My understanding for the need to be accurate in recording minutes of a public body is because the minutes become historical and unless there is a tape recording of the meeting, the minutes represent the only evidence as to what occurred and took place. It seems the Secaucus Board is having a problem recording its minutes.
At the November 30th meeting of the Board, in response to questions raised by a citizen, it was revealed the President of the Board circulated a political flyer to obtain signatures of six board members in support of the administration in the recently held municipal election. In addition it was also revealed, by admission from the President, she had signed the name of one of the members who later claimed no such authority.
Upon receipt of the minutes of the Nov. 30th, prior to the Board meeting of Dec. 21st, I noticed that the proposed minutes did not in fact reflect what occurred and was said at the meeting of Nov. 30th. I urged all Board members to vote to reject the minutes of the meeting of Nov. 30th, as presented since they did not accurately reflect the events of Nov. 30th.
After my comments in Dec., trustee William Millevoi asked, "do we have proof?" I did not understand his question. Proof as to what? We had just heard the President say she circulated a political flyer for signatures from board members and that she had signed the name of one board member. What proof did we need, we had a confession.
Now, for the record, if my statement is not in the minutes of the Jan. 25th Board meeting, I will bring charges.
Now, my statement of Dec. 21, 2006.
On the Question
I must comment on the remarks from citizens as reflected in these minutes.
I understand that a verbatim record is not required, and I do appreciate the need to condense what has been said. To say that these minutes do not reflect the discussion between citizens and board members is an understatement. When I read these minutes I thought to myself, did I attend a different meeting on November 30th of this year. Believe me I do appreciate the sensitive nature of the discussion that took place. However, this does not mean that we require a Watergate type cover up.
Let us understand there were reporters at the meeting of Nov. 30th. There were stories in the newspapers. In addition, some citizens wrote letters to the editor concerning this meeting, and I understand that more letters will be published. To vote to approve these minutes would not only be irresponsible, it would in my opinion, be a rejection of our obligation as trustees. The minutes mention a flyer, "signed by six of the Board Members." However, the minutes do not reflect the Mark Bruscino stated that he did not sign the flyer. Therefore, to state the flyer was signed by six Board Members is not accurate. The minutes make reference on two occasions, to the Sunshine Law. What about the issue of ethics? The minutes state that our board attorney responded by "indicating no law was broker." What do you mean, "indicating". Either he said it or didn't say it.
We cannot avoid confronting this issue before us. To put our heads in the sand and act as though there is no problem would be sending the wrong message to the students of Secaucus to whom we, as trustees, owe our first allegiance. A vote in favor of this motion can only lead to further inquiry and distrust from those we represent. A vote in favor of these minutes is telling the citizens of Secaucus that we, as a Board, condone the political infiltration of our school system.
This I urge you - to please not do. I shall vote against this motion to approve these minutes. I urge all members of this Board to do so.
Again, I repeat, this issue is not about the violation of the Sunshine Law. This issue is one of responsibility.