Letters

Transparency Issues

Feb 27, 2019

To the Editor:

September is National Senior Center Month. Across the country, nearly 11,000 centers serve 1 million older adults. This year there will be one less center. Little Egg Harbor Township has decided that after 20 years the building located at 641 Radio Rd. no longer needs to be used for seniors and that it is looking to put some other programs in the building.

The mayor said, “I thought it would be an opportunity to consolidate community groups in the community center,” a facility located about one mile away that advertises itself as a “great place to bring the kids for fun and games.”

The senior center was built with grant money earmarked for senior groups that have utilized the building for years, and they believe that it should remain their home. Seniors claim that they were never consulted about their eviction and were upset when they were told they couldn’t meet there anymore.

This is not the first complaint this year with decisions dealing with the lack of transparency made by the Little Egg Committee.

In the Jan. 23 edition of The SandPaper, the township committee took issue with my statement on the township’s scheduling of meetings and its impact on transparency and the Open Public Meetings Act. The 2019 schedule calls for 16 meetings, three less than the prior year.

Committeewoman Lisa Stevens took offense at Mooney’s suggestion of not being transparent. I think we are very transparent. We are always available by email or phone; I think we are doing a good job.” Mayor Crea agreed, and announced she would be holding monthly “Meet the Mayor” sessions at the Little Egg Harbor library.

The intent of the Open Public Meetings Act, commonly referred to as the “Sunshine Law,” is to eliminate secrecy in public affairs, which would undermine the faith of the public in government. This statute allows the public to witness the deliberation, policy formation and decision-making of our elected officials, in this case the township committee as a whole.

Informal meetings in person or by phone or email are a method of communication and do not guarantee transparency. Simply put, no meetings means no transparency. Fewer meetings means less transparency.

Art Mooney

Little Egg Harbor

 

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