Upcoming Harrison, NJ Meetings: The Need for TransparencyAug 12, 2023
In the upcoming week, the Town of Harrison, New Jersey, is set to host three consecutive town meetings, each of significant importance to the community. However, as of the publication date of this article (August 12, 2023), there are no agendas available for any of these meetings. This raises concerns about transparency, public participation, and the town's adherence to New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act.
A Glimpse into the Week Ahead
- Monday, August 14, 2023: The week kicks off with the Harrison Redevelopment Agency's in-person meeting, scheduled for 1 p.m. in the Conference Room on the Third Floor of the Town Hall.
- Tuesday, August 15, 2023: The Mayor & Council will convene at 6:30 p.m., but this meeting will be held virtually via Zoom.
- Wednesday, August 16, 2023: The Zoning Board of Adjustment has its meeting slated for 6:15 p.m., also via Zoom.
The Concern of Missing Agendas
The absence of meeting agendas, especially for the Harrison Redevelopment Agency meeting, is particularly concerning. By the end of business on Friday, August 11, 2023, the agenda for this meeting should have been made available to the public. Without knowledge of the agenda, how can residents determine whether they should attend the meeting to address an item of interest?
Transparency: The Bedrock of Democracy
Transparency in government is not just a best practice; it's a fundamental pillar of democracy. When government bodies operate transparently, they foster trust and encourage public participation. Residents have the right to be informed about the actions and decisions that may impact their lives, their communities, and their futures.
In the United States, the essence of democracy is the belief that power resides with the people. For this power to be exercised effectively, citizens must have access to information and the ability to participate in decision-making processes.
New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act
New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act underscores the importance of transparency. It mandates that public bodies in the state provide adequate notice of their meetings and make meeting agendas available in advance. This ensures that residents have the opportunity to attend meetings, voice their concerns, and engage in the democratic process.
As the Town of Harrison gears up for a week of back-to-back meetings, it's crucial for the town's leadership to recognize the importance of transparency and adhere to the standards set by New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act. The residents of Harrison deserve to be informed, involved and heard. After all, a government that operates in the open is a government that truly serves its people.
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