I spent yesterday afternoon reading through 1,321 e-mails that the Centre City Development Corp. released that had been sent or received after April 1 by its former president, Nancy Graham. I’ve been fighting for the last three months to get the public documents from CCDC.
I had been assured that I’d have all of her e-mails yesterday. (CCDC released 2,893 of her e-mails in early September.) But during my review, I noticed a few were missing.
Turns out, CCDC’s attorneys withheld 578 e-mails and didn’t tell me until I raised questions about it.
For example, Richard Ledford, a local lobbyist, sent Graham a May 13 e-mail entitled “Love That Press”. It was written four days after our initial story documenting Graham’s past business relationship with the affiliate of a developer with business pending downtown. The story was the first in an investigation that led to Graham’s resignation and misdemeanor criminal charges being filed against her.
“I leave the country for a couple of weeks and you hit the press…” Ledford wrote. “you just gotta stay out of trouble! Ok, now don’t shout, but my St. Paul client wanted to know if there are any fully entitled condo projects for sale in the redevelopment area. Yeah yeah yeah… don’t start on me!”
Graham replied the same day. CCDC did not provide her reply or a reason why it was withheld. Typically when a public agency withholds information from the public, it cites the legal exemptions it’s using.
CCDC Chairman Fred Maas said today he anticipates that some but not all of the 578 will be released. He and CCDC spokesman Derek Danziger said they’d review the e-mails one-by-one and promised an update by next Tuesday.