Questionable transparency in Vernon

| 29 Jan 2018 | 04:18

    Recently, the Sussex County Board of Freeholders pronounced their objective to make changes to the County's Administrative Code to increase transparency and citizen oversight. Unfortunately, this concept isn’t embraced by Vernon Township’s council.
    At Vernon’s January 1st reorganization meeting, Resolution 18-03 was presented for passage. This resolution declared the start time of council meetings would be 7 p.m, an earlier start time from several past years of council meetings which began at 7:30 p.m. The resolution further proposed that there would be two, three-minute public comments sessions, the first,
    at the beginning of the meeting, where the public could only address the nights agenda and the second, at the end of the meeting, which would allow members of the public to speak to their own concerns. Council member Sandra Ooms said she felt the council’s priority should be to accommodate the public and she was apprehensive these changes would restrict residents in voicing their issues. With no response from any other council members, this resolution passed, with council member Ooms voting no.
    Vernon is a commuter town where the majority of Vernon’s working class travel to work out of town, with some lengthy commutes. Now a resident must decide whether to eat dinner and unwind from his or her work day, or attend a council meeting. Despite the fact that senior citizens and the handicapped may not be able to hold out to the end of a meeting or other audience members would have to get up early the next morning, these changes were approved. At two subsequent council meetings, attempts by council member Ooms to address these issues were shouted down by council President Jean Murphy. Why? Aren’t residents’ concerns important? So much for transparency in Vernon!
    Bonnie Rubin
    Highland Lakes