It's a bah-gan I tell ya

Old 12-22-2010, 08:33 AM
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Default It's a bah-gan I tell ya

NJ town pays $17,000 to defend $5 fee

By KARA L. RICHARDSON • The (Bridgewater, N.J.) Courier News • December 22, 2010

In March 2008, township resident Tom Coulter requested an audio recording of the Feb. 4, 2008 Township Council regular session meeting. Township Administrator Jim Naples said the township offered to give Coulter a copy of the file via e-mail for free.

Coulter said that's not true.

"That absolutely, positively never happened," said Coulter, explaining that the only format that seemed to be available to him was on CD.

The township charged him $5, which is the amount stipulated by the township records fee ordinance.

Coulter argued that he should only pay a few cents — the actual cost of the CD. He said the cost of the CD was "excessive" and in October 2008 decided to file a complaint with the New Jersey Government Records Council.

The New Jersey Government Records Council, in an Oct. 26, 2010 ruling, sided with Coulter, saying he should have paid the actual material cost of the CD — about 96 cents.

The township, which paid more than $14,000 in legal fees defending the case, had to pay $3,500 to Coulter for his legal fees and give him a $4.04 refund.

"This David and Goliath saga is about much more than litigation over a $5 CD which cost the township well over $17,000," Coulter said Friday in an e-mail announcing the decision. "It's about lack of common sense in government. It's about the culture at Town Hall. It's about the kind of unmitigated dysfunction that pervades the Township government."

Township attorney Alan Grant of Mauro, Savo, Camerino, Grant & Schalk in Somerville, said the municipality's legal fees would have been substantially lower had Coulter settled, as the township offered to do, early in the process. Instead, he said, the proceedings dragged on for more than two years.

Coulter said he had been complaining about township records costs since 2007.

"The only way to get a township's attention was with a legal complaint," Coulter said. Otherwise, he said, township officials weren't listening.

"In the hindsight it is a lot of money but we had to defend the ordinance," Naples said about the legal costs.

Each year, the township handles hundreds of records requests. For example, he said, thus far in 2010, the township has processed 575 requests. In 2009, the township had 659 records requests. The 2008 tally was 721, Naples said.

Since the New Jersey Records Council ruling, the township changed its CD cost structure. It now costs 97 cents for a CD and a protective sleeve, Naples said.
Old 12-22-2010, 08:49 AM
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It's NJ what else did you expect!
Old 12-22-2010, 09:02 AM
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pretty funny
Old 12-22-2010, 09:03 AM
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Frivolous to say the least. It bothers me when people INCREASE the cost of government for the rest of us.
Old 12-22-2010, 09:13 AM
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The township's attorney should be disbarred for malpractice.
Old 12-22-2010, 09:15 AM
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It's good to read about someone standing their ground and moving what appears to be an immovable object. Quite frankly I think a lot more of this sort of thing needs to be done.....just to bad it costs so much.
Old 12-22-2010, 10:52 AM
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Common sense is not common enough
Old 12-22-2010, 11:06 AM
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I thought government was supposed to be a non profit organization? ;?
Old 12-22-2010, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by starmonk View Post
The township's attorney should be disbarred for malpractice.

And by what strand of 'logic' did you draw that conclusion? ;? Perhaps you are a gubmint employee that resides in N.J.
Old 12-22-2010, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by starmonk View Post
The township's attorney should be disbarred for malpractice.
He only did what the town asked him to do. Basically, he's a bear. Bears eat. LOL.

The problem is that the town knew full well what they were doing, they were giving their town atty money... the legal way. LOL.

If you think this is the exception and not the rule, you should think again.

People have NO idea what it is like to live here. It's insanity out in the open. I'll give you an example. In the town where I lived there were 5 police officers and 3 cars. They kept the 3 car for when one went needed work.

Today. Same town, same stats (census). Now has 19 police and 12 cars. THE AVERAGE (meaning total salary/19) SALARY (DOES NOT INCLUDE overtime, utility money, etc.) is $138K a year. When you factor in their benefits (health, pension, etc.) they earn... are you ready?

Wait for it...

$320K PER YEAR!!!!

That's right!

Who wants to move to NJ?

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