GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - The state Department of Community Affairs is investigating a complaint a Woodbine man lodged against Township Clerk Kimberley Hodsdon.
Self-described Open Public Records Act advocate Harry Scheeler wrote to the DCA requesting that the agency take disciplinary action against Hodsdon. Records show he submitted an OPRA request Nov. 14 for documents that required immediate access, but did not receive a response until late Nov. 15. Hodsdon claimed she did not check her email the day the request was received.
Scheeler, however, has obtained copies of other emails Hodsdon sent Nov. 14, and has alleged Hodsdon lied about not checking her email.
In a Dec. 27 letter, Thomas Neff, director of the DCA's Division of Local Government Services, has requested a written explanation from Hodsdon within three weeks.
"Upon receipt and review of your response, the division will then make a determination as to whether any disciplinary action against your (Registered Municipal Clerk) certification is warranted," the letter states.
Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola said he welcomed the DCA's investigation in light of large volume of OPRA requests that he says are inundating the Clerk's Office.
"I'm actually relieved the DCA is going to intervene. They'll be able to objectively evaluate the situation. I think we've been as fair as we can possibly be," Coppola said. "Obviously, the frequency and volume of the requests have an impact on how quickly we can respond."
Scheeler's OPRA request filed Nov. 14 sought "Any and all invoices and full detail billing for (Township Solicitor) Michael J. Blee from August 2011 to November 2011" and "All personnel action forms, positions listed and salary listed, including any increments from June 2011 to current for employees Kimberley Hodsdon, Carol Hackney and Cinthia Fiorentino."
Hodsdon, who is out of the office until Jan. 3, and other Galloway Township officials, including acting Township Manager Steve Bonanni and Mayor Don Purdy, could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Last week, township officials called a meeting with members of the media, detailing what they called extensive OPRA requests, some of which were submitted by Scheeler.
Earlier this month, township officials discovered - following one of Scheeler's OPRA requests - that Hodsdon was on the job for more than a month without taking an oath of office. Hodsdon has since been sworn in along with Registrar of Vital Statistics Carol Hackney, who also had not taken an oath.
Contact Jennifer Bogdan