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HOW TO DO PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS WORK? – PART 3

 

BY DONNA WESTFALL

In this case, I requested addresses of all current sewer customers.  Please refer to Part 1 and 2 to bring you up to date.

When City Attorney, Bob Black, replied on March 7, 2013, he also included California Government Code Section 6254.16:

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require the disclosure of the name, credit history, utility usage date, home address, or telephone number of utility customers of local agencies, except that disclosure of name, utility usage data, and the home address of utility customers of local agencies shall be made available upon request as follows:

(a)  To an agent or authorized family member of the person to whom the information pertains.

(b)  To an officer or employee of another governmental agency when necessary for the performance of its official duties.

(c)  Upon court order or the request of a law enforcement agency relative to an ongoing investigation.

(d)  Upon determination by the local agency that the utility customer who is the subject of the request has used utility services in a manner inconsistent with applicable local utility usage policies.

(e)  Upon determination by the local agency that the utility customer who is the subject of the request is an elected or appointed official with authority to determine the utility usage policies of the local agency, provided that the home address of an appointed official shall not be disclosed without his or her consent.

(f)  Upon determination by the local agency that the public interest in disclosure of the information clearly outweighs the public interest in nondisclosure.

 Here is the question I pondered deeply for about 10 seconds.  Does the public interest weigh heaviest in disclosure or nondisclosure?  My conclusion is in disclosure.  The following is the response I sent to the City Attorney.  (When I hand carry in correspondence with the City, I take 2 copies.  One for the City and one for my records.  I always ask them to date stamp both copies.)

March 8, 2013

To: City Atty Bob Black

377 J St.

Crescent City, Calif.

 

Thank you for your prompt response to my public records request dated March 1, 2013.

I’ve reviewed Section 6254.16 and there are several points to make.

1.)     The Mission Statement of the City of Crescent City in regards to transparency and accountability.  If it is the City’s intent to not disclose the requested information in order to thwart an honest, accurate Prop 218 process in the future, then  it looks like the city is not holding to its self-proclaimed tenets to be transparent and accountable.

2.)    According to 6254.18 this information shall be made available upon request as follows:  (f) Upon determination by the local agency that the public interest in disclosure of the information clearly outweighs the public interest in nondisclosure.

The public interest is in seeing that the Prop 218 process is held honestly, fairly and accurately.  This was a problem in 2007 and subsequently resulted in former City Clerk Dianne Nickersons attempted recall and resignation.

Also in 2007, I paid $23 to the city for the list of addresses which I received.  I was told that City Clerk Dianne Nickerson conferred with you and it was related to me that as long as the city did not disclose the names, then the addresses were just fine.  Therefore precedent has already been set.

Section 6254.16 is not new since 2007.  If you had decided in 2007 not to disclose addresses of sewer rate payers you could have quoted it then.  You did not.  I was a “member of the public” and not an elected official of any agency.  Again, precedent has already been set.

I anxiously await your positive response to my request dated 3/1/13.

 

Donna Westfall

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