On September 13, 2013, George H. Heflich Sr., president of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association, personally attacked me and Jeffrey Carter during his report delivered to thousands of delegates who were assembled at the convention. The video of President Heflich’s comments is on YouTube here.
Let’s review Heflich’s statements, one by one:
True. A copy of The GRC’s December 30, 2008 letter is on-line here.
2. Prior to my lawsuit, the Association did not believe that it was subject to OPRA and it did not have an OPRA request form nor had it appointed an OPRA records custodian.
It is probably true that the Association did not believe it was subject to OPRA. It is true that the Association did not have an OPRA request and had not appointed a custodian.
3. My lawsuit filed in Union County Superior Court was “dismissed.”
True. Superior Court Judge Regina Caufield’s February 17, 2012 order and opinion are on-line here.
4. The Appellate Division reversed Judge Caufield’s dismissal and held that the Association is subject to OPRA.
True. The Appellate Division’s June 13, 2013 decision is on-line here.
5. I received all the information I requested and my request was not on an OPRA request form.
It is true that my request was not on an OPRA request form. It could not have been because the Association had not adopted a request form at the time of my request. It is false that I received “all the information I had requested,” at least prior to winning in the Appellate Division. My September 23, 2011 OPRA request, which is on-line here, was denied by way of the Association’s lawyer’s October 13, 2011 letter, which is on-line here. In the letter, the lawyer maintains that the Association is not subject to OPRA. Notwithstanding, he provided me with some of the information I requested due to me being a Life Member of the Association. He did not, however, provide me with “records that shows the amount and type of pension received by each member of the Executive Committee who served immediately prior to the current members of the Executive Committee” as requested in part 2.a of my request. That information, on-line here, was not provided until July 13, 2013–after the Appellate Division’s ruling.
6. Everything I had requested “is in the Red Book.”
False. The Red Book is an Association publication that lists basic information about the Association. I do not have a copy of the Red Book and the last time I consulted one, it did not contain any detailed pension information for Executive Committee members. Indeed, had the pension figures been in the Red Book, there would have been no reason for the Association to have not provided it with its attorney’s October 13, 2011 letter.
7. On July 24, 2013, I sent out an e-mail throughout the State containing false and misleading information.
False. After I learned that President Heflich was personally attacking me during his presentations to the County Caucuses in July 2013, I sent an e-mail, on-line here, to several Local Chapters located in counties that had not yet had their caucuses. The purpose of these e-mails was to notify Association delegates and Life Members of the facts concerning my lawsuit so that they would not be misled by President Heflich’s attacks. There is nothing false or misleading in my e-mail. Also, on-line here is a flyer I handed out at the Somerset County Caucus defending myself against President Heflich’s attacks.
8. President Heflich informed me of my allegedly “false and misleading” e-mail at the Somerset County Caucus.
True. President Heflich did repeat his claim about my e-mail during his presentation to the Somerset County Caucus. When I challenged him to specify what was false about my e-mail, he stated, incredibly, “The fact that you sued the Firemen’s Association.” When I pointed out to him that it was indisputable that my suit named the Association as a defendant, he changed the subject.
9. My friendship with Jeff Carter.
I know Jeff Carter. He is a former police officer in my town and also served as a firefighter for a fire company within my fire district. His OPRA requests to the Association, however, are his own and not mine.
10. I am trying to “destroy” the Association.
False. The Association receives millions of dollars from a state tax that is assessed against fire insurance premiums collected by out-of-state insurers. I firmly believe that an organization that collects tax money should be publicly accountable. Indeed, even the Association itself believed that it might have been subject to OPRA, given that it sought an advisory opinion to that effect from the Government Records Council. My litigation ultimately answered the question that the Association could not get answered by the GRC.
11. I am trying to obtain information regarding who is receiving relief payments from the association to “satisfy my own ego.”
False. I have never sought information from the Association regarding which members are receiving relief. I am informed that Jeff Carter did make a request to the Association for payments made to one member. According to court papers filed in State Firemen’s Association v. Jeff Carter, Docket No. UNN-L-2932-13 (on-line here), Carter was interested in obtaining information regarding relief payments made to “John Doe, who was the target of an investigation into the viewing of child pornography at the offices of his local Fire District (among other things).” His stated intent in receiving this information on this one member was to criticize the Local Chapter’s decision to pay this money to this person.
12. Relief payments by Local Chapters are reported in the Red Book.
True. The aggregate payments are reported but no information is reported that identifies the recipients and how much each received.
13. Jeff Carter is seeking the names of multiple people who are receiving relief payments.
As far as I know, the only person for whom Carter requested relief payment information is for John Doe, as described above.