During a thirty-minute hearing today, June 26, 2009, Atlantic County Assignment Judge Steven P. Perskie ruled that the City of Port Republic did not abide by the Open Public Meetings Act when it failed to issue even redacted versions of its January 2008 closed session minutes when I requested them in August 2008.

The vast bulk of the discussion during the hearing was between Judge Perskie and Port Republic’s attorney, Salvatore Perillo, Esq. (who also serves as the Mayor of Ocean City, New Jersey). I needed to say very little.

Judge Perskie became somewhat exasperated when Mr. Perillo didn’t or wouldn’t understand the precise issue that was before the court. Mr. Perillo kept arguing that the fact that the Clerk had promptly sent me a resolution identifying the topics discussed during executive session provided me with sufficient information and that I had no real need for the redacted minutes themselves. Judge Perskie correctly stated that the issue was whether the OPMA requires timely access to executive meeting minutes even if those minutes need to be heavily redacted to protect legitimate governmental objectives.

After Mr. Perillo’s pressed the same irrelevant argument several times, Judge Perskie asked “which one of us is Abbott and which is Costello?”

The judge appeared inclined to sign the form of order that I had submitted with my cross motion. He also said that Port Republic is to reimburse me my cost of suit. The motion paperwork is on-line here.

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]