Matt Campbell, the lawyer who publishes Blue Hog Report, has amended his FOI lawsuit against the city of Little Rock to detail multiple ways in which the city has not complied with the state Freedom of Information Act in acknowledging and or responding to his requests for public information.
¥ou can read the amended complaint here.
It covers requests for emails to and from Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and his chief of staff, Kendra Pruitt, as well as the documents so far kept secret about key aspects of the failed LITfest. Campbell has also copied the information to Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
It reflects my own experience with the Scott administration, which never seems to have anything responsive to FOI requests and which dithers for days and weeks on the simplest request. Good example: I asked Pruitt Oct. 5 for her letter to sponsors explaining the LITFest cancellation. She didn’t acknowledge my request. A normal public official could have forwarded the letter. She didn’t. She transferred my request to the FOIA office, which didn’t acknowledge the request as the law required until Monday. Then, it said:
Due to the issues of demand and a disruption in office staffing, we were not able to respond to your FOIA Request when it was initially received. We apologize for any inconvenience this delay has caused. We are working through all pending FOIA Requests as quickly as possible.
Please understand that FOIA Requests are processed in the order they are received. In the event that you have submitted multiple FOIA Requests, you may experience further delay regarding these subsequent FOIA Requests.
We appreciate your patience during the pendency of this process.
I’m aware of no law that allows delayed response to an FOI by transfer of a record from the person who holds it to an intermediary or a part of the law that allows them to let an FOI drag forever by citing press of work.
You’ll find that same boilerplate cited by Campbell, without any mention of a time when information would be provided. Non-responsiveness is the story of the Scott administration. They operate in a bunker. If you are not with them 100 percent, you are against them. As events recently proved, they sometimes have a good reason to avoid transparency — contract funny business with a friendly consultant hired for LITfest so questionable that City Manager Bruce Moore canceled the contract.
I’ve waited days with no response to another simple question — public pay of two City Hall employees.
Frank Scott and his enablers are their worst enemies. He has a record that can be defended in many respects. His chief opponent, Steve Landers, offers many reasons for voters to be wary (though he did better in last night’s debate than he had in previous public forums, primarily because Scott was finally forced to face, if not fully answer, some questions about his administration’s missteps. Landers, too, had to face questions about some of his gaffes.)
Scott’s campaign to pitch the race as us-against-them (with “them” including the City Board of Directors) seems likely to be a winning formula with voters. But it won’t improve relations with the City Board, particularly if the candidate he’s backing to unseat incumbent Director Doris Wright loses. Scott’s biggest failing has been an inability to build coalitions on the 10-member board. I think he could have done better. The old rule applies in Little Rock governance. You need six votes.