Missouri AG Releases Dome Plans

Kudos to Missouri’s AG for doing the right thing!

Attorney General Chris Koster released the Rams’ proposal for upgrading the Edward Jones Dome in compliance with Sunshine Law requests to the state of Missouri.

Koster had announced May 7 that the state would release the documents today unless a judge said the records should remain closed. Since May 7, no representative of any party to the negotiations has attempted to articulate an exception to Missouri’s Sunshine Law, and thus the documents are being released.

Judge to Determine Whether St. Louis Convention Bureau Must Release Dome Plans

A welcome development from St. Louis: a newspaper taking a secretive body to court.

The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission and the Post-Dispatch both filed lawsuits on Wednesday, presenting divergent arguments about records related to Dome renovations and what role public debate should have in the process.

The CVC, a public agency that operates the Dome, sought a judge’s ruling on its obligation to comply with Post-Dispatch requests for copies of the Rams’ plan and other documents. In a countersuit filed hours later, the Post-Dispatch sought a court order requiring the CVC to turn over the documents.

…The Post-Dispatch maintains that the public has a right to stay informed of a project involving public money and a publicly owned building that taxpayers are still paying for.

The Post-Dispatch maintains that none of the Sunshine Law exemptions apply to the CVC and Rams proposals because they pertain specifically to a lease that is already an effective contract.

“It’s simple, really,” Robbins said. “The CVC is a public governmental body funded by public funds. It is negotiating improvements for a publicly owned stadium that likely will involve public funds.”

$18,500 for three months’ worth of e-mails?

A frequent tactic in the FOI game is the eye-popping fee for redaction and records preparation. I’d like to say this is an unusual price tag, but I’ve run across several similar stories in the past few months:

A group of taxpayers in the Rockwood School District has been told it must pay $18,005 for a public records request, prompting the group to ask the state auditor’s office to review the matter as part of an upcoming audit of the district.

On April 16, the group, which goes by the name Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions, requested copies of 3½ months of emails sent to and from the district email accounts of School Board members, the board secretary, the superintendent and the president of the teachers union.

After informing the group that the request would involve thousands of pages of records, district spokeswoman Kim Cranston asked the group to be more specific.

The taxpayer group responded by saying it was seeking assurance that district email accounts weren’t used to solicit support for Prop R — a $43.2 million bond issue that failed at the polls April 3 — or to endorse any of the School Board candidates. Such activity could run afoul of election law.

 

ACLU sues St. Louis over inmate grievance records…

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the city of St. Louis, asking a judge to make the city turn over jail records related to inmate grievances.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the suit file Wednesday accuses the city’s corrections division of ignoring repeated requests over the past four months for records under the Missouri Sunshine Law.

The suit seeks an injunction forcing release of the records. It also asks the judge to find the city in violation of the law and to impose civil penalties.

The two jails in St. Louis came under criticism in 2011 after a series of jail breaks. The ACLU has also been critical of treatment of inmates at the jails, citing sexual harassment, medical neglect and other abuses.

An Interesting Twist: Government Sues Newspaper….

From my friends at Patch….

The City of Brentwood sued the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Aug. 19 seeking a declaratory judgment from St. Louis County Judge David Vincent concerning a document requested by the newspaper.

According to the petition for declaratory judgment, the document is a copy of a Letter of Understanding regarding the repayment of overtime between Brentwood and Local 2665 IAFF, the union representing the City of Brentwood firefighters.

The Post-Dispatch requested the document as part of an investigation by reporter and Brentwood resident Paul Hampel that exposed more than 24 years of Brentwood firefightersreceiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay for hours they did not work.