Sunday, July 14, 2013

Township Allegedly Violates Closed Session Procedures; Discussion Involved Appointment of Special Counsel and Shared Service Agreement

Mayor Don Purdy
On July 11, 2013 the Township of Galloway, Mayor and Council was notified via email by John Paff, Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project, alleging the Township violated a Consent Judgment Order that governs the Township Council's closed meeting procedures.

Discussions for this closed session involved Shared Service agreement with the City of Absecon and appointment of Edwin Jacobs Jr., to Special Counsel. Jacobs has become known to this Publisher to be the personal attorney to Mayor Don Purdy.

On June 25, 2013, Paff alleges that Council erroneously informed the public that three issues would be privately discussed in Closed Session when only two issues were actually discussed.  Paff also alleges Council failed to include the details on the Executive Session resolution in which Council actually discussed in Closed Session.

Listen to Audio of Councils Announcement into Closed Session: Click Here

According to the resolution, the Township discussed "Attorney-Client Privilege", "Contract Negotiations" and "Appointment of Special Counsel." According to Closed Session Resolution, the Township did not specify the topic of either discussions in which Council convened into Closed Session to discuss.

Township Clerk Thalia TC Kay responded to Paff regarding the issues discussed in closed session by stating, "The discussion described by “Attorney Client Privilege” did not concern a lawsuit." Kay also stated, "The discussion described by “Attorney Client Privilege” did not concern an anticipated lawsuit."

The Township did discuss one item under Attorney Client Privilege which was a Contract for Special Counsel as stated by Kay, "The contract has been sent to the newly appointed Special Counsel for the Township of Galloway for execution." In addition to that discussion, Kay stated, "A separate topic in closed session discussed a Shared Services Agreement with the City of Absecon.  This contract has been fully executed by Galloway Township and the City of Absecon"  The Discussion for this agreement was not listed on the Resolution triggering one of Paff's allegations regarding the violation of the Consent Judgment. 

The Special Counsel appointed by Council after Closed Session was finished, was Edwin J. Jacobs, Jr., Esquire of the Law firm of Jacobs & Barbone, P.A. Jacobs was appointed according to the resolution, "there exists a need for Special Counsel to consult with the Township Manager, the Township Council and Township Solicitor regarding certain privileged and confidential issues and to, if authorized by Council, institute legal action on behalf of the Township." The Clerk indicated that nothing regarding anticipated or current litigation was discussed. Jacobs is hired to consult on same.

According to online Lawyer profiles, Jacobs practice area involves: Criminal Defense (50%), Family Law (30%) and General Litigation (20%). In previous conversations the Mayor has had with this Publisher, Purdy identified Jacobs as his personal attorney, with or without compensation at times. Purdy has made telephone calls to his Attorney in front of this Publisher regarding the Tilton v. Galloway et. al. litigation.  Purdy also identified to this Publisher, Jacob's partner Louis Barbone, as the personal attorney for Chief of Police Patrick Moran.

According to the Closed Session Minutes, Purdy was present during the discussion to appoint Jacobs but abstained from the vote awarding Jacobs the contract. Chief of Police Patrick Moran was also present during this closed session discussion for appointment of Jacobs as Special Counsel.

Paff was successful in litigation against the Township of Galloway as well as other Atlantic County municipalities in 2008, resulting in multiple Consent Judgment Orders being issued. Galloway settled that litigation with an agreement in 2009.

The Consent Judgment established a standard that may or may not exceed what the Open Public Meetings Act itself requires in order for Council to convene into Closed Session. Even if the Township abided by the Open Public Meetings Act, which in this case, Paff alleges the Township violated, the Consent Judgment was also violated.

The Township did not return our request for comment regarding Paff's allegations. Paff issued no comment regarding his letter.

Letter by John Paff to Mayor and Council

July 11, 2013

Hon. Don Purdy, Mayor and members of the 
Galloway Township Council
300 E. Jimmie Leeds Rd
Galloway, NJ 08205 
(via e-mail only to

RE:    Paff v. Galloway et al
         Docket No. ATL-3392-08

Dear Mayor Purdy and Council members:

As you are aware, Galloway Township and I entered into a Consent Judgment on May 27, 2009 that governed the Township Council's closed meeting procedure.  A copy of that Consent Judgment, with the Memorandum of Understanding, is on-line here.   By way of a recent Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, I obtained the revised resolution that authorized the Council's June 25, 2013 closed session and a heavily redacted set of minutes from that closed session.  These documents are on-line here and here.  After reviewing these records, I have concluded that the Township Council has violated the terms of the Consent Judgment.

First, the resolution indicates that the Council was going into closed session to discuss three issues--two of which were justified by N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b)(7) (lawsuits/contracts/attorney client privilege) and one of which justified by by N.J.S.A. 10:4-12(b)(8) (personnel matters).  Yet the meeting minutes show only two headings--one for "Attorney Client Privilege / Appointment of Special Counsel" and "Shared Services Agreement with the City of Absecon."  Thus, it appears that the Council erroneously informed the public that three issues would be privately discussed when only two issues were actually discussed.

Second, while the resolution disclosed only that "Contract Negotiations" would be discussed, the minutes and Resolution 190 of 2013, also passed on June 25, 2013, disclose that the "contract" was with the City of Absecon and would establish shared services of the Township Manager. The Council's failure to include these details in its resolution violated 2.b of the Consent Judgment which requires such resolutions to "set forth as much information about the topic(s) to be privately discussed that can be disclosed without undermining" the closed session.  Clearly, the nature of the contract and the fact that it was with Absecon could have been publicly disclosed without jeopardizing any legitimate governmental or privacy interest.

Be advised that I will be checking future executive session minutes and resolutions for compliance with the Consent Judgment.  If I find them to be out of compliance, I will institute a R.1:10-3 motion without further notice.

Very truly yours,

John Paff


Anonymous said...

Purdy had to pay his attorney back that bad that they violate their procedures to do it. Nice Purdy, I guess the if you scratch my back I scratch yours goes to a whole new level here. Towing now a contract for your personal attorney? Whats next?

Ron schreiber said...

What Shared Services ?"Money" yet another joke on the taxpayer ..Never ending story .

Anonymous said...

If theres a mouse in a closet in this place the publisher indeeds finds it. Geez. Is there a stone yet to be unturned here. Violation, personal attorney contract, connection to Mayor and Chief. I think the Chief and Mayor have a lot of explaining to do. Their ties are a little to tight to my comfort. Someone needs to cut the cord here.

Anonymous said...

Purdy doesn't know how to run government without violating procedures. How's for that violation he received for towing a car when he shouldn't have. Did the Chief sign that violation against Purdy

Anonymous said...

This is the first story ive read that has not left me wondering. Everything is is put on here between documents and audio. Good reporting job.

Anonymous said...

For the longest time I thought that Purdy was as dumb as a box of rocks, have any conversation with him and you walk away feeling the same way. But I have come to realize that he is an evil genius. In less than 4 years he has been able to get "his friend" booted from council so he could become Mayor. He got his buddy the job of Township Manager (he was later forced to retire.) He got his other buddy a job of Chief of Police. He makes sure his business is taken care of with a new tow truck contract with the town. Now he gets his personal lawyer taken care of. And while he is padding all of his friends pockets, he has received over $35,000 salary from the town as a councilman and mayor. Purdy has taken "pay to play" to an entirely different level.

Anonymous said...

When Purdy was asked to give up his salary by John Mooney, Purdy cried and said he felt the compensation was fair because of the time needed to put into being Mayor and attending meetings and traveling to Trenton. Did Purdy get paid on taxpayer money to negotiate a contract with the NJDOT to Tow for the state too? Filling pockets with taxpayer money needs to stop.

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