April 27, 2012 - Open Public Meetings Act hearing in Bridgeton
Back on August 10, 2010, I attended a meeting of the Bridgeton (Cumberland County) Board of Education. A few days later, I remarked on my blog that "I have rarely witnessed more cavalier and imperious public officials than the members of the Bridgeton Board of Education. I look forward to working with them to improve their compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the Open Public Meetings Act."
After a year elapsed, I made an Open Public Records Act request to the school board to see if its Meetings Act compliance had improved. After reviewing the documents, I filed a pro se lawsuit against the board on October 24, 2011. Today, I filed a motion for summary judgment and asked for a hearing to be scheduled on Friday, April 27, 2012. My motion, with all exhibits, including my lawsuit and the Board's answer, are on-line here.
The compliance issues with the Bridgeton school board are similar to the problems that exist in many public bodies around New Jersey: the executive session resolutions don't advise the public of the issues that are going to be discussed and the executive session minutes don't provide any real detail of the matters that were discussed.
My case will almost certainly be heard by Assignment Judge Georgia M. Curio, who is the top judge for Salem, Gloucester and Cumberland counties. A positive outcome in this case will be helpful in defining the minimum level of detail public bodies in the tri-county area need to include within their closed session resolutions and minutes.
John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party's
Open Government Advocacy Project
Somerset, New Jersey