Commonwealth Journal

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January 14, 2013

Burnside ordered to turn over blueprints


Burnside —

Conway’s notice said that “(w)e find that the City of Burnside failed to meet its first obligation under the Open Records Act, which is to give a timely written response to a written request to view public records” and that “(t)he City never gave Mr. DeNiro a written response. Instead, he received an alternating pair of excuses. First he was told that the KLC had advised the mayor not to let him see the plans; then he was told that the mayor had not found the plans. Finally, six months later, he was told that ‘the attorneys instructed’ the mayor not to let him see the plans. It is clear from the e-mails that the KLC attorneys had instructed no such thing.”
The document also states that if Burnside has placed its records in the hands of a third party, that does not put them outside the reach of the Open Records Act, but if the city has simply misplaced the records, that would “not substantively violate the Open Records Act per se, because a public agency cannot afford a requester access to a record that it does not have or that does not exist. ... In general, it is not our duty to investigate in order to locate documents which the public agency state that it does not possess. In this case, however, the documents would have been lost by the public agency, which would create a records management issue.”
The authors of the order said that they are “referring the matter” to the Department of Libraries and Archives to “render any needed services or take other action as it may find appropriate.”
Jones pointed out that the city currently has “engineers designing a whole new plant now” and that “we’ll have a whole new set of blueprints (after the project is completed) and I doubt very seriously if Mr. DeNiro gets a copy of those either.”

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