The folks who we elect to our local governing bodies are supposed to work for us and represent us in the ways they use our tax dollars and make the big decisions that affect us.

They are also supposed to - as in, required to - conduct their formal meetings in compliance with the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).

The Senator Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act (NJSA 10:4-7) goes so far as to "find and declare 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..."

So, keeping those meetings open to the public and allowing us to observe what they are up to isn't simply "good politics." It's the legit law.

And quite an important law at that.

The Act (N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(a) also codifies the right to present public comments during public meetings as follows:

A... governing body... shall be required to set aside a portion of every meeting... for public comment on any governmental... issue that a member of the public feels may be of concern to the residents of the municipality...

In other words, our local governing bodies are required to keep their meetings open to the public, and provide a portion of every meeting for public comment. Specifically, the public comment portion is required to be open on any governmental issue that a member of the public feels may be of concern to the residents of the municipality.

Got that?


Unfortunately, the monthly agenda of the Lakewood Board of Fire Commissioners only provides for "Public Comment (Agenda Items Only)."


Where exactly did they invent that rule??

That is not something that Senator Byron M. Baer would be proud of!

The good news is that their recent meeting was attended by a FAA News reporter who set the record straight and, thankfully, was permitted to speak on non-agenda items as well.

We are now waiting to see if they will correct their agenda for the next meeting to eliminate "Agenda Items Only."

Unfortunately, as previously reported here on FAA News, this is not the first time in recent months that the Board of Fire Commissioners showed a lack of knowledge/interest in adhering to the OPMA.

Following the OPMA is not at all optional.

N.J.S.A. 10:4-15(a-b) provides that:

Any action taken by a public body at a meeting which does not conform with the provisions of this act shall be voidable.. in.. Superior Court, which proceeding may be brought by any person within 45 days after the action sought to be voided has been made public.....If the court shall find that the action was taken at a meeting which does not conform to the provisions of this act, the court shall declare such action void.

This is yet another reason to highlight why it's high time to put the sheep out to pasture.

As first reported here on FAA News, Aaron Hirsch is officially in the race against Harrison Pfeffer who is seeking reelection to his seat on the Lakewood Board of Fire Commissioners!

Aaron Hirsch is currently very active at the local land use boards, speaking in support of traffic and pedestrian safety, and in vehement opposition to continued overdevelopment which leads to traffic congestion and higher taxes.

According to their mission statement:

The Lakewood Fire District is committed to providing fire services with the highest degree of efficacy. This includes the delivery of fire suppression, fire prevention and fire education services while at the same time exercising sound fiscal control and budgetary restraint.

The Fire Commissioners of the Lakewood Fire District are the translators of the Fire District’s overall commitment to excellence through the establishment as well as strict adherence to high standards of performance. This sets the tone and encourages those affiliated with the Fire District to continually strive to be the best in all aspects of service delivery by meeting or exceeding the expectations of the public they serve.

This year's fire district budget, which for the first time has topped $10 million, includes a salary of $191,732 for Chief Yahr, $155,000 for Administrator Yehuda Beer, and $110,000.00 for Deputy Administrator Steven Mulholland.

A vote for Aaron Hirsch is a vote FOR transparency, honesty, (and - at no extra charge - a much harder look at Site Plan applications to ensure that the Planning Board has the legal wherewithal to restrain developers from cramming in too many houses with no cul-de-sac bulb and too narrow roadways!)

Election day is on Tuesday, November 7. Polls open 6am - 8pm.

If you are not yet registered to vote, you can take the first step now by registering here to vote. All it takes is one minute!

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1 comment:

001 said...

Thank you for your dedication!