Monday, August 11, 2014

Medford pressed for details regarding "workplace investigation."

On June 24, 2014, the Township of Medford (Burlington County) passed Resolution 94-2014 which authorized $10,000 for a "workplace investigation."  The resolution, however, did not identify the person under investigation nor did it provide any indication of the type of act or omission that was being investigated.

On August 11, 2014, Township Deputy Clerk Dawn Bielec responded and I have uploaded her response here.

The response provided a copy of the contract between the Township and Verita, LLC, the firm conducting the investigation.  Unfortunately, the contract reveals nothing regarding the nature of the investigation.  The response also disclosed the Council's June 24, 2014 and July 22, 2014 executive session minutes where the investigation was discussed.  The Township, however, redacted the entire substance from both sets of minutes.

Most interesting was Bielic's response to my request for "[a]ny police reports dealing with any occurrence upon which this 'workplace investigation' is based, in whole or part."  She stated that the police report(s) responsive to this request were "not being released as it falls under OPRA exemption 20."  This appears to admit that the "workplace investigation" involved conduct that was previously investigated by police.

I have submitted the following, supplemental OPRA request to Bielic in order to learn more about this matter:
Please accept this e-mail/fax as my request for government records pursuant to the Open Public Records Act and the common law right of access.  Please respond to this request and send all responsive documents to me at paff@pobox.com.  Thank you.

Records requested:

1. In your August 11, 2014 response to my records request, you provided, among other records, two sets of executive meeting minutes with the substance of each of those sets of minutes completely redacted.  I believe that at least some of the redacted material (at least some innocuous material such as "Chief Meder stated that . . .") could be disclosed without jeopardizing any governmental interest in confidentiality.  I ask that you please provide me with additional copies of those executive session minutes, but this time a) redact them as narrowly as possible, b) and explain the nature of the redacted material in enough detail to allow me to judge whether or not the redactions are lawful.

2. A screen shot from the Police Department's CAD system showing the initial call for service or other event related to the police report(s) to which you denied access on August 11, 2014.

3. All regulations, ordinances, policies or procedures that require the Medford Township Police Department to record written reports on calls for service and other interactions with members of the public.

If you cite an OPRA exemption to justify any suppressions or redactions, please identify the exceptions in plain language, such as "Advisory, Consultative and Deliberative" instead of by number (e.g. OPRA exemption 20) as you did in your August 11, 2014 response.  My version of OPRA, taken from the statute, does not contain any numbers that correspond to the ones you used in your August 11, 2014 response.