While I was away, the Arkansas Times made an FOI request for pay details of new Razorback assistant coaches.

Rebecca Morrison, who fields FOI requests for the UA-Fayetteville, refused to provide the information. She told Lindsey Millar last week:

With regard to your January 9, 2018 emailed request for public records that was forwarded to me, please be advised that the records you seek (for Craddock, Chavis and Carroll) are in active use and will not be responsive until fully executed. At that time, the records will be released.

On my return, I objected. The legal definition of “active use” relates to a specific document. It does not mean a deal has not yet been completed. I’m sure multiple copies of the tentative agreements exist and are readily available. I asked for them again.

Today, Morrison adopted a new tactic for refusal:

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Please understand that releasing drafts of unsigned agreements places the university at a significant competitive disadvantage; therefore, we consider those records to be exempt pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105(b)(9). 

Competitive disadvantage with whom? The hirings of Joe Cradduck, John Chavis and Trumain Carroll have been announced by the university. They are not going anywhere else. The details are inevitably to be announced.

My response to Morrison: “that is pure horse hockey.”

But it is well-aged horse hockey from the UA. It first developed the competitive disadvantage excuse in refusing a request for information on what it had given the Walton family in return for a $300 million gift some years ago — creation of a Walton education agenda propaganda unit turned out to be part of the deal. They’ve used it more recently to defy the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette access to information about purchases of high-dollar private boxes at the renovated stadium. They really don’t believe in accountability at UA, witness the slow-walking of FOI requests, the bogus claims of competitive disadvantage and even the legal efforts to claim that some FOI requests are simply too burdensome for them to fulfill, an argument that has won some favor from homer judges.

Pitiful.