Christie critics cry foul over public records access

From USA Today: TRENTON, N.J. — In advance of an expected 2016 presidential campaign, Chris Christie’s administration is stepping up efforts to control the Republican governor’s image at all costs — even skirting sunshine laws that permit public access to government records.

Getting the Christie administration to release its grip of records tracking use of federal recovery money for Superstorm Sandy has been particularly difficult for watchdog groups and media outlets, including the Asbury Park Press.


Pittsgrove acting clerk violated New Jersey Open Public Records Act, state officials rule

From PITTSGROVE TWP. — The acting township clerk violated a law by failing to provide requested documents to a resident under the Open Public Records Act, according to state officials.

Steve Wymbs was found to be in violation, according to the New Jersey Government Records Council, after he was unable to locate and produce less than 3 percent of the total requested documents from resident Norman Lenchitz.


Pension probe: Does the public have a right to know, or will New Jersey authorities keep lieutenant governor’s secrets forever?

From Should New Jersey officials be allowed to keep forever secret a criminal investigation on alleged corruption involving a prominent elected official?

Or does the public have a right to know what the state found – and how authorities handled a probe rife with conflicts of interest?


Northern Valley parents file open-records suit against district over drug-policy discussions

From A group of parents has sued the Northern Valley Regional Board of Education, claiming it did not comply with state open-records law by providing access to some documentation of official discussion about a random drug-testing policy.

Bruce Rosen of Florham Park, the attorney representing the parents, claimed the district violated the Open Public Records Act because it did not give the requested information in a timely manner and when it was finally delivered, important documents were withheld.


Spending facts: New Jersey has to be more open

From The Daily Journal:

Government transparency is certainly not New Jersey’s middle name. But the state does get a middle grade for its spending transparency, earning a “C” in the fourth annual report on spending openness from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Using U.S. PIRG terminology, that means New Jersey is among a large collection of “emerging” states, which is at least better than the lagging and failing states behind them.


Englewood Cliffs council looks into whether increasing cost of public records is legal

From North Jersey:

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS – Nearly three weeks after the borough council took steps to raise the cost of an open records request from 5 to 25 cents a page, residents are still paying the lower rate for copies of public records while the council finds out if the increase is legal.

“The next step is to find out if we can do it,” Council President Joseph Favaro said Wednesday.


New Jersey’s inscrutable open-records umpire


TRENTON — William Scott Jr. was concerned about a housing development being built near his Montclair home by a politically connected nonprofit. He filed an open records request to try to figure out how the nonprofit secured a big government construction grant from Essex County, even though it applied past the deadline.


Fair Lawn Council opposes changes to Open Public Records Act


The governing body opposed revisions to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) over claims the legislation would make government "less effective."

An open government activist, however, contends that the borough has raised "non-issues" and "red herrings" in order to mislead the public.