JERSEY CITY – Attorneys representing the re-election campaign of Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy plan to go to go to court Wednesday to ask a Hudson County Superior Court judge to force the Jersey City School Board to release a series of e-mails between City Councilman Steven Fulop, Fulop contributors, and the former school board president.
Tomorrow morning, representatives from the Healy campaign will ask the court for an order to show cause, that is, to make the Board of Education explain to a judge why an injunction to release all documents in full should not be handed down immediately.
At issue are a series of e-mails that indicate that Fulop tried to help two of his campaign contributors get contracts with the school board.
Until last year, all nine members of the Board of Education were allied with Fulop and were elected with his support and endorsement. At present, Fulop is still allied with six of the nine school trustees.
In one series of e-mails that were acquired by NJ.com, Fulop introduces the board president to representatives from Fairview Insurance, which has supported Fulop’s campaign for mayor. The school board president later rejected the recommendation of board staff and instead recommended that a contract be awarded to Fairview Insurance. This contract was awarded even though another firm scored higher in several areas of evaluation and would have cost Jersey City taxpayers less money.
In a second series of e-mails, also acquired by NJ.com, Fulop urges school board members to meet with staff from the law firm of Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader, another campaign supporter. The firm was awarded a $125,000 contract with the school district, and this year was awarded a $100,000 contract.
Noting that it is illegal to steer school board and municipal contracts to political contributors, the Healy campaign has for months sought to have all correspondence between school board members and Fulop publically released. The e-mails have yet to be released, however, despite attempts from the city and various media outlets to obtain them.
The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requires government entities, including school boards, to release requested public documents in seven days. According to the Healy campaign, it has been more than 80 days since their attorneys made an OPRA request seeking emails between Fulop and BOE members. To date, the school board has ignored multiple OPRA requests from both the Healy campaign and the media.
“This entire situation is completely unacceptable. After being stonewalled and exhausting every other option, it’s clear the only way the public is going to get answers is by taking the matter to court,” said Joshua Henne, Healy campaign spokesman. “It’s been over 80 days since the documents should have been turned over, and the emails that finally came in are heavily redacted and clearly incomplete.”