OHA Violates Public Records Act Request

Per email from Robert Brokl:

Al Crofts and I downloaded the public records act request form from
the OHA website and headed in today to look at their files. It was an
eye-opener. We were sent from their offices at 1619 Harrison back to
their offices at 1801 Harrison and back again….Bridget Galka was
away “at a meeting, her files were nowhere to be found,” etc. The
nice person we talked to at 1619 explained that the receptionist who
buzzed us in at 1801 was afraid we were process servers, which was
why she sent us down the street. She had disappeared when we returned
to 1801….

Eventually, we were met (confronted by would be more apt) by Phil
Neville, Depty. Ex. Dir., who took our request form, said we would be
“leaving with no records that day,” and who said whatever we could
review would have to be run by their attorney.

This was strange to us because, under the Ca. Public Records Act,
during normal business hours, files are supposed to be open to the
public to review, except for attorney/client and personnel matters,
and the details of pending real estate deals. Otherwise, documents,
memos, emails, meeting notes, etc. are available to the public–we
pay their salaries after all. Generally, files are available with
short notice; emails, meeting notes, etc. take more time.

Neville would not answer when if ever we could review their files. We
then dropped in at the City Attorney’s office, and met with Michelle
Dabney (sp?) who handles public records requests. (Oakland is now
quite good about letting citizens review files, and John Russo
authored the local “Sunshine Ordinance” that encourages/allows the
same access to records. Michelle talked to an attorney in their
office who, I believe, handles the Ethics Com., and he told her that
OHA, as a state agency, is not under the purview of the city
attorney’s office. She suggested we might try the private First
Amendment Project offices to push it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *