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After a two-and-a-half month wait, Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office last week provided me with 736 e-mails that I’d requested about the city’s shelved water-cuts plan. That is barely half of the e-mails that were sent on the issue.
I figured there were a few missing. Turns out, there were more than a few. The city kept 692 e-mails secret — 48 percent of the total.
I’ve gone back-and-forth with Darren Pudgil, the mayor’s spokesman, for months about the e-mails, and I still don’t have them all. That’s enough to raise the issue to the level of last year’s Petty Watch and E-mailWatch.
I requested the e-mails because I wanted to know what factored into the misrepresentations that Alex Ruiz, assistant director of the city’s Water Department, made about the city’s water-cuts plan. I requested e-mails he sent or received during the spring about the proposal. I also asked for e-mails sent by Gerry Braun, the mayor’s special projects director.
So why did Sanders’ office keep so many secret? In a letter, Christina DiLeva, Pudgil’s assistant, noted that some are exempt because of the attorney-client privilege. That’s hard to dispute.
But the Mayor’s Office also claims that others were kept secret because “the public interest served by not making the record public clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.”
In non-legalese: The city has decided keeping the e-mails secret is better for the public.
The letter from Sanders’ office doesn’t actually explain why the public — you — is better served by keeping 692 e-mails secret. It just says you are.
I’ll soon look at the relevant case law. And I’ve put in a call to Pudgil, the e-mails’ gatekeeper, to see why he thinks the public is better served by keeping the records secret.