Hoboken Sunshine Act

Initiative and Referendum Petition

Hoboken Sunshine Act

We the undersigned, registered voters of the City of Hoboken, Hudson County, New Jersey, under the initiative and referendum power granted by N.J.S.A. 40:69A-184 et. seq., hereby propose the following Ordinance:

Short title: This Ordinance may be cited as the “Hoboken Sunshine Act” and is referred to below as the “Act.”

Findings: The people of the City of Hoboken find that good government depends on knowledgeable citizens who have broad access to government meetings and who have ready and inexpensive access to a wide range of government information. Such access enables them to participate fully in public affairs, help determine governmental priorities and to hold their public officials accountable. Inadequate or delayed public access to meetings and information allows corruption to flourish undetected and unpunished. Government secrecy allows backroom deals to set public policy in the interest of the few rather than the many. It is therefore the policy of City of Hoboken to (a) promptly make agendas, minutes, resolutions, ordinances, and certain other records available to the public on the Internet, (b) have meaningful electronic versions of other government records available at an affordable cost, (c) make photocopies and other records available at an affordable cost; (d) to increase the opportunities for public participation at all government meetings and to make such participation more meaningful and (e) to otherwise endeavor to make the City’s government a model of openness and transparency. It is understood, accepted and intended by the people of the City of Hoboken that this Act will impose responsibilities upon the City’s officials and employees greater than what is required by the Open Public Meetings Act and the Open Public Records Act.

Scope: This Act shall apply to the City Council, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Subdivision & Site Plan Committee, Library Board of Trustees, Youth Advisory Commission, Rent Control Board, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Shade Tree Commission, and the Historic Preservation Commission.  Such shall be referred to as “bodies.”

Types of Meetings: There will be two types of regularly scheduled City Council meetings: a) Agenda meeting and b) Regular (a.k.a. Business) meetings. Agenda meetings, to be held no less than seven (7) days prior to Regular meetings, are for discussing issues, receiving public comment and criticism, and setting the agenda for the upcoming Regular meeting. Final decisions and actions, such as passing of resolutions, enacting ordinances, paying bills, appointing officials, hiring and discharging employees shall be taken only at Regular meetings.

Public Participation: A general public comment session shall be provided near the beginning and end of each public meeting. Each person wishing to speak shall be provided with ten minutes during the general public comment sessions, as well as ten minutes for each ordinance that is to be voted on by the body, and five minutes for each resolution and communication item. During discussions and/or question and answer period between a member of the public and a member(s) of the council and/or administration, the time-clock shall be stopped. At the conclusion of the speaker’s time, if a speaker desires additional time to make comments or ask questions, additional minutes may be granted by a majority vote of the council.

Recording of Meetings: An audio/video recording shall be kept of each public meeting. An audio recording shall be kept of each non-public City Council meeting. To the extent possible, the audio/video recordings shall capture the face of any person speaking, whether that person is a City official or a member of the public. Any member of the public may also make his or her own audio or video recordings of any public meeting unless the body holding the meeting can demonstrate that the recording is unduly disruptive. Within eighteen (18) months after the effective date of this Act, the City Clerk shall have established a system under which the audio/video and audio recordings shall be maintained as electronic files that can be listened to or viewed using generally available computer hardware and software. The City Clerk shall maintain all recordings as public records, except that recordings of nonpublic meetings may be redacted to the same extent as the minutes of those meetings.

Records to be made available on the Internet: The City’s Internet site shall contain the following records and information. No password or user name shall be required and no other restriction imposed that would prevent a user from accessing the information on the site anonymously and at no cost. No record on the Internet site shall be removed prior to the time, if any, when the corresponding non-Internet version of that record is permitted by law to be destroyed. All documentary records shall be in Microsoft Word and/or text-searchable PDF files.

All official advertisements as that term is defined by N.J.S.A. 35:1-1 et seq.;

“adequate notice” of all public meetings, as defined by N.J.S.A. 10:4-8(d) and “notices of regularly scheduled meetings,” as defined by N.J.S.A. 10:4-18 shall be made available on the Internet site at the same time they are distributed to the newspapers designated to receive such notices and advertisements.

All meeting agendas, to the extent that they are known, shall be made available on the Internet site at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to the meeting.

All audio/video recordings of meetings developed under the system established in accordance with Section 6 above.

All minutes of future public meetings shall be prepared and made available on the Internet site within two weeks after each meeting but in no event less than forty-eight (48) hours prior to the body’s next meeting. The nonexempt portions of all minutes of future nonpublic meetings shall be prepared and made available on the Internet site within three weeks after each nonpublic meeting. Meeting minutes, which have not been approved, shall be designated as “Draft – Not Yet Approved.” If the minutes as approved are identical to the draft version, the draft designation on the Internet site shall be replaced with a designation indicating that the minutes are approved within three (3) business days after approval. Otherwise, the draft version of the minutes shall remain and the approved version, designated as such, shall be made available on the Internet within three (3) business days after approval. Revised versions of nonpublic meeting minutes shall be made available on the Internet site within three (3) business days after the decision to disclose previously redacted matters.

A current roster, updated as changes occur, of the members of each body indicated in Section 3 above providing each member’s full name and address, position, e-mail address, telephone number and term expiration date.

An up-to-date compilation of the City’s Ordinances.

Complete copies of proposed resolutions and ordinances shall, absent exigent circumstances, be made available on the Internet site at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the meeting at which they will be presented.

All Financial Disclosure Statements filed with the City pursuant to the Local Government Ethics Law, 40A:9-22.1 et seq.

A listing of each Tort Claim made against the City, or any of its officers, employees or bodies. Each listing shall be made available to the public on the Internet within three (3) business days after filing. Each listing shall include (i) the name and address of the claimant, (ii) the names and titles of any employees or officials who are alleged to have caused the injury or loss; (iii) the date and place of the event or transaction giving rise to the claim; (iv) the general description of the injury, damage or loss, as specified by N.J.S.A. 59:8-4(d), or a summary if the description contained in the claim exceeds 250 words.

Fee for Photocopies and other Records: The fee for providing photocopies of records, including police reports and computer printouts, shall be ten cents per letter or legal sized copy. The fee for audio tapes, video tapes and CD-ROMs shall be one dollar, two dollars and one dollar apiece, respectively. If any record is requested to be sent through the mail, cost of postage shall be added to the fee. If any record is requested to be faxed to any recipient within the United States, a cost of five cents per page shall be added to the fee. Any other record shall be made available at the cost of production, not including time and overhead expenses. All fees shall be prepaid before the record is issued. Nothing herein is intended to prevent the City Clerk from assessing a higher charge when (a) the actual cost of production (i.e. the materials and supplies used to make a copy of the record, not including the cost of labor or other overhead expenses associated with making the copy) exceeds the fees provided for by this subsection, or (b) a special service charge is authorized by the Open Public Records Act, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq.

Effective Date and Scope: This Act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after enactment and shall be published as required by law.

Construction: This act is remedial and shall be liberally construed to effectuate its findings and purposes.

Saving Clause: If any portion of this Act shall be declared to be unconstitutional, invalid or inoperative, in whole or in part, by a court of competent jurisdiction, such portion shall, to the extent that it is not unconstitutional, invalid or inoperative, remain in full force and effect, and no such determination shall be deemed to invalidate the remaining portions of this Act.

Repealer: All ordinances inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are repealed to the extent of such inconsistency.

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