Planet Princeton

Borough Councilman: Records Request by Princeton University Lawyers `Outrageous’

Martindell

The legal battle regarding the Dinky station move is heating up. Lawyers for Princeton University have filed a request under the state’s Open Public Records Act asking for six and a half years worth of a broad range of records related to the station move.

The records request from the law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath, filed with the Borough clerk last week, asks for copies of all records between the mayor, council members, staff members or consultants and members of the citizen group Save the Dinky from January 2006 to the present.

Longtime Borough Councilman and lawyer Roger Martindell  said he doesn’t intend to comply with the request unless directed to do so by the Borough attorney. Even then he said he won’t necessarily comply.

“The request is overly broad and overly burdensome and it violates a first amendment right to communicate with constituents,” he said. “It is an outrage. Every single council person, mayor and employee would have to spend hundreds of hours going through boxes of material going back to January 2006. It’s  totally outrageous.”

Martindell’s statement was greeted with applause by several people in the audience at the council meeting.

Lawyers from Drinker, Biddle & Wreath are asking for “Copies of any communications, including but not limited to meetings, discussions, conversations, telephone calls, faxes, electronic mail, instant messaging, memoranda, letters, notes, telecopies, telexes, conferences, etc.”  between the mayor, council members, staff members and consultants and “any member of representative of Save the Dinky, including but not limited to Kip Cherry, Anita Garoniak, Anne Waldron Neumann, Peter Marks, Rodney Fisk, Walter Neumann, Christopher Hedges, Zafina Hosein, Rachel Koehn and or Dorothy Koehn from January 2006 to the present regarding the relocation of the terminus of the Princeton Branch of New Jersey Transit.”

Councilwoman Jo Butler noted that the request would be impossible to fill within the seven days granted under the state law. Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi said the Borough will respond by saying it needs additional time to fill the request, at least 30 days. The Borough will also consult with its lawyer on the request.

Councilman Kevin Wilkes asked how officials are supposed to know who all the members of the group Save the Dinky are. “Do we have a list of their membership?” he asked, repeating other officials’ concerns that the request is too broad.

Two suits are pending regarding the relocation of the Dinky station. One is related to the contract between NJ Transit and Princeton University related to the station move. The other is related to the zoning ordinance approved by the Borough that changed the zoning so the project could move forward. Save the Dinky is a plaintiff in one of the suits and several Princeton Borough and Princeton Township residents are plaintiffs in both suits.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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