[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Alpha 12-23-1997 by Ord. No. 97-15. Amendments noted where applicable.]
There is a need for an ordinance to prohibit disclosure of confidential information discussed in executive session.
The Open Public Meetings Act (N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 et seq.) provides that all meetings of public bodies shall be open to the public. A public body may exclude the public only from that portion of a meeting at which the public body discusses personnel matters, litigation, collective bargaining agreements, real estate transactions, and other matters enumerated in N.J.S.A. 10:4-12b. Those meetings wherein the public is excluded are designated as "executive session" meetings. Because of the confidential nature of the matters discussed during executive session, disclosure of any information revealed in said meetings is prohibited.
It is the policy of the Borough of Alpha that any information revealed or discussed in an executive session meeting shall be considered confidential and is prohibited from being disclosed until such time as the executive session minutes are reviewed by the Mayor and Council and released to the public. Accordingly, in the event the Mayor, any Council person or any other person present for an executive session meeting discloses confidential information prior to its release to the public, he or she shall be eligible for disciplinary action.
Definitions. "Executive session" is defined as that portion of the meeting of the governing body wherein the public is excluded. "Confidential information" includes all information, conversations or discussions revealed during an executive session. Said information shall remain confidential until the entire governing body reviews the minutes of the executive session and approves the release of said minutes to the public.
Sanctions. Disclosure of the executive session discussions is a serious violation of the rules of the Borough of Alpha and, if proven, shall be grounds for the imposition of discipline. Potential sanctions for the offense shall range from a minimum three-day suspension without pay to termination, depending upon the following:
Any person who believes that another person has revealed confidential information from an executive session meeting shall file an incident report within a reasonable period of time after the event.
No person filing a report under this policy or who legitimately assists another in the prosecution of any such complaint shall be subjected to retribution or retaliation of any kind for doing so.
Filing of complaints. All complaints of disclosure of confidential information shall be filed with either the Mayor or the Council President.
Complaints filed under this policy shall be promptly and thoroughly investigated by the Council President or by the Mayor in the event the Council President is unable to perform this function due to circumstances surrounding the complaint.
Upon completion of the investigation, the Council President shall prepare a comprehensive report addressing all allegations in the complaint and objectively documenting all relevant factual findings of the investigation. The investigatory report shall contain neither conclusions concerning the complaint nor recommendations as to disposition.
The investigative report shall be presented to the Mayor upon completion and within 15 days after receipt of the complaint. This time requirement may be extended by the Mayor, in writing, upon request of the investigator and for good cause shown for such an extension.
All complaints of disclosure shall be adjudicated by the Mayor, Council President and one other Council person to be chosen by the Mayor.
Upon receipt of the completed investigation report, the Mayor, Council President and one Council person shall conduct an administrative hearing at which the report shall be presented and considered. Hearings shall be conducted before a court reporter empowered to take testimony under oath. The court reporter shall require all witnesses to provide testimony under oath and shall prepare a verbatim transcription/recording of the proceedings, which shall serve as the official record of the hearing.
The accused employee shall be notified, in writing, at least 10 days before the hearing of the complaint and the underlying allegations. The accused employee may request one postponement of the hearing upon receipt of the notice in order to obtain legal counsel. However, the delay occasioned by such request shall not exceed 30 days from the date of receipt of the notice by the accused employee.
The accused employee shall be entitled to attend the hearing and testify in his or her own behalf, and shall be entitled to confront and cross-examine the employee who filed the complaint. In the event that the complainant elects not to attend the administrative hearing, and upon objection from the accused to the complainant's absence, the complaint shall be dismissed and the accused deemed innocent of the allegations.
The accused employee shall be entitled to call witnesses in his or her behalf and to introduce evidence which bears upon the issue presented by the complaint and investigative report.
At the conclusion of the hearing, or within five days thereafter, the Mayor, Council President and one Council person shall make findings concerning the innocence or guilt of the accused of the offense of disclosure of confidential information.
A finding of guilt must be supported by substantial, credible evidence that: