Minutes from 3.15.23 Closed Session Meeting (Resolution No. 23-077)

South Amboy City did not have the information requested.

Dear South Amboy City,

This is a request for public records made under OPRA and the common law right of access. I am not required to fill out an official form. Please acknowledge receipt of this message.
Records requested:

Per the Open Public Meetings Act, minutes must be kept of closed sessions. Please provide the minutes for the Closed Session that occurred on March 15th, 2023 - according to Resolution No. 23-077.

The subject matters to be discussed were regarding "litigation" efforts and it was recently announced by City administration that the matter has been settled via a mutual agreement/negotiation.

Yours faithfully,

Brandon Russell

Deborah Brooks, South Amboy City

Brandon - The executive session minutes are only released after the completion of items on the agenda. These are still open.

Regards,
Deb

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Dear Deborah Brooks,

I'm sorry but could you explain further? The administration announced on 1/3/24 that this matter has been settled outside of court. It doesn't appear any legal action was ever actually taken by the City so I'm having a tough time understanding how this "items" can still be considered open.

Yours sincerely,

Brandon Russell

Deborah Brooks, South Amboy City

[Subject only] RE: OPRA request - Minutes from 3.15.23 Closed Session Meeting (Resolution No. 23-077)

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Deborah Brooks, South Amboy City

I just spoke with Mr. Womack - while the was an accepted settlement offer, the case is still open in the courts ( I believe until payment is made) and therefore I cannot release the minutes yet. I will make available as soon as the court closes the case, you should know, as we discussed before, these minutes are nothing like regular meeting minutes and will be in one or two broad sentences as required by statute.

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Dear Deborah Brooks,

Thank you. Please understand my confusion as I was under the impression payment has been made and a court case was never filed (based on both public announcements and private conversations with key City officials). Thank you for that update from Mr. Womack.

As we discussed before and the Open Public Meetings Act clearly dictates - I am well aware that meeting minutes by-law do not have to be verbatim or include many details at all. It also does not put a limit on the amount of details that can be shared, only going over the bare minimum required - including all subjects considered and votes taken.

If the City of South Amboy's preference is to short-change the public and use taxpayer money/resources to discuss important issues behind closed doors without sharing as much information as realistically possible - it is what it is and I will simply hope to see the minutes on a Council agenda once payment is finally made and the case is officially closed.

Thank you again for contacting Mr. Womack in regards to my follow-up.

Yours sincerely,

Brandon Russell

Dear Deborah Brooks,

I understand there was some confusion regarding this request (based on what I was told at the meeting last night) so please see below for clarification:

This request is specifically pertaining to Resolution No. 077 - authorizing an executive session on March 15, 2023. There is no subject matter listed in the Resolution but as someone who was in attendance that night, the purpose of the closed session was for the Council to hear from auditor Gary Higgins and other paid professionals regarding the PILOT audit results at the time.

City Attorney Womack thought I was asking about the Venetian lawsuit, which is apparently still in court pending payment, and I think I found the mix-up. The Venetian case was discussed on 5.17.23 under Resolution No. 107 (as notated in the resolution) and there are no facts available to suggest the Venetian case was also discussed during the March closed session, unless there is an audio recording.

Although I've been told that the minutes for closed session will only be "a sentence or two", I hope at least some notes were taken regarding the subjects and votes considered/taken during the meeting. Considering how many lawyers, auditors, and paid professionals were involved in this PILOT audit specifically, I hope you understand why an abundance of transparency will be appreciated. In any event, I look forward to the 3.15.23 closed session minutes being approved at the next Council meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Brandon Russell