Teaneck Councilwoman's Bid To Bounce Blogger From Town Mailing List Fails

Teaneck's township manager and police department have rejected a council member's request to remove a local blogger from their email press release lists.

Keith Kaplan of "Teaneck Today," Teaneck Councilwoman Hilary Goldberg
Keith Kaplan of "Teaneck Today," Teaneck Councilwoman Hilary Goldberg Photo Credit: Keith Kaplan / HIlary Goldberg

Keith Kaplan, a former councilman himself, has rigorously kept township residents and business owners informed for more than five years through his "Teaneck Today" blog.

"Teaneck Today" also has a Facebook group with more than 8,900 members.

Combined, both have been invaluable resources, reporting and providing information on elections, building in town, school calendars, roadwork, COVID developments and more in much the way a weekly newspaper would.

Like most bloggers, Kaplan has his causes, as well as his targets.

One of those targets, Councilwoman Hilary Goldberg, was part of a three-woman slate that bounced him from office in last November's election.

After Goldberg was sued by a pet store hoping to set up shop in Teaneck, Kaplan provided blow-by-blow accounts and published legal filings without editorializing about it.

In an email to Township Manager Dean Kazinci, a rankled Goldberg said she didn't consider Teaneck Today a "real" media organization that should be treated like the "formal press."

She asked Kazinci to remove Kaplan from the township mailing list so that "only the formal press gets" news releases.

"Keith can get [them] from social media," she added.

Goldberg called Teaneck Today "a toxic Facebook group, not a news source that should be on a press release distribution group. Please either remove Keith - he can [file requests for public information] like everyone else."

If Kazinci refused to remove Kaplan, she asked that he add all news sources in the township to the mailing list.

Kaplan, who obtained the emails through a New Jersey Open Public Records Act request, said Goldberg made a similar request of Police Chief Andrew McGurr and was rejected by him, as well.

Goldberg couldn't immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

Kaplan, meanwhile, cited state law that restricts elected officials from personally making requests of appointees that should be agreed upon by the municipal governing body.

"Press freedoms are a foundational principle in this nation," he wrote. "It is contrary to the spirit of a free press and the principles of transparency, for a sitting member of the governing body to attempt to suppress the transmission of information to the public because of personal animus.

"For Councilwoman Goldberg to do so using her influence through official township email further compounds this injury," he added.

"Teaneck Today has engaged in the practice of news-gathering, issuing blog posts on municipal governance, and providing information," Kaplan noted.

As such, he said, it is protected from discrimination by state law.

Kaplan also cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits public officials from regulating particular forms of speech.

In an email to Kacinzi, he wrote: "While your refusal to remove Teaneck Today was correct, and likely saved the Township and Ms. Goldberg from litigation, it's my hope that we will not see a re-occurrence of this behavior towards 'Teaneck Today' or any other news-gathering body, by the municipality."

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