By: Diane Benjamin
Today I was in court again for my lawsuit against the City of Bloomington – it’s either #4 or #5 (losing track). The judge has promised to issue a ruling on January 28th.
City Attorney Rosalee Dodson is no longer with the City, at least that’s what the substitute said. No explanation was given, but the City sent another attorney – George Boyle. Just so you get some idea of how much the City is forcing taxpayers to pay to fight compliance with the law, George’s total compensation last year was $127, 710. Court took at least an hour today, not including whatever he did to prepare.
January 28th is a day when the City’s $175 per hour lawyer (Jeff Jurgens) is scheduled to be in town, so next time the City is bringing out the big guns.
A little review:
- The City failed to produce documents under FOUR Freedom of Information Act requests within about 2 weeks last July
- Problems started shortly after the City started out-sourcing law to Jeff Jurgens (Was denying my requests his idea?)
- The City assumed I would appeal to the Attorney General, like many other times
- Since the Attorney General’s Office has failed numerous times to hold government accountable, I filed a lawsuit instead
- The City of Bloomington has filed twice to have the case dismissed, the judge denied both
- I did receive some emails that were illegally redacted after the lawsuit was filed
- The City has spent at least thousands of dollars to fight the transparency laws
Earlier this month the City delivered 2 large packets of emails and a CD to the judge. I requested an in-camera review by the judge of all redacted emails. The City Attorney claimed there were 500 emails. By filing the lawsuit, the City lost it’s right to decide what emails can legally be redacted and which ones can’t. The judge will make the final decision.
By law, if the City wants to redact an email there is a procedure. I should have received copies of every one showing To, From, the Date, and Time with everything else blacked out. I received one or two. I doubt if there really are 500 emails, what I get is the same email over and over with somebody’s response added.
Here’s a new twist: Jeff Jurgens wants to submit documentation to the court showing what code section makes it legal for the City to redact the emails. The code section was listed when the emails were initially redacted, but evidently Jurgens wants to come up with better reasons. So, taxpayers of Bloomington, you will be charged $175 per hour so Jurgens can review 500 emails in an attempt to ensure you have no right to know what the emails contained. Merry Christmas.
Send an email to Mayor Transparency and personally thank him. firstname.lastname@example.org