Tag Archives | OPRA

Open records law presentation in Ridgewood Nov. 8

Editors note: This event was originally planned for Nov. 2. It has been rescheduled for Nov. 8. Details below. 

Government transparency is the topic of the League of Women Voters of Ridgewood at a presentation by New Jersey Foundation for Open Government from 6 to 7:45 p.m.

 Wednesday, Nov. 8, at Ridgewood Village Hall.

The speakers for “It’s All About Transparency” are Walter Luers of NJ FOG and special guest Sen. Loretta Weinberg. Sen. Weinberg has recently introduced bills to update the Open Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act.

At this event, you can learn about submitting an OPRA request and the process for announcing public meetings

Ridgewood Village Hall is at 131 N. Maple Ave., Ridgewood. The event is free and no registration is required. For more information, email RidgewoodLWV@gmail.com

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Public Records forum postponed until March 20

Please note that NJ FOG’s OPRA forum has been postponed for a week because of the blizzard that has been predicted. 

In honor of Sunshine week, our friends at the NJ Foundation for Open Government are holding a free open government seminar in Camden County on Monday, March 20 March 13, 2017 from 7-9 p.m. at the Bellmawr Baptist Church, 328 Creek Road, Bellmawr. The discussion will focus on New Jersey’s Open Public Records and Meetings Acts (OPRA and OPMA).  Attorney Walter Luers, who specializes in OPRA and OPMA matters, will be speaking. Handouts and light refreshments will be provided. Be sure to bring your questions. To register, click here. For more information, email NJFOG at info@njfog.org or call 732-992-6550.…

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Learn about NJ’s sunshine laws

In honor of Sunshine week, our friends at the NJ Foundation for Open Government are holding a free open government seminar in Camden County on Monday, March 13, 2017 from 7-9 p.m. at the Bellmawr Baptist Church, 328 Creek Road, Bellmawr. The discussion will focus on New Jersey’s Open Public Records and Meetings Acts (OPRA and OPMA).  Attorney Walter Luers, who specializes in OPRA and OPMA matters, will be speaking. Handouts and light refreshments will be provided. Be sure to bring your questions. To register, click here. For more information, email NJFOG at info@njfog.org or call 732-992-6550.…

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Sept. 20: Free Forum on NJ open records and open meetings laws

Our friends at that New Jersey Foundation for Open Government will be hosting a discussion on the state’s open records and open meetings laws from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 228 High St., Perth Amboy.

The event is free, and will feature open government advocate John Paff and Walter Luers, a New Jersey attorney who specializes in public records cases. Light refreshments will be provided.

To register, click here.

For more information, send an email to info@njfog.org or call 732-992-6550.…

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An OPRA victory: getting pole-cam video from Bloomfield

Journalists, watchdogs and open public records advocates won a small victory for OPRA law earlier this month when the Township of Bloomfield released some municipal camera surveillance video as the result of an OPRA request — apparently backing down on a legal position that surveillance video should be exempted from public records law.

At stake is a case currently before the Supreme Court of New Jersey, which pits a particularly tenacious local watchdog, Patricia Gilleran, against the Township of Bloomfield.

In 2014, Gilleran asked for a week of security tape footage of Bloomfield’s municipal parking lot. She had been looking into how the town issued parking placards, which she says are valuable because they can be used anywhere in town, and suspected that politically connected people using the municipal parking lot had received the special placards. Gilleran asked for footage from that camera in order to test her hypothesis. “It’s a machine,” Gilleran said. “There’s an awful lot of behind-the-scenes power.”

When Bloomfield denied the request, saying it was burdensome and a potential security threat, Gilleran litigated the case using Pashman Stein attorney C.J. Griffin.

Griffin won in Essex County Superior Court in June 2014. The decision was upheld, after appeal by Bloomfield, in appellate court. Bloomfield has since appealed the case to the state Supreme Court.

Gilleran has been joined by 18 journalism organizations including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Society for Professional Journalists, Advance Publications and North Jersey Media Group, who together have filed an amicus brief arguing that a blanket exemption for security video would compromise the press’s ability to cover police misconduct.

Bloomfield was joined by the New Jersey Attorney General.

The state’s amicus brief raised the following objections to releasing the footage: that surveillance footage doesn’t constitute public records; that even if surveillance footage was part of the public record it would be exempt due to security exemptions in OPRA, that the municipal building’s proximity to the police station would compromise both police informants and crime victims, and that Gilleran’s original request, for a week of video, was overly broad and would take too long for officials to monitor. Gilleran later reduced her request to 24 hours, but the township said that was still too long a period to vet.

Then, this January, something else in the municipal parking lot drew Gilleran’s attention. Right after after the township’s January reorganization meeting, a parking lot fight broke out between Bloomfield councilman Joseph Lopez and the nephew of another councilman, Eli Chalet.

Chalet, who is alleged to have taken a $15,000 bribe, has since been indicted. At the Jan. 4 meeting, Lopez called for Chalet’s resignation. Lopez and Chalet’s nephew paint starkly different pictures of that scuffle.…

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