October 20, 2014

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Harrison in compliance with Sunshine Law, says mayor
Written by Joe Awad   
Saturday, September 14, 2013 4:48 PM

Harrison Mayor Joel McGuire shot back Saturday, Sept. 14, asserting that Ohio Auditor David Yost’s claim that Harrison is among several Buckeye cities and counties falling short of complying with the state’s Public Records Act is patently false.

Yost posted a news release on his state Web site late Thursday, Sept. 12, asserting Harrison is among eight of 20 tested cities and counties that have weaknesses in their public records policies and procedures.

The release does not specify Harrison’s alleged infractions, but includes a blanket statement from Yost: “It’s disappointing in this day and age with all the attention on transparency that we don’t do enough to make sure the people’s records are accessible.”

The audit, as reported by The Columbus Dispatch, shows the city has not officially designated a person or department to handle public requests for records, and that Harrison does not have an official process for tracking public records’ requests.

Similar charges are leveled against Allen County, Beavercreek, Bowling Green, Crawford County, and Portsmouth.

In a written statement Saturday, McGuire responded: “Had the state auditor bothered to ask me or anyone else in city government, I would have told him that for at least the last six years the city law director and law department have had official responsibility for handling public records’ requests, and keeps track of when the requests are received and met. We’ve met all legal requirements for record-keeping. It’s disappointing, in this day and age of multiple easy methods of communication, that a state auditor would print such flagrant, false allegations when in fact the problem was that he didn’t even ask us who had these duties. Dave’s just got to do better.”

McGuire said he does not know how the state obtained its information, nor, to his knowledge, has the city received notice from the auditor’s office. In addition, he stressed Harrison posts its public record policy on the city’s Web site.

The auditor’s office could not be reached Saturday to determine on what the state based its findings.

After a records’ request is made, the city attorney follows up with a letter confirming the request has been received and the time frame in which the city will respond, said McGuire.

“There is a third product which is the actual production of the documents requested and the signature - confirmation of the receipt - of the person who asked for it,” he said.

“We have a process of what has been requested and what has been responded to. ... All they had to do was ask.”

Yost revealed the audits Thursday to the Ohio Association of Broadcasters Board of Directors. He announced during Sunshine Week in March that the audits would be made.

Ohio’s Public Records Act, often called the Sunshine Law, calls for prompt inspection of public records. Upon request, copies of public records must be provided within a reasonable time.

Last Updated on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 3:52 PM