Oskaloosa City Council supporting Hayes’ decision to close records
by Dennis Sharkey
The Oskaloosa City Council is standing behind a decision by City Attorney Mike Hayes to block an information request by the Independent.
Ealier this month the Independent requested the time cards for all of the Oskaloosa Police department for 2011 and this year.
The request was initially denied because the records were said to be private. After the initial denial the Independent refined the request to just include a date and time for clocking in and clocking out without any personal infomation included.
Hayes denied that request because he said the city does not have any specific report for what the Indepenent is asking for.The Independent disputed Hayes’ claim and told the council that a “report” was not requested, but rather a record the city has with the personal information redacted.
“You made a specific request for a record that does not exist,” Hayes said.
This reporter pointed out to Hayes that the initial request was denied by the city and a state statute was cited that said a city can withold a record that contains private information. This statement established the fact that the record exist.
Hayes’ response was that he did not write the first letter.
Councilmen Gary Bryant and Emily Malsbury backed up Hayes’ claim.
“I don’t know what you’re going to ask for,” Malsbury said. “There’s no report of what you are asking.”
Bryant said that all the information that was asked for has been provided.
“I’m just going by what the city attorney says,” Bryant said. “What we’re telling you is there is no record.”
Councilmen John Norman and Kathy Griffin listen to the Independent’s request and made comments that would suggest they were not sure Hayes’ decision was correct.
“I would think we would know when the police force is out and not out,” Griffin said.
Norman asked this reporter to clarify the information needed and said he understood what I was asking for.
No decision or motion was made to release the records.
Some on the council are also making an arguement that the city does not want the records released because they do not want the public to know because of the possibility of criminals watching and taking note of when officers are on and off duty.
“Do you see how that is a conflict of interest to make that a public record?” Malsbury asked Griffin.
“It’s a safety issue,” Malsbury said. “You don’t want everybody to know exactly where the police officers are.”
Malsbury was asked why other cities in the county release information to the public about activity. She responded by saying that those cities have higher crime rates and that releasing information could be the reason.
“You keep coming in and telling how much more crime records all these other towns have,” Malsbury said. “Maybe it’s because everybody know when and where their police are. I don’t really believe that but it goes to the argument you are making.”
Malsbury took the argument a step further and accused this reporter of trying to cause trouble with the record request.
This reporter defended the request and suggested that Malsbury might have an issue with journalism.
“You’re causing problems in the town,” Malsbury said. “I don’t think I have a problem with journalism. I just think the way a lot of things are written are just causing dissension among the town.
“When I’m in Rosy’s or Cathy’s or anywhere you hear some gossip…I want to listen but it’s wrong, that’s how I feel about the newspaper,” she added. “I almost feel like it’s wrong to read the paper these days.”
Malsbury went on to say that many things printed in the Independent are not factually correct.
“It just seems like the paper is trying to cause problems,” Malsbury said. “The very front page is stuff that is negative.”
The Independent will continue to explore legal options for obtaining the records.
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