County

Ada Plays Hide N’ Seek With Public Records

Ada County continues its game of “hide n’ seek” when it comes to public records by telling the DAILY PAPER it will cost $110 to obtain copies of public comment submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission. The cover letter is a damning comment from P&Z about the process of approving the Dynamis trash to energy scheme.

To be fair, the Statesman asked only for the cover letter (posted below) from the P&Z to the Commishes. However, a county custodian of records told the paper if they wanted to see the attachments, it would require $110 to include about 150 pages of written PUBLIC testimony submitted to the P&Z. Reason: cover attorney costs to review “exempt information.”

Commissioner David Case and Commissioner-elect Jim Tibbs have both assured the GUARDIAN they will not continue this game with public records. Both attended a seminar (along with the GUARDIAN) on public records and open meetings presented by Attorney General Lawrence Wasden last week. The thrust of Wasden’s message is for the media and government to become familiar with the law and provide PUBLIC information as readily as possible to the PUBLIC.

(Note: A reader caught a typo in the first paragraph which may be very appropriate)

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Dave….is the Daily Wipe suggesting that they are unable or unwilling to cough up the 110 bucks? I knew times were tough when they started charging (or attempting to charge) for the Online Wipe, but surely in the name of investigative journalism they can scrape up the coin required to pursue the “rest of the story”!!

    EDITOR NOTE–It appears they are merely making a point. The county simply doesn’t “get it” when it comes to being open about government. In January it will all change.

  2. Chicago Sam
    Dec 11, 2012, 7:21 am

    This makes no sense at all. The purpose of a public hearing is to recieve public comments for the record. The idea that these comments or the people who made them should be private is probably not legal and certainly contrary to the intent. Where are you Big Ben? You are needed again. And you can’t even hire a clerk for $110

  3. CLEAN IT UP
    Dec 11, 2012, 8:47 am

    I cannot wait until Ullman is gone and Yzaguirre gets to feel some heat. This last joke of a commission just showed how corrupt we allow our officials to be. It is time to clean house, and to then clean up the rest of the governing bodies. It is time for the old system of self-protectionism and secrecy to end.

  4. Editor: I think it foolish to think “it will all change” We are simply rotating the tires. Yes we are making the worst one the spare this time, but I have little doubt that a whole new set of issues of a different sort will crop up in the next term. The biggest will be huge RINO tax increases to support increased pay and job security for county employees. They all feel the burning need to catch up with the costal citys.

  5. Idaho judges are increasingly ordering the release of public documents by public agencies. You can read up on the Blackfoot School Board’s unsealing of heretofore “secret” documents in the hush-hush $210,000 buyout of a former superintendent in the Dec. 11 edition of “Eye on Boise.” A 6th District Court judge forced the school board to comply with the Idaho Open Meeting Law. The school board admitted it had tried to hide the buyout details in the former super’s personnel file, according to the news account. It also admitted to two violations of the IOML/Public Records Law, and promised to study up and do better in the future. Not sure if any fines have been imposed.

    http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/boise/2012/dec/11/blackfood-school-board-admits-secret-payouts-former-supt-open-meeting-law-violations/

    FYI: public agencies can request fees for records in advance, pursuant to the overhauled Idaho Public Records Law. I doubt there are any legitimate “exemptions” or “protected material” in the public testimony from an on-the-record public hearing before a public body. This was not an executive session. If the county claims that, I believe it must cite the specific exemption section to the public/media:

    http://www.ag.idaho.gov/publications/legalManuals/PublicRecordsLaw.pdf

    Oddly enough, Commissioner Ullman recently told KTVB-Viewpoint viewers she agreed to the interview because it would air “uncut.” That’s all the public/media want –raw, uncut, unedited testimony contained in the “P&Z PAPERS.”

    KTA-Independent Journalist and procurer of many public documents, including military records from the U.S. Department of Defense through a federal Freedom of Information Act request.

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