This is one of those times when less is more. Here’s the first sentence of a press release sent out today by the NJ chapter of the ACLU:
A Superior Court judge has ordered the City of Newark to release emails that were exchanged about the $100 million pledge that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made to Newark schools in September 2010.
It’s an embarrassing ruling for the Booker administration, which first claimed such emails didn’t even exist, then admitted in a Jauary court hearing that they did, in fact, exist, but weren’t subject to release since they were personal and not official in nature. In fact, that’s been the core excuse for all of the secrecy surrounding the Newark-Facebook-Oprah-Christie-Cerf-Anderson-stravaganza – that, since, Booker’s role in securing the grant money was not related to his official capacity as mayor, the emails were not subject to public scrutiny. That doesn’t come close to passing the sniff test, however, and Judge Rachel N. Davidson said so:
Judge Davidson rejected all those arguments, noting for instance that a press release on the City of Newark’s own website touts Booker’s involvement in the donation as mayor and that all of the emails in dispute are maintained by Booker’s executive assistant in Newark City Hall. The judge also noted that Booker’s role as mayor is repeated in statements about the donation that are mentioned on his campaign website, as well as in some of the emails that are being sought… The judge also said it is not clear if executive privilege applies to mayors at all, but assuming that it does, “it does not apply here.”
No deadline has been set for the release of the 36 emails in question. Read the full press release here.
It’s been a particularly bad few days for the NJDOE – last Friday an administrative law judge ruled that under Christie and Cerf, the NJ DOE has been violating the constitutional rights of students by failing to repair crumbling school buildings in a timely and legally proper way – impeding their right to a “thorough and efficient” education as required by law.