Friday, August 19, 2016

Requests must be adequately responsed to within three days, even during snow storms

Snow storms and similar natural occurrences do not fall outside of the Open Records Act’s three-day response requirement, the attorney general's office rules in an open records opinion.

On June 24, 2016, Attorney General Andy Beshear released an opinion in In re: Daniel Konstantopoulos/Office of the Clark County Judge-Executive, 16-ORD-128 covering two issues of an open records appeal

Konstantopoulos requested all pay stubs of the Clark County treasurer on Jan. 17, 2016. A snow storm had closed the county’s offices for several days. 

On Jan. 24, 2016, Konstantopoulos had received no response and filed an appeal with the attorney general. The following day, the county attorney hand-delivered the requested documents to Konstantopoulos at the meeting of the fiscal court. 

Konstantopoulos supplemented his appeal, challenging both the time and the redactions of gross wages, taxes, and net pay. The judge-executive responded “unintentional human error” and his failure to find the statutory basis for redacting the pay stubs contributed to the delay. The county asked the attorney general to dismiss the appeal after the records were provided because the county complied with the intent of the law. 

Beshear disagreed, stating that KRS 61.880(1) provides agencies three days – excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays – after the request is received. He also stated that the legislature did not include natural things like bad weather when drafting this section of the statute, and his office is required to decide appeals by the language of the statute.  

The other issue revolved around the redaction of sections of the pay stubs. Beshear determined that the judge-executive must provide Konstantopoulos with copies of the requested pay stubs with the salary and incentive pay not redacted. The attorney general's office found that only showing gross pay on the stubs did not fulfill the office’s legal obligations to disclose all nonexempt entries on a pay stub. 

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