Civil Rights Pioneer CJ Walker to be Portrayed at South County Library

CNB ARCHIVES: City Preparing for Layoffs; PBA Local 40 Wins; Paff Files OPRA for City Records

Sunday, March 08, 2009


BY William E. Cleary Sr.

A source told me recently that Mayor and Council have requested all departments to put 6a00d8341bf7d953ef01bb07cd860f970d-800witogether a list of names of three people with the less seniority. The list is being formulated in case it is necessary to make cutbacks in the City's workforce because of the lack of money. According to my source department heads have passed the request down to the individual union leaders for the fire, police, highway, and water employees.

Officer William Johnson Jr. , president of PBA Local 40 was asked to clear up some of the rumors surrounding the grievances filed by the union.

"We have filed over 13 grievances in the past year and a half.  These grievances were filed in response to changes in working conditions that was made by the Chief (Crothers) without negotiating with the PBA prior to implementing the changes.  We have also filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against the City.  We had to file against the City because they are our employer, even though the Police Administration is violating our rights.  As you know, Police Officers cannot strike to guarantee that their rights are not violated.

"The NJ Employer-Employee Relations Act was created to protect Police Officers and Fire Fighters from having their rights trampled on.  According to NJSA 34:13A-5.3 any changes or modifications in the terms and conditions of employment HAVE TO BE NEGOTIATED with the PBA PRIOR TO BEING IMPLEMENTED.  The employer is required by law to negotiate in GOOD FAITH.  After an agreement is reached, the agreement has to be embodied to writing and signed by both the City and the PBA.

"The Unfair Labor Practice Charges we have filed include:

  • -Unilateral Changes in Working Conditions without Negotiations
  • -Discrimination Against an Employee Because he has Filed a Grievance
  • -Discrimination in Regards to Terms and Conditions of Employment to Discourage Employees in the Exercise of the Rights Guaranteed to them by the PERC Act
  • -Refusing to Negotiate in Good Faith Concerning the Terms and Conditions of Employment
  • -Refusing to Process Grievances

"We have been successful on the City level in all of our Grievances with the exception of a few that are still outstanding.  I am confident that the City will resolve the outstanding ones before it goes to a trial.  We just want to enjoy the rights guaranteed to us without fear of retaliation.

"Just to clear up a recent comment that was posted, we have not won anything in PERC.  We did go to PERC recently and attempted to negotiate an agreement.  That agreement is still being reviewed and nothing is settled yet".

PAFF FILES An OPRA Request FOR CITY RECORDS (Open Public Meetings Act) to the City of Gloucester City for information on its Email accounts for local officials was filed with Municipal Clerk Paul Kain on March 3 by John Paff Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Paff has taken a number of municipal governments across the state to task for not following the proper procedure when dealing with the public's right to know. He has been known to file lawsuits against municipalities in order to right a wrong if necessary. The Open Government Advocacy Project seeks more openness and accountability from government, especially at the local level.

Some of those requests and court documents have been posted on ClearysNoteBook and also can be found on NJ. Open Government Notes (  a blog operated by Paff.

Supplement to Paff’s March 3, 2009 records request to Gloucester City

I looked today at the directory of City personnel on the City’s Internet site and noticed that there are municipal (i.e. e-mail addresses listed for administrative officials but no e-mail addresses at all listed for the Mayor and Council. It strikes me as a
bit odd that the City would have developed a municipal e-mail system and then either a) not assigned municipal e-mail accounts to its elected officials or b) not informed the public, through its Internet site, of those addresses. Most municipalities I know of make it a point
to put links to their elected officials’ e-mail addresses on their sites to encourage citizens to contact their representatives with issues and concerns.

One purpose of this records request is to determine whether elected officials have e-mail accounts or instead use their personal accounts (e.g. or Another purpose is to find out, regardless of whether the elected officials have municipal e-mail account or use their personal accounts, whether the City is complying—for its elected officials—with the New Jersey Division of Archives and Records Management's “Circular Letter No. 03-10-ST” entitled, “Managing Electronic Mail: Guidelines And Best Practices” which, among other things, makes the City responsible for

What concerns me is this: Suppose the City’s elected officials are using their personal email accounts for municipal business and a citizen requests to see those e-mails. Suppose further that the officials claim that they previously deleted the requested e-mails or that a
computer crash makes them unavailable. In such a case, I believe that the citizen requestor would have a legitimate grievance against had the City had not set up some sort of protocol that would have required the official e-mails sent from or received by the elected officials’ personal e-mail accounts to be preserved on the City’s e-mail server.

A final purpose of this records request is to determine how well the City Council is complying with the provisions of the Sen. Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act that deal with going into closed or executive meetings and recording minutes of those closed

Specific Records Request:
1. The nonexempt portion of the first e-mail sent by Councilman Hutchinson after 12:01 a.m. on February 23, 2009 that related to municipal business.
2. The nonexempt portion of the first e-mail sent by Councilman Marchese after 12:01 a.m. on February 23, 2009 that related to municipal business.
3. The nonexempt portion of the first e-mail sent by Councilwoman Ferry after 12:01 a.m. on February 23, 2009 that related to municipal business.
4. Any policy or other writing presently in force in Gloucester City which addresses the requirements and recommendations set forth in DARM Circular Letter No. 03-10-ST.
5. The City Council resolutions that authorized, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 10:4-13, the first three City Council closed or executive sessions held on or after August 1, 2008. (If the resolutions are spread out in full in the public meeting minutes, please provide only the page or pages that contain those resolutions.)
6. The nonexempt portions of the minutes of the closed or executive meetings held as a result of any resolutions responsive to above.
7. The City Council resolution that authorized, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 10:4-13, the closed or executive session most recently held by City Council.

Municipal Clerk Paul Kain is the custodian of records for the City of Gloucester City and thus responsible for fulfilling all OPRA request. It should be noted that the previous administration also use private email accounts for municipal correspondence. If Paff is correct this is a violation of the law.

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