Is it transparency or politics? In this $200k spat, taxpayers are footing the bill

Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede (Michael Mancuso | For NJ.com)
TT Michael Mancuso For | NJ.com

A small group of political opponents of the Hamilton Township mayor, including her challenger in the Republican primary, are flooding the township with hundreds of requests for records that cost $200,000 to process in 2018 alone.

Hamilton Township Mayor Kelly Yaede has been facing scrutiny from fellow Republicans over the past several months, particularly from David Henderson, who is challenging her in the Republican primary in June. She fired back recently in an open letter released through her office calling out Henderson for filing 31 requests for records in 2019, as of March 26. This amounts to just over one request every 2 work days, according to the mayor.

She has called Henderson’s requests “a source of taxpayer funding for Mr. Henderson’s personal campaign” and said he’s “engaged in a highly-visible, public attack” against her and her administration.

Henderson says he and others have had to file the Open Public Record Act requests because the mayor will not allow any public record to be released without it. And, because his requests have often been denied for being “overly complex,” he has had to break them into smaller categories in order to obtain the records.

“It started three or four years ago that nothing left the building unless she knew what it was and who it was going to,” Henderson said, who categorizes himself as a vocal opponent of Yaede’s administration, often calling out conditions of township roads and economic development efforts.

Many documents are available on the township’s website, Yaede said. Those include public tax records, budget information, department annual reports, township ordinances…

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