Friday, January 30, 2009

No indictment in Obama effigy case

A Fayette County grand jury refused Jan. 25 to charge two college-age men who hung an effigy of Barack Obama from a tree last fall on the University of Kentucky campus, their lawyer said.

The grand jury dismissed charges of second-degree burglary, theft by unlawful taking and disorderly conduct against Hunter Bush, 21, of Lexington, and Joe Fischer, 22, who graduated from UK in December, lawyer Fred Peters said.

In an interview, Fischer and Bush expressed remorse and said they were not trying to make a statement about race. They said they were making a political statement in response to news reports in October that an effigy of Sarah Palin was hung at a West Hollywood, Calif., home.

Hunter Bush, 21, and Joe Fischer, 22, spoke at a news conference in the office of their attorney, Fred Peters. Bush said he now realizes the effigy was inflammatory.

"It was just a political prank," said Bush, a Republican. "We just weren't thinking of other people's feelings."

-- Lexington Herald-Leader, Jan. 28.

Attorney general issues open-government opinions

The Kentucky Attorney General's office issued three opinions on open government issues last week. For full texts, see Links of Interest below.

1. 09-ORD-011 (Boone County)
Decision adopting 07-ORD-188 and 07-ORD-190 regarding the statutory obligations of a public agency upon receipt of a request for nonexistent records or those which the agency does not possess; a public agency such as the Boone County Fiscal Court is not required to produce records which do not exist nor must a public agency "prove a negative." In the absence of a prima facie showing that additional records exist in the custody of the Fiscal Court, its denial must be affirmed in accordance with Bowling v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Ky., 172 S.W.3d 333, 340-41 (2005), and prior decisions of this office.

2. 09-ORD-012 (Franklin County)
Cabinet for Health and Family Services - Department of Medicaid Services committed both procedural and substantive violations of the Open Records Act in denying request for audited cost reports for named facility for 1998, 1999, and 2000, and related documentation, on the basis of KRS 61.872(6), KRS 61.878(1)(h), and KRS 61.878(1)(i) and (j).

3. 09-ORD-013 (Daviess County)
Former employer of inmate did not violate Open Records Act where requested records did not exist.