BRICK-Some workers in Brick work each day in fear of political retaliation and harassment. That’s what a letter mailed to township officials and certain media outlets last week claimed.
It was discussed at Tuesday’s Brick Township council meeting, but now, the Democrat-aligned law firm of Starkey, Kelly, Kenneally have refused that letter to be released to the public.
The request was made through OpraMachine, a website run by Gavin Rozzi of Lacey Township whose goal was to allow the public easier access to the layers bureaucracy of that sometime shield residents from obtaining public records from their towns.
The lawfirm, which regularly donates to political campaigns cited New Jersey statutes in their attempt to keep the letter from the public.
“You have received several requests pursuant to the Open Public Records Act, N.J.S.A.
47:1A-1.1, et seq. (“OPRA”), seeking a copy of an anonymous letter that was given to your
office by Councilman James Fozman. Please accept this letter as a formal legal opinion on the
response to such OPRA requests,” attorney Kevin Starkey wrote to Jessica Larney, Custodian of Records for the municipality.
“We have reviewed the anonymous letter at issue and it is our legal determination that the
foregoing exemptions apply and that the letter should not be disclosed. In particular, one
employee is mentioned specifically by name throughout the letter, while other individual
employees of the Township are identified by title and department, in a manner such that the
individuals would be known to any person with some familiarity with the municipal employees,”Starkey continued. “Moreover, the letter contains references to grievances filed by or against specific employees, to collective bargaining negotiations and to disciplinary action taken against one individual employee. That information is exempt from disclosure under OPRA and the letter should not be produced in response to any OPRA request.”
Although the letter was discussed on Tuesday in public, the firm remained steadfast in their decision to advise the township to not release it to the public.
“We recognize that the anonymous nature of the letter precludes a determination of the
author and the source of the information. We are also aware that the letter was the topic of
general discussion at a public Council meeting, based on the disclosure of the letter by one
elected official,” Starkey added. “Those facts do not change our conclusion or analysis, because the municipality and its officials are mandated to honor the terms of the OPRA statute and not to disclose confidential information, regardless of the source of the information.”
Below is a copy of the letter, obtained by Shore News Network via an anonymous source at the same time the township officials received their notices. It is SNN’s policy not to publish anonymous letters, however since the letter was discussed in a public meeting on Tuesday, we have decided to publish it for public view, without redaction.