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City’s response to PD’s open records request: No

Concerning our California Public Records Act request that we filed with the city on Thursday, we received a response earlier today. City officials are claiming that they can keep the names of the candidates secret under the “deliberative process exemption” under the CPRA. The question we have is, what possible deliberations will be occurring between now and Wednesday morning? And why would the city be waving the exemption on Wednesday? It appears the city is claiming that it could be keeping the entire process secret  - up to the moment the City Council votes on an appointment - but is opening it up to the public on Wednesday just to be good guys. This seems to be a warped interpretation of their obligations under the law to maintain openness. Keep in mind the city is not hiring a new city manager. It is picking someone to fill a seat in an otherwise elected office.

It seems to us they should be deferring to transparency throughout the process  just as would be the case if these individuals were running for office as opposed to applying for an appointment.

Here’s a copy of the city’s response.

- Paul Gullixson

Dear Ms. Barnett and Mr. Gullixson:

On January 17,  the City of Santa Rosa (“City”) received your California Public

Records Act request for the names of all individuals who have applied to fill the current City Council vacancy and copies of all completed application packets submitted as of 2 p.m., Friday, January 18. You have also requested the names of all individuals who have been given application packets. You have requested that the information be made available before the close of business today. In addition, with respect to individuals who file (applications) after Friday, you have requested that this information be made available by noon on Tuesday. Last, you have requested a quick determination regarding your request.

Section 6253 of the Public Records Act provides to the City ten days in which to respond to your request. (Gov. Code § 6253(c).). Despite this provision, the City provides this prompt response to accommodate your request. The names of applicants and applications received for the vacancy on the City Council are exempt from disclosure under the deliberative process exemption (Gov. Code, § 6255) of the California Public Records Act. {Calif. First Amendment Coalition v. Superior Court (1998) 67 Cai.App.4th 159, 169-172.) Regarding Proposition 59, it is simply a constitutionalization of the Public Records Act. (Sutter’s Place v. Superior Court(2008) 161 Cai.App.4th 1370, 1382.)

Although the records you seek are exempt from public disclosure, the City Council, through its adoption of City Council policy 000-23, has decided that it will make this information available for public inspection after the deadline for the receipt of all applications. Through the adoption of this policy, the City Council has balanced the interests of applicants seeking appointment against the public’s interest in obtaining this information. It has done so by providing that the information shall be made public after the filing deadline.

The deadline for filing applications with the City is 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. Accordingly, these records will be made available for your inspection on Wednesday, January 23, 2013. Please contact my office at your convenience to set up an appointment for the inspection of these documents. I will assist you in any way I can at that time.

Sincerely,
Terri Griffin
City Clerk
cc: Kathleen Millison, City Manager
Caroline Fowler, City Attorney
Jennifer Phillips, Assistant City Manager





4 Responses to “City’s response to PD’s open records request: No”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Just ask Erin who she is going
    to vote for.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  2. Caller says:

    @Brown Act Jack —

    The City Council made that decision at a city council BEFORE the PD’s request.

    They didn’t need to have a meeting to discuss the request when the decision was already made. In no way did the city claim to discuss it after the request, and in no way did they hold a meeting without proper notice.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  3. brown act Jack says:

    Surely, Mr. Gullickson, you should know that you have a claim now against the CC for holding a city council meeting without the public notice, don’t you?

    “Although the records you seek are exempt from public disclosure, the City Council, through its adoption of City Council policy 000-23, has decided that it will make this information available for public inspection after the deadline for the receipt of all applications. Through the adoption of this policy, the City Council has balanced the interests of applicants seeking appointment against the public’s interest in obtaining this information. ”

    When was the decision made to make it available? At the time of the policy making, or after you asked on Jan 17.

    As far as I know there has been no CC meeting after your request therefore the CC could not have made the decision to conform to your request!

    Sue em for violation of the GC 54950 et al!

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  4. Kirstin says:

    Until the deadline no one inside or outside City Hall will know exactly who is going to apply. When the deadline passes, we will find out. Then there will be opportunity for everyone to hear the applicants answer questions before the council and for people to weigh in. It does make sense to wait before releasing the names until all have applied; then all can receive scrutiny from the press and the public for an equal amount of time.

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

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