NJFOG will be hosting a free OPRA Forum on September 23, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Historic Hunterdon County Court House, 75 Main Street, Flemington, NJ 08822. The site is best known for “The Trial of the Century,” the famous trial involving the 1932 kidnapping Colonel Lindbergh’s son.
NJFOG officers John Paff and Walter Luers will be among four panelists. They will be joined by Megan Jones-Holt, Executive Director of the Flemington Business Improvement District, and Sergio Bichao, an investigative reporter for Gannett Media.
Formerly a member of the Town of Clinton Council, Jones-Holt resigned her seat to join the Flemington Business Improvement District as Executive Director in September 2013.
She currently sits on the boards of DowntownNJ and Hunterdon Crime Stoppers and is Vice Chair for Hunterdon Prevention Resources. She also served on the Clinton Planning Board, the Hunterdon Land Trust’s ad hoc committee for Dvoor Farm, and the Cancer Support Community.
A member of the Clinton Sunrise Rotary Club, she has served as District Governor for Rotary International and has a Rotary Radio show with the Hunterdon Chamber of Commerce.
Jones-Holt’s resume includes more than 20 years of experience in event planning & consulting, executive planning & administration, marketing and communications. She is Events Director/Planner and owner of CPR Event Rentals in Flemington. She is a Certified Event Rental Professional and a past president of the American Rental Association of New Jersey. Jones-Holt holds a Certificate of Downtown Business Management from Rutgers University.
Sergio Bichao is an investigative reporter whose work appears in the Courier News, Home News Tribune, Asbury Park Press and MyCentralJersey.com. Previously, he was a reporter and the front page editor for The Jersey Journal. Bichao has been working for daily newspapers in New Jersey since 2006 and before that published his own local news website covering his hometown of Hillside. He filed his first Open Public Records Act request in 2002, the year when the law first took effect. Today he files as many as a dozen requests every month as part of his job to uncover waste and wrongdoing by public agencies and officials. Bichao is a graduate of the Honors College at Rutgers-Newark and lives in Somerville.
Luers is an attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1996 and from Fordham University in 1999. Since 2007, he has concentrated on matters pertaining to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). He advises and represents individuals and corporations in lawsuits and administrative actions against public agencies that have violated these laws. In 2010, Luers was recognized by the New Jersey Law Journal as one of ten “Lawyers of the Year” for his work in OPRA. He regularly speaks to community groups around the State about OPMA and OPRA and has been the president of NJFOG since June 2011.
John Paff has been dubbed “New Jersey’s busiest open government activist” by reporter Colleen O’Dea, who featured him in her February 2014 piece “Profile: The Man Who Makes Sure Government Works – Right Out in the Open.” He was also featured in a May 2015 Philadelphia Inquirer article by Jan Hefler entitled “The transparency guru of New Jersey.”
In 2014, Paff was honored as the year’s sole award winner and 15th inductee into the State Open Government Freedom of Information Hall of Fame. Known as the “Heroes of the Fifty States,” the joint initiative of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists recognizes the recipient’s “long and steady effort to preserve and protect the free flow of information about state and local government that is vital to the public in a democracy.”
Paff is currently serving his third term as NJFOG’s treasurer. In addition, he has served as the Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project since 2003. His focus has been to ensure that public agencies are following the OPRA and OPMA laws. He writes about noteworthy issues in his blog NJ Open Government Notes, one of several blogs he maintains to discuss matters of public interest.
John is a graduate of Rutgers College, New Brunswick. After college, he operated an insurance agency for several years in New Brunswick and North Brunswick. He has served as a member of the Middlebush Volunteer Fire Department since 1992 and served as the Department’s president from 2009 to 2014.