Town Sues 82-Year-Old Over Public Records Requests

New Jersey's Irvington Township says Elouise McDaniel's demands are too burdensome
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2022 4:10 PM CDT
Town Sues 82-Year-Old Over Public Records Requests
   (Getty/Ciaran Griffin)

A town in New Jersey is suing one of its own senior citizens, accusing her of filing too many requests for public records. Irvington Township accuses Elouise McDaniel, 82, of harassment and defamation, and a big reason is that she filed 75 requests for information about Mayor Tony Vauss and his administration over three years, reports NJ.com. In the lawsuit, the town says McDaniel has filed her requests "with the sole purpose and intent to harass, abuse and harm Plaintiffs and employees of the Township, including its Mayor," per NBC4 New York. It adds that trying to fill the "voluminous OPRA requests has been unduly burdensome, time consuming, and expensive."

But McDaniel calls the suit "ridiculous" and says that as a taxpayer and homeowner, she is "entitled to know how my hard earned tax dollars are being spent." The state's Open Public Records Act does not put a limit on requests. And a New Jersey attorney who specializes in the area finds it "especially ludicrous" that the town views 75 requests over three years as burdensome. "That’s the equivalent of two a month," CJ Griffin tells NJ.com. "You could file two OPRA requests a month just for the meeting minutes, so it’s in no way harassing." What do the mayor and town say about all this? Not much. In fact, nobody seems to want to claim ownership of the suit.

Mayor Vauss says he is not behind the litigation. "I did not file the lawsuit against Elouise McDaniel," he tells NBC. "Harold Wiener is the plaintiff." But Wiener, who is Irvington's municipal clerk, says he didn't request the suit. "She does file a lot of OPRAs," he adds of McDaniel. "That comes with the territory, my territory. I know Ms. McDaniel. I don't have a problem with her." He later emailed NBC to say he could not comment on pending litigation, and the town's attorney says the same. As for McDaniel: "I want to live out my last days in peace. I don't need this." (Read more New Jersey stories.)

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