NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
July 2, 1996
In re: Donald J. Ruberg/Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky
OPEN RECORDS DECISION
This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by Donald J. Ruberg, Esq., in connection with his requests for access to particular documents.
In a letter to the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky, dated April 29, 1996, Mr. Ruberg requested access to seven categories of documents. The first six categories were described as the financial report for February, 1996; the financial report for March, 1996; the minutes of the February 21, 1996 meeting; the minutes of the March 27, 1996 meeting; the six month budget; and the one year budget. The seventh category was described as follows:
In addition to the foregoing, TKR would be interested in receiving copies of any information or correspondence sent by the Board or its representatives to the governmental entities, or the agents thereof, composing the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky, or received by the Board or its representatives from the various governmental entities located in Northern Kentucky, i.e., cities, counties, or other governmental bodies.
In a letter to the Attorney General, received May 31, 1996, which Mr. Ruberg designated as his appeal under the Open Records Act, he said in part:
To date, I have received no response whatsoever to the request for copies of any information or correspondence sent by the Board or its representatives to the governmental entities, or agents thereof, composing the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky, or received by the Board or its representatives from the various governmental entities located in Northern Kentucky.
Walter J. Pagan, Executive Director of the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky, sent copies of various documents to this office on June 6, 1996 reflecting what documents had been furnished to Mr. Ruberg and the date on which they were sent.
Mr. Ruberg's letter to this office, dated June 12, 1996, contained the following paragraph:
Although Mr. Pagan provided me with copies of many of the items I requested in my letter of April 29, as I stated in my letter to you of May 29, to date, I have received no response whatsoever to the request for copies of any information or correspondence sent by the Board or its representatives to the governmental entities, or agents thereof, composing the telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky, or received by the Board or its representatives from the various governmental entities located in Northern Kentucky. This specific request was ignored by Mr. Pagan in the documents supplied to me.
As we construe the materials furnished to us relative to this appeal, Mr. Ruberg is satisfied, or at least reasonably satisfied, in regard to the Board's response to the first six categories of requests for documents. He maintains that the Telecommunications Board totally ignored his seventh category of requests for documents and his appeal centers on that matter.
Having examined what constitutes the record in this appeal, we find no evidence that the Telecommunications Board or Mr. Pagan addressed that part of Mr. Ruberg's request pertaining to correspondence sent and received by the Board involving the various governmental entities who are members of the Board.
KRS 61.880(1) sets forth the duties and obligations of a public agency relative to a request for access to documents received under the Open Records Act. That statutory section is both quoted and discussed in 95-ORD-105, copy enclosed. It does, in part, require that a public agency respond in writing within three business days after the receipt of a request for access to public documents.
This office has stated on numerous occasions that the procedural requirements of the Open Records Act are not mere formalities but are an essential part of the prompt and orderly processing of a request to inspect public documents. See 95-ORD-155. Any public agency has the burden of justifying the withholding of a record by reference to the appropriate exception to public inspection and by briefly explaining how that exception applies to the particular document being withheld. 95-ORD-114.
It is, therefore, the decision of the Attorney General that the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky and its Executive Director failed to respond to the seventh category of requests for access to public documents as required by KRS 61.880(1). This office is left with no alternative but to direct the release of the documents in question to the requesting party. This decision is limited to the facts presented and is governed by the public agency's failure to comply with the mandatory statutory requirements. See 95-ORD-159.
A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal it by initiating an action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882. Pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General shall be notified of any action filed in circuit court, but the Attorney General shall not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceeding.
A. B. CHANDLER III
THOMAS R. EMERSON
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Copies of this decision
have been distributed to:
Donald J. Ruberg, Esq.
209 Thomas Moore Park - Suite C
P. O. Box 17411
Covington KY 41017-0411
Walter J. Pagan
Telecommunications Board of
3712 Winston Avenue
Covington KY 41015