The NJ Libertarian Party Open Government task force has been uncovering unadvertised settlements between government entities. The following recently appeared in the Hunterdon County Democrat.
$245K paid to settle police brutality suits
by Veronica Slaght / Hunterdon County DemocratWednesday January 14, 2009, 12:29 PM
READINGTON TWP. -- Two police brutality lawsuits were settled for a total of $245,000, according to agreements recently unearthed by open public records advocate John Paff.
Mr. Paff is a Somerset resident who runs the state Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. He has also pressed the High Bridge and Franklin Township school boards for more openness. Mr. Paff said he came across the Readington documents during a routine investigation into civil cases involving a government agency, which he posts on his blog: njcivilsettlements.blogspot.com. Mr. Paff said he thought people might be interested in the payouts because that's information municipalities don't like to advertise.
NEPTUNE — The one-year ban on the use of eminent domain on most properties in the township approved Monday by the Township Committee may be extended to a permanent ban by spring.
Committeeman Randy Bishop asked that an ordinance banning abuse of the practice be discussed at the next committee meeting, set for Jan. 26. Bishop has tried to get the ordinance approved for the past two years, but could not get the necessary three votes.
Reason Magazine has many great articles (as usual) in its January edition. Of note are the following:
Is Deregulation to Blame?
The new Washington consensus says "yes." The facts on the ground say something different.
You might not be able to tell by looking at it on the page, but deregulation has become a four-letter word in Washington. In October’s vice presidential debate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) practically spat it out: “If you need any more proof positive of how bad the economic theories have been, this excessive deregulation, the failure to oversee what was going on, letting Wall Street run wild, I don’t think you needed any more evidence than what you see now.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed the sentiment in her floor speech before the first vote on the bailout bill: “It’s really an anything-goes mentality. No regulation, no supervision, no discipline.”
Bush's Regulatory Kiss-Off
Obama's assertions to the contrary, the 43rd president was the biggest regulator since Nixon.
When Barack Obama was running for president, he made no secret about his plan to "restore common-sense regulation"—read: increase regulation—by closing the regulatory loopholes he thought the Republicans had opened. Deregulation, he argued repeatedly, is the source of evil. Much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression, Obama offered a sweeping, ambitious agenda: new financial regulations, new labor regulations, new energy regulations, and more.
EDISON — Public discussion on a controversial ordinance that, if passed, would amend various rules of procedure in Township Council meetings is set for tonight's Jan. 14 meeting. Aimed at increasing the efficiency at which township business is conducted, it has been heavily critiqued by some residents as restricting free speech.
The ordinance, introduced on Dec. 22, contains many provisions that would either change how meetings are conducted or clarify current practices. One part, for example, lays out the specific procedure for how a special meeting can be called and who can call one. Similarly, the ordinance explicitly lays out the process by which the budget is examined, discussed and adopted.
See full story. Includes mention of the NJ Libertarian Party Open Government Taskforce's role in shaping the ordinance.
In an unpublished trial court decision released today, Bergen County Superior Court Assignment Judge Peter E. Doyne denied Paramus Borough's lawsuit seeking a declaration that the Borough Attorney must review all non-routine OPRA requests submitted to the Borough Clerk.
The decision is available HERE..
Somerset, New Jersey
The Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation recently released a video with Cato's Daniel Mitchell explaining the failed logic behind Keynesian economics. It's a great watch, since Keynesian theory is the driving force behind President-Elect Barack Obama's latest stimulus plans:
At a special meeting to be held on January 14, 2009, at 7 p.m. the Rutherford Mayor and Council will discuss amendments to the Council's bylaws.
In its January 12, 2009 letter, the Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project offered some comments and suggestions regarding Rutherford's bylaws. That letter, along with a copy of the present bylaws, is on-line HERE.
John Paff, Chair
Open Government Advocacy Project
New Jersey Libertarian Party
Rules in Central Jersey towns vary widely as Edison weighs limit on public-meeting comments
EDISON —As the debate over curbing public comment at Township Council meetings continues, a survey of neighboring municipalities shows that most do not limit public comment at their meetings.
The portion of the proposed ordinance that has ignited public ire in Edison seeks to limit individuals to speaking just once on each of the categories of business on the meeting's agenda, with a limit of four minutes each time.
See full article. Includes comments of the NJ Libertarian Party Open Government Taskforce.
When one election is over, the next one has already begun. Operation ELECT-US is a program by the Libertarian Party to recruit as many candidates as possible for winnable local offices in 2009.
In odd numbered years, most elections are local and quite a few of them take place in the spring. For example, filing deadlines for local elections have already begun in Maryland, and take place in Illinois in December.
Paterson pays $10,000 to settle vaguely worded police abuse case. On May 28, 2008, the City of Paterson paid $10,000 to a local man who had sued the City and Paterson Police officers John Plelan and Frank Motta in August 2007 for an alleged police "assault" occurring on October 6, 2005.
In his cryptically worded civil lawsuit, Alex Lopez claimed that the officers, along with other unnamed officers, "committed an assault and battery upon" him and "committed acts which constituted false imprisonment." No further details are provided in the lawsuit. Lopez was represented in his lawsuit by Alan Roth, Esq. of Bendit Weinstock, P.C. of West Orange.
Although Thomas Wachendorf's and Christopher Strobel's brutality lawsuits against the Readington Township police have received a fair amount of publicity (see, e.g. the January 4, 2007 Star Ledger article, which is set forth at the foot of this posting), the amount of their settlements with Readington have not been publicly disclosed until now.
In a settlement reached January 23, 2007, Thomas J. Wachendorf settled his case against the Readington Township and officers Christopher DeWire and Scott Crater for $45,000. This figure has not previously been released probably because both Wachendorf and the Township agreed that "the terms and conditions of [their] settlement and the claims upon it was based shall remain confidential in so far as permitted by law." This confidentiality agreement cannot, however, defeat a citizen's right to gain access to it by way of an Open Public Records Act request.
Looking back at 2008 the NJ Libertarian Party had many notable achievements.
The number of registered Libertarians in NJ grew by 61%. See NJ Libertarians Pass Greens as NJ's 3rd Biggest Party. This growth can probably be most attributed to the success of Ron Paul's campaign and his libertarian message.
NJ Open Government Taskforce takes on a record number of cases. Buena Vista, Edison, Elmer, Hoboken, Interlaken Borough, Lawnside, Long Hills School Board, Manasquan Township, Middletown, Mount Arlington, NJ Division of Law, Penns Grove, Roselle Borough, Sparta Board of Education, Upper Freehold Board of Education, Washington Borough, Watchung Borough, White Township and many other towns were taken to task on their lack of openness.
Loitering and other "preempted" ordinances challenged in Belmar, Butler, Delran, Edgewater Park, Elmer, Lyndhurst, Manasquan, Millstone, Mount Olive, Newton, Ramsey, and West Milford Township. Most of these were successful. See the NJ Loitering Page for a summary.
Sent 14 delegates to the National Libertarian Convention in Denver to represent New Jersey.
Held a unique dual state convention with Pennsylvania that among other things featured a presidential debate of nine candidates.
We opened our first statewide office in 30 years on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
Jason Scheurer, our Senate candidate, campaigned throughout the state. Some of the locations where events were held included Atlantic City, Clark, Freehold, Montclair, Morganville, New Brunswick, Philadelphia, Sayreville, Sparta, Trenton, Westville, and Whippany.
We hosted the first ever Presidential simulcast. Bob Barr was here in New Jersey while Wayne Allen Root was in Denver. We broadcast both locations over the internet.
See our newsletters and our website for more of our accomplishments in 2008.
We could not have accomplished this work without the help of our many donors, members, and volunteers. If you are not already a member, please consider joining the party as a member. Your membership will help us to continue the fight for freedom in New Jersey.
Since its creation as a Jewish state in the late 1940s, Israel has been one of the main sources of tension and unrest in the Middle East. Now, more than 50 years later, Israel once again finds itself at odds with its Palestinian neighbors, forcing the hand of the United States to show where it stands on one of the most polarizing issues in modern history.
The tension between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East goes back thousands of years, and there is no easy solution to the issues in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. Many U.S. presidential administrations have tried to act as brokers of power or arbiters of peace without any success.
The New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project has commented on and made suggestions regarding the Edison Township (Middlesex County) Council's proposal to change its Administrative Code, which is up for a Council vote on January 14th. This is the code that governs the conduct at Council meetings and regulates public participation at those meetings.
Among the items questioned is a provision barring the public from making whatever the Council President determines to be "defamatory, insulting or inflammatory remarks" at meetings. I also asked for a precise definition of an "effective majority" of the Council. The letter to the Council and the full text of the proposal is available HERE.
The full text of the existing Code is on-line HERE.
Somerset, New Jersey