||New Jersey Libertarian Party
Open Government Advocacy Project:
Allowing for repeated extensions can undermine the power of OPRA
RE: OPRA Request No. W80276
November 8, 2013
Colleen M. Kelly, Records Custodian
Division of Local Government Services
P.O. Box 803
Trenton, NJ 08625-0803
Dear Ms. Kelly:
As you know, I submitted a records request on September 27, 2013 for the pages from the Local Finance Board\'s meeting minutes for all meetings after January 9, 2013. You will recall that I asked for just the pages of the minutes that dealt with the Local Government Ethics Law. In my request, I had remarked that these minutes were \"very concise and informative.\" Indeed, they consisted of only two pages. (Please see a copy of those minutes on-line here.)
On October 7, 2013, you sent me an e-mail explaining that the Division had \"asked the Attorney General\'s Office for a legal opinion regarding the records . . . to ensure that [the Division does] not release information that will subject the Division or an impacted municipality to liability in violations of protections related to matters that are privileged.\" I was confused by this response, since only nine meetings had occurred between January 9, 2013 and the date of my request. Even though I questioned the need for an extension, I acquiesced.
On October 29, 2013, you sent me another similar e-mail seeking another extension until November 26, 2013. In your e-mail you state that you need the extension because \"the Division cannot control the timeframe on a response to our request for review by the Attorney General\'s Office.\"
With all due respect, I don\'t think that the public\'s right to access public records should depend on the level of priority the Attorney General\'s office assigns to your request for a legal opinion from his office.
Further, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(g) doesn\'t allow the Division to unilaterally impose an extension on a requestor. Rather, the Division may deny me access only after \"attempting to reach a reasonable solution with the requestor that accommodates the interests of the requestor and the agency.\"
In essence, I don\'t think it\'s reasonable for me to have to wait more than two months to receive approximately 20 pages of meeting minutes. I ask that you please reconsider your position in this matter and ask to hear from you by no later than Friday, November 15, 2013.
Very truly yours,
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