Arena Contracts Are Subject To Disclosure Under OPRA

Did you ever wonder how, after spending hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and promising that the new stadiums and arena venues will bring in jobs and revenue, these same facilities require constant subsidies?  Now it is possible to find out.  The Appellate Division has held that contracts for government owned/operated arenas are subject to disclosure.  Newark Morning Ledger v NJ Sports & Expo Authority

While the case is important for the substance of what is required to be disclosed – the revenue and costs associated with operating what is often a bottomless pit of taxpayer subsidies – the biggest point is that here again the court rejected conclusory certifications offered by the government.  Many times when an OPRA request is made, it is denied on the basis that the records are exempt.  When pursued further, most of the time all that is submitted is a generalized statement that some unspecific harm will come from the disclosure.  This case AGAIN specifies that the government was bring forth SPECIFIC ARGUMENTS about how SPECIFIC FACTS contained in the documents are expected to bring about a SPECIFIC HARM so severe that it should trump the public’s right to access and ability to learn what our government is doing and how it is spending our money.  If your Open Public Records Act request is denied for a reason that you do not understand, it is probably a reason that needs to be more specific.

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