Monday, April 04, 2005

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Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ted Sexton didn't want to release the front page of incident reports to the public, as Alabama's Open Records Act requires him to do. Now that a judge has ordered him to obey the law, Sexton wants to charge people $1 per page for copies of public records, which is reasonable, plus $38 an hour if he or his chief deputy take longer than 15 minutes to find them, which is simply outrageous.

Sexton's new policy is contrary to a state attorney general's opinion that public documents can be inspected for free. It also flies in the face of the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of the Open Records Act. The sheriff's intransigence is certain to waste even more public money and even more judicial resources on a matter that should be common sense.

It's a sad day when a designated law enforcer openly flouts a court order. Voters should remember this plan during the next election.

4 Comments:

Blogger Susan of LocalTint said...

"It's a sad day when a designated law enforcer openly flouts a court order."

No sadder than when a state's chief justice does it. Just another day here.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Under Georgia Open Records Law (knowing that we're not talking about Georgia but mentioning them for comparison), the first 15 minutes of a search are free, then search and retrieval fees can be charged, but they must be based on the rate of pay of the lowest paid employee authorized to search for and organize those records.

I only cover the cops beat about once every two weeks, but from my knowledge, I would think that someone lower than Sexton or chief deputy Ron Abernathy could find a report for someone. I'm think their public information officer (if they have one) could do it, and maybe some others in the sheriff's office.

But man, $38 an hour? I'm in the wrong business.

Under the law, the maximum charge for a copy is 25 cents per page. A dollar per page is not overly excessive, but black and white copies in this day in age are not expensive; a dollar seems a little much compared to 10 cents Kinko's or the University of Alabama would charge for a copy.

Also under the law, copies of public record can be inspected for free - the public can only be charged when getting copies of those records.

Didn't Liz Frenkel run for Tuscaloosa County Sheriff? I knew I should have registered to vote in the county and voted for her.

J.B.G.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as a random, scary comment, do you know what the government's Web site for the PATRIOT Act is called?

lifeandliberty.gov

Tell me that's not some 1984 sh*t right there.

-WN

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WN, that wasn't the original site URL. They wanted to go for lifeandlibertyonlyforthosewhoobey.gov, but they felt that would be too long to type into the browser.

J.B.G.

1:06 PM  

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