OPRA case being heard Tuesday
The apparent outcome of this hearing makes me wonder why OPRA even exists. Maybe it’s just useless in Hoboken.
What were the reasons this happened? Will this set a bad precedent for future OPRA cases? How does this get escalated to the next level?
“The oral argument started more than one hour late because the judge had a trial. No decision was announced. He will make a decision by telephone in perhaps a month. Based on the judge’s questions and tone of voice, I would say that he definitely supports the defendants. Unless the law clerk persuades him to change his mind (I have NO reason to believe that the law clerk supports us.) I think the judge will rule against us. Then the question will be whether his ruling contains any errors that can be appealed. The judge seemed more interested in protecting confidentiality than in enforcing OPRA.”
Local Hoboken advocate Helen Hirsch is given the run-around once again. At what point does the Federal Government get involved and put an end to this Civil trickery?
“Improvements in governmental transparency under OPRA have been achieved sporadically, if at all. We are now facing a possible major roadblock in that progress. I requested copies of the (NJ Local Government Ethics Law) Financial Disclosure Statements of a number of Hoboken employees. I received a pile of papers, so heavily redacted as to be worthless for anything but the recycle bin. Only after the City Clerk was sued was I given intelligible copies.
Now there is a suggestion that the assigned judge, John O’Shaughnessy, will dismiss the case as moot. I doubt that the authors of the OPRA legislation intended/expected that information seekers be required to hire lawyers and pay court expenses. The hearing of my case is scheduled for Tuesday, January 30 at 3PM on the 8th floor of the Hudson County Court building at 595 Newark Street, Jersey City. Media coverage and local support would be a huge public service.”
How do incidents like this fly under the radar? What does our city have to hide?