Paper ejected from City Hall after pursuing document request
NEW JERSEY–The City of Newark in early December evicted The Star-Ledger from its City Hall office of sixty years after the newspaper threatened to file suit to gain access to financial documents from the mayor’s office. City officials reportedly have said the eviction was not ordered in retaliation for the paper’s requests.
Star-Ledger city editor Glenn Proctor said the paper originally asked for financial office records in August. “The city officials basically stalled and stalled,” he said.
On November 28 the paper told the city it would sue if the documents were not provided by Friday, December 1. On the same day The Star-Ledger gave the city that deadline, the paper received the notice which stated that the paper had to vacate the office by December 1.
Proctor said although the eviction notice was dated November 22, he thought there was a connection between the paper’s petition and the city’s order.
The city business administrator who issued the order did not return calls, but the Associated Press reported that his assistant said the eviction was ordered because the city was “in dire need of space.”
Proctor said one Newark official said the city had previously mentioned the possibility of an eviction but the official did not cite any specific date or forum in which it was discussed. “As far as we’re concerned, this was our first notice,” Proctor added.
The Star-Ledger moved out of the office on December 1, and Proctor said the following week that the paper was in the process of securing office space near City Hall. And, Proctor added, “We’re still going to cover the city government as aggressively as before.”
Proctor said the city stated that the December 1 deadline did not allow enough time to fill the request for financial documents and that the documents would be given to the paper by December 8. On December 8, Proctor said, the city informed the paper that it would have to pay a $4,000 printing fee to obtain the documents.