A reporter called today questioning the ability to access bidders who registered to participate in this year's delinquent tax sale, where real estate is sold for the back taxes owed to the county. The first question that challenged them was that the form presented by the county to those making a sunshine request specifically asked the requester to identify the purpose for which the information was sought.
Does a person making a sunshine law request have to provide this kind of information to the county, the reporter asked? No, of course not, I advised. The use one makes of public information is not a criteria as to whether a county releases public records. It's fine to totally disregard such a question, I suggested.
But that was just the start of this particular county's sunshine law foibles. (Actually, I just looked up how to spell that word and its definition is "a minor flaw or shortcoming." That hardly describes what I'm going to describe here!) Reporter gets back to the county and suggests that the county's custodian of records advise the paper, if they are not going to produce the record, what exception it is in Section 610.021 that closes the record.
The county responds ... get ready, you'll love this one... actually, it was the presiding commission who responded with this..
"Perhaps you should take time to read the Missouri Sunshine Law so you could figure out the reason yourself!"
Oh, but there's more!
Then, the county came back and advised that disclosing that record was "solely at [the county collector's]'s discretion."
Maybe it's the summer heat. Maybe it's like when kids are out of school for summer vacation and their brains turn to mush. Maybe it's because the AG's office has let up on their sunshine law training activities. Whatever the reason, this county needs help FAST!
Can a public official develop sunshine law heatstroke?