Don't Skip Steps on Sunshine Notice
The meeting was the subject of a Courier News article yesterday and a notice posted on the city web site.
There is no doubt that the meeting was necessary, as an executive session after Monday's City Council meeting apparently did not produce a consensus on budget amendments and it is past time for the budget to be passed. If tonight's session results in agreement on amendments, budget passage could come as early as next week.
The problem may be that the meeting was perhaps not called with sufficient notice. (Clarification from Deputy Municipal Clerk A. Jalloh: "To clarify, I have confirmation from both the Courier News and the Star Ledger of the 48 hour notice they recieved. ") The New Jersey Press Association's public notice search did not turn up any Plainfield City Council meetings this week. Normally, a special meeting requires 48-hour notice in two newspapers, as the school board found out the hard way a few years ago when the state Department of Education's Office of Fiscal Compliance and Accountability cited such a lapse in a special meeting where an interim superintendent was hired.
Luckily for officials in the OFAC case, no complaint was filed by a stated deadline, so the issue became moot.
Back to the city. If budget amendments come out of Thursday's meeting but the meeting itself did not meet the Sunshine Law, should it have to be a do-over? Does it matter? Could it be challenged?
All these questions could be avoided in the future if those who follow City Clerk Laddie Wyatt, now on the verge of retirement, will uphold the goal of meeting the rules on various kinds of public meetings.
The validity of decisions made Thursday remains to be seen. (Comment Friday a.m. from Bernice: If all that is needed is submission of a notice and not publication, then there was no problem.) Let the public Let's hope decisions that follow will be equitable, high-minded and fiscally viable.