“There’s hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, of tax dollars, at stake,” said CJ Griffin, a partner at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, who argued the case. “That’s taxpayer money. When you give tax breaks, that impacts other people, so the public has a right to know.”
We previously blogged about an OPRA lawsuit we filed on behalf of an activist seeking access to Newark’s Amazon HQ2 proposal. We are happy to announce that Newark has now released its proposal to our client.
Newark’s proposal is titled, “Yes, Newark.” As evidenced by the privilege log it attached to the proposal, Newark redacted approximately 6 pages from its 200+ page proposal. These pages contained the financial incentives that Newark is offering to Amazon. All other information has been disclosed. We consider this a significant transparency victory.
“I strongly believe in open government. The people of New Jersey, especially Newark residents, deserve to know what their government is doing,” said Plaintiff Steven Wronko, a transparency advocate.
“Other finalist cities put their proposals online as part of their PR campaigns to win Amazon over. The citizens of those other finalist cities got to be part of the process and see how their cities were being promoted. That builds pride and buy-in from residents. The people of Newark were completely excluded, but we are happy that they can now be part of the process,” said CJ Griffin, who represented Mr. Wronko.
Among other things, the proposal highlights Newark’s diversity, technology infrastructure, and transportation systems. It includes more than 50 pages of letters of recommendations and details the proposed locations within the city for the headquarters: