On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, at 9:00 A.M., OpenCdA hand-delivered an Idaho Public Records Law request to the Kootenai County Board of County Commissioners office. The cover sheet is shown left, and here is the detailed request attached to it.
Our request for routinely kept records required by law has been presumptively denied.
To simply outline the underlying issue prompting our request: Kootenai County Commissioners Green and Tondee had stated publicly that their decision to fire Coeur d’Alene Airport (COE) Manager Greg Delavan on or about October 24, 2014, had been made in an executive session during a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Nelson had stated she was aware of the meeting but had not taken part in it. Our OpenCdA post entitled Wrong Answer, Commissioner Green on November 4 explained why we believed the Commissioners’ firing of Delavan on or about October 24 violated the Idaho Open Meeting Law. Our November 5 public record request sought the statutorily-required agendas and meeting minutes which would either confirm or refute the truthfulness of the Commissioners’ assertions and the legality of the meeting(s) in which the decision was made to fire Delavan on or about October 24.
On November 7 OpenCdA received this email from Kootenai County Commissioners Administrative Assistant Nancy A. Jones.
The Idaho Public Records Law provides that employees of a public agency are allowed to determine that a longer period of time is needed to locate or retrieve information, but the agency is still required to grant or deny the request in whole or in part withing 10 working days following the request (see I.C. § 9-339(1)).
The “10 working days” period for our November 5 public records request expired on Thursday, November 20, 2014 (we did not count November 5 or Veteran’s Day, November 11, in our day count) . We have received no further information from the Commissioners after Ms. Jones’ November 7 email. Thus, our request for some records (agendas, minutes) which are or should be routinely kept by the Kootenai County Board of County Commissioners has been presumptively denied (see I.C. § 9-339(2)).
The sole remedy provided to us by law (see I.C. § 9-343(1)) “…is to institute proceedings in the district court of the county where the records or some part thereof are located, to compel the public agency or independent public body corporate and politic to make the information available for public inspection in accordance with the provisions of sections 9-337 through 9-348, Idaho Code.”
A source whom we believe to be reporting accurately has told us the records we seek cannot be located because they do not exist. If that is accurate, then pursuing them with a costly court action would be pointless. It would also be pointless, because as OpenCdA has reported before, the 2009 session of the Idaho Legislature gutted the protections afforded citizens by the Idaho Open Meeting Law.
At the behest of the Idaho Attorney General’s Office and with the support and participation of various lobbying organizations and news media, many of Idaho’s 2009 legislators knowingly sought to deprive Idaho’s citizens of the ability to learn how their elected and appointed officials conduct public business behind closed doors. Again, follow this link and notice who in the Senate and House voted “aye” in favor of hiding unlawful government actions from the public view and who voted “nay” against it.
The “cure” embedded in the revised Idaho Open Meeting Law should cause citizens to unofficially refer to the Idaho Open Meeting Law as the “Catch Me If You Can” Public Officials Protection Act of 2009.