Toms River council violates sunshine law, makes committee appointments behind closed doors

TOMS RIVER, NJ – The Toms River Township council has long been accused of taking care of business behind closed doors, but this week, they admitted it.

Toms River Council President Kevin Geoghegan announced that his opponent, Dan Rodrick would be serving on a newly formed cannabis committee. There’s just one problem, Rodrick never knew about it and never asked to serve on the committee.

Geoghegan said the decision to put Rodrick on the committee was made in a closed door executive session when Rodrick was not present, a clear violation of the state’s Sunshine Law. No decisions by a public body may be made in private.

New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act, known as “The Sunshine Law,” is designed to ensure that decision-making government bodies in the state conduct their businesses in public except in specific circumstances where exclusion of the public is needed to protect the privacy of individuals, the safety of the public or the effectiveness of government in such areas as negotiations or investigations.

The law dictates that all meetings of public bodies in New Jersey must be open to the public unless closure is specifically permitted by law. If a meeting by members of a public body is closed to the public, the reason given must be one specifically authorized under the law.

On Tuesday, Rodrick confirmed he did not know about the vote held in a private session between members of the council and said he will not serve on the committee.

The story, which was published by Mo Hill lackey, Patch ‘reporter’ Karen Wall states that Kevin Geoghegan violated the state’s Sunshine laws by making a board decision behind closed doors and without public presence. Typically, the only topics that can be discussed in closed board executive sessions involve employee issues, contracts, and legal issues.

All matters of public interests such as appointments to boards and commissions must be done in the public session.

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