Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Township questioned on adequacy of special meeting's notice

Update: December 24, 2013

Township Solicitor John G. Carr, in his December 24, 2013 letter (on-line here), acknowledges that the OPMA was violated and plans on ratifying all action taken at the next meeting.
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December 18, 2013

Hon. William C. Reinhart, Mayor, and members of the
Greenwich Township Committee
P.O. Box 64
Greenwich, NJ 08323
(via e-mail only to garrisonL99@aol.com)

Dear Mayor Reinhart and Committee members:

I write on behalf of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project regarding the manner in which the Township Committee advertises its meetings to the public.

I note that the minutes of the September 25, 2013 special meeting (on-line here) state:
Deputy Mayor Port called the meeting to order stating, “Adequate notice of this meeting was provided in compliance with the Open Public Meeting Act by notifying the News of South Jersey on September 13, 2013."
But, N.J.S.A. 10:4-8(d) states:
“Adequate notice” means written advance notice of at least 48 hours, giving the time, date, location and, to the extent known, the agenda of any regular, special or rescheduled meeting, which notice shall accurately state whether formal action may or may not be taken and which shall be (1) prominently posted in at least one public place reserved for such or similar announcements, (2) mailed, telephoned, telegrammed, or hand delivered to at least two newspapers which newspapers shall be designated by the public body to receive such notices because they have the greatest likelihood of informing the public within the area of jurisdiction of the public body of such meetings, one of which shall be the official newspaper . . ." (Emphasis supplied)
And, N.J.S.A. 10:4-10 states:
At the commencement of every meeting of a public body the person presiding shall announce publicly, and shall cause to be entered in the minutes of the meeting, an accurate statement to the effect. . . that adequate notice of the meeting has been provided, specifying the time, place, and manner in which such notice was provided . . ."
The Open Public Meetings Act requires more than just notifying one newspaper in advance of the meeting.  As shown above, it requires notification of two newspapers and posting in at least one public place.  And, the minutes are required to "specif[y] . . . time, place, and manner in which such notice was provided . . ."

From the information I have, I cannot tell whether a) proper notice was not given of this special meeting or b) the minutes do not accurately reflect how proper notice was given.  Yet, it seems apparent that either N.J.S.A. 10:4-8(d) or N.J.S.A. 10:4-10 was violated.

I ask that you please have Mr. Carr and Ms. Garrison look into this matter and advise me of the outcome.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party's
Open Government Advocacy Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875
Voice: 732-873-1251
Fax: 908-325-0129
e-mail: paff@pobox.com

cc. John Carr, Esq. (via e-mail to jgccresseandcarr@gmail.com)

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