Thursday, January 23, 2014

Monmouth County Prosecutor urged to adopt e-mail usage rules for elected officials

January 23, 2014

Charles Webster, Public Information Officer
Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office
132 Jerseyville Ave
Freehold NJ 07728
via e-mail to cwebster@co.monmouth.nj.us and prosecutor@prosecutor.co.monmouth.nj.us

RE: Request for policy governing official use of e-mail

Dear Mr. Webster:

I write on behalf of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project.  I write specifically to you, as Public Information Officer, as you are the only person on the prosecutor's web site who lists his e-mail address publicly.  I ask that you please forward this e-mail to the appropriate person in the Prosecutor's Office.

The Open Government Advocacy Project respectfully requests that the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office issue guidelines to help local and county officials use e-mail communication in a manner that does not violate the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).

Other prosecutors in New Jersey, such those from Burlington and Gloucester Counties, have issued guidelines, details of which are available at the blog link here.

The matter that caused me to write to you today is a December 18, 2013 e-mail, on-line here, by Eatontown Borough Councilman Dennis J. Connelly to a quorum of elected officials regarding appointment of a municipal court judge.  You will note that Council President Anthony Talerico, Jr. objected to the e-mail on the basis that it violated the OPMA.  And, you will note that the e-mail to which Mr. Connelly responded, sent by Councilwoman Janice Kroposky on December 18, 2013, 11:34 a.m., also included a quorum of the Borough Council.

While Eatontown's OPMA violation may have been inadvertent, I think that it illustrates the importance of having a formal policy governing use of e-mail by public officials.  Accordingly, we urge you to adopt a policy similar to those adopted in Gloucester and Burlington Counties.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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

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