There are 47 items on the agenda, and in a small meeting room in Trenton, on a Tuesday morning, the Government Records Council is slogging its way through the list of complaints from citizens who have been thwarted in their attempts to access public records.More here.
An hour into the session, it's clear: New Jersey's Open Public Records Act is flawed.
Ruling after ruling by executive director Catherine Starghill goes against agencies that have denied -- wrongfully -- public access to their records. In the GRC's final orders, municipal clerks, board secretaries and other record custodians are found to be guilty of wide-ranging and unnecessary OPRA violations.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Some N.J. clerks 'playing keep-away' with public records.
The Government Records Council in New Jersey has ruled on 1,503 denial-of-access complaints since 2002, and many of the rulings favor those complaining, The Star-Ledger reported. In some cases, rulings are finally granting citizens access to records they requested two years ago, records that should have been released within a week of the request. "Most of the time, they just want to keep people from getting the records in time for the next meeting or the next election," says attorney Walter Luers, who has won OPRA lawsuits against several municipalities." The people on the inside don't want the people on the outside to get the information." Not only is OPRA flawed in how clerks are handing requests, but the GRC panel is also missing two members, which has caused it to cancel meetings and thereby increase its backlog.