On April 2, 2008, the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project wrote to Watchung Borough in Somerset County regarding four areas where the Borough wasn't compliant with the Open Public Meetings Act.  On April 10, 2008, the Council, in response to the Libertarian Party's April 2, 2008 letter, passed the resolution pasted below.

The Borough Council is promising to do a better job providing the public with:

a) access to draft minutes of its public meetings,
b) faster access to its executive session minutes and
c) better, more detailed, descriptions of the topics that it will discuss in executive session.

The Project's letter and the resolution are on-line HERE

John Paff
Somerset, NJ

--attachment

BOROUGH OF WATCHUNG

RESOLUTION NO. 8
(Passed April 10, 2008)

WHEREAS, the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J,S.A. 10:4-6 et seq., and the Open Public Records Act, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq., require transparency in municipal government; and

WHEREAS, it has been and will continue to be the policy of the Borough of Watchung to be transparent in its actions; and

WHEREAS, consistent with this policy the Borough Clerk, promptly after each Council meeting, places on the Borough Web Site under "Meeting Recaps" "a short synopsis of the highlights" of each Council meeting, thereby advising the public of what transpired at each Council meeting; and

WHEREAS, a review of the Borough's Web Site shows that a "Meeting Recap" for the last Council meeting held on March 27, 2008 is available for pubic [sic] viewing; and

WHEREAS, the "Meeting Recaps" then serve as a basis for the preparation of formal Council meeting minutes; and

WHEREAS, the Borough wishes to continue the practice of placing the "Meeting Recaps" on the Web Site promptly after each Council meeting; and

WHEREAS, once the "Meeting Recaps" have been posted, the Borough Clerk should proceed to prepare formal Council meeting minutes to be approved at the next regularly scheduled Council meeting; and

WHEREAS, the Borough Council has the responsibility to approve draft Council meeting minutes prepared by the Borough Clerk to ensure that the minutes accurately reflect what transpired at each Council meeting; and

WHEREAS, once the minutes of each Council meeting are approved, the Borough Clerk should continue to post the approved minutes on the Borough's Web Site; and

WHEREAS, consistent with the Borough's policy to promote transparently in government, the Borough Clerk should, upon request, release draft minutes prior to approval by the Council, provide that the draft minutes clearly advise that the minutes are "Draft – Unapproved Meeting Minutes"; and

WHEREAS, the preparation of Executive Session minutes should also be prepared in a prompt manner, with disclosure to occur consistent with applicable law; and

WHEREAS, within the context of Executive Sessions, the Borough Clerk should provide sufficient information on the Agenda and Executive Session Resolution to advise the public of the topics to be discussed in Executive Session.

NOW, THEREORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Watchung, as follows:

1. That it is the policy of the Borough of Watchung to promote transparency in government.

2. That the Clerk continue to promptly post on the Borough Web Site "Meeting Recaps" until the approved minutes are posted on the Web Site.

3. That, after the Borough Clerk posts the "Meeting Recaps", the Clerk proceed to prepare formal Council meeting minutes.

4. That the Clerk release draft Council meeting minutes prior to approval by the Council, provide that the draft minutes clearly advise that the minutes are "Draft — Unapproved Meeting Minutes."

5. That the Clerk prepare the Executive Session minutes in a prompt manner, with disclosure consistent with applicable law.

6. That the Clerk provide sufficient information on the Agenda and Executive Session Resolution to advise the public of the topics to be discussed in Executive Session.

7. That this Resolution shall take effect immediately.

/s/ Albert S. Ellis, Mayor
/s/ Thomas Franklin, Council President

CERTIFICATION

1, Laureen B. Fellin, Municipal Clerk of the Borough of Watchung, County of Somerset and State of New Jersey, do hereby certify the foregoing to be a true copy of a Resolution duly adopted by the Mayor and Council on April 10, 2008,

/s/ Laureen B. Fellin, Municipal Clerk

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