OPRA #4 of 2012 - December 4, 2012 (response)

Please consider this a request under the Open Public Records Act.

In view of the recent emergency situations of hurricane and Nor'easter and their known and potential impacts upon the city's ability to perform records retrieval, requestor asks that there be notification of "how much more time" beyond the confines of the OPRA deadlines might be needed to supply the information requested if the City of Ventnor's ability to retrieve records (electronic, digital, paper) has been storm-impacted.

Request is made for the following public records:

  1. OEM. A copy of any Office of Emergency Management protocols or checklists which pre-existed the arrival of Hurricane Sandy and set forth the items to which the city might be expected to pay attention. E.g., coastal evacuation, procedures to be followed by Public Works Department vis-a-vis infrastructure, post-storm procedures inclusive of what each department was/is expected to do to assess public safety and health, inclusive of the potential need to remove substantial debris. Ventnor City's Response: Pursuant to the exceptions contained in the Open Public Records Act and Executive Order #21 from Governor James McGreevy, the City of Ventnor is unable to respond to this request.

  2. Records reflecting who was "tasked" with executing on the items enumerated by any OEM checklist designed to govern city activities before, during, after a hurricane and/or records reflecting who was tasked with items of known need if the city either (a) has no OEM checklist or (b) discovered the OEM checklist was not sufficiently comprehensive to meet needs once known. Ventnor City's Response: Pursuant to the exceptions contained in the Open Public Records Act and Executive Order #21 from Governor James McGreevy, the City of Ventnor is unable to respond to this request.

  3. FEMA. Records dating from October 25 to November 30, 2012 consisting of any meeting notes, phone conversation notes, emails or letters received by or sent by any Ventnor government official (elected, appointed, contractual, civil service) and any representative(s) of FEMA, with particular attention to documents which reflect FEMA-directed activities during and after the storm. With particularity, please provide documents identifying the "team" of approximately 10 to 20 individuals who were tasked with tying yellow police tape on the front door handles of homes or businesses which were found to be unoccupied. Ventnor City's Response: Pursuant to the exceptions contained in the Open Public Records Act and Executive Order #21 from Governor James McGreevy, the City of Ventnor is unable to respond to this request.

    3(a) Police reports. Records from October 28 through November 7, 2012, identifying all instances of lootings or break-ins to homes or commercial properties, whether such reports were generated by police surveillance and/or phoned in by residents or civilian witnesses. Ventnor City's Response PDF of Reports

  4. Identification of the contractor hired to perform debris removal within Ventnor including the following: Copies of any bid requests or solicitations sent to all potential private contractors, copy of the contract actually executed with the contractor who was hired, rates per ton of debris carted, any schedule issued by the city to direct the contractor's efforts (e.g., list of streets and dates on which work to be performed), and information about all upfront, and interim payments to date, plus any estimated final payment. Ventnor City's Response PDFs of Contracts, POs and Schedules (5MB)

  5. Records identifying the pump station, or stations (if more than one), where the pumps were in danger of failing and posing a risk of a sewage backup, necessitating the denial of access of homeowners to their homes, or their return to homes if they left to run errands to neighboring municipalities. Please identify the dates on which back-up generators were used and which stations had use of these generators or if all stationsif not all stations did. Ventnor City's Response PDF of Water & Sewer Responses

  6. Records relating to the suspension of work on the sewer infrastructure replacement including, but not limited, to the following: Resolutions passed by Commission; letters, emails, memoranda, or other written communications sent to engineers by any Ventnor official or employee which required cessation of ongoing work and communications by engineers to City of Ventnor or to outside contracting entities relating to this suspension. Ventnor City's Response PDF of Letter from Mayor Bagnell to Engineer Doran.

  7. Records relating to the timetable which was contemplated prior to May 1, 2012, for sewer pump replacements during 2012 and 2013, identifying the particular stations or substations and the month within which pump replacement was to occur. Ventnor City's Response PDF of Water & Sewer Responses

  8. Records which identify the manufacturer, date of manufacture and date of installation of all pumps currently in use at the City of Ventnor's sewer pumping stations and substations; further, information about the part or parts required to render the pumps functional. Information in the press suggested that a "fuse" needed to be flown in from a supplier in North Carolina, which raises some question about the age of each pump at each location. Ventnor City's Response PDF of Water & Sewer Responses

  9. Identify all new hires placed on city payroll since May 1, 2012; the departments to which assigned; the annual rate of pay, and the line item of 2012 budget providing authorized and appropriated funding for such hires. Further, if funds derived from bonded indebtedness intended for capital improvements have been transferred from accounts designed to pay "winning bid" contractors for infrastructure work, please identify the amounts so diverted and the line items of budget to which they were applied. Ventnor City's Response PDF of New Hire list. As per CFO, no bond monies have been transferred/diverted.

  10. Please supply records which identify all Overtime hours and OT-related spending which has occurred, by month, for all city departments for the months of August, September, October and November. Ventnor City's Response PDF of overtime payment records.

  11. Please supply any records which might suggest that the Ventnor Dept. of Public Works is now using "standard" Work Orders which detail the what, who (who assigns and who receives the assignment) and when of tasks that need to be performed, and for the months of October and November. If there is no systematic use of Work Orders, please provide both Phone Logs of reports phoned in by city residents and a recapitulation of how Public Works' labor force was deployed on each of the days starting October 29th and through / including November 14, 2012. Ventnor City's Response PDF of Public Works Complaint Form/Work Orders (10-29-12 thru 11-14-12)

Thank you for your attention to this request under the OPRA laws and please notify me by email if there are any copying charges.

Best wishes as Ventnor works toward recovery,

Paula


Executive Order #21 of 2001, signed by Governor James McGreevey, can be reviewed at this link:

http://www.state.nj.us/infobank/circular/eom21.shtml

Put into effect in July 2002, and in response to the attacks of 9/11 in 2001, the relevant provisions which would appear to be applicable to municipal government are set forth below. A further response to City of Ventnor questioned whether Ventnor's municipal Office of Emergency Management checklists relevant to the city's response to a hurricane met the descriptive criteria, which seemed confined to sabotage and terrorism. In any instance where sabotage or terrorism-related OEM lists exist, those could be withheld or redacted. But a blanket shielding of hurricane and storm-specific OEM pre-planning through citation of Executive Order #21 would appear to be an overly broad application of that E.O. After all, at the county level, there is online website dissemination of some aspects of storm-related planning. See http://www.aclink.org/oep/mainpages/evac_zones.asp

If there is municipality-specific information that refines how each town plans to prepare for a storm event, shouldn't citizens have a right to know what those plans are?

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JAMES E. McGREEVEY, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

1. At all levels of government - State, county, municipal and school district -- the following records shall not be deemed to be public records under the provisions of Chapter 404, P.L. 2001, and Chapter 73, P.L. 1963, and thus shall not be subject to public inspection, copying or examination:

    a. Any government record where the inspection, examination or copying of that record would substantially interfere with the State's ability to protect and defend the State and its citizens against acts of sabotage or terrorism, or which, if disclosed, would materially increase the risk or consequences of potential acts of sabotage or terrorism.

    b. The Attorney General is hereby directed to promulgate, in consultation with the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force, a regulation to govern the determination of which government records shall be deemed to be confidential pursuant to subsection (a).

    c. Public agencies are hereby directed to handle all government records requests in a manner consistent with the standard contained in subsection (a) of this Order, until the regulation is proposed by the Attorney General pursuant to subsection (b). Once the rule has been proposed, public agencies shall respond to records requests in a manner consistent with this Order and the proposed regulation. When that regulation is finally adopted, it shall govern all government record requests filed thereafter.

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