March 21, 1995

In re: Brian L. Cullinan/City of Louisville


Once again we are asked to intercede in a records dispute between the City of Louisville and Mr. Brian Cullinan, and once again we find that the City's actions violated the Open Records Act. The facts which give rise to this appeal are summarized below.

On January 11, 1995, Mr. Cullinan submitted a request for public records to the City of Louisville. That request was characterized by the City's Assistant Director of Law, Mr. Paul V. Guagliardo, as "another in a flurry of Cullinan (Keith, Roy, Brian) post-New Year requests." Mr. Cullinan requested access to billing statements and receipts for RBC and Associates from July, 1993, to the present, and time sheets for Earl Unger from January 1, 1988, to the present. Responding on behalf of the City, Mr. Guagliardo advised Mr. Cullinan that "in light of the other requests from your family which have been coming in, it will take at least thirty days to respond to your request." In addition, Mr. Guagliardo warned that any portion of Mr. Cullinan's request which was found to be duplicative of earlier requests made by him or his family might be denied under KRS 61.872(6).

Mr. Cullinan challenges this response, noting (without supporting documentation) that similar requests from the media have been honored within three days, and asserting that the City's "arbitrary delay" in affording him access to the same records is prompted by a "fear of negative publicity" and an "attempt to avoid future bad press." He requests a "brief but timely opinion" from this office declaring that the City's conduct violates the Open Records Act. These same issues having been exhaustively analyzed in earlier open records decisions involving these parties, we reluctantly oblige.

In 93-ORD-134, a copy of which is attached hereto and incorporated by reference, this office engaged in a lengthy analysis of the concept of timely access to public records. At page 12 of that decision, we concluded:

[A] determination of what is a "reasonable time" for inspection turns on the particular facts presented, i.e., the breadth of the request and the number of documents it encompasses, as well as the difficulty of accessing and retrieving those records. Public agencies must work, in a spirit of cooperation, with individuals who request to inspect their records to insure that those individuals are afforded timely access to the records they wish to inspect.

To the extent that the City of Louisville failed to provide Mr. Cullinan with timely access to the records identified in his request, timely access being defined as "any time less than three days from agency receipt of the request," OAG 84-300, p. 3, or in the alternative, with a detailed explanation of the cause of any delay beyond three days, as well as a statement indicating the earliest possible date on which the records would be available for inspection, it violated the Open Records Act. KRS 61.872(5). We encourage the parties to review 93-ORD-134, and the authorities cited therein, particularly those cited on page 12, with the goal of avoiding future disputes.

The City of Louisville may challenge this decision by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court. Pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General shall be notified of any action in circuit court, but shall not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceedings.







Distributed to:

Hon. Paul Guagliardo

Assistant Director of Law

City of Louisville

Room 200, City Hall

Louisville, KY 40202-2771

Hon. Brian L. Cullinan

One Corporate Plaza The 22nd Floor

220 West Main Street

Louisville, KY 40202