believe that the general "issue of employee punctuality," apart from discussing any particular employees who may have been late, qualifies for private discussion under N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b) or do you feel that the particular employees' lateness should have been discussed privately while the general issue of punctuality should have been discussed publicly? 

3. Should the Board's closed session minutes recite the time and place of the meeting and the members in attendance?

4. Do you believe that the motions that authorize the Board's closed sessions conform to N.J.S.A. 10:4-13(b)?

Thank you.

cc.    Barb Mayer, Board Secretary
         bmayer@ftfd40.org

Update: 08/15/13

I received the following e-mail from Fire District attorney Robert Gaskill: 
"I now have had an opportunity to review your e-mail of August 8, 2013.  I have also had an opportunity to discuss its contents with the Board of Fire Commissioners at its meeting of Monday, August 12, 2013.  I discussed with the Board your four (4) matters of inquiry and advised them of my opinion that they certainly do have merit.   I advised the Board and the Board agreed, that in the future it will be more diligent in keeping minutes which are 'reasonably comprehensible'  pursuant to the Statute.  The Board will recite the time and place of the meeting as well as the members in attendance and will be more dutiful in its motion to authorize closed sessions."

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