The Hoboken man who won a lawsuit to obtain Nixle subscriber emails says he filed the lawsuit for residents to have “transparency and fairness in municipal government” since the city abuses the system.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“That is correct, I sued Hoboken for an OPRA violation related to disclosure of Nixle email addresses. The request was for a list of emails with no other identifying information,” Carmine Sodora explained in a statement.
“The Nixle system is supposed to be used to deliver emergency messages and general community announcements.” He asked for this information because he felt that the Nixle system was being used incorrectly and against its own terms and conditions.”
According to Nixle’s terms of service, commercial advertisement, unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, profane, hateful, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable material of any kind are prohibited.
“Given the continued usage to try to control the narrative about Hoboken issues, I felt obtaining the list would allow for alternate viewpoints to be provided to our citizens,” Sodora added.
Camden County Superior Court Judge Deborah Silverman Katz ruled in favor of Sodora as part of three combined OPRA cases on May 26th, as only HCV has reported.
“I do not want anyone’s personal information. My goal is for our citizens to have transparency and fairness in our municipal government. The City of Hoboken needs to cease utilizing the Nixle system for political agendas.”
Sodora said a recent example of the city using Nixle for political purposes was on May 18th when Bhalla accused his opponents on the council of costing taxpayers a million dollars by blocking the proposed municipal complex and potentially necessitating a temporary Department of Public Works garage.
Expectedly, he also took offense to their June 8th alert that introduced a survey asking residents how important their privacy is and if the city should appeal the court’s ruling.
“The Nixle alert which solely names me as the recipient and highlights the one-sided narrative of my OPRA request, is another example of abusing the Nixle system,” Sodora added.
“As an active member of the 5th Ward, and a man who cares deeply for what is right and just in our community, my intention was not to exploit the community’s ‘private’ information, moreover, my goal was to enable fair and transparent community messaging.”
Yesterday, Mayor Ravi Bhalla signaled that the city will be appealing the decision.
“The City of Hoboken has no interest in sharing our residents’ private contact information with any third party,” he told HCV in a statement.
“I believe the court’s decision violates the trust our residents place in us to safeguard their contact information, information we rely on to disseminate vital emergency notifications in a crisis and important government information.”