CREST HAVEN - Cape May County Clerk Rita Rothberg briefed County Commissioners March 14 on how her office is laboring to comply with Daniel's Law.
The law is meant to protect the personal information of active, inactive, or retired state or federal judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers and their immediate family members residing in the same household.
It took effect in January of this year "in response to the tragic death of Daniel Anderl, the son of Judge Esther Salas and Mark Anderl," according to the state Department of Community Affairs website.
"The law prohibits disclosure of the residential addresses of certain persons covered by the law on websites controlled by state, county, and local government agencies."
As with many laws, "unintended consequences" take about four hours a day of Clerk's Office staff members' time, Rothberg said.
That's because there are about 150 "covered persons" in the county whose record information must be redacted so the public cannot view it online.
"The law was not designed for what we are doing," Rothberg said.
While personal information must be removed from government websites, the problem arises when those "covered persons'" information is sought by title searchers, tax assessors, and other officials who are dealing with records in the Clerk's Office.
"We are struggling how to provide access to tax assessors," Rothberg added.
Information is available in electronic form to anyone with a computer. That is where compliance with the law becomes difficult but possible for county clerks.
"The system is not built to redact and provide electronic access," Rothberg said.
While the law provided that an online mechanism be devised to allow redaction of information and secure online access by bona fide persons, that has yet to happen, Rothberg said.
Because of that, she said county clerks met and agreed on a procedure that would abide by the law yet permit information to be released to bona fide individuals.
Rothberg noted that some "covered persons" have over 70 documents recorded in the office that contain personal property information protected by the law.
She cited an example of a law enforcement officer and his wife who applied as "covered persons" to have information redacted. As "covered persons," the couple's information could not be available online. Then, the couple wanted to refinance their home, and a title search was necessary.
Should a "covered person" require a title search, they must provide the name of the title searcher to the clerk's office. When the person goes to the office and includes identification, they are given the data at the office.
"We are doing a very good job to protect the people who need to be protected," Rothberg concluded.
The board adopted an update of the program guide for the Open Spaces Program. Policies and procedures, project eligibility, matching requirements, and maximum grant awards are included.
Approval was granted to the Department of Mosquito Control for aerial dispensing to control the mosquito population. The resolution is an annual one. It notes that the county is deemed a "congested area" by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and spraying from the air is permitted.
Shore Medical Center was permitted to hold a health fair for families at the Cape May County Park June 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Members were reappointed to the Area Agency for Aging Advisory Council for one year, ending Dec. 31, 2023.
They are Alisa Erdman, Marion Ingram, Ingrid Hickman, Suzanne Pelkaus, Tom Ownings, Burgess Hamer, Sabrina Hand, and Barry Keefe. Commissioner Jeffrey Pierson is the ex-officio member.
Battalion Chief Wayne Matthews was appointed county fire coordinator to fill an unexpired term until Dec. 31, 2023.