More Articles Click

The Town of Harrison Fails On Meeting Updates

Aug 18, 2023
Town of Harrison Town Hall Harrison NJ

In the week of August 14, 2023, residents of Harrison, New Jersey, were left in the dark as three town meetings were canceled without proper notice on the Town of Harrison’s website. These meetings, scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, were the Harrison Redevelopment Agency Meeting, the Harrison Mayor & Council meeting, and the Harrison Zoning Board Meeting, respectively. The lack of communication from the town's officials not only disrupted the plans of many who intended to attend but also raised concerns about the town's commitment to transparency and public participation. There is no regard for providing advanced notice via the Town of Harrison’s official website when a meeting is canceled. 

A Pattern of Neglect

The Town of Harrison's website, which by law provides notice of public meetings was not updated with the cancellation of the Redevelopment Agency Meeting until an inquiry was made via email on the day of the meeting itself. This last-minute update, a mere hour before the scheduled start time, is indicative of a concerning pattern of conduct. The continued failure to update the town's website regarding meeting cancellations has become an ongoing issue. This pattern of conduct is disruptive to members of the public attempting to attend town meetings leaving those residents with a feeling that the failure to update is an attempt to frustrate them and in the end exclude them from participating in town meetings. 

The Importance of Transparency 

Transparency in local town government is not just a matter of good practice; it's a legal requirement. The New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act mandates that the public must be informed about meetings, including any changes to their scheduling. This act was established to ensure that the public has the opportunity to be present at meetings, voice their concerns, and be informed about the decisions that impact their lives. By not adhering to these guidelines, the Town of Harrison is not only violating the law but also undermining the trust of its residents. 

Public Participation: A Pillar of Democracy 

Public participation in meetings is a fundamental right in our democracy. It allows residents to be actively involved in the decision-making processes that shape their communities. When meetings are canceled without notice, it denies residents the opportunity to exercise this right. Moreover, it sends a message that their input is not valued, which can lead to feelings of disenfranchisement. 

In a democratic society, the government is accountable to its citizens. This accountability is maintained through open dialogue, transparency, and the active participation of the public in governmental processes. When these principles are not upheld, it erodes the very foundation of our democratic system. 

The cancellation of the three meetings in Harrison, NJ, without prior notice, is a stark reminder of the importance of transparency and public participation in local governance. Town officials need to recognize their responsibility to keep residents informed and to uphold the principles of the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act. The Town of Harrison should be updated with any changes to the meeting’s date and time and whether it has been canceled shortly after the decision to cancel is made.  

As residents, it's crucial to demand transparency and to actively participate in the democratic processes that shape our communities. Only through open dialogue and mutual respect can we ensure a government that truly serves its people. 

Let Us Know Your Thoughts on our Community Discussion Board.  If you have not signed up yet to participate you can Sign Up now.