Public Comment is not Testimony: A primer on when / how to speak at public meetings

Public input at meetings of council and statutory boards is critical to the proper functioning of government.  But not all opportunities to speak are the same.

If you came out to speak at yesterday’s Zoning Board hearing against an application – it was not entered in the record for the application.

In this post, I’ll outline the problem and then make a few suggestions as to how we might find a fix.

Types of Public Input

Continue reading “Public Comment is not Testimony: A primer on when / how to speak at public meetings”

Working Productively For A Better Shared Future

This week Council did something new and different.  We had a weekday meeting.
Mayor Hameeduddin suggested that Council meet in open session at 2pm instead of our typical 8pm meeting time.1

Truth be told I was a bit skeptical.  I wasn’t entirely sure that anyone would show up!  We walked into the council chambers to this scene:

A packed house

Literally, every seat was filled.  We had an overflow crowd in the halls.  Residents were speaking at the Good & Welfare portion for well over an hour, telling the council about their concerns and informing us of how they wished us to proceed.

This was democracy in action and the daytime meeting provided a rare opportunity for many who otherwise couldn’t, to come and address council about their concerns.  We will continue holding these types of meetings throughout the year (hopefully supplementing others meetings with additional ways people can address council-members, e.g. video from home).

The importance of having more people be able to contribute

One of the reasons I was so happy this was such a success is because Continue reading “Working Productively For A Better Shared Future”

Historical Perspectives on “New Problems”

Since joining the Teaneck Planning Board (about a decade ago), I’ve spent a lot of time researching how we did things, in the past.

I use that information to gain perspective, and guide decisions on what we might wish to do, going forward.  When you know what has been tried (for better or worse), you gain a good perspective.

Issues residents face tend to be cyclical1 and knowing how we handled them in the past, is very informative if you want to avoid prior mistakes2.

With that in mind, I hope to make several posts in the future about issues affecting Teaneck, that we face on Council.

Lighting:

A couple weeks back, a resident asked, via the Facebook group Teaneck Today (click to join)  “has there ever been an audit on the effectiveness of Teaneck’s street lighting? Continue reading “Historical Perspectives on “New Problems””

We need OPRA reform

Tomorrow, I’m requesting the Council put forward Resolution 204-2018 to: Call for the Legislature to Amend the Open Public Records Act to Permit Municipalities to Rely on the Government Records Council as a Defense to Attorneys’ Fees or to Abolish the Government Records Council Altogether.

The Open Public Records Act is an extremely important step towards transparency in NJ.  It permits residents to seek information from their elected representatives and to know, relatively quickly, what is happening at the municipal and county levels1.

But like any legislation, there are some exemptions and calls to be made.  The exemptions are few, with an emphasis on disclosure.  If you have an issue regarding an OPRA request, there’s also a place you can turn: The Government Records Council. Continue reading “We need OPRA reform”

Save the Date: Teaneck Council Reorganization on July 2, 2018

On Monday, July 2, 2018 at 6:30 pm, the Teaneck Council will hold the semi-annual reorganization meeting at the Teaneck Town Hall.
We will be swearing in Gervonn Romney Rice, Elie Y. Katz, Keith Kaplan & Jim Dunleavy.

In addition, Council will elect the Mayor & Deputy Mayors, among others.

For those that may not be familiar with the way the Teaneck Council operates, I’d like to offer some additional information:

How does our system work?
Teaneck utilizes the Council-Manager form of Government under the Faulkner Act.  What that means in practice is that residents choose their council-members “at-large” (i.e. you vote for everyone, as opposed to a ward system like neighboring Englewood) and the Council as a body, once elected and seated, chooses a mayor from among the council-members (as opposed to municipalities where the Mayor runs separately). Continue reading “Save the Date: Teaneck Council Reorganization on July 2, 2018”