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ALLERGIC TO THE PUBLIC: LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP MEETINGS TO CONTINUE TO BE HELD VIRTUALLY




Lakewood's Township Committee has been holding their regular meetings virtually instead of in-person ever since the onset of the pandemic.


Despite the fact that virtually the rest of the world has resumed in-person meetings, it appears that business in Lakewood will remain "as is."


Township officials have announced that "in accordance with Governor Murphy's Executive Order during the declared public health emergency," their 2024 annual reorganization meeting will be held virtually.


The Township Clerk claims that even prior to (and after) the public health emergency, the Open Public Meetings Act does authorize virtual hearings, as it defines a meeting as follows: any gathering whether corporeal or by means of communication equipment....


Thus, OPMA does permit meetings to be held by communication equipment at any time.


Fact of the matter is that, as previously reported here on FAA News, Ocean County Superior Court Judge Francis Hodgson has agreed with the Township's interpretation that the OPMA does permit public meetings to be held virtually, so there doesn't appear to be any legal recourse to force the Township to return to in-person meetings.


Yet, the big mystery remains - why are they so allergic to exposure to the public?


Mayor Ray Coles has stated that he has come to enjoy holding Township Committee meetings virtually and that by holding the meeting virtually, public participation has actually become easier as the public is now permitted to submit comments by email in advance of the meeting or during the meeting without needing to come in person to the municipal building.


The Committee's 2024 annual reorganization meeting will be held this coming Monday, January 1, 2024, beginning at 12:00pm.


Mayor Coles and Deputy Mayor Menashe Miller are expected to keep their positions for 2024, making them the longest to retain these positions consecutively.


A petition has just been launched to urge the Township Committee to return to in-person meetings. The petition highlights that in-person meetings foster a vital sense of community participation, providing a transparent, accessible, direct and meaningful platform for residents to interact with local government and voice their concerns.


You can view and the sign the petition here.


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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Menashe is afraid of the public because he doesn't want any questions regarding his military positions because they aren't all exactly 100% kosher.

Ray very much enjoys not seeing the public because this way he can choose to dismiss certain uncomfortable public comments.

Ditto for Lichtenstein.

Anonymous said...

Menashe is also scared of being subpoenaed in the chatz charlie schwab land swapping fiasco. He figures that if he stays at home, he can attend meetings in his underwear without fear of getting another subpoena.