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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: public records ombudsman

Public records show how gov’s ombudsman order got scaled back at last minute

In a report based on information obtained under the Idaho Public Records Act, AP reporter Rebecca Boone has traced down how Gov. Butch Otter's plans for a new public records ombudsman were scaled back at the last minute - the night before they were announced - after the governor's office belatedly consulted with the Idaho Attorney General and learned of legal questions about its initial approach. Otter named Cally Younger, pictured above, as the new ombudsman on April 23.

Otter's chief of staff, David Hensley, emailed Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane the night before the announcement, along with others, asking about the proposal for the ombudsman to help people who have had public records requests denied, without their having to go to court. The current law says the only remedy for a person aggrieved by the denial of a record request is for that person to go to court.

Kane responded to Hensley's email by saying the draft appeared to create a separate remedy through the executive branch, the AP reports. Kane also noted a few places where it could complicate matters if a public records case goes to court, possibly opening the agencies or ombudsman up to a “bad faith” court claim from a disgruntled record-seeker. The issues could be avoided with a change to the state law, Kane said, adding the ombudsman as a middle or alternate step to the courts.

Just before midnight, Hensley sent a revised version to colleagues in the governor's office and to Jeremy Pisca, lobbyist for the Newspaper Association of Idaho. “I know it is short of where you and your clients wanted to be. I also know this is short notice. If you and your clients are willing to support this direction, I would commit to working with you on legislation for the next session to codify a review process for state agencies and local governments prior to and/or in lieu of litigation,” Hensley wrote. Click below for the AP's full report.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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