Day 19 of Petty Watch and Brian Trotier, interim president of the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., is defending the agency’s decision to redact most of the pertinent information from Corporate Counsel Regina Petty’s legal bills.

I wasn’t at Wednesday night’s SEDC board meeting, but the agency’s spokesman Alexis Dixon told me that the board had a brief discussion about whether to provide the documents at the meeting.

Board member Rich Geisler told me that Trotier opined at the meeting that the agency had met the requirements of the California Public Records Act when it provided me with documents last week that are heavily redacted. That accounting of what happened was confirmed by board Chairman Cruz Gonzalez.

A re-cap. Since early September, I’ve been trying to get copies of Petty’s invoices for work she did for SEDC. Last week, SEDC gave me a pile of documents, but the documents didn’t detail the hours Petty had worked, or the amount she has charged the agency.

That’s information that is not exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act, said Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, an open government advocate.

Even if it was information that could possibly be exempted, Francke said, and as I pointed out earlier this week, it is SEDC and not Petty who decides what is and what is not disclosed.

So, by saying that the agency has met the requirements of the Public Records Act, Trotier is tacitly acknowledging that SEDC wants to keep the number of hours that Petty worked, and the amount she was paid, a secret from the taxpayers who paid her bills.

Geisler told me that there was some dissent at the board meeting about disclosing the full records. He said some board members argued that even if SEDC had met the requirements of the records law, it should make an effort to beyond those requirements and disclose the information.

Geisler said the board asked to be given a presentation on the finer points of California public records law, so that it can make an accurate decision on the records. There was no vote proposed on the matter and no vote was taken.

Gonzalez told me he has a call in to Petty to further discuss the matter.


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