The needler in the haystack.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Board of Ed minutes: Maria moves a mountain


Maria got help from NJFOG.

Evidently Maria has moved a mountain with the Plainfield Board of Ed.

That mountain would be the backlog of minutes of FOURTEEN Board of Ed meetings since March 2 that were not approved or posted to the District's website (excluding the month of July).

As Maria says, 'we may never know' why it has taken so long, but evidently she got some action when she pointed out that the interpretation of the 'reasonable time' called for by the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) (see here, PDF) has been deemed to be THIRTY DAYS.

Some minutes were approved and posted (see the Board's minutes page here), and some have been posted pending approval, with a disclaimer suggested by the Board's attorney at the top of all pages --

"The following minutes have not been approved by the Board and are therefore a mere recital of the actions taken by the Board at the listed meeting and are subject to modification and/or correction and approval by the Board at a later date."
Maria and I both belong to the NJ Foundation for Open Government listserv, which updates those interested in Sunshine Law and OPRA matters on an almost daily basis.

The generosity with which its participants, particularly Walt Luers and John Paff, take time to answer queries from interested activists is a great help to those interested in transparency in New Jersey governmental affairs.

Here is the text of an email Maria sent to the NJFOG listserv early this morning, reporting the success of getting the minutes matter addressed by the BOE last night --

Just wanted to let you know that the Plainfield Board of Education past due, really past due (6 months) Minutes, got finally posted last night.  The Minutes from March through May had to be posted, at the district's website, without approval and with clarifying language from their counsel.  Minutes from June were approved last night and should be posted within the next few days.  Hopefully approving and posting Minutes won't be an issue here anymore. You can see their Minutes HERE if you want.

I had been pressing for these Minutes to be available for few months now and it is thanks to you and your advice that I was able to make a better argument. Knowing the facts, with statutes and all, certainly made a difference.  Even the county prosecutor's office learned since his office had to research this matter and while a complaint was not filed, at least now we know what to do in case this becomes an issue again.

Thanks again for the advice and the comments!
Kudos to Maria for her role in getting the Board of Ed to fulfill its responsibilities in this regard.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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1 comments:

Maria Pellum, Plainfield Resident said...

Dan!

I didn't know you also belong to NJFOG's list-serve!

You have caught me by surprise! Thanks for the kudos. Paff and Luers really are doing an exceptional job helping out those of us interested in "helping elected officials" fulfill their duties. Both, Paff and Luers, are on my list of heroes.

Thanks again for the kudos! I am speechless. :-)