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Ridgewood mayor’s insistence on “respectful” comments at public meetings may violate NJ’s Open Public Meetings Act

Vagianos Copy 1

the staff of The Ridgewood Blog

Ridgewood NJ, Since taking office in January of this year, one of Ridgewood Mayor Paul Vagianos’ many official duties has been to preside over all open public meetings of the Ridgewood Village Council, including managing the public comment segments of those meetings.

Continue reading Ridgewood mayor’s insistence on “respectful” comments at public meetings may violate NJ’s Open Public Meetings Act

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NJ considers law requiring Pledge of Allegiance before public meetings


By Michael Symons January 19, 2017 5:38 PM

All public meetings in New Jersey might soon be required to open with a Pledge of Allegiance under a proposal now one vote from reaching Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

The Assembly State and Local Government Committee gave its unanimous endorsement Thursday to a bill, S308/A777, already passed 35-0 by the full Senate two months ago.

Read More: Lawmakers move to require Pledge of Allegiance before all public meetings |

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Reader says its Time to Ban the Ex Mayor and His Supporters from Grand Standing at Public Meetings

village council meeting

file photo by Boyd Loving

Clearly, this was an attempt on Ms. Winograd’s part to generate a newspaper headline that the current Council was seeking to limit public comment.

Siobhan Winograd is on the anti-Knudsen team.

Let’s list the mouthpieces for the former megalomaniacs so that we’ll know we can ignore everything they say. Sonenfeld, obviously. Willett and Weitz. Winograd. Halaby, Griffith.

Why would the former council members, who were defeated resoundingly, come to the meetings to attempt to advance their failed agendas?Are they just spiteful? Do they need to grow up?

Hot button issues bring a lot of people to public meetings. To limit their input would be wrong and would make them feel that their voices do not count.

There were a lot more residents speaking against the garage and high density housing than in favor of the projects. Maybe this attempt to limit public comment is an attempt to limit dissent.

Those with a financial interest in the projects, and their paid staff, will continue to go to the meetings. It will provide more time for them in front of the mic.

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Deputy Mayor Moves to Stop Video Taping of Public Meetings in Ridgewood

file photo by Boyd loving
February 1,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ ,Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarell at a recent council meeting said   “Im going to introduce an Ordinance” In regards to video taping of council meeting. Seemed after his recent out bursts he was not happy with being taped by outside sources .

You might want to run that one by the NJ Supreme Court .

At Village Council Meetings There are no expectations of privacy in a person in a public place.The meeting is already being videotaped, why is personal video a problem?

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey praised a New Jersey Supreme Court decision released today that protects an individual’s right to videotape public meetings.

“Videotaping is an invaluable method of documenting government activities or misconduct,” said ACLU of New Jersey Legal Director Ed Barocas. “We are pleased that the Supreme Court recognized that American freedom and democracy depend on the people having a right to access government information.”

So whats the problem ?

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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:

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



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Telephonic or electronic communication between or among Councilmembers or between a Councilmember and a member of the public during public meetings is prohibited

gwen hauck

file photo Boyd Loving 

Ridgewood NJ, Resolution 13-87 (April 24, 2013), item #4 reads as follows:

Telephonic or electronic communication between or among Councilmembers or between a Councilmember and a member of the public during public meetings is prohibited.

This Resolution was written by Pucciarelli and Walsh in 2013. Pucciarelli initiated writing it because his conduct had been questioned as a possible violation of The Sunshine Law. He felt that a road-map for proper conduct was needed for council members. It is entitled “Village Council Meetings and Communications Protocol.” It was voted in unanimously.

When a member of the public asked the Council, in October of 2014, whether they were complying with this particular line item, Pucciarelli, Hauck, and Aronsohn all admitted that they do have their phones on and they do receive communications. Sedon and Knudsen firmly stated that they do not. Hauck was outspokenly affronted that her integrity had been called into question. Pucciarelli went on a riff about emergencies and his family having to let him know what is going on. (note to Albert – the POLICE DEPARTMENT is in the building, they can run upstairs if one of his family members calls in an emergency). Aronsohn said his wife sends him little jokey texts (how cute). No matter whether it is a family member or anyone else, these are members of the public who are in touch with members of the Council during Public Meetings.

What is the point in having the Resolution if it is not respected? What is the point of having a Sunshine Law if quiet communications are taking place during public meetings?

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Citizens for a Better Ridgewood Urges Residents to Speak Up at Public Meetings on High Density Housing for the Central Business District

village council meeting

file photo by Boyd Loving

September 25,2015
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, the Village Council has now scheduled two public meetings to gather public input on the high density housing projects planned for the central business district .The two public hearings are scheduled for THIS Wednesday, September 16 at 8 pm, and Wednesday, September 30.

This is an opportunity to Voice your opinion or just be present to show you care about a series of “sweeping reforms” that will allow high-density housing to be built in our Central Business District.  The Village Council will vote on September 30. These reforms will change the character of the Village for ever and may effect both the quality of life and property values in the Village .

The grass roots group CBR urges everyone to show up and be heard .

A room filled with concerned citizens is a chance to urge Council members to reconsider enacting these ordinances in their present form.
This is YOUR village and you do have a voice. These two hearings will be your last chance to speak up

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Village Council digs in its heels at public meetings

Paul_Aronsohn_theridgewood blog

August 5,2015

Boyd A. Loving

Ridgewood NJ, Faced with an ever increasing number of meeting attendees who publicly disagree with his administration’s policies, Mayor Paul Aronsohn has invoked a protocol of accepting “comments only” from certain meeting attendees.  If the Mayor doesn’t like your comment/question, no response is offered, and you are asked to leave the podium and return to your seat.

Long gone are the days when a taxpayer could go to the microphone during a public meeting of the Village Council and engage in meaningful dialog with a Council member or members, regardless of your support for the “Council majority” or the issue at hand.  When asked why the new protocol was being instituted, Aronsohn said only that he’d “received complaints” about the interactive nature of the meetings’ public comment segment.  He did not say who had “complained.”

Here’s a comment for you Mr. Mayor – If you can’t stand the heat, don’t change the rules, just get out of the fire.