At the May 23, 2016 meeting, the Committee rescheduled the hearing on the 2016 budget amendment. The hearing will now be held Wednesday, June 1, at 6:30 PM. Mayor Lee emphasized that the new schedule was necessary so that all Committee members could be present. Still, holding the budget hearing at 6:30 PM makes it very difficult for residents to participate.
The hearing was rescheduled because of an administrative error by Township Auditor Kevin Frenia. Mr. Frenia explained that the State had required an $1,100 amendment as a condition of its approval of the Township budget. Mr. Frenia mistakenly thought that a resolution for the $1,100 amendment had been adopted, but realized later that it hadn’t been. The State’s change and the Township’s additional changes to the 2016 budget will be addressed at the June 1 hearing.
Mayor Lee announced a schedule to address a number of outstanding and important issues. He also noted that the schedules are dependent upon the availability of the Tabernacle Fire Company #1 and the Tabernacle Rescue Squad. The announced schedule and the primary subjects are as follows:
- June 1: 2016, Wednesday, Budget Amendment Hearing, 6:30 PM.
- June 13, 2016, Monday, Discussion Of Emergency Services Report With Fire And EMS Leadership, 7:30 PM.
- June 27, 2016, Monday, Regular Meeting CANCELLED.
- July 18, 2016, Monday, TRS Contract Discussion, 7:30 PM.
- July 25, 2016, Monday, Regular Meeting CANCELLED
In other news, it’s always satisfying when citizens use the video recordings that I post on TTJ. In the December 3, 2015 Post, I explained why I video record. That explanation still rings true. Here are some excerpts:
I record the meetings so residents can see and hear their committee members as they do the public’s work. This is important for people who can’t attend the meetings and for people who attended but want to review what happened. The recordings help keep residents informed; and that’s critical to a healthy democracy.
Many other townships record their public meetings in audio and/or video and post them on their websites. Tabernacle’s refusal to do this goes against the trend. It’s now commonplace for people to post photos and videos that they’ve taken on their cell phones. The New Jersey Supreme Court explained this back in 2007, in its decision in Tarus v. Borough of Pine Hill:
The plain and simple truth is that in today’s modern world, the state of the art is such that has become a part of the very fabric of modern life. To foreclose its use where the democratic process is complete, as at a public meeting, would not only be unrealistic but irrational. Commensurate with the use of video recording in society is its intrinsic value in documenting events. Videotaping is a legitimate way of gathering information for public dissemination and can often provide cogent evidence.
So at the May 23, 2016 public meeting, I was pleased when Jim Jones, father-in-law of candidate Jason Litowitz, said that he watched the May 9 video and then made his public comments based on what he had seen.
The crazy double irony of this is that the only person who has ever complained about me video recording is Jason Litowitz, and he’s a candidate who’s campaigning for transparency!
When I first started video recording, Mr. Litowitz complained that he was unflatteringly being filmed from behind. But if I was to video from the front, I’d be recording the backs of the Committee members. That would defeat the purpose of video recording the Committee and it would be distracting to everyone.
Mr. Litowitz also complained at the October 26, 2015 meeting, that he didn’t want his infant, who he carried on his shoulder while he made public comment, to be video recorded. I understand that parents want to protect the privacy of their kids. But bringing your child to a public meeting and stepping in front of a video camera is not the way to do that. Neither is circulating campaign literature that specifically names your child, which candidate Litowitz has also done. Here’s his campaign literature.
After the October 26, 2015 meeting, Mr. Litowitz told me in an email that he filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that I violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a law that doesn’t apply to TTJ because it’s not a commercial website. Candidate Litowitz, a licensed attorney, surely knew that COPPA doesn’t apply. Here’s his email and the response that I was forced to get. Nothing has come of the FTC complaint, if it was ever made.
I was also told by YouTube that someone filed a complaint about my “content.” YouTube dismissed that complaint.
Litowitz’s and Coolidge’s call for transparency is phony. It’s fabricated to generate interest in their campaign. Filing complaints to limit legitimate access to public meetings doesn’t further transparency or open government.
Lastly, candidate Coolidge didn’t bother to attend the May 23 Township meeting. Her lack of interest in Township business is hard to miss.