Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Attorney general rules against airport board, county officials

The state attorney general's office has ruled the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Airport Board and county officials in Whitley, Crittenden and Nelson counties violated Kentucky's Open Records Act.

The airport board ruling came in a case brought by Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Jennifer Hewlettas part of the newspaper's investigation of the board. Hewlett was seeking an unredacted copy of a $10,000 check issued to former airport executive director Michael Gobb. The board had blacked out the name on the check, claiming it included "confidential health information."

"In weighing the competing public and private interests in the redacted information, the balance tips in favor of disclosure," the attorney general's decision said.

Gobb resigned as executive director after the newspaper's investigation, which revealed a pattern of questionable and high spending of public money.

In Whitley County, the 911 Dispatch Office denied a request for a copy of a 911 tape by Clarence Hurst. The dispatch office refused, saying 911 tapes are exempt from the Kentucky Open Records Act. "We find no support in the law for Whitley County's position," the attorney general's ruling said, adding "an ever-growing body" of law and legal opinions hold that 911 recordings are clearly public.

Crittenden County Fiscal Court "violated both procedural and substantive provisions of the Open Records Act" when it failed to respond properly to a request by Robert Moore for records relating to its solid waste management plan, the attorney general's opinion said.

In Nelson County, the judge/executive violated the law when he withheld "nonexempt portions of time sheets/time cards of a public employee, such as vacation leave and sick leave." The decision said, "In our view, the public's right to know is superior to the employees' privacy interest, real or imagined."

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