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Monday, April 7, 2008

Information, Please!

Posted By on Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 2:38 AM

By: Allen Johnson

“There is a lot of information that is public information that is not getting out (to the public),” says city Inspector General Robert Cerasoli. The head of the new watchdog agency says he wants to work with City Attorney Penya Moses-Field to resolve the longstanding problem, which predates Hurricane Katrina. “I have to sit down with the city attorney and figure out where the jam-up is coming from,” Cerasoli says. The IG says Moses-Field has already told him she needs more attorneys to review the constant flow of written requests for city documents, but antiquated record-keeping in other city departments may be gumming up the process. Since arriving last August, Cerasoli says, he has heard complaints from citizens and media about written requests for police reports and other public records going unanswered. State public-records laws require public officials and agencies to make all public records “immediately available” upon request if the requested records are not in use. If a government official raises a question about whether the requested information is a public record, the government must respond in writing to the request within three business days.

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