Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fw: [Edgewater Park, NJ Happenings] New comment on Welcome Home Spc Steven Buck, Edgewater Park thank....

------ Forwarded Message
From: robin <noreply-comment@blogger.com>
Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2009 23:36:29
-0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Edgewater Park, NJ Happenings] New comment on Welcome Home Spc Steven Buck, Edgewater Park thank....

robin has left a new comment on your post "Welcome Home Spc Steven Buck, Edgewater Park thank... <http://edgewaterparkhappenings.blogspot.com/2008/07/welcome-home-spc-steven-buck-edgewater.html> ":

Dear Edgewater Park-
This heartfelt thank you is way overdue and for that I am sorry. I was just rereading the incredible story you printed about my son Steven Buck who came home to a "Hero's Welcome" last year. My family and I were amazed by the way our little town put on such a huge welcome home. There were soo many people that helped make it happen and for that we are soo thankful!!! There were so many neighbors, friends, family members, firemen, policemen, EMTs, Yellow Ribbon members, Warrior's Watch Rider members, and polical people to help show Steven we were proud and thankful for his service. This was all due to one phone call I made to the Yellow Ribbon club. They were able to put the whole celebration together with 10 days notice!!! They are truly amazing!!! So I am sorry I am so late, but wanted to let everyone we are soo thankful and to know I will never forget how incredible it was to see how our "little town with a big heart" was able to come together like that for us. And to Chuck Ryder, what can I say - you wrote the most wonderful post on here!!! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!
Sincerely Grateful-
Robin Arnold and family

------ End of Forwarded Message

On behalf of Edgewater Park, Beverly and Burlington City Residents we thank you and all of the Veterans for your service to our country and it was a pleasure to express this thanks in such a manner.

If you are aware of any veterans returning home in the future, please email the information and pictures to; the ">EdgewaterPark Reporter . The Reporter will see that the requested information and pictures are posted.

You can also request from The Yellow Ribbon Club welcome home celebrations. As our Military Heroes return home, The Yellow Ribbon Club coordinates and attend celebrations in the Veterans home town community to welcome them home in Grand style. Typically these celebrations include the local fire department, local police department, emergency medical services, Warriors' Watch Riders, Patriot Guard and Last Patrol Riders, and of course the citizens of the community. Just our special way of saying "Thank You" to our Military Heroes.

The Edgewater Park Reporter

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Executive session resolution information and Court Rulings

To: EdgewaterPark Reporter <edgewaterparkreporter@yahoo.com>
Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 10:46:27 AM
Subject: FW: Level of "personnel" details in executive session resolutions

From: John Paff <paff@pobox.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2009 17:13:25 -0400
To: <paff@pobox.com>
Subject: Level of "personnel" details in executive session resolutions

A question I received from a correspondent:

When a public body goes into executive session to privately discuss a
"personnel" issue, how much detail on the personnel issue being
discussed needs to appear in the resolution that authorizes the
executive session? For example, it is permissible for the resolution
to simply say that "personnel issues" are going to be discussed, or
should it say something more, such as "personnel issues regarding a
public works employee" or even "disciplinary issues regarding Mary
Smith, a public works employee" are being discussed?

My response:

I have never seen a court decide this question, but I have convinced
several municipalities, in consent judgments, to adopt the following
rule on how to decide this thorny question: The governing body shall,
in the normal case, disclose as much information in its executive
session resolution about a personnel matter that the body's attorney
predicts will be publicly disclosed about the same personnel matter
when the executive session minutes are later released.

I base this rule on the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision in South
Jersey Publishing Company, Inc. v. New Jersey Expressway Authority,
124 N.J. 478 (1991). This case held that a) the public needs
information if it is properly fulfill its role of evaluating the
wisdom of governmental action or a decision not to act, b) that New
Jersey's strong public policy requires that a public body's actions
and decisions to not act be disclosed in the body's closed meeting
minutes along with sufficient facts and information to permit the
public to understand and appraise the reasonableness of the body's
determination, and c) to the extent a cognizable privacy interest may
be compromised by the required disclosure, the extent of disclosure
may be modified through redactions of the minutes, provided the
public interest in disclosure is not subverted

Accordingly, my position is that if the public body is going to
publicly identify the name of the employee under discussion and the
reason why he or she was being discussed in the body's executive
meeting minutes, when the nonexempt portions of those meeting minutes
are released (perhaps thirty days after the meeting), there is no
compelling need withhold the same information from the public when
the meeting is held.

For example, suppose that a Borough Council goes into closed session
on July 1, 2009 to discuss whether Mary Smith, a public works
employee, ought to be disciplined for repeatedly arriving late to
work. If the nonexempt portions of the executive meeting's minutes,
which will be "promptly" disclosed on or before August 1, 2008, are
going to inform the public that the Council decided to discipline (or
not discipline) Mary Smith for habitual lateness, it doesn't seem to
serve any legitimate public purpose to tell the public, in the July
1, 2009 executive resolution, only that a "personnel" matter is going
to be discussed.

It seems to me that if the public is going to know who was being
privately discussed and why they were being privately discussed in a
month's time, there's no compelling reason for depriving the public
from knowing the name of the employee and the nature of the
discussion before the discussion takes place. While I'm certain that
Mary Smith isn't going to be thrilled that everyone in town will know
that discipline is being considered because of her habitually
lateness to work, it's not going to be substantially less
embarrassing for her if the public knows this information on August
1st instead of July 1st.

I'm not arguing that an employee can never have a legitimate privacy
interest in issues touching upon his or her employment. If, suppose,
a municipal council wanted to discuss giving employee John Doe an
extended leave of absence because he has dread disease, his interest
in keeping his disease private would appear to easily exceed the
public's interest in knowing this very personal
information. Further, I'm not even arguing that the public's
interest in knowing about every routine disciplinary case, such as
Mary Smith being dunned for habitual lateness, will always exceed the
employee's right to privacy.

Rather, all I am saying is that a skilled municipal attorney who is
aware that a certain personnel matter is going to be privately
discussed, ought to be able to apply the South Jersey Publishing
case's standard to that personnel matter and fairly accurately
predict the level of detail that the private meeting minutes will
disclose when the nonexempt parts of those minutes are released the
following month.

If the attorney predicts that the employee's identity and the nature
of discussion will be publicly identified in the upcoming minutes,
then I assert that in the normal case, the public's interest in
knowing that information now, instead of a month from now, is greater
than the employee's interest in keeping that information under wraps
for another month. Conversely, if the attorney predicts that the
employee's privacy interests warrant less information to appear in
the minutes, then less information ought to also appear in the
corresponding executive resolution.

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

------ End of Forwarded Message

From: John Paff <paff@pobox.com>
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2009 20:46:00 -0400
To: <paff@pobox.com>
Subject: Favorable settlement in OPMA/OPRA case against Howell Township

In August 2008, I filed a five count pro se lawsuit against Howell
Township in Monmouth County. On June 27, 2009, I received in the
mail a signed Consent Judgment that resolved the first three counts
of the complaint. The other two counts are still pending.

My Amended Complaint and the Settlement Agreement are on-line at

Following is a summary:


I complained that the Township Council's closed session resolutions
were too vaguely worded. For example, the June 10, 2008 resolution
stated that the Council was going to privately discuss "Litigation,
Personnel, Attorney Client Privilege." In the Consent Order, the
Township, without admitting wrongdoing, agreed, going forward, to
"set forth [within its executive resolutions] as much information
about the topic(s) to be privately discussed that can be disclosed
without undermining the N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b) exception that authorized
the topic(s) to be discussed in private."


I complained that the Council, during its May 20, 2008 executive
session, discussed an issue that ought to have been discussed in
public--the formation of a COAH Advisory Board. In the Consent
Order, the Township, without admitting wrongdoing, agreed, going
forward "to carefully separate those issues that are eligible for
nonpublic discussion in accordance with N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b) from
those that are not, and that in making this separation, the Council
shall strictly construe the N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b) exceptions against
closure and in favor of openness in accordance with the decisions of
the Superior Court regarding this issue."


I complained that the Clerk, when explaining why certain matters were
redacted, didn't explain the redactions in enough detail to make is
possible for me to determine whether or not the redactions were
properly applied. For example, the Clerk might explain why a large
block of text was redacted by simply stating "Attorney Client
Privilege." In the Consent Order, the Clerk, without admitting
wrongdoing, agreed, going forward, "to provide a requestor of
government records that are exempted and or redacted, in whole or in
part, with a exemption/redaction index that provides: a) the legal
basis for each suppression or redaction together with b) additional
information to enable the requestor to understand the nature of the
suppressed or redacted material and why it was redacted."

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

Dear Blog Readers,

The information provided above is to help you to know what information is to be provided to the public when the Township Committee goes into an Executive meeting (Closed Session). This must be stated in the Closed Session Resolution, according to NJ law.

If you have any questions about the laws in NJ on what information is to be made available to the public and what record access the public is entitled to, you can ask John Paff via his email address John Paff .
John Paff has many court victories against municipalities who have tried to keep the public in the dark about their actions much like the Edgewater Park Township Committee, Administrator/Clerk and Solicitor are doing.
If you want open government in Edgewater Park, you need to help by requesting budget information, minutes of executive meetings and correspondence and if the Clerk/Administrator rejects your request, make sure you get the rejection in writing and pass it on to John Paff. He will respond to you and if the reasons for rejection by the Clerk/Administrator are egregious enough he may get involved in the case.

Many of the past actions and practices of the Administrator/Clerk, Township Committee and Mayor have been to bully anyone requesting information or to have their question answered. Have you ever been to a Township Public Meeting and witnessed a resident ask a question and no one will answer it. This goes on all the time and is not right.

We will be providing a link to a list of questions you may want to ask at the Public Budget Hearing next month. You can send your questions in writing to the Clerk/Administrator prior to the meeting requesting that they be read at the meeting and that you receive an answer to your questions in writing if you are unable to attend the meeting.

It helps if you have your questions written down when you ask them at a public meeting.

You should address any general questions to the Mayor first then ask each Committeeman the same question so that you have a record of all five Committee Members answers to your question.

The Mayor will try and limit you're speaking time (usually 3 min.) then try and use your time with speaking and not answering your question directly. That is why it is a good idea to hand out five copies of your questions to the Clerk, asking that they be given to the five members of committee prior to you're asking the questions publicly. This should keep the record straight about what you are requesting committee to answer. Most times the committee will direct one of the professionals or township officials to answer your questions.

To be continued,

The Edgewater Park Reporter

Friday, June 26, 2009

Court Ruling about timely access to executive meeting minutes, Look Out Edgewater Park!

To: edgewaterparkreporter@yahoo.com
Sent: Friday, June 26, 2009 10:46:23 AM
Subject: Fwd: Favorable outcome in Paff v. Port Republic

Jun 26, 2009 02:08:40 PM, paff@pobox.com wrote:

During a thirty-minute hearing today, June 26, 2009, Atlantic County Assignment Judge Steven P. Perskie ruled that the City of Port Republic did not abide by the Open Public Meetings Act when it failed to issue even redacted versions of its January 2008 closed session minutes when I requested them in August 2008.

The vast bulk of the discussion during the hearing was between Judge Perskie and Port Republic's attorney, Salvatore Perillo, Esq. (who also serves as the Mayor of Ocean City, New Jersey). I needed to say very little.

Judge Perskie became somewhat exasperated when Mr. Perillo didn't or wouldn't understand the precise issue that was before the court. Mr. Perillo kept arguing that the fact that the Clerk had promptly sent me a resolution identifying the topics discussed during executive session provided me with sufficient information and that I had no real need for the redacted minutes themselves. Judge Perskie correctly stated that the issue was whether the OPMA requires timely
access to executive meeting minutes even if those minutes need to be heavily redacted to protect legitimate governmental objectives.

After Mr. Perillo's pressed the same irrelevant argument several times, Judge Perskie asked "which one of us is Abbott and which is Costello?"

The judge appeared inclined to sign the form of order that I had submitted with my cross motion. He also said that Port Republic is to reimburse me my cost of suit. The motion paperwork is on-line here: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/PortRepublicSJ.pdf

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

If the Edgewater Park Clerk doesn't provide copies of the excutive meeting minutes in a timely mannor, you can file a complaint and should also contact John Paff with the particulars and copies of your request and the reasions it was rejected by the Clerk and he will advise you on how to file this complaint. The Edgewater Park Township Clerk has not made any 2007/2008/2009 excutive meeting minutes available to the public at any of the township public meetings this year or for years 2007/2008. The statement she reads before the Township Committee goes into Excutive Session, states that the minutes will be available when the reason for confidantiality is no longer necessary. This action and statement by the Township Clerk is not complying with the NJ law and findings by recent court cases.

The Edgewater Park Reporter

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Edgewater Park Township 2009 Budget Introduction Meeting Tonight 6/23/09 6:30 PM

Edgewater Park Township Committee will be introducing the 2009 Municipal Budget tonight at 6:30 PM at the Municipal Building.

Some questions you may want to ask;

1. How much was paid for the Township Employees to work at the Community Day, Sunday, June 14th including comp time?

2. How much did the township budget for the 2008 Memorial Day parade? How much did the township spend in 2008 on the Memorial Day parade?

3. How much is the township budgeting for the 2009 NJ League of Municipalities Convention for township employees and elected officials to attend (include any expenditures for education)?

4. How much did the township spend in 2008 on the NJ League of Municipalities Convention (include budget amounts listed as education)?

5. What is the total amount owed for all outstanding municipal bonds and municipal bond anticipation notes since 2003? How can we get a list of the terms of those bonds and notes?

6. How much was the 2003 Municipal Bond handled by the Burlington County Bridge Commission? What was the term and interest rate of that bond?

7. How much has the local purpose tax (municipal tax) increased since 2003? How much will it increase in 2009?

8. When can we see each line item by accounting code, including all sub items by accounting code, in the 2009 budget and how it compares to the 2006, 2007 and 2008 budgets with what was actually spent in those budget years?

9. Has the township passed a Salary Resolution and Salary Ordinance for 2009? Where are they posted and are copies available?

10. How much did the township spend to re-do the old Sewer Authority Office in 2008?

11. How much in rent did the township receive in rent from the Sewer Authority in 2006, 2007 and 2008?

12. Can the public see a total of all wages, sick time accrued (value in dollars), longevity, education and bonuses that each township employee will receive in 2009 and received in 2008?

13. Why has the 2009 budget only been discussed publicly at fewer than five public meetings?

14. If the 2009 budget was discussed in closed sessions, when will the minutes from those meetings be made available to the public?

If you intend to ask any or all of the questions that I listed or ask your own, I suggest that you write them down and submit them to the Township Committee during the public comment portion of this Budget Meeting. This way there is a record of your questions and they can't be ignored or overlooked.

If you do not receive an answer from the Committee or Township Clerk, then you can make the same request via an OPRA request form that is available at the Townships Web Site as a downloadable pdf file.

Also John Paff, paff@pobox.com would be very interested in any problems you may have in getting this information. John is a public advocate for openness in government and has successfully won many cases against municipalities that fail to adhere to the NJ Open Public Meetings law as well as the NJ Sunshine Laws.

The Edgewater Park Reporter

Friday, June 19, 2009

Eric Polito Navy Seabee Returns Home June 20th

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: "Gary Polito"
To: edgewaterparkreporter@yahoo.com
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2009 3:52:00 PM
Subject: Son Returns

Just a notice that our son, a Edgewater park Resident for all of his 23 yrs is coming home for 10 days, Eric Polito US Navy Seabee will be coming home June 20th to June 30th on leave from his base in California . He served 6 months in Afghanistan before coming to his Homeport in California . We his parents and all his family are proud of him.

Gary and Susan Polito and family

Please stop by and welcome Eric home.

The Edgewater Park Reporter

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Spc. Kenneth Lewis Returns Home from Iraq June 6, 2009

Edgewater Park Residents,

Please welcome back home Spc. Kenneth Lewis this coming Saturday, June 6. We will let you all know what time the Yellow Ribbon Club will schedule this. The following is a request from Spc. Lewis's wife to the Yellow Ribbon Club.

Dear Yellow Ribbon,
 My Husband, Spc. Kenneth Lewis , returning home from Iraq on June 6,2009.  He is apart of the 3rd/112th field artillery unit out of Morristown NJ. However, we live in Edgewater Park.  We were notified today that he would be released on saturday at about 5pm from Ft. Dix demobilization.  I know this is short notice but if you could help us organize something as small as police, fire, or motorcycle escort, we would greatly appreciate it. My four children and I are vey excited and Kenny returning home. A year is a long time for a family to be apart and we want him to know we appreciate his service, but glad he is home.
If saturday is too short notice,our township is planning to give Kenny a proclamation on sunday, June 14th, at the Municipal Building. Maybe this time would better fit your schedule.  Thank you in advance
Nicole Morgan-Lewis
310 Colonial Rd.
Edgewater Park, NJ 08010

Thank you Nicole and Spc. Kenneth Lewis for your service and sacrifice serving our country,

The Edgewater Park Reporter

The Edgewater Park Reporter received information about Bob Richards of Woodlane Rd who is also returning home from Iraq. He is still in Ft. Dix but we will let you know when he will be returning home to his family.