Based on the cost of trying to pull together five years worth of emails as part of a massive public records search, the San Miguel County Commissioners last week decided to deny a request by the Republic Study Committee of Colorado to provide the information.
A letter sent July 27 to Lucius B. O’Dell from County Attorney Steve Zwick states the commissioners by unanimous vote denied the executive director from the RSCC’s request to hand over the volumes of Goodtimes’ emails.
The justification for the denial was the expense of the request, which is estimated to be $2,500 or more.
O’Dell had requested a reduction or waiver of the county fees to provide the information, but the commissioners ruled that the request “did not appear to comply” with state laws regarding the public records request.
According to the letter from Zwick to O’Dell, dated July 27, the county’s decision is based on a section of the state laws regarding open records which states that fees can be reduced “if the electronic services and products are to be used for public purpose, including public agency program support, nonprofit activities, journalism, and academic research.”
However, according to the letter, the commissioners were “unable to determine if your request complied with the applicable statutory requirements, and, accordingly, denied the request.”
The Colorado conservative group has targeted five of the state’s county commissioners – including Goodtimes – for a massive public records search of e-mail messages covering a period of five years.
Others targeted are Trési Houpt, Garfield County commissioner, a Democrat, and all three Democratic Gunnison County commissioners, Hap Channell, Paula Swenson and Jim Starr. Goodtimes is a Green Party member.
Goodtimes believes the request is part of an attempt by the conservative group to discredit the commissioners targeted due to their stance regarding oil and gas issues on the Western Slope.
Ever since the open records request was received, county administrators have been struggling with the expense and technical issues related to it. The commissioners held an executive session on the topic on July 25, and also during that meeting County Administrator Lynn Black lamented the expense, time and effort of the project.
“Something has got to be done about this,” she said.
As it turned out, the commissioners decided to put the ball back in O’Dell’s court, in essence deciding to do nothing at all.