Following a six month investigation the Kansas Attorney General’s Office has determined the Salina City Commission violated the Kansas Open Records Act.
The ruling stems from an open records request made by former Salina City Commissioner Jon Blanchard. Back in November Blanchard requested copies of documents related to an economic development agreement between the City of Salina and the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce. Blanchard received five documents he requested, but one of the documents had a large amount of information redacted from it.
Blanchard filed a complaint with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office in an effort to obtain the unredacted document. He received notification last week from Assistant Attorney General Lisa Mendoza that the city was in violation of the open records act by not providing the requested document in its entirety.
The City of Salina indicated to KSAL News that following the ruling, the requested document will be provided. In a statement provided to KSAL Interim Salina City Manager Mike Schrage said “we appreciate the fact that in their communication to us, the state of Kansas Office of the Attorney General acknowledged that the commission carefully considered its obligations under the Kansas Open Records Act, timely responded in accordance with the deadlines imposed by the Act, and relied on the advice of outside counsel in making its decision to redact the November 18, 2014 letter. They stated that the commission engaged in a thoughtful and good faith process to determine whether this particular exemption to disclosure applied to the letter. However, the State of Kansas Office of the Attorney General concluded that the Salina City Commission did not satisfy the burden of showing that an applicable exemption to disclosure applied. Based on their conclusion and instructions to us, we will provide an unredacted copy of the letter to Mr. Blanchard as originally requested.”
Blanchard told KSAL News the city violated the Kansas Open Records Act, and alleged they have on multiple occasions. Blanchard said “they got caught this time because there was a formal complaint filed with the Kansas Attorney General. If they hadn’t fully opened the records from January 17, 2014 and March 11, 2014, which were heavily redacted, they would have faced similar complaints and violations. Not a word was mentioned in the media when those documents were unredacted and released in their entirety in February by the city commission. I will have more to say about all of this and look forward to sharing the truth with public, as should have happened from the beginning.”
In the ruling, the attorney general’s office indicated they are declining to pursue formal enforcement action, but are requesting the city provide the unredacted document. They will continue to monitor the case for compliance.
Blanchard said that as of late Thursday afternoon he still has not received the requested document.