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Reader Reminds Everyone Open Public Records Act was Designed to shine a light on the individual agendas of elected officials

Voigt OPRA

Open. Public. Records. Act. Designed to shine a light on the individual agendas of elected officials such as yourself Mr. Voigt. Remember you are a public SERVANT meaning you work for us. Not the other way around. I have never regretted a vote in any election as much as I regret the one I cast for you.

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Albert, Paul, and Gwenn have all admitted to violating Resolution 13-87 No electronic communication by elected officials during public meetings

3 amigos in action Ridgewood NJ

file photo by Boyd Loving

Albert himself created a document that forbids any electronic communication by elected officials during public meetings. Albert, Paul, and Gwenn have all admitted to violating this. It is Resolution 13-87. Go to this link on the Blog:
https://theridgewoodblog.net/ridgewood-council-must-follow-meetings-protocol/#comments

Ridgewood Council must follow meetings protocol

To the Editor:

In response to concerns voiced by several residents regarding Village Council members’ adherence to provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act, the council unanimously adopted Resolution 13-87, “Village Council Meetings and Communications Protocol,” in April of 2013. This document, which was developed by the council with the very best of intentions, is a list of “dos and don’ts” for the five elected council members to follow when discussing, investigating, or preparing for deliberation of municipal business.

Item No. 4 in this list reads as follows: “Telephonic or electronic communication between or among Council members or between a Council member and a member of the public during public meetings is prohibited.” In the 2013 public work sessions at which this document was edited, the clause prohibiting contact with members of the public was specifically inserted.

At both the Oct. 22 and Nov. 5, 2014, Village Council meetings, it was revealed that some members have their telephones and/or tablets on during meetings, and receive and reply to messages from family members. Resolution 13-87.4 does not allow for any exceptions to the prohibition, and family members are certainly members of the public. Both Mayor Aronsohn and Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli have clearly indicated that they have no problem breaking this rule in order to communicate with their families. As one resident stated on Nov. 5, this does not meet the high standards they set for themselves.

Our Village Council members put in long hours conducting business for Ridgewood, so one can imagine their temptation to be in touch with family during an evening meeting. Unfortunately, when their own rule is being broken, with private communications occurring during public meetings, members of the community are left with no way of knowing whether electronic exchanges might be taking place regarding substantive matters on the council agenda. If such interactions were to take place, this would seem to contradict the principles of the Open Public Meetings Act.

It is my hope that, moving forward, the Village Council will start following this document to the letter of their own law. Having telephones and tablets turned off and out of reach during these public meetings would completely eliminate any hint of impropriety.

Anne LaGrange Loving

Ridgewood

https://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-letters-to-the-editor/letter-ridgewood-council-must-follow-meetings-protocol-1.113352

 

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Reader says once again a private email listing was used by one of our elected officials to promote the VOTE YES campaign

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Does the fact that this Parking Garage Plan up for a vote mean that it is a political issue? Please read the following:

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A quote from the IRS web site is below.
(begin quote)
The Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Those section 501(c)(3) organizations that are private foundations are subject to additional restrictions that are not described in this fact sheet.
What is Political Campaign Intervention?
Political campaign intervention includes any and all activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention. Distributing statements prepared by others that favor or oppose any candidate for public office will also violate the prohibition. Allowing a candidate to use an organization’s assets or facilities will also violate the prohibition if other candidates are not given an equivalent opportunity. Although section 501(c)(3) organizations may engage in some activities to promote voter registration, encourage voter participation, and provide voter education, they will violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention if they engage in an activity that favors or opposes any candidate for public office. Certain activities will require an evaluation of all the facts and circumstances to determine whether they result in political campaign intervention.
(end quote)
Some more info at this link:
https://www.blueandco.com/nfp_03082012.html

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The above is from The Blog in 2012 regarding Mr. Aronsohn using a Jamboree emailing list to promote his own campaign. Now we have a situation where a private email listing was used by one of our elected officials to promote the VOTE YES campaign. What does anyone think about this? I mean, besides the fact that it was unethical and just plain wrong. For his information, it totally pissed off some of those who received it, who felt it was beyond the pale. Can you say BACKFIRE?

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Ultimately CBR was holding our council responsible and paying a fortune out of pocket for what our elected officials should do as standard operating procedure

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Clearly you are not aware of the backstory. If you were, I am sure you would understand that CBR had to pay a lawyer for almost 3 years to attend every meeting for every hour to represent their and ultimately our interests as residents. I am sure you understand how much lawyers charge per hour and the amount they bill when they are doing research aside from meetings. I am sure you realize they did fundraise but ultimately there is a big gap that they filled personally for years. How much did you contribute?

Ultimately CBR was holding our council responsible and paying a fortune out of pocket for what our elected officials should do as standard operating procedure. We are at the point now with the clock running out on this council. Hopefully residents are now paying attention and will be putting pressure on so the right studies are done and responsible decisions are made.

I assure you there is nothing beyond that. No promises of anything else.