Planet Princeton

Newspaper ad supporting bond referendum lacks transparency

To the Editor:

I wonder who paid for the ad in last week’s Town Topics supporting the school bond referendum?

State law requires a group of two or more individuals acting jointly to promote the passage of a public question, and expecting to raise or expend at least $2,800 for the campaign, to appoint a campaign treasurer, establish a bank account and file a report within 10 days with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. ELEC’s website doesn’t show any political committee in support of the Princeton Public School’s bond issue, and the ad reads only “Paid Advertisement.” Maybe each signatory was moved by love of open classrooms to drop by Town Topics’ office and independently pay for an ad?

The more likely instigator is the Princeton Public Schools, or one of the entities that it controls. Such covert advocacy would be consistent with a school board that’s trying to ram through an extension of the sending agreement with rapidly growing Cranbury in order to bake in forecasts of Princeton High School overcrowding. But shouldn’t such Princeton Public Schools advocacy be disclosed to Princeton voters? And shouldn’t Princeton’s media, even if they are being paid to run ads, be reporting on this potential violation of the public trust and potential violation of state law?

Pat O’Connell

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