FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Jersey Basis for Open Authorities, March 2021
New Jersey’s native governments, on common, are solely 60 % in compliance with the New Jersey Open Public Conferences Act (OPMA), in response to a examine launched by the New Jersey Basis for Open Authorities (NJFOG).
The OPMA, handed into regulation in 1975, has remained comparatively unchanged over 45 years. The first function of the OPMA is to conduct authorities conferences in public, hold a document of public conferences, and to provide the general public sufficient discover.
In what’s the first statewide examine of municipalities, native authorities and boards of schooling, NJFOG examined municipal compliance with OPMA necessities. These are the: 1) particular assembly discover necessities; 2) correct discover assertion included in assembly minutes; 3) closed session resolutions; and 4) necessities of assembly minutes associated to closed periods.
The examine discovered that no public entity was totally compliant with the OPMA.
As a gaggle, municipalities have been 54 % compliant; native authorities have been 44 % compliant; and boards of schooling have been 60 % criticism.
“There may be at the moment no mechanism within the OPMA that will permit residents to simply convey enforcement actions to enhance compliance,” mentioned Walter Luers, NJFOG board member and certainly one of New Jersey’s finest identified open authorities attorneys.
“Residents can file complaints in Superior Court docket, however few of them have the data to file a pro-se lawsuit with out authorized illustration they usually haven’t got monetary means to rent an legal professional,” mentioned Luers. “Sadly, public our bodies are conscious of this and ignore the regulation with impunity. For this reason the OPMA wants an enforcement mechanism to result in compliance.”
“The findings of our intensive examine show a transparent and really troubling sample. Governing our bodies throughout the state usually are not respecting the rights of residents to knowledgeable participation in public conferences,” mentioned Lee Dorry, President of NJFOG. Dorry can be the founding father of Essex Watch, an area authorities watchdog group.
“Property taxes and the skyrocketing price of residing in New Jersey are on the minds of nearly each resident. Our Legislature should prioritize and enact significant amendments to OPMA to make sure transparency and accountability from our public officers,” mentioned Dorry.
The information for the NJFOG examine have been collected in 2018. NJFOG intends to replace the examine findings in 2021.
A replica of the NJFOG OPMA Compliance Examine is accessible right here:
NJFOG OPMA Report FINAL