NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – A judge has ordered Newark Mayor Cory Booker to release internal emails related to a $100 million grant to the city’s schools made by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The ruling released Thursday by state Superior Court Judge Rachel Davidson stems from a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a group representing Newark schoolchildren. The suit sought greater transparency about who was overseeing the spending of the money.
The Associated Press and other news outlets also have made such requests under the state’s Open Public Records Act.
According to Davidson’s ruling, the city sought to withhold 36 documents, all of which were emails sent between mid-September 2010 and late June 2011. Booker, Gov. Chris Christie and Zuckerberg announced the grant on Oprah Winfrey’s show in September 2010.
In a response letter to an AP request for the documents in 2010, the city said that any communications between Booker and Zuckerberg were “not made in the course of the Mayor’s official duties” and therefore were exempt from open-records laws.
Were Booker found to have been acting in his capacity as mayor, the letter continued, the city didn’t have the records requested. But it added that if the records were found, their release was barred under executive privilege.
Davidson rejected that argument.
“It is not clear that the executive privilege applies to mayors at all, but even assuming that it does, it does not apply here,” the judge wrote. “The executive privilege would apply, for example, to deliberations within Newark about whether to accept the $100 million donation. Such deliberations are completely absent from the emails. The earliest emails provided date from September 13, 2010, by which time Facebook’s commitment to make the donation and Newark’s decision to accept it had already been made.”
Davidson ordered that some parts of the emails should be redacted to protect individuals’ privacy in two cases: Where a private individual was the recipient of an email from a public official, and in one instance where an email between two private citizens was forwarded by one of them to Booker and others in his office.
In both cases, only the email addresses will be redacted but the substance of the emails would be released.
“The City of Newark posed as many legal objections as it could to releasing these emails, which were exchanged by public officials,” said Frank Corrado, an attorney working on behalf of the ACLU-NJ in the case. “The judge’s ruling repudiated all of their arguments.”
Booker’s office didn’t immediately comment on the ruling Thursday.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development