RELATED: PART ONE
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS—Have you ever wondered what happens when your mayor and
council members stop a public meeting and go into executive session?
We also wondered.
In an effort to learn about the plans for the construction of four billboards in the north end of Gloucester City we submitted several Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests to the custodian of records, Municipal Clerk Kathy Jentsch. We asked for the council’s executive session meetings minutes from January 2016 through February 2017. In return, we received approximately 60 pages. From that number, we copied the information that we thought would be of interest to you and have published it below.
As you read along you’ll see the meeting minutes taken by Jentsch only give a short synopsis of the topic being discussed by council members and other officials in attendance. Sometimes the full name of the individual is given other times the clerk only provides the first or last name. On numerous occasions, Jentsch took a black felt pen and blacked out entire sentences claiming attorney-client privilege.
As for the billboard information, the city denied our request because the matter is in negotiations. The city claimed attorney-client privilege.
You too can submit an OPRA request if you are interested in learning more information about any of the topics below.
- Read How to File and OPRA
Because the data from the executive meetings is so long we have split the article into two parts. The second part of the article which contains executive session minutes from September 2016 through February 2017 appears below.
Date: August 18, 2016
Solicitor Wood and Mr. Stecklair reported on the incident that occurred regarding the inspection at 856 E. Brown Street. This was a CO inspection where the inspector missed over 100 feet of damaged sidewalk. As a result, the seller refused to fix the sidewalk since the inspector did not have it on his report.
The buyer wants the city to replace the sidewalk. Solicitor Wood stated that it is not the city’s responsibility it is the buyer’s. The city is not responsible for its employee's mistake.
Administrator Lipsett was instructed to bring in the buyer and inform him he was responsible for getting the sidewalk replaced.
Additionally, a request for an increase in the salary for the recycling aide was discussed. Mayor and council want to see further information before they make any determination on this topic.
Date: September 6, 2016
Solicitor Wood made a presentation on the three outstanding labor contracts and what the unions are looking to get. He spelled out what he thinks can settle the impasse on all the contracts. The mayor and council were adamant that times have changed and the city has to tighten its belt and the unions must get realistic. Wood said he would convey that message to the various labor unions and their attorneys.
Solicitor Wood discussed the dock damage ongoing litigations. Several lines were blocked out and below it read the information fell under attorney-client privilege.
Date: September 15, 2016
Parry reported three interviews for Fire Lieutenant. Campanell, Oliver, and Glassman. Council chose Campanell.
Date: October 3, 2016
Long reported on the following: billboards, (blank spot) followed by negotiation attorney-client privilege. Royal Farms received DOT approval.
Transco Gas line looking at property behind Holt across from the Ragan Building offer was ridiculous.
Pilot agreement with Holt, reviewing with Dymond.
Lazor, Rt. 130 and Market Street, talking with Barbara Fegley.
Chatham Square, three interested parties (attorney-client privilege)
Cyzner (attorney-client privilege)
Sapphire Acquisitions (attorney-client privilege)
A Trust Realty (attorney-client privilege)
Date: October 20, 2016
Rocco from Organic Diversions provided and update on his project. Had to make some cuts due to funding issues and permits expiring soon.
Jeff Dey provided budget information on Amspec Remediation project and BP Arco wetlands permit mitigation project, TWP moving forward. (real estate; attorney-client privilege).
Mayor reported (blacked out) (real estate; attorney-client privilege)
Wood-Arvon lawsuit, they have disappeared; Pier damage-wrote attorney for T&M, no response; has heard nothing from CWA rep.
Lipsett reported health benefits increasing $147,000, however, will be receiving $148,000 dividend to offset.
Long-Transco (blacked out) (attorney-client privilege).
Schindler-need RFP for the engineering firm or advertisement for the position. It was decided to advertise for the position. The possible short-term shared services with Berlin boro if needed. Make sure monies come from utility budget for advertising; (real estate attorney-client privilege).
Date: November 7, 2016
Long-Transco-Ellis Avenue site- Clayton Anderson was present to discuss his plans; (blacked out) (attorney-client privilege)
Long presented an ordinance authorizing payment in lieu of taxes between Gloucester City and GMT Realty, Passaic Properties and Ellis Properties. Long said it will be beneficial to the city.
Long-provided job description for Schindler position. Lipsett to handle advertising.
Jentsch brought up a memo from Leonard Wood regarding holidays for four day work week. No one else had received. Jentsch will distribute.
Lipsett-recycling at school. Per discussion he will inform John Kenney to put at curb and Republic will pick up. The city will not pay for dumpsters.
Long-do we want to ask for $200,000 from Transco? It was decided yes. Mayor has concerns but they will be addressed at Planning Board.
Lipsett—Patrick Kain salary. He was hired for $15,000 per year and will continue to receive that and must join the union.
Date: December 28, 2016
Wood—FF negotiations-distributed memo-everyone will review and report back to Len; BILLBOARDS (blank-negotiations, attorney-client privilege).
At this time Eric Fooder was present for questions from governing body regarding his role as potential department head for Water/Sewer.
After Mr. Fooder left, discussion on the title. Keating will provide steps necessary to change the code and put Mr. Fooder into the unclassified title. It was agreed to offer Fooder $85,000.
Discussion on new tax collector. Finance committee still needs to decide between two candidates.
Date: January 19, 2017
Jeff Dey of Southport Renewal discussed a number of issues with mayor and council. Jeff (blacked out)-Amspec negotiations, (attorney-client privilege).
Dey asked for a six-month extension of the MOU for the township project. The retail price of power has reduced causing short term equity to go down. They would like an extension to do more due diligence.
Dey informed mayor and council that Rocco will definitely get started with Organic Diversion in April.
Dey discussed an authorization fly the city to start the application process to apply for EIT funding. A lot of funding is 100 percent forgivable. It would help with the flooding issue have throughout the Southport area as well as the asset management plan and O&M plan. They have over $47 million in that would be forgivable. Lipsett would be the city representative once we put the application together.
Solicitor Wood-Freedom Pier negotiations (blank) attorney-client privilege.
Date: January 1, 2017
Regarding $44,000 water bill for 227 Mercer Street-it was decided the city would accept $11,725 as long as the property was not included in the tax sale. Jentsch to check with the tax collector.
Date: February 6, 2017
Tim S. from Remington & Vernick explained that there is a $50,000 issue with Freedom Pier manhole placement. Fooder will meet with him and see if there is any possibility it can be rectified in house.
Chief Morrell reported an employee was disciplined for losing a body cam. He informed council the body cams are considered outdated by Taser. Ordinance regarding body cams will be reviewed to incorporated penalty if lost.
RELATED: PART ONE