Tuesday, June 01, 2010

City Delays Records Release to Check for 'Enemies'

Here are two key points you should know about the Massachusetts public records law:
  1. A city is required to respond to a records request within 10 days.
  2. A city may not withhold records based on the reason (or lack of reason) for the request or the identity of the person making the request.
It would seem the city of Lawrence was unaware of either of these points, based on its response to a records request filed by the Boston Herald. As the Herald's Joe Dwinell relates, when the paper asked for the city's payroll, the city delayed its response for two months.

Even better is why the city delayed. According to the city attorney, the city has "a lot of enemies" and he had to check to make sure none of them were behind the request.

This is the first I've heard of an "enemies exemption" under the public records law.

[Hat tip to the blog Open Records.]

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