Reader says Council Women Kundsen is the only one raising the issue that the agenda must be published in advance of the meeting, regardless of whether it is to be an open or closed one
How do you know what was on the agenda unless you are Knudsen or one of the other Council members? Knudsen seems to be the only one raising an issue here, so has Knudsen betrayed the Council’s closed door agenda by disclosing non-public information here on the Ridgewood blog about a closed session?”
11:27am, read the law!
The capitalized passage below shows that the agenda must be published in advance of the meeting, regardless of whether it is to be an open or closed one.
OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT
(current through May 31, 2011)
N.J.S.A. 10:4-6. Short title
This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Senator Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act.”
N.J.S.A. 10:4-7. Legislative findings and declaration
The Legislature finds and declares that the right of the public to be present at all meetings of public bodies, and to witness in full detail all phases of the deliberation, policy formulation, and decision making of public bodies, is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process; that secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public’s effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society, and hereby declares it to be the public policy of this State to insure the right of its citizens to have adequate advance notice of and the right to attend all meetings of public bodies at which any business affecting the public is discussed or acted upon in any way except only in those circumstances where otherwise the public interest would be clearly endangered or the personal privacy or guaranteed rights of individuals would be clearly in danger of unwarranted invasion.
The Legislature further declares it to be the public policy of this State to insure that the aforesaid rights are implemented pursuant to the provisions of this act so that no confusion, misconstructions or misinterpretations may thwart the purposes hereof.
The Legislature, therefore, declares that it is the understanding and the intention of the Legislature that in order to be covered by the provisions of this act a public body must be organized by law and be collectively empowered as a multi-member voting body to spend public funds or affect persons’ rights; that, therefore, informal or purely advisory bodies with no effective authority are not covered, nor are groupings composed of a public official with subordinates or advisors, who are not empowered to act by vote such as a mayor or the Governor meeting with department heads or cabinet members, that specific exemptions are provided for the Judiciary, parole bodies, the State Commission of Investigation, the Apportionment Commission and political party organization; that to be covered by the provisions of this act a meeting must be open to all the public body’s members, and the members present must intend to discuss or act on the public body’s business; and therefore, typical partisan caucus meetings and chance encounters of members of public bodies are neither covered by the provisions of this act, nor are they intended to be so covered.
N.J.S.A. 10:4-8. Definitions
As used in this act:
b. “Meeting” means and includes any gathering whether corporeal or by means of communication equipment, which is attended by, or open to, all of the members of a public body, held with the intent, on the part of the members of the body present, to discuss or act as a unit upon the specific public business of that body. Meeting does not mean or include any such gathering (1) attended by less than an effective majority of the members of a public body, or (2) attended by or open to all the members of three or more similar public bodies at a convention or similar gathering.
c. “Public business” means and includes all matters which relate in any way, directly or indirectly, to the performance of the public body’s functions or the conduct of its business.
d. “Adequate notice” means written advance notice of at least 48 hours, giving the time, date, location AND, TO THE EXTENT KNOWN, THE AGENDA OF ANY REGULAR, SPECIAL OR RESCHEDULED MEETING, which notice shall accurately state whether formal action may or may not be taken and which shall be (1) prominently posted in at least one public place reserved for such or similar announcements, (2) mailed, telephoned, telegrammed, or hand delivered to at least two newspapers which newspapers shall be designated by the public body to receive such notices because they have the greatest likelihood of informing the public within the area of jurisdiction of the public body of such meetings, one of which shall be the official newspaper, where any such has been designated by the public body or if the public body has failed to so designate, where any has been designated by the governing body of the political subdivision whose geographic boundaries are coextensive with that of the public body and (3) filed with the clerk of the municipality when the public body’s geographic boundaries are coextensive with that of a single municipality, with the clerk of the county when the public body’s geographic boundaries are coextensive with that of a single county, and with the Secretary of State if the public body has Statewide jurisdiction. For any other public body the filing shall be with the clerk or chief administrative officer of such other public body and each municipal or county clerk of each municipality or county encompassed within the jurisdiction of such public body. Where annual notice or revisions thereof in compliance with section 13 of this act [FN1] set forth the location of any meeting, no further notice shall be required for such meeting.