OLD Borough On The Record

A discussion of open and efficient government

New appointments, no names

Each year, typically during the first week of January, the Allendale Mayor and Council holds its first public meeting – called the Reorganization or Reorg meeting.  This meeting will be held tonight, January 5, 2017 at 7:30pm at Borough Hall.

The purpose of the Reorg meeting is to provide the public with specific information as required by the Open Public Meetings Act.  It is also used by the Mayor and Council to make appointments to important professional, staff, and Board positions.

The issue I raise here is the ability of the public to know what appointments will be made at this meeting and the names of the appointees before the meeting is held and before any vote of the Council is taken.  These appointments are presented for approval in the form of a document called a Resolution.

A Resolution is a document that details an act of government, reduced to writing, and approved at the same meeting where it is introduced.

Please review the agenda for the Reorganization meeting below.  Locate the Resolutions listed in the Consent Agenda.  These Resolutions are created by the Borough Staff and provided to the the Mayor and Council several days before the Reorganization meeting.  However, they are not made available to the public until their approval.  As such, the public has no information regarding the names of the appointees or even the identity of each Board to which an appointment will be made.

It has historically been the policy of Allendale’s Governing Body NOT to make Resolutions available to the public before a vote.  I am hoping that the Mayor and Council will reconsider this policy and make this information and future Resolutions available before their respective votes.  Sadly, there is no law requiring that this information be provided before it is voted on – but, there is no law that prevents making it available before any vote is taken.

I suggest marking these unapproved Resolutions as DRAFT and posting them on the Borough web site before their approval.  The content contained in these Resolutions do not contain confidential information that might jeopardize the interests of the residents of Allendale or anyone’s personal privacy.

Review the agenda for January 5, 2017 Reorganization meeting.  It was published on http://www.AllendaleNJ.gov in the late afternoon of January 4, 2017.

Last night, I emailed the Records Custodian requesting these resolutions.  As of 5:30pm, the Resolutions have not been made public.

Followup – January 6, 2017

The above referenced Resolutions were adopted last evening and posted to the Borough web site late afternoon today.  I make them available below.  Upon review, you will note there is no confidential information, no reason to withhold these documents from the public before their adoption by the Council.

I hope the Governing Body will overturn this out of date tradition and release ALL non-confidential documents (e.g., ordinances, resolutions, and minutes) to the public for their review before any vote is taken.

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