Councilwoman drops public records suit after city finally supplies unredacted legal bills
Mar 18, 2014 | 919 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOBOKEN – Second Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason has dropped a lawsuit against the City of Hoboken over alleged abuse of the Open Public Records Act after they gave her unredacted legal bills from a major city vendor, a spokesman for the councilwoman said Monday.

The lawsuit was filed after the invoices, billed to the city by the firm Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader and requested by Mason through the state's OPRA act, were originally delivered heavily blacked out.

According to a report on NJ.com, Mason’s lawyer received no explanation for why the city had felt the need to black out the information before -- nor why the city has changed its mind.

City spokesman Juan Melli did not return a call for comment Tuesday. If a response is received later, it will be posted here.

Originally, the councilwoman requested all invoices billed to the city by the law firm Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader between January and October of last year, apparently in an effort to continue trying to find out about Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla, who took a partnership with the firm in August. Bhalla has stated that he began abstaining on all votes relating to the firm after he began his private negotiations with them. City records substantiated that he began abstaining in mid-June, which was the time frame in which he says he started negotiating. He was hired Aug. 1.

Yet, when the city complied with Mason’s request, Mason was billed $130 for the documents, but “all but a few verbs” were blacked out. According to Mason’s lawyer, Jeffrey Kantowitz, the amount redacted exceeds what is allowed by attorney-client privilege laws. – Dean DeChiaro

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