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Town May Add Staff for Records Requests

Teaneck has received an "inordinate" amount of public records requests, town manager says.

Teaneck may be forced to add staff to deal with what officials said is a flood of public records requests that must be processed by the town clerk's office.

Township Clerk Jaime Evelina said her office alone receives 10 to 20 requests a day under the state's Open Public Records Act. That number, she said, does not include requests made to other departments. 

"Every department is impacted," said Evelina. 

One request took eight hours for a staffer to process, according to Township Manager William Broughton, who said the town has faced an "inordinate" amount of records requests. 

New Jersey law gives the public the right to request a range of government information and requires officials to respond within seven business days. 

Broughton said he wasn't yet asking to increase the clerk's staffing, but it might be necessary to comply with the state's seven-day deadline. The township clerk now works with two assistants. 

The cost of the potential new staff member was not yet known. 

Some residents, however, countered that they wouldn't have to file public requests if the information was posted on the town website. 

"If the documents were on the website, nobody would be OPRA-ing them," resident Thomas Abbott said in a report on northjersey.com. 

Frequent council critic Charles Powers, the husband of former Councilwoman Barbara Toffler who has filed several requests, agreed the clerk needed more staff and said he only made the requests out of an interest in government transparency, according to the report. 

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John Santaella January 29, 2013 at 02:50 PM
In fairness the Chiefs car needs sophisticated communications equipment, not just a walkie-talkie.
PM January 29, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Art, John - you guys have some fairly good ideas, and at least, a passion for Teaneck. How about running for council and help clean this town up.
JAD January 29, 2013 at 10:39 PM
I'm not positive but I think it may be a hybrid. Also as far as I know he doesn't have a 140 mile round trip commute and is required to show up for major incidents. I personally have no issue with those employees who are required to be present for major incidents to have a vehicle provided, I just think Jackson is beyond a reasonable tax payer supported commute
Art Vatsky January 30, 2013 at 05:35 AM
PM: Thank you but it takes a team. Our next Municipal election is still 16 months away. Four seats will be open and four votes makes a majority on our Council. Our current Council is not popular. Will the Town Hall return to a 5 day work week before the next election? Will it proceed with the unpopular ~$4 million renovation of the former police building without conducting a Town Hall workflow/needs study. Will it actually provide some kind of shelter for our DPW technicians to work on our trucks? Will it finally install the bus shelters that were supposed to be installed 7 years ago when Jon Corzine (remember him) was Governor? The whole town is watching.
Tee Smyth January 30, 2013 at 02:05 PM
That's 16 months to organize. Let's form a coalition: call it the Patch Possee. Lol. Kidding, but serious about coalition building.

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