Open records still behind lock and key

By David Schick

 

The University System of Georgia has still not provided the Collegian with the records in response to its July 18, 2012 Open Records Act request.

“I write on two matters. First, the issue of [the Collegian's] ORA request of July 18, 2012, which I had long ago considered resolved but which now appears to be still open as the University System has yet to provide [the Collegian] with the records promised,” wrote Daniel Levitas, the Collegian’s pro-bono legal representation, in an email to USG this evening.

On Oct. 24, the USG and the Collegian came to a compromise to lower the cost associated with producing the requested records, which ended a four month open records act dispute.

Burns Newsome, USG vice chancellor for legal affairs, wrote in an Oct. 24 letter that the Collegian could “pick up the requested documents in the Board’s offices at [its] earliest convenience.”

The Collegian has inquired by phone and email several times a week about the documents since Newsome’s letter.

“I am in the process of printing out the documents as they are still to be reviewed, which is taking place as I am printing,” wrote Brenda Trezevant, USG assistant for media and publications, on Nov. 7.

The Collegian spoke with John Millsaps, USG associate vice chancellor for media and publications, on Nov. 12 about the delay. Millsaps explained that the request was very extensive and auditors had to review every single document for proprietary information to determine if any of it was “part of an open investigation.”

Levitas wrote in his letter, “If this is indeed the case, please contact me promptly with a status report on when you will issue those records as promised … Additionally, please consider this as a formal request that you immediately release to [the Collegian] on a rolling basis all records you have reviewed to date.”

Levitas also requested for the USG to specifically identify the pending investigations which are causing the delay.

“Frankly, from my vantage point it seems like pertinent, newsworthy information is being deliberately witheld under pretext and I respectfully request that you please offer a cogent explanation or release the records as promised with all deliberate speed,” wrote Levitas.

“I also write to follow-up on my client’s ORA to Ms. Reddick of 10/31/2012 … I have not received any response in the two weeks since my letter was sent.”

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