Like a school crossing guard who crosses in between, and not at the green, the Government Records Council (GRC) ---the folks who were created to enforce the Open Public Records Act---found themselves on the wrong side of the law. No irony in that.
In July, a Mercer County gave props to the fine folks at the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG), and ordered the GRC to provide full copies of requested emails in unredacted form. In the interest of full disclosure, I must reveal that this blogger is on the state board of NJFOG.
Details, details: NJFOG was trying to get the names and email contact information for people who had filed complaints with the GRC, with the attempt to contacts those folks to help them further, if need be. Good folks those NJFOG people, if I must say so myself.
GRC’s claim: That “it was protecting complainants' privacy by shielding their home e-mail addresses.”
NJFOG: was trying to "evaluate and monitor the GRC's performance in handling individual complaints."
NJFOG filed suit on May 8, alleging that was a violation of OPRA, the common law right of access to public records, and N.J.S.A. 1:1-14.1(a), which provides a right of access to quasi-judicial records of administrative agencies.
Thanks to attorney Richard Gutman, who “analogizes the GRC's effort to withhold the addressees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ‘violating the law against discrimination.’”