The Pemberton BOE changed their bylaws to not allow anyone to record a public meeting unless they give three days prior notice of doing so. This is a direct violation of the NJ common law right to film, and the Sunshine Laws of NJ, and as captain sunshine law himself, I am headed down to shine some light where the sun don’t.
Let’s think this through here a bit here though. NJ law requires a public body to publish their agenda 48 hours prior to the public meeting. So if a controversial item is added to the agenda and it is printed 2 days prior to the meeting, how would anyone have known the need to record what could be possible unethical or illegal activity by the Board?
How about if an incident takes place 24-48 hours prior to a meeting that is set to take place that the parents are concerned about? How could people outside of these meeting see what their elected representatives are doing? It makes them seem as transparent as duct tape.
The question is….what will they do if a person decides to film without their permission? That question will be answered this Thursday at the BOE meeting when I engage in an act of civil disobedience and dangerously film (live-streamed) without 72 hours notice.
I reached out for comment from the Board’s President, Tom Bauer, but he has yet to answer my inquiries regarding the policy.
I got lucky though, because Mayoral Candidate and Board of Education member, Terry Maldonado, curiously chimed in on one of my posts with a response that she quickly deleted. When I asked why she deleted the comment, she at first claimed she didn’t think that she had deleted it, but when confronted with the reasoning she gave in the deleted post by both myself and Pemberton Resident, Mike Laird, she admitted to it’s content but responded with the following.
“Please keep in mind any questions about the board operation should always be addressed at a board meeting, And addressed to the superintend ! I am only a board member when I am seated with my fellow board members so please keep that in mind, and I do not wish to answer questions about board operation as I I’m running in the primary there’s a very fine line of ethics and I’m not trying to cross that.”.
One thing that I have learned over the years while digging into municipalities, is that the people in charge always make mistakes early in the game, which is exactly what Maldonado did when she jumped into the conversation. When I asked Maldando the simple question of “How do you intend to enforce the rule?”, she responded by claiming they needed the rule because board members were being “blinded by the light in the audience”.
Maldonado also let us know about another unlawful restriction being placed on people who wish to record, that you’d have to also share your recording with the school’s administration. With restrictions like these it sounds to me like they are not blinded by any light, but by power.
Maldonado finished by saying that”policies can always come back in front of the committee if needed”, then just minutes later, she deleted the FB comment seen below. I can assure you of one other thing that will be deleted as well, and that will be a change in the bylaw to eliminate these unconstitutional and unlawful restrictions or I will be taking Pemberton to court, where I am 9 and 0 against government entities. Ding Ding!