Info Lacking

Dec 12, 2018

To the Editor:

In knocking on doors as a candidate for Barnegat Township Committee, it soon became obvious that many of our residents were not familiar with our local government, or the local issues that could affect them or their pocketbooks. Who can blame them when it isn’t easy to find information, even when you find the time to look?

Most seemed to simply be content with their preconceived ideas about the major political parties without regard to local issues. A few were openly belligerent about not wanting to hear a different point of view, like the senior gentlemen who vehemently insisted Democrats are Socialists. I wanted to ask him if he had declined to accept his Social Security check and if he refused to enroll in Medicare. These are not “entitlements.” These are programs to which we have contributed and benefits we have earned as part of our employment through the years.

Many residents were sincerely interested in learning about the issues, so they could decide for themselves. Several expressed regret over not being more involved and wished for more opportunities to learn about what the township was planning and to offer their input. But how? There were those, too, who had experience in dealing with the township with varying degrees of dissatisfaction.

Our township makes it difficult to get information before decisions are made for us. Resolutions are given a first vote of approval before they see the light of day. Once they are public, they can only be viewed at town hall, not online. Planning and zoning board minutes are not posted, even though the website says they are. During our campaign we had to file OPRA requests to see the minutes. We still haven’t received a response.

Last year, a high school AP class sponsored a candidate forum. Despite our request, there was no such opportunity given this year. Could it be because one of the opposing candidates was on the school board? I also made a request of this newspaper to sponsor a candidate forum. Maybe next year.

We have residents who are interested in reviewing and understanding township plans and in giving sincere input. Why is free access to this information being denied?

Paul K. Whitcraft


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