Emily DroobyApr 20, 2018, 9:32 pmApr 20, 2018, 9:34 pm

Glen Rock sued over councilman blocking resident’s Facebook account

Lawyer argues that it’s unfair to block a citizen’s voice on social media

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GLEN ROCK — A Facebook comment made by a Glee Rock resident on Councilman William "Skip" Huisking's official Facebook account, which caused him to block the resident, has led to that resident’s husband filing a lawsuit and open record request in the town. The post was promoted by the removal of large trees at a Glen Rock playground, which upset the community because the park no longer has shade from the sun.

C.J. Griffin, attorney for the resident’s husband, said the comments posted were benign. However, Huisking blocked the resident and her husband from his page anyway.

"The large trees that were cut down removed all the shade from the playground. The community was rightfully upset about it,” Griffin said.

According to Griffin, the resident’s husband then attempted to use an open-public records request to get a full list of Facebook accounts blocked by five councilmembers' and the mayors’ official government pages.

However, the request was denied by the borough clerk. The clerk said they have no custody over councilmembers’ social media pages, meaning they're not part of public records laws.

"I think it feels unfair and insulting, but it also does prohibit them from participating in discussion, often a councilmember will post something and then you can't respond the way other people are responding to praise or criticize it," Griffin said.

Griffin argues that because they are official Facebook accounts, which are separate from their personal accounts and are used to conduct official government business, they are subject to access. Griffin also says that public officials have to give out the blocked users list in response to Larkin’s original request.

"I think it's a really important issue because right now the blocking of citizens by government officials is a really hot button topic and it happens a lot, and now people interact with their government by going to social media pages. So, by blocking someone, you block their voice," Griffin said.

A hearing will be held for the incident on June 15 in superior court in Hackensack, and a ruling could be made at that time.

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