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Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer reminds residents there is a cost to all of us, as residents for Rallies and Protests

Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer

July 2,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Glen Rock NJ, on Facebook ,Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer reminds residents that no one is looking to stop you from exercising your free speech rights but these events cost taxpayers in police overtime and municipal services.

Packer said, “At the council work session this past Wednesday, some time was spent talking about rallies at Borough Hall, particularly the ‘Rally for Humanity’ that is occurring this evening at 7:30PM on the front steps of Borough Hall.
The entire council was in agreement that no local governing body should attempt to prevent residents from exercising their First Amendment rights by following the example of those who built this country by speaking out and rallying.
The point was made, though, that residents should know that there is a cost to all of us, as residents, when there are rallies such as this.
When a group of several hundred people gathers in one place, it is necessary to have a police presence and the police personnel that are present, do represent a cost to all of us. It is important to point out that ANY Borough event held in town, that requires police presence has that same cost.
We budget for police overtime each year with the expectation that there will be times when extra coverage is needed. Each year, the amount that is budgeted is determined based on an assessment of how many events are anticipated in the coming year where police overtime will be necessary as well as OTHER possible times when such a cost may be incurred.
As there was at least one grassroots rally at Borough Hall in 2017, this year’s budget was done with the knowledge that there is an increasing likelihood of gatherings that might necessitate a police presence.
While budgeting for overtime is never an exact science, we feel that we did a good job of covering our bases in this year’s budget and, as always, will continue to reassess as we move forward.”

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Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer : “Ridgewood Water rates continue to reflect rate increases that a judge struck down because the Village decided that she was wrong”

Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer

July 1,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Glen Rock NJ, Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer had some choice words on his Facebook page for the Ridgewood Village Council and Ridgewood Water .

Packer states, ” The Ridgewood Village Council chose to ignore the facts set out by the expert hired by Glen Rock, Midland Park, and Wyckoff which made it clear that the Ridgewood Water rate increases of the past were not justified as previously pointed out by a judge and they have reinstated the rate increases that the judge had voided.
In short, your Ridgewood Water rates continue to reflect rate increases that a judge struck down because the Village decided that she was wrong. The Village was empowered by the judge to make this decision and, to me, this outcome is no surprise as they had a choice between admitting that money was historically misappropriated or not admitting that money was misappropriated. They chose the former as they continue to dispute clear facts that have now been laid out in court and during the rate hearing.
The meetings from 6/24 (7 hours long) and the one from a couple of days ago where the decision was made, are now on YouTube (see below).
Once I know our next steps, I will let you know.
**Please note that all views expressed in this post are solely my own.**”

https://www.youtube.com/c…/UC8BZwzy4YPgi_NgvSZ2q9wQ/featured

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Glen Rock in the forefront the continuing legal debate about whether elected officials’ social media accounts

Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer

April 25,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Glen Rock NJ, A Glen Rock resident has filed suit against the borough for denying a records request, and in so doing, has brought to the forefront the continuing legal debate about whether elected officials’ social media accounts constitute a government property to New Jersey Superior Court.
https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/bergen/glen-rock/2018/04/19/glen-rock-nj-officials-facebook-pages-public-documents-says-suit/528481002/

Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer had this is say on his Facebook pages :

April 21 at 9:05pm ·

I cannot comment on ongoing litigation but I want to make it clear that when OPRA (Open Public Records Act) requests are made, elected officials play NO part in whether or not they are granted. As the Borough Clerk is in possession of those records that fall under the rules, it is the Borough Clerk who makes such decisions, at times with the help of the Borough Attorney.
There are times where there are questions as to what constitutes a government record and unfortunately I cannot comment any further.
You can find lots of info about OPRA here:

http://www.nj.gov/grc/public/docs/Citizen’s%20Guide%20to%20OPRA%20(July%202011).pdf

*Part 2 on OPRA requests*
When a Borough Clerk is not in possession of an item that is requested, it is not possible for the clerk to provide that record. That does not inherently imply that the record is not subject to OPRA but, for example, if governing body members have Facebook pages on their personal email accounts, it is not possible for a Borough Clerk to access them and provide information.
While I cannot talk in detail about the current lawsuit regarding OPRA and Facebook accounts, our Borough Clerk has no access to our accounts and the heart of the issue is whether or not she should.
In short, are the unseen parts of governing body members’ Facebook pages, such as admin settings, block lists, etc, government records? No court has ever made a determination to date on this and the information has never been provided based on my own informal conversations with other municipalities.
In Part 3, I will share an email that I received from the NJ Government Records Council last October.

*Part 3 on OPRA requests*
I believe in full transparency and open access to all records as appropriate. There is a line that protects the privacy of governing body members though and there are times when that line is not clear.
After an OPRA request was received for information relating to a Facebook page last year, I wrote to the state authority on such matters, the NJ Government Records Council (http://www.state.nj.us/grc/). As this is uncharted territory, I wanted to gather all of the facts.
Here is the response to my query and the last paragraph responds to my specific question:
Thank you for contacting the NJ Government Records Council (“GRC”). The information provided by the GRC is guidance and does not constitute legal advice or a final decision of the GRC regarding whether a particular record is exempt from disclosure or not since the provisions of the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) are applied to the specific facts of the request and/or complaint. The GRC cannot tell you exactly how to respond to an official OPRA records request because your response must depend on the specific facts of the records request.
Generally, OPRA provides that “. . . government records shall be readily accessible for inspection, copying, or examination . . . with certain exceptions . . .” N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1. There are 25 specific exemptions from disclosure included in OPRA.
Additionally, OPRA defines a government record as a record “made, maintained or kept on file . . . or that has been received in the course of . . . official business . . .” N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1. Also, OPRA requires a custodian to grant or deny access as soon as possible but no later than seven (7) business days from receipt of the request. N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(i). OPRA further requires that custodians inform requestors of the lawful basis for any denial of government records. N.J.S.A. 47:1A-6.
Regarding your inquiry, the GRC has no prior decisions regarding social media and OPRA. Additionally, the current state of the law doesn’t specifically contemplate the disclosability of social media posts. It’s an awfully tricky situation given the interactive nature of social media. At some point, these types of issues will need to be decided either through new legislation, court decisions or Council adjudications.

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Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer has asked people to please remove the orange ribbons from trees

orange ribbon

April 13,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Glen Rock NJ, Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer has asked people to please remove the orange ribbons from trees , the color orange is apparently used to communicate a need for construction.On Facebook he explains,”I realize that we live in a time where it is easy to attribute negative intentions to any message that might appear to infringe on your civil liberties.A few days ago the Borough asked people to please remove the orange ribbons from trees as the color orange is apparently used to communicate a need for construction or action by some of our local utilities or cable companies. I am frankly still not completely clear on what the color is used for but I have confirmation that it is used.
I took it upon myself to contact Ridgewood Water and PSEG to let them know that some of our residents have orange ribbons on their tree which should not be misinterpreted. I did not reach out to the local cable companies, who apparently also use this color but likely higher on a pole, nor local tree services who may or may not use this color.

We are in a Borough that has a mayor that has been a proud member of the group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (https://everytown.org/mayors/ ) since his first year in office (2016) and that has a Mayor and Council that has read and unanimously approved a proclamation for Gun Violence Awareness Month every June that this administration has been in office.

We proudly invited the students to a council meeting the evening that they staged the school walkout to give them an opportunity to share their message with residents.
I have personally offered my help to the students, if needed, to help them to continue to get their message out but they are an amazing group and quite self sufficient.
It is this Mayor and Council that represent the Borough so I would hope that it should be obvious that a request from the Borough to move orange ribbons from our DPW does not reverse all of that.
There is no ordinance that can be enforced which would allow us to force you to move ribbons from trees on your property. However, orange ribbons on a right of way (within 10 feet of the street) are in violation and are at higher risk to potentially be misinterpreted.

If you don’t want to move your ribbon to something other than a tree or further away from the street, that is your prerogative but this request has nothing to do with political stands and everything to do with the color orange. My ribbon would still be displayed on my front railing if it hadn’t blown away.

You still have a right to disagree but the Borough has no intention of preventing anyone’s right to free speech.

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Glen Rock Mayor Encourages all Residents to Attend the Presentation on Community Energy Aggregation Program aka the Glen Rock DEAL

Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer

November 20,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Glen Rock NJ, Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer is encouraging residents to attend what he sees as an opportunity for Glen Rock rate payers  , ” I strongly urge people to try to attend the presentation on Glen Rock DEAL on November 30th. If you are cynical, please assure that you have all of the facts before allowing your cynicism lead you to the accepting and spreading of misinformation on social media or elsewhere. You can find some info right here:

The Environmental Commission is currently evaluating an opportunity to enroll PSE&G customers into a community energy aggregation program that would provide cheaper electricity while adding more clean sources of energy.

Participation in the program is voluntary. Residents are automatically enrolled, unless they “opt-out” before the program starts. They can also opt-out anytime and for any reason during the entire duration of the contract and revert back to PSE&G with NO termination fees, by notifying PSEG by phone or email (see FAQ below).

http://www.glenrocknj.net/index.asp?SEC=A12FAE01-EB9C-477B-A107-0CD8400A724F&DE=85241729-0CBC-47C9-B25A-64A16304C0D9&Type=B_BASIC

It is important to note that this change can only happen with the passing of an ordinance which will include, as always, an opportunity for a public hearing. This will happen in early 2018.

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Glen Rock Reinstates Officer Who Sued Borough After His 2014 Firing

Glen Rock Police Dept

April 15,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Glen Rock NJ, according to Glen Rock mayor Bruce Packer who announced at Monday’s Borough Council meeting former Glen Rock police officer Matthew Stanislao, who was fired by the borough in October, 2014 and later sued the borough claiming he was the victim of discrimination because he is gay, has now been reinstated to his former position after he and the borough reached an out-of-court settlement that will give him two-and-a-half years’ worth of back pay and $750,000 in damages.

Officer Stanislao sued the borough in October 2014, one week after he was notified that he had been fired. In his suit he alleged that several officers had sexually harassed him for being gay.

Packer said “In the spirit of moving forward, the Borough pursued, and has now achieved, a full and final settlement, which will reinstate Mr. Stanislao to the Glen Rock Police Department.’

Packer stated the Stanislao will return to work on or before May 5, and the mayor added that the borough’s insurance company will cover $600,000 of the settlement. He also said the portion of the settlement that the borough will pay has already been figured into the annual budget for this year.