Judge rules recording can be withheld
NEW JERSEY — Tape recordings of closed-door discussions of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority will remain secret because the minutes adequately reflect the meeting, a superior court judge ruled in a case on remand from the Supreme Court.
“These are some of most complete set of minutes that I’ve ever seen,” the judge ruled from the bench in mid-May, as reported in the Press of Atlantic City. “I am satisfied that the public’s right to know has been fairly satisfied.”
The judge said that disclosure of the tapes would have violated the sanctity of the authority’s deliberative process and discouraged future frank discussions.
The Press sought access to both the minutes and the tape recordings of a series of meetings relating to the authority’s 1988 ouster and the 1991 rehiring of an executive, Theodore Bergman. In the meantime, in April, Bergman was fired from his $50,000-a-year sales position in the wake of an internal investigation of his time sheets and the unauthorized use of a credit card for personal expenses, according to the Press.
The superior court decision follows a March state Supreme Court decision, ruling that the tapes were common law public records subject to the removal of any confidential or privileged information before disclosure.
“Blanket access to the tapes would not be required;” the Supreme Court said, “rather, access could be limited to those portions of the tapes necessary to vindicate the public interest.”
(Atlantic City Convention Center Authority v. South Jersey Publishing Co.; Media Counsel: Nelson Johnson, Atlantic City)