“Nothing in the executive order prevents the city from disclosing the names and addresses of the unsuccessful candidates because the search is now over and the position is filled,” said Paff. “Trenton’s Law Department just flatly denied my request without informing me whether or not they even checked with the unsuccessful candidates. As an open government activist, this is a problem I face every day — records custodians not giving up enough information to allow requestors to determine whether or not their OPRA rights have been violated. This type of recalcitrance frustrates the Legislature’s goals in passing OPRA and, unfortunately, leads to expensive and avoidable lawsuits.” -John Paff
By Isaac Avilucea
(Read full article here.)
TRENTON — A public records advocate said last week he is considering suing the city over its refusal to release the names and resumes of the individuals newly appointed chief municipal prosecutor Kimberley Wilson beat out for the position.
John Paff, a public records advocate and treasurer for the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG), said the city has denied his request for the records, claiming they are shielded from the public because they are considered personnel records.
The city outlined the same reasons in denying The Trentonian’s request for the records, made under the state’s Open Public Records Act, amid questions about whether Wilson, a former city attorney who lacks a background in criminal law, was qualified for the position.
Additionally, the city now contends an executive order prevents it from turning over resumes of applicants who were not hired unless it obtains permission from those candidates.
When Paff requested the records of applicants, he noted “nothing in the executive order prevents the city from disclosing the names and addresses of the unsuccessful candidates because the search is now over and the position is filled.”
Specifically, he asked the city to contact each candidate who was passed over to see if he or she would consent to the release of his or her resume. However, the city ignored Paff’s request and did not say in its response whether it contacted the candidates.
Instead, city brass, regurgitating verbatim the executive order, sent back a boilerplate response it provided The Trentonian.
“No public agency shall disclose the resumes, applications for employment or other information concerning job applicants while a recruitment search is ongoing,” city brass wrote in an email. “The resumes of successful candidates shall be disclosed once the successful candidate is hired. The resumes of unsuccessful candidates may be disclosed after the search has been concluded and the position has been filled, but only where the unsuccessful candidate has consented to such disclosure.”
Paff said the city’s response is inadequate, and he is considering whether to sue for the names and resumes.
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