In February 2013, former Estell Manor City (Atlantic County) Mayor Joseph M. Venezia agreed to pay $100 to the State of New Jersey to resolve a complaint that had been filed against him for violating the Local Government Ethics Law. 

While it is not entirely clear, it appears that Venezia, who possessed a logging permit from the City, voted to introduce an ordinance that would have revoked certain City-issued permits if the holder was delinquent in his or her property taxes.  According to the settlement, a copy of which is on-line here, Venezia said that he “did not realize any unreasonable benefit from his participation in the vote to introduce” the ordinance but acknowledged “that the appearance of such involvement did exist, and a perception could have been created in which his participation might be expected to impair his objectivity or indepedence of judgment because of his open property tax obligation to the City.”

The Local Finance Board, which oversees ethics complaints, does not put its meeting minutes on-line.  And, when I receive the Board’s minutes through an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, the minutes refer to disposed cases only by case number, thus requiring an additional OPRA request in order to get any information about the substance of the case or the parties to it.  Thus the delay in being able to publicly report on this matter.

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