Senior Manager of Planning Directs Another Employee to Ignore Request for Information –
In an email to Kelly Quinn, a Senior Manager of Planning for the Office of Court Construction and Management, Dino Gay from the Woodland Journal asked the following on March 17, 2009:
“I am doing a follow-up story and need the following information:
Can you tell me what conditions the AOC did not meet in regards to Yolo County Resolution No. 06-144 (in the Feasibility Study on your Web site) and Yolo County’s property bordered by Court, Third, North and Fourth Streets. Yolo County has claimed the state has not met the conditions outlined in the resolution and therefore has taken that property off of those considered for siting.
Thanks… I know this might have slipped off the radar, but it is a crucial bit of information the Yolo County public needs to know.”
After several emails apparently went unanswered, he sent an email to Assistant Director, Office of Court Construction and. Management copying Kelly Quin.
“I’ve sent several emails requesting certain information about the New Woodland Courthouse. Can you please respond to the question below [above]? This would preclude the need for a Public Records Request.”
Kelly Quinn would then email Lee Willoughly copying the Woodland Record:
“Lee – do not respond to him. The Yolo Court no longer responds to him, a local blogger who mucks things up locally. I have been purposefully ignoring him.”
To which, Lee Willoughby replies, “ok.”
On Monday, Dino Gay followed up with a more formal request for information:
“For your information, and despite Kelly’s claim, below is a March 25 response from Jim Perry of the Yolo Courts. If you want to call my investigations “mucking up,” that’s fine with me. I am reporting on the New Woodland Courthouse project. There are some strange holes in the public process that need to be publicized as taxpayer money is at stake.”
Unfortunately, the Administrative Office of Courts is exempt from the California Public Records Act, but they generally comply for information such as this.
Frankly this is appalling. Kelly Quinn is a public employee. It would be one thing, and probably questionable to ignore the emails from an inquiring member of the public. It is quite another thing to direct another employee, this one the Assistant Director, to not respond. That is in my mind the height of arrogance.
One also has to wonder if the decision to copy the Woodland Record on the response was intentional or a blunder.
As one person I spoke to who deals with open government issues told me, it is quite possible that Kelly Quinn’s job description may not include answering questions from the media. However, it also does not include telling other officials to ignore them.
It is very interesting that Dino Gay’s reasonable follow-up question regarding the issue of court development and planning would be treated in such a manner and dismissed as “muck things up.”
There is a general principle of open government that seems to be missing in the response from Kelly Quinn. I would have asked her about it myself, but who knows what I would have been accused of.
The Vanguard has made some inquiries into this situation and will follow up if there is further news to report. Attempts to ignore legitimate requests for information have now brought greater scrutiny to the situation, as it appears there might be something to hide.