Open Letter to South Orange Villagers
Thursday, August 29, 2013 • 7:27pm
Dear South Orange Villagers:
It has been three very rewarding years serving South Orange Village as your Village Clerk. Although it was my desire to continue my public service career in South Orange, the Board released its decision earlier in August not to re-appoint me due to their philosophical opposition to the tenure provision. Encouraged by the overwhelming support from residents, businesses, organizations and community leaders, I submitted a request to the Board of Trustees respectfully asking the Board to reconsider its decision.
You may or may not know, the Municipal Clerk is one of the oldest offices of government in the state, having been created by the NJ Township Act of 1798. (See http://www.njslom.org/history_municipal_govt.pdf) Over the past 215 years, the roles and responsibilities of the Municipal Clerk has evolved into a highly-trained licensed official appointed by the governing body of the municipality. The Municipal Clerk serves an initial 3-year appointment and upon re- appointment, and completion of five consecutive years of service, the position achieves tenure.
For more than 144 years the government of South Orange has operated under a Village charter granted by the State of New Jersey in 1869. It is both the oldest such charter and the most unique in the State. But what has given our Village government and community its uniqueness among all other towns has been the engagement and participation of its people. Villagers exult a pride in being “Villagers.”
I am honored to have served the Villagers of South Orange and have faithfully and impartially carried out all duties and responsibilities with the same commitment and devotion to public service as those who have served in the office before me. I thank my predecessors, Village Clerk Marjorie O. Smith and Acting Clerk Lynn Cucciniello, for their untiring public service and for their eagerness to assist me when I have called upon them.
I am proud of the many contributions I have made. Embracing technology, the Clerk’s Office digitized hundreds of thousands of records kept and maintained in the Clerk’s office. Converting to an electronic records management system has exponentially improved efficiency and productivity, allowing paperless archival of records and the ability to instantly search and retrieve information. Working with Emeritus Village President Douglas Newman and Emeriti Trustees Bauer, Goldberg, Gould, and the current Board of Trustees, I am proud of the many initiatives achieved together in enhancing openness and transparency in Village government and carrying out Village business. Our Village website contains well over three decades of Board minutes, adopted resolutions and ordinances; all immediately accessible to the public on the Village website. I am also proud to have achieved 100% compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act and Open Public Records Act (OPRA), often exceeding requirements under state law. Earlier in the month, I introduced a free mobile app for both Apple and Android devices, which allows full access to our Village codes and local laws, and have been working with our records imaging vendor in developing a second mobile app for accessing Board minutes, resolutions and ordinances. I believe government needs to move in this direction.
I am equally proud of the team I have hired and trained in the Village Clerk’s Office. I have invested much time sharing my knowledge and expertise with my staff. Every day I mentored a culture of excellence in customer service, which I believe is the hallmark of a conscientious public servant. I trust the Village Clerk’s office is in good hands.
I have enjoyed working for the South Orange community and wish a bright future for the Village government and its people.
Robin R. Kline Village Clerk