The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has sued Gov. Mike Huckabee and the state Parole Board in circuit court over his office’s refusal to release information about Larry Zeno’s resignation from the Parole Board following an investigation of his conduct.
This is a suit the governor should settle. (And, governor’s office, we’re still waiting for a response to our own FOI on this matter. Statute requires a response from the trustee of such records, even if the answer is “no.” Perhaps, like Bush, the governor believes he can suspend laws that he doesn’t like when they pertain to his critics.)
Why should the governor settle it? Because this case finally could produce some good law on the definition of a working paper. We don’t believe an otherwise public document that constitutes a record of a public official’s job performance can be made secret by moving it to a certain physical location. This governor, and those before him, have taken the view that any scrap of paper inside the confines of that office can be kept secret. Case law in other states doesn’t go so far. Maybe Arkansas will join the free world when this case is decided.
Chris Piazza drew the case. We lost an FOI case before him once and I still think it was wrongly decided, but we couldn’t afford the appeal, having already spent $13,00 against the delaying tactics of the University of Arkansas. We got some partial consolation when Leon Holmes, who’d done a lot of press work and now sits on the federal bench, gave a speech disagreeing with Piazza’s decision.