Public record act requests are a necessary and valuable means for citizens to obtain information from their government that isn’t ordinarily available.
They are also a valuable tool for reporters, bloggers and opposition researchers to go on fishing expeditions for information they hope will be damaging to whomever it is they hope to damage.
Anaheim City Hall receives large number of PRAs from a very small number of individuals. Out of curiosity, I recently submitted a PRA for PRAs submitted since June 1, 2013 by a select group of frequent submitters such as Jason Young, Cynthia Ward, Adam Elmahrek/Voice of OC and OCCORD. According to the reply from the very responsive staff of the Anaheim City Clerk’s office, there were:
- 6 requests from OCCORD
- 6 from Cynthia Ward
- 14 from Adam Elmahrek
- 10 from Jason Young
I haven’t yet picked up the electronically submitted requests, but the City Clerk’s office e-mailed me a list of phoned-in and in-person requests:
- July 11: Adam Elmahrek – Responsive Records to C.Ward Request re ARC/Streetcar (Dec. 2012)
- July 29: Cynthia Ward – 2008 & 2012 Jennifer Rivera Nomination Papers
- August 15: Jason Young – Previous Records Produced (Spring 2013) re Calendars – OC Register
- August 19: Adam Elmahrek – Same Records as Provided to Jason Young re Calendars – OC Register
- August 26: Adam Elmahrek – Records as sent to J.Young in May 2013 re. Kring/O’Connell/Patel/Pringle Meeting
- August 30: Cynthia Ward – Report by Convention, Sports & Leisure re Economic Impact of Angels Baseball.
The power of PRA serves a useful purpose.
It is not a fishing expedition, but merely getting to the truth and shed light on transparency of critical documents, which appears some wants to shove issues under the rug.
I encourage the public to keep a watchful eye on any city hall, which the city as a whole is supposed to serve the public not the mighty few whom don’t want their boat to be rocked!
Allen, I stated at the beginning of the post that PRAs are a valuable and necessary tool. But you are fooling yourself if you think they aren’t used to conduct fishing expeditions that only end up wasting city time and resources.
Just because a tool is a good one doesn’t mean it cannot be abused or used for less than noble purposes.
[Comment that typically misses the point.]
What’s most surprising about these bloggers who claim to be good stewards of public information and top notch little investigators is that much of what they request is available online at the city’s website without making staff go through the motions, time and expense of a PRA.
So they cant even figure out a basic city information system but they claim to be qualified to speak on top level finance and negotiations… Sounds about right.
Matt, when someone like Cynthia Ward makes these requests for no other purpose than to play politics, who pays?
I am sure someone at City Hall has the spend time to research and copy the information. How much money does the city have in their Budget to cover the staffing?
Sounds like its another area of our government that is being abused, just like CEQA and public pensions. They think they are being cleaver and cute but we are paying for their stupid antics.
Can someone find out how much their games are costing the taxpayers? I totally understand the right for the media to have access, but Cynthia Ward and others are just wasting our money.
Maybe someone should start submitting records requests every day at County regarding Cynthia Ward, since she is a County official.
She might stop wasting taxpayer money in Anaheim if the County found out what she was up in Anaheim, and it began costing the County money.