Time For Better Tabernacle Township Meeting Recordings, Emergency Service Rosters

InaudibleTTJ will not be reporting on the June 26, 2017 meeting because I was not present. So I have no audio or video recording to post. I planned to listen to the official recording so that I could report on the meeting. I purchased a copy of the township’s audio recording but it was inaudible. It’s useless for any citizen who wants to hear what went on at the meeting. Even if the audio recording was audible, I couldn’t post it because it’s in a proprietary format.

The township paid over $6,300 for its recording system. My little audio recorder, which only cost $60, produces a clear, audible recording. I used to post these recordings for TTJ readers. Many people commented how useful they were. I stop posting the audio recordings when I began video recording the meetings. Even more people, including township officials, commented about how useful the video recordings are. (My video recording system also costs far less than $6,300.)

Most local governments now live stream their meetings and post them on their websites. It’s time for Tabernacle to move into the 21st century.

The agenda for the June 26 meeting included a closed session to discuss an OPRA lawsuit I recently filed against the township. The township refused my request for emergency service rosters that it placed in its Emergency Operations Plan.

The township clerk withheld these rosters claiming that they are exempt from OPRA because of Executive Order 21. The exemption applies where a disclosure “…would substantially interfere with the state’s ability to protect and defend the State and its citizens against acts of sabotage or terrorism, or which, if disclosed, would materially increase the risk or consequences of potential acts of sabotage or terrorism.”

That’s a pretty high standard. Police rosters are public records and are subject to disclosure. If the disclosure of police rosters doesn’t materially increase the risks of sabotage or terrorism, surely the disclosure of emergency service rosters won’t either.

I pointed out that the roster of the Tabernacle Fire Company #1 is already a public record as a matter of township ordinance and state law. I also pointed out that the Tabernacle Rescue Squad already lists almost 75 percent of its members (including all officers, many spouses, friends and minors) on its website or on social media.

It’s absurd to think that the disclosure of the TFC#1 roster or the TRS roster, what little of it isn’t already publicly known, would increase any risk of sabotage or terrorism. The township’s withholding of these and other emergency service rosters makes no sense.

I’ll fully report on this matter in a future post.

The next township meeting will be held Monday, July 24, at 7:30pm at town hall.