Planning Board Letters of Resignation - Crum, Petrolino, and Berger

The request was partially successful.

Dear New Brunswick City,

Under OPRA and the common law right of access, please provide copies of the letters of resignation for Jeff Crum, John Petrolino, and Ryan Berger, all of whom have departed the New Brunswick Planning Board in recent months.

Yours faithfully,

Charlie Kratovil

Shalon Bennett, New Brunswick City

2 Attachments

Dear Mr. Kratovil,

 

Please see the attached documents responsive to your OPRA request. Thank
you.

 

Best Regards,

Shalon T. Bennett

Deputy Clerk

 

City of New Brunswick

City Clerk’s Office Rm 201

78 Bayard Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

(732) 745-5041 (phone)

(732) 745-5009 (fax)

 

 

Dear Ms. Bennett,

Did someone redact these documents without citing an exemption or explaining what is redacted and why? Please provide complete records. If someone sends a letter resigning from their public position, they should expect that letter to be a public record. There is no justification for redacting any portion of the records.

Yours sincerely,

Charlie Kratovil

Leslie Zeledon, New Brunswick City

Mr. Kratovil,  

 

                While we believe it was obvious that two personal email
addresses and a personal telephone number were redacted in accordance with
accepted OPRA exemptions, we apologize for not specifically identifying
the redactions.  The document you received in response to your request
with those redactions stands as our response.

Regards,

Leslie R. Zeledón, City Clerk

 

City of New Brunswick

78 Bayard Street, Rm. 201

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

732.745.5041 (phone)

732.745.5009 (fax)

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Ms. Zeledon,

I accept your apology, but I still must respectfully disagree about the redactions and state definitely that it is not sufficient to cite "accepted OPRA exemptions" - each exemption has its own set of caselaw and you should be specific about which one(s) you reference in case I choose to challenge a redaction or denial.

Further, there are three email addresses redacted in the documents in question, not two. These email addresses include the one for the Planning Board's attorney. If someone uses an email or phone number for official government business, then it should not be a secret. Putting aside the matters related to the ex-officials who wrote the letters, it's just plainly wrong for you to redact the email address of the current Planning Board attorney, especially if that address is a professional address and not a personal address. Do you mean to tell me the Board Attorney uses a personal address to communicate with board members?

Redactions are needed sometimes, sparingly. For example, it would be wrong for you to release someone's social security number. However, it is not OK for your office to alter the documents you provide in a way that makes it hard to tell if a redaction was made, and simultaneously not give notice to the requestor that you've made alterations to the documents.

I hope you understand where I am coming from here, and that any future redactions will not obscure email addresses that city officials are using to conduct city business, regardless of the domain name associated with the email address. This will save all of us a lot of time. Most of these email addresses are already public knowledge, so there is no point in obscuring them. Of course, if you want to make the case that a redaction is justified, you are entitled to make that case, and I am entitled to object and challenge.

But it is imperative going forward that your office be upfront and transparent about any modifications that are made to records before they are released under OPRA or common law. I reserve the right to challenge this and all future redactions made without proper explanation.

I'll look forward to your response. Thank you and have a very happy holiday.

Yours sincerely,

Charlie Kratovil