Minutes took months to OK

Minutes took months to OK

Monday, January 15, 2007 Jersey Journal

HOBOKEN - The Board of Education delayed a decision last week to vote to approve minutes of three closed meetings - from 2005.

The minutes are of two closed executive session meetings held on Aug. 30, 2005, and another one on Sept. 6 of that year.

Board members raised questions about the accuracy of the minutes, particularly after Board Secretary David Anthony said no tape existed for a controversial session in which four members had got up and walked out early - so the minutes were pieced together from the recollections of those who remained.

But board member Carmelo Garcia said copies of tapes existing for all three meetings did exist - and that he had them in his possession. He said the minutes did not accurately reflect what he heard on those tapes, and requested time to correct them.

"I believe they (the minutes) were erroneous and not accurate," said Garcia after the meeting.

The meeting had been about appointments, pay and conditions of some officers. The board secretary - who had served as a board member up to that point - was approved for his current paid position at one of the meetings, officials said.

Board members also discussed the severance agreement for the current Superintendent Patrick Gagliardi - dated Aug. 30. His exact compensation on retirement is still unclear.

The board recently approved Gagliardi's proposal to step down to a supporting role for a three-month transition period on his current salary until he officially retires in June. His current contract runs until 2009.

Corporation counsel then advised the board members that only officers who had been serving at the time of the meetings - including those who walked from the session - could vote on the minutes.

That would exclude independents Theresa Minutillo and Anthony Romano - who were elected in April 2006 - from the vote.

Minutillo - who had requested the tapes as a member of the public in 2005 - said she had received legal advice that as a current board member she has a right to verify the accuracy of the meeting notes.

"I was told that I don't have to abstain," Minutillo said.

Concern over transparency has lead Hoboken resident Elizabeth Mason to sue the city under the state sunshine laws to have to have recordings and transcripts of the closed meetings made public.

The board's attorney has advised against releasing the tapes pending the outcome of the suit.

"The tapes are not going to be become public until our attorney or a judge says they are to be made public," said Anthony.

Some board members also questioned whether Anthony should certify the minutes.

"I had difficulty with the board secretary certifying the minutes because of a conflict of interest," Garcia said.

Comments (0)

New comments are currently disabled.

Email to Friend

Fill in the form below to send this article to a friend:

Email to Friend
* Your Name:
* Your Email:
* Friend's Name:
* Friend's Email:
* Security Image:
Security Image Generate new
Copy the numbers and letters from the security image
* Message: