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Report: Open Public Meetings Act Violation Possible in Hightstown

Four council members discussed resolutions over email, according to a report in the Trenton Times.

Four Hightstown council members exchanged emails about two resolutions, possibly violating the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act, according to a report in the Trenton Times.

At a June 18 council meeting Mayor Steven Kirson said members weren’t being transparent and he suspected the act was violated.

“I suspect that the sunshine laws were treaded on between the meetings of May 30 and June 4,” Kirson said at the meeting.

Two resolutions were introduced at a June 4 meeting without public notice, one by council member Gail Doran calling for Borough Hall to be centrally located, and one by council member Susan Bluth, stating the council be kept informed of matters relating to Borough Hall. 

According to the Times report, Doran, Bluth and council members Lynne Woods and Robert Thibault, all exchanged emailed on the resolutions, making a council majority involved.

Thibault and Bluth said in the report that the law was not violated, but retired municipal attorney disagreed. 

“There is no doubt in my mind that it is a Sunshine (Law) violation,” retired attorney Michael Hartsough told the Trenton Times

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Hawkeye July 05, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Four wrongs don't make it right. Obviously this council thinks they are above the Sunshine Law. Rob your words are so self promoting. Get on track , You were elected to serve Hightstown, not attack. Let's try to get something accomplished before the next storm.
terribly tired of this July 05, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Rob, keep up the great work. Hightstown needs someone who will fight for our tax dollar that needs some tweaking on how it is spent.
Stockton Res July 05, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Self-promoting maybe, but it is odd that out of all the lawyers in NJ the paper did somehow find this particular one. Could be coincidence, but... I'm with taxed to the max though. We didn't hear anything about Borough Hall except Lucas, Lucas, Lucas until Council started pushing for more info on it. Bravo Council. It seems they're the only ones who are serving the residents.
Lifelong Hightstown Resident July 11, 2012 at 07:44 PM
As to the violation of the Open Public Meetings Act, perhaps enthusiasm got in the way of better judgement in this case. Let's hope we can get past this issue, roll up our sleeves, and focus on some broader issues like the economic future of our downtown. Am I alone in thinking that it doesn't matter where Borough Hall is? It's the year 2012 and I suspect a majority of the daily business that goes on inside is done over the phone or through the mail. Also, does anyone else recall a representative from the Office of State Planning reviewing the Mill Redevelopment Plan years ago and making a recommendation that the project boundary extend out to Main Street so that it more effectively expands the downtown business district? If Borough Hall were moved elsewhere, this would become possible. As for the Police, I don't know if they like their current location at Lucas but I suspect it's a big improvement over the cramped spaces they had downtown. Let's think a little outside the box folks. Do we think more people will want to visit town for its charming Main Street or for its Borough Hall?
Lifelong Hightstown Resident July 11, 2012 at 08:45 PM
P.S. I didn't mention the Fire Dept because I feel that it's a nice image to see upon entry to our great town and should stay where it is (for response times too). As for Council Meetings, Court, etc., there's no reason why these functions need to be in the CENTER of town. In the end, money unfortunately needs to be spent on borough hall/police/courts improvements but perhaps we should consider the bigger picture and not just stick with what we're used to. Maybe something positive will come from Irene after all.

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