City Has Not Learned Its Lesson | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

City Has Not Learned Its Lesson

In a story in today's Clarion-Ledger, the city offer a bunch of hogwash on why they do not have to release public records. Goliath asked for the letters JPD Chief Shirlene Anderson would have to have written for Recio and Wright to be able to carry their weapons on to planes. The city refused to release this information because it contains sensitive security information.

That, my friends, is a complete distortion of that exemption in the Public Records Act. There is such an exemption, but the point of it is that the city doesn't have to tell us what kind of security system City Hall has, etc. It has nothing to do with the chief of police signing a letter that confirms Recio and Wright are law enforcement. How could that letter possibly compromise their security? After all, they've got their guns, whether they have the letter or not. That's just stupid, and it's a totally dishonest use of that exemption.

The other howler is that the city will not release Wright and Recio's firearms qualifications because these are "personnel" records. The city seems to think that anything remotely related to a person is a personnel matter.

How much you want to bet they're not qualified to carry MP5 submachine guns? How much you want to bet they haven't had their TSA training on carrying firearms onto planes? The city's iron curtain policy on public records makes it seem they have something to hide. If not, they're just imperious and stubborn. Melton often acts as if the fact that he is mayor means that he is the law, and my guess is that they never took the TSA requirements seriously.

This is ridiculous. As long as there is this attitude on the part of the city attorney's office (or was it Danks this time?), the media is going to have to keep after the city. I hope The Clarion-Ledger does not settle with the city, because if they do, they're probably just going to have to sue again anyway.

The arrogance of these people.

Previous Comments

ID
172457
Comment

I am very near to calling for jihad. This is an outrage.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2006-06-07T14:52:36-06:00
ID
172458
Comment

Seatbelts fastened all? Today it looks like the mayor and Danks are joining The Clarion-Ledger to go after his own legal department. What is friggin' next? And does this indicate that Melton and Chief Anderson are at odds over this? Kind of looks like it. Jackson Mayor Frank Melton called The Clarion-Ledger on Wednesday evening to "personally apologize to the newspaper" - after learning that some of the paper's open records requests had been denied. The newspaper and city have been at odds over public records requests the past few weeks, leading to the paper filing a lawsuit against Melton, the city clerk's office and City Council members. The paper and Melton came to an agreement last week, but it still has to be approved by the council and a Chancery Court judge. Apparently, not everyone has been following the mayor's lead. On Wednesday, the paper was informed by letter it could not see documents that grant Melton and his bodyguards permission to board commercial aircraft with firearms. The paper also was denied information in other records requests. "We agreed to work with The Clarion-Ledger," Melton said. "We're going to do the right thing. "I want to personally apologize to the newspaper for this incident, and I will correct it on Friday." Melton said there will be a meeting at 10 a.m. Friday with department heads to discuss public records. He said he also wants to set up a workshop for city employees to make sure everyone understands the procedure when information is requested from the public and media organizations. ...

Author
ladd
Date
2006-06-08T08:34:03-06:00
ID
172459
Comment

The Clarion-Ledger requested firearms training documents for Melton, who has said he carries multiple concealed firearms in public and on airplanes. "The city of Jackson does not possess documents that show firearms training and certifications for Jackson Mayor Frank Melton," Anderson wrote. Evans said the newspaper is not entitled to view documents showing whether the detectives have completed the training because it is part of their protected personnel file. She said she would talk to police officials to see if other documents without protected information exist. The Clarion-Ledger made a similar request of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. In a letter last month, MBN Director Marshall Fisher released a document showing Melton had one day of firearms training in August 2003 at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy in Pearl. ...

Author
ladd
Date
2006-06-08T08:34:16-06:00

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