There are 565 municipalities in New Jersey. Last week, through a Superior Court consent order, a Tabernacle Township employee received a civil penalty for “knowingly and willfully” withholding public documents, since the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) became law in 2001.
Separately, in the same consent order, the Tabernacle Township Clerk was ordered to retract statements about the OPRA that characterizes it as harassment.
Tabernacle also admitted that its longstanding practice of restricting access to closed session minutes violated the Open Public Meetings Act.
Requests for public documents are not harassment. Failing to provide public documents and restricting access to approved minutes are unacceptable in a democracy.
Tabernacle spends too much time and money resisting compliance with the OPRA. Although Tabernacle committee members, staff and professionals talk about the importance of the OPRA and their commitment to transparency in government, their actions speak otherwise.
The full story will be posted soon.