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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Letter to Englewood Cliffs

Issue Detail:

New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project John Paff, Project Chairman P.O. Box 5424 Somerset, NJ 08875-5424 Phone: 732-873-1251 Fax: 908-325-0129 E-mail: Paff@pobox.com January 24, 2011 Hon. Joseph C. Parisi, Jr., Mayor and members of the Englewood Cliffs Borough Council 482 Hudson Terrace Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632 via e-mail to SSpohn@englewoodcliffsnj.org Hon Mayor Parisi and Council members: A recent news article (\"Englewood Cliffs councilwoman alleges violation of the Open Public Meetings Act,\" the Record, by Melissa Hayes, January 21, 2012) reports allegations of two violations of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). First, it is alleged that the Council did not set aside a portion of its reorganzation meeting for public comment. If this is true, a violation occurred. N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(a) states that \"a municipal governing body . . . shall be required to set aside a portion of EVERY meeting of the municipal governing body . . . for public comment on any governmental . . . issue that a member of the public feels may be of concern to the residents of the municipality . . .\" (emphasis supplied). No exception is made for reorganization meetings. Second, it is alleged that at a December 20, 2011 executive session, \"council members were notified that Brian Ribarro, who was hired as building subcode official for a four-year term in August, had resigned.\" If this is true, it appears also to be a violation because the resolution that authorized the executive session in accordance of N.J.S.A. 10:4-13, listed only one topic to be discussed: \"Police Contract Negotiations.\" (The resolution is on-line at ) The object of the resolution is to inform the public of the topics that the council will discuss behind closed doors. In order to effectively accomplish this objective, the Council must limit its private discussions to only those topics that are set forth in the resolution. Discussing a subcode official\'s resignation, while arguably a \"personnel matter\" which may be privately discussed in accordance with N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b)(8), is clearly outside the scope of \"police contract negotiations.\" If the council wanted to discuss the resignation, it ought to have reconvened in public session and passed another resolution that would have informed the public of the nature of the closed discussion\'s topic. Thank you for your attention to this matter. Sincerely, /s/ John Paff P.S. The full text of the OMPA is available here http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/OPMA.htm




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New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project: Letter to Englewood Cliffs. January 24, 2012.
URL: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012024Ur/
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